Heading into the final week of the regular season, 10 metro-east area football teams have punched their playoff tickets and will be anxiously awaiting word on who their first round opponent will be when the IHSA announces first round pairings on Saturday night.
The Granite City Warriors and Mascoutah Indians would like nothing more than to add their names to that playoff list.
Highland (8-0), ranked fifth in the Associated Press Class 5A state poll, is the lone undefeated team and can put the finishing touch on a second straight perfect regular season with a win at home against Charleston..
Highland has all but clinched a first round playoff game at home next week while four other local teams, Cahokia, Madison, Nashville and Columbia are all 7-1 entering their regular season finale and should lock up first round postseason games at home with wins.
East St. Louis, ranked third in the Class 7A state poll, will also improve its chances of hosting a playoff game with a win at Alton on Friday.
Belleville West, (6-2), Central (6-2), Mater Dei (6-2), Freeburg (6-2), have qualified while Alton (5-3) and Edwardsville (5-3) are also playoff eligible. Edwardsville currently has 38 playoff points while Alton has 40. points. In past years, teams with five wins and between 37-39 playoff points have qualified for the postseason
Centralia at Mascoutah
Mascoutah (5-3) will clinch its first playoff berth since 2009 with a win over the visiting Orphans (1-7) on Friday. Trounced by Highland 41-7 a week ago, the Indians are playoff eligible with five wins but with 33 playoff points, coach Josh Lee’s team probably needs a sixth win.
The Indians, who began the season 4-1 have lost two of their last three games, but feature a balanced attack.
In junior running back Devin Wills, the Indians have the premier running back in the Mississippi Valley Conference. Wills has rushed for 1,244 yards and 12 touchdowns. Quarterback Jeff Getchell (1,106 yards passing 11 TD’s) and wide receiver Timothy Middleton (23 catches, 426 yards, 5 TD’s) have also added offensive punch to the Indians attack.
Current Mascoutah Athletic Director Scott Battas was the head coach in 2009 when Mascoutah last qualified for the playoffs.
Granite City at Galesburg
Led by junior quarterback Freddy Edwards, the Granite City Warriors (4-4) face a bit of the unknown when they travel to Galesburg to take on a Silver Streaks team which is 1-7 but a dangerous foe according to first year coach Brad Hasquin.
“Yes, they are 1-7, but they have good speed and they will be determined to knock us out of the playoffs,’’ Hasquin said. “We have 37 playoff points and we should get a couple of more wins from our schedule. We just have to concentrate on controlling what we can control and that’s playing a sound football game on the road.
Edwards will be a marked man as he tries to lead the Warriors into the playoffs for the first time since 2011 .. One of the top players in the St. Louis area, Edwards has thrown for 1,031 yards and nine touchdowns while running for 1,154 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Edwards has averaged 9.6 yards per rushing attempt.
Among the leaders
With one week remaining in the regular season, several metro east players are ranked among the best in the St. Louis area and could move up in several catagories during the final week of the regular season.
Highland senior quarterback Jack Etter is ranked sixth in the St. Louis area in passing. In his first season as the Bulldogs offensive leader, Etter has completed 101 of 154 attempts for 1,854 yards and 29 touchdowns.’
Devin Wills of Mascoutah is currently fifth in the St. Louis area with 1,244 yards rushing while Freddy Edwards of Granite City is eighth with 1,154. yards. Highland senior Sam LaPorta is currently second in the area in receiving. A highly-recruited prospect, LaPorta has 48 catches for 925 yards. He is averaging 19.8 yards per reception.
Belleville East at Belleville West
The Lancers (1-7) will look to end their season on a bright note when they travel across town to take on the playoff-bound Maroons in a city battle.
East, which has allowed 302 points in eight weeks, figures to have its hands full against a Maroons team which has lost two of its last three games after starting the season 5-0. The Maroons feature two of the top offensive players in the St. Louis area in quarterback Jack McCloskey (1,588 yards, 29 touchdowns) and wide receiver Dominic Lovvett (720 yards, 17 touchdowns)