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|Five Area High School Football Teams Have Sights Set on "Elite Eight"
|POSTED 10:04 a-m The Knoxville and United football teams will be fighting for a spot in the state quarterfinals a little more than 24 hours from now.
The Blue Bullets (8-2) are trying to win their ninth game for the first time since the 2004 season, when Knoxville was among the final eight football teams standing and finished the season with a 9-3 record. The Bullets host former Olympic Conference rival Orion Saturday at 1:00 in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
The Chargers' only loss this season was against conference champ Sherrard. The Tigers went 8-1 during the regular season, but fell in the opening round of the 3A playoffs at home against Sterling Newman Central Catholic.
The winner of the Knoxville/Orion game plays either undefeated Morrison (10-0), a #1 seed, or Lanark Eastland (8-2) next week.
United (9-1) travels to Heyworth (7-3) for their Class 1A second round matchup Saturday at 1:00. The Hornets, like Flanagan - who the Red Storm knocked out in the first round - are a member of the Heart of Illinois Conference. Heyworth is trying for back-to-back 8 win seasons for the first time in school history. This is just the fifth playoff appearance for Heyworth, but four of the five have been in the past five seasons. Heyworth has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.
The winner of the United/Heyworth game moves on to play either undefeated top seed Lexington (10-0) or LeRoy (8-2).
Three other area teams also have their sights set on the third round. South Fulton (7-3) hosts Greenfield-Northwestern (7-3) of the Western Illinois Valley Conference Saturday at 2:00 in Table Grove in Class 1A. The winner meets either undefeated #1 seed Brown County (10-0) or Tuscola (7-3).
Annawan-Wethersfield (9-1) advanced to the state quarterfinals last season, when the Titans finished with an 8-3 record. A-W plays at Amboy (9-1) of the Three Rivers Conference Saturday at 1:00 in Class 2A.
Mercer County (8-2) is also on the road for a 2A second round game. The Golden Eagles travel to Gibson City (9-1). The kickoff is Saturday at 2:00. The Falcons, making their sixth straight playoff appearance, are a member of the Heart of Illinois Conference. The winner of the Annawan-Wethersfield/Amboy game plays the winner of the Mercer County/Gibson City game in the third round.