The top four seeds in the north portion of the Class 1A bracket all advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals. Each team is undefeated at 11-0.
Top-seeded Annawan-Wethersfield will play host to No. 4 Morrison. Freeport Aquin is at Lena-Winslow. Both games have 1 p.m. kickoffs.
A cold week
The National Weather Service reported three-tenths of an inch of snow falling on Kewanee on Monday. By the evening, the school had personnel on the Wethersfield Memorial Stadium field with heated snow blowers removing the snow so it didn’t freeze overnight and ice up the field the following day.
Folks in Kewanee woke on Tuesday to 5 degree temperatures. By the time the players hit the practice field, the air temperature was 19 degrees with a 10 degree wind chill.
“We will obviously play it day-by-day with weather,” said Annawan-Wethersfield coach Logan Willits. “We just have to prepare ourselves for the cold temperatures. We will accomplish what we need to do outside and make sure our kids are layered up.”
Practice time temperatures were to ease throughout the week. It was to be 29 degrees on Wednesday, 33 on Thursday and 35 on Friday.
The game-time forecast for Kewanee is 37 degrees with a 7 mph wind.
Making a defensive stand
Annawan-Wethersfield’s defense remained a key component of its 30-26 victory over defending state champion Forreston on Saturday.
Forreston’s final possession was one that Willis had hoped to create with his game plan when he discussed it last week: A situation in which Forreston, usually wedded to its running back-focused double-wing scheme, was forced to throw the ball.
On a second down play, A-W’s Brady Kelley sacked Forreston QB Bailey Cullor. On third down, lineman Tevin Baker got through and pressured an incompletion. On fourth down, it was Kelley’s turn again, coming up with an interception that sealed the victory.
Big defensive numbers
Forreston rushed for 356 net yards in the game, which was nearly its per-game average of 358.6. Forreston had one touchdown, a pass play with 47 seconds left in the half, but was otherwise denied. This season Forreston was averaging two touchdowns in each of the first and second periods.
A-W’s own tackle chart showed a number of stellar performances.
Senior Drake Van Hyfte, a 6-3, 230-pound linebacker, had 10 solo tackles and six assisted tackles. Four of his tackles produced losses.
Baker, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound lineman, was also in on a lot of plays. He had 10 solo tackles, two assists and a sack. “He was big on both sides of the ball,” Willits said.
Junior linebacker MItch Lambert showed his versatility. He had 10 solo tackles and three assisted tackles, then switched to guard in the second half.
Junior linebacker Tuker Miller, who had been out for several weeks recovering from an injury, returned and contributed 11 tackles.
For the record book
Annawan-Wethersfield’s 11 wins matches two of the co-op’s best seasons when Brandon Johnston was coach. The 2016 team went 11-2 and lost to Deer-Creek-Mackinaw in the Class 2A semifinals and the 2015 team went 11-2 and lost to Downs Tri-Valley in the 2A semis.
The A-W teams under Johnston went 10-2 in 2012 and in 2009.
Before the co-op, Annawan had 11-win seasons in 1990 and 1986. The most wins by Wethersfield was 13 when it won the 2001 1A state title.