PECATONICA, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) –Round one of the IHSA football playoffs features many lopsided matchups. Round two is when things start to get very interesting. And things will be extremely interesting Saturday afternoon at Pecatonica High School.
The DuPec Rivermen (9-1) will host Elmhurst Immaculate Conception (IC Catholic) in a Class 3A game. DuPec won the always strong NUIC championship this season. IC Catholic finished the regular season ranked #1 in the state in 3A. The Knights have caused problems for many local teams in recent years. The Knights won three consecutive state championships from 2016 through 2018.
The Rivermen have respect for IC Catholic, but they don’t fear them. The Rivermen will come well equipped into this game with one of the most balanced offenses in the state between the passing of senior quarterback Hunter Hoffman and the running of Trenton Taylor and AJ Mulcahy. The Rivermen are also stacked on the defensive side of the ball with the likes of Taylor, Mulcahy, Trent Hetland, Jake Anderson, DRake Fortson and Briaun Green.
DuPec was also battled tested in the regular season by playing the likes of strong playoff teams Forreston, Fulton, Lena-Winslow, Galena and Decatur St. Teresa.
DuPec’s only loss was to St. Teresa week 5 28-22. St. Teresa was the #1 ranked team in the state in Class 2A. The Rivermen say the experience of that game will help them in this one against IC Catholic.
“It definitely matches up with tough opponents like that so we know what it’s like and how the atmosphere is going to be like and what we need to bring to the table,” said Taylor.
“It’s just on to the next. We’ve got to stay focused,” said Hetland. “We can’t get too high off that win. It’s just one week at a time every week.”
So what is going to be the difference-maker in this game
“I think for us it’s just going to be the physicality,” said DuPec head coach Tyler Hoffman. “For us we’ve been using that fighter mentality. We’ve just got to keep exchanging blows with them and play phyiscal football hoping that sooner or later they’re going to get sick and tired of us.”
Kickoff will be at 3:30 Saturday at Pecatonica High School.