Finally getting a home game in the state football playoffs after two weeks on the road, the Althoff Crusaders still had a few scheduling hurdles to clear.
Since the Crusaders use Lindenwood University's home field in Belleville -- and the Lynx are at home for its 1 p.m. season finale Saturday against St. Francis (Ind.) -- Althoff officials asked Casey-Westfield about the possibility of playing their Class 2A quarterfinal game on Friday night.
Facing a 2 1/2-hour drive from its location near the Indiana border, Casey preferred to play Saturday. The final solution was a 7 p.m. game Saturday under the lights at Lindenwood Stadium.
"We knew ahead of time that if we won the (Athens) game we'd be at home and Lindenwood had a game scheduled," said Althoff coach Ken Turner, whose 8-3 squad will take on 11-0 Casey. "It's a great atmosphere there and we're looking forward to it."
Casey athletic director Mike Leichty said the Warriors haven't played a Saturday night football playoff game since traveling to Tuscola in the late 1990s.
"The only other option would have been Friday night and that's a quick turnaround," Leichty said. "We understand the situation and Althoff's been on the road the first two games. Probably the only negative is we get home late, but the next day is not a school day so that's not a big issue."
Turner said his team enjoyed two weeks of road games, especially since the ride home came after victories. Althoff followed up its 42-24 first-round win over Chester with a 32-20 victory over Athens on Saturday.
"We've been on the road a lot this year, but these two games really felt like two road games," Turner said of trips to Chester in Southern Illinois and Athens, just north of Springfield. "Their crowds were both feisty and it was a neat atmosphere, seeing all those signs coming into the towns."
Casey-Westfield will be making its 10th straight trip to the quarterfinals, an impressive feat. This is the 14th straight playoff trip for the Warriors, who lost 23-14 to Morrison in the Class 2A state title game last season.
"We've had a pretty good run in the playoffs," Leichty said. "Football's a big part of this little community here and people support it well."
The Warriors had 20 seniors returning from that 12-2 team a year ago. They relied heavily on that experience during Saturday's wild 50-49 overtime victory over the Carlinville Cavaliers.
It was a far different matchup for a Casey squad that led 42-0 at halftime in its 45-0 first-round win over Carmi.
With the teams tied at 42-42 heading into overtime, Carlinville had the first possession. The Cavaliers scored on 8-yard run by Brendan Stewart and kicked the extra point to grab a 49-42 lead.
Casey junior quarterback Nicco Stepina scored on 10-yard run and the Warriors went for the win instead of the tie. Stepina completed a pass to Joshua Blome for the game-winning 2-point conversion.
The Casey-Carlinville game produced an eye-popping 997 yards of total offense, with Carlinville running for 476 yards and six TDs. Casey -- which runs the triple-option out of a spread formation --ran for 351 yards and five TDs.
Carlinville's Brendan Stewart had 258 yards and six TDs on 23 carries.
Carlinville had 518 yards of offense and still lost while Casey racked up 479 yards. The 49 points was easily the most allowed by Casey all season since the previous high came in a 48-27 victory over Oblong.
It was quite a day by Stepina, who completed 7-of-14 passes for 134 yards and 2 TDs. He also ran eight times for 65 yards and another TD.
Casey's 10-1 record includes wins over Carlinville (9-2) and also 44-16 over a 10-1 Olney East Richland squad that's still alive in the Class 4A playoffs.
Low seeds surviving
Althoff and Class 8A's LaGrange Lyons (7-4) are the lone No. 15 seeds remaining in the football playoffs. Other low seeds reaching the quarterfinals were 6A No. 14 Niles Notre Dame (7-4), 5A No. 12 Joliet Catholic (7-4) and 3A No. 11 Wilmington (9-2).
Edwardsville facing another tough test
Edwardsville's reward for knocking off 7A heavyweight East St. Louis on Friday was a five-hour road trip north to face another 7A powerhouse in Lincoln-Way East (11-0).
Lincoln-Way East, tid with Maine South for the No. 1 ranking in the final 7A state poll, survived a 24-14 battle with Providence Catholic (8-3) on Saturday to reach the quarterfinals.
Running back Nick Colangelo paced the Lincoln-Way East attack with 149 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, with Northern Illinois University quarterback recruit Tom Fuessel adding 92 yards and one TD.
The Griffins' defense was also in shut-down mode, limiting Providence Catholic standout Brandon Price to 35 yards on 19 carries.
Lincoln-Way East is in the quarterfinals after suffering through four straight second-round playoff losses. The Griffins won a state title in 2005 under current coach Rob Zvonar.
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2454.