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Eagles fly north for first round playoff game

  • Eldorado senior quarterback Aidan Whitlock has thrown for 602 yards this season, including six touchdowns. On Saturday, Whitlock and the Eagles travel to Bismark-Henning for a 2A first round playoffgame.

    Eldorado senior quarterback Aidan Whitlock has thrown for 602 yards this season, including six touchdowns. On Saturday, Whitlock and the Eagles travel to Bismark-Henning for a 2A first round playoffgame.
    SPYDER DANN | mdann@dailyregister.com

 
By Spyder Dann mdann@dailyregister.com
updated: 10/31/2019 9:17 AM

It's a common phrase or battle cry among coaches when it comes to postseason play.

The verbiage "everyone is 0-0" rings true in this sense for Joe Clark and his Eldorado football team, who enters the IHSA Class 2A Playoffs as the No. 13 seed, taking on No. 4 seed Bismark-Henning.

The Eagles finished the regular season 5-4 and qualified for the postseason for the seventh straight year and since 2010 have made the playoffs nine times, with the only exception being the 2012 season.

Clark, who is in his third year as head coach and 11th overall, is all too familiar with the psychology that goes into getting a team prepared for the playoffs.

"You really try to prepare like it's just another week," Clark said. "Sometimes that can be hard and in this sense, preparing for a team you haven't played before. Forever, our kids have competed and we haven't won them all, but we try to go out and compete and try to make enough plays against good teams that we are on the right side of the scoreboard."

Bismark-Henning just finished off an 8-1 campaign, winning the Vermilion Valley Conference and won their last three games by a combined score of 113-6.

In total, Bismark-Henning led the Vermilion Valley Conference in points scored and points allowed as the Blue Devils put up 412 and only allowed 81 to the opposition.

Offensively is where the Blue Devils hang their hat and Clark knows it.

"They are solid across the board, play good defense and have a multiple-look offense. Their quarterback can throw it and have a group of running backs that are solid. Their offensive and defensive lines don't have a lot of holes and it's a good reason why they are 8-1. They're a pretty good team that won their league and we have a challenge."

The Blue Devils average 286 yards rushing a game and 159 yards receiving and have scored 59 touchdowns. On defense, Bismark-Henning averages 83 tackles a game and have 25 sacks to go with seven interceptions.

Avery Mcconkey, a senior, has thrown for 1,319 yards on 56-of-90 passing with just two interceptions and 167 touchdowns.

Senior running back Caleb Lahey is closing in on 1,000 yards rushing this year as he has racked up 986 yards on 103 carries and 17 touchdowns.

Both Jacob Akins and Weston Strawswer have gone over 500 yards as Akins has 507 yards on 57 carries and Strawswer has 503 yards on 47 carries.

On the receiving end, junior Eric Watson had 17 catches for 464 yards, while sophomore Mason Hackman has 396 yards on 18 catches and team-high eight TD's while classmate Rhett Harper has hauled in six catches for 163 yards.

More of Eldorado's challenge will be handling the adversity of playing on the road. The Eagles haven't been on the road in the playoffs since 2014 when they lost 28-20 to Johnston City. EHS was also on the road at Carlyle (2013), Anna-Jonesboro (2011) and Johnston City (2010).

"Offensively, we have to play penalty free and take care of the ball. Our offensive line is growing and we have some playmakers of our own. Defensively, we have to do things with discipline. I think if we can handle some adversity, we can be in the ballgame."

On offense, Eldorado has scored 29 touchdowns, with 23 coming from the ground game. Jacob Etienne leads the attack with 589 yards on 121 carries and 12 scores, while Ladayyea Shewmaker and Aidan Kuhn each have five scores. Shewmaker had 673 yards on 80 carries and Kuhn has accounted for 437 yards on 79 carries.

In the end, playing at home or playing on the road, Clark knows the postseason is still about one thing.

"This is when we approach things with enthusiasm and have fun. I hope we travel well and represent our conference and southern Illinois well and see what happens."