EUREKA – Although it may only be week two of the season, the stakes will be very high Friday night. Eureka heads to reigning Heart of Illinois Conference large division champion Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
According to Hornets’ head coach Jason Bachman, the victor will not be crowned division champ, but it will be a giant step forward.
“They’re obviously one of the top teams in the conference,” he commented. “I would say it’s not for the championship. To win it, we have to beat them.”
Like Eureka, the Falcons won their opener, as they dominated the second half in a 32-8 win at Ford County rival Paxton-Buckley-Loda. GCMS trailed 8-7 at halftime before they outscored the hosts 25-0 over the final 24 minutes. Sophomore tailback Aidan Laughary carried the ball 17 times for 124 yards and three TDs for the Falcons, who have won 29 games in a row. GCMS, who runs the wing-T, graduated seven offensive starters. Their returnees are senior Keegan Kutemeier (center), Payton Kean (fullback), Daniel Jones (wingback) and 240-guard Jordan Lee (guard).
Defensively, the Falcons, who operate out of a 3-3-5 scheme, lost nine of 11 starters with the lone returnees being linebackers Kean and Kutemeier. Despite that, they held the Panthers to just one touchdown and forced three turnovers.
“The last two years we’ve played GCMS, the biggest difference is turnovers,” recalled Bachman. “We have to not turn the ball over and limit penalties. We do not turn the ball over. We cannot turn the ball over against GCMS.”
The Falcons will face a Hornets’ offense that only managed 47 yards on the ground against Le Roy.
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“We’ve changed some things in our style of practice,” Bachman said. “Le Roy did a great job of disrupting us. They did a lot of crazy stunts. We have to be prepared for that,”
GCMS is currently riding an 18-game win streak at home.
“I think we have to have a special focus,” said Bachman. “We have to come in tuned in. If we do not, we could be in trouble early.”
Andrew King, who was ejected in the second quarter versus Le Roy, will be forced to sit out the contest.
Mike Allen is in his 19th season as Falcons’ coach with a record of 130-63. He has led GCMS to back-to-back two A titles. Last November, they defeated Maroa-Forsyth 35-16 in the championship game. GCMS has won all three meetings with Eureka, including a 41-12 road triumph in 2018.
Notes: Another streak on the line for the Falcons will be a 24-game regular season one. Their last loss was in the second of the ’16 two A playoffs, a 21-14 setback at Annawan/Wethersfield. The last GCMS defeat in the regular season and at home was 22-20 in overtime to El Paso-Gridley on Sept. 9 of ’16. Friday’s game can be followed via streamlive at www.network1sports.com/station/wgcy.