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Football

Class 3A football quarterfinal preview: Aurora Christian at Seneca

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last week: Aurora Christian beat Oregon, 49-20; Seneca beat Robeson, 46-6.

The skinny: Seneca had a puzzling Week 9 result, losing 54-6 at a Manteno team that finished the season 5-5 after a first-round playoff loss in Class 4A. Aside from that game, though, the Fighting Irish have been solid, with their only other loss coming against Wilmington, 14-6, on Sept. 27. Considering Manteno is spread passing team like Aurora Christian, that game film was of much interest to Eagles coach Don Beebe, but he’s not about to discount Seneca based on one poor performance. “They just came out flat like we did against Marmion. It happens with kids,” Beebe said. “I think that was a mirage of what that team is.” The Irish have rushed for 3,183 yards while throwing for only 422. Seneca quarterback Bo Taylor (1,715 rushing yards, 22 touchdowns) – who Beebe knows through House of Speed training – and Tommy Lovett (1,191 rushing yards, 14 TDs) are Seneca’s premier weapons in an offense that runs plenty of wildcat. Beebe was enthused about the progress junior quarterback Austin Bray made in last week’s Oregon game, especially back-to-back terrific throws as the Eagles struck swiftly at the end of the first half. “I think Austin was just a little challenged in the sense there were some comments made before the game that he wasn’t the quarterback [Anthony Maddie] was, and that kind of fired him up a little bit,” Beebe said. “Every kid’s a competitor. I think he had something to prove, and in my mind, he did that in spades.” Beebe said middle linebacker Daniel Brown is “just playing fantastic football right now” for an Eagles defense that might see two-way standouts Noah Roberts and/or Jackson Carpenter return from injury. If Aurora Christian wins, the Eagles would be home for the semifinal round against either Winnebago or Stillman Valley.

Extra point: Seneca is 5-0 at home this season, including a 21-14 win against Kewanee in the first round of the playoffs. Beebe expects a fun setting. “Seneca will bring their whole town,” Beebe said.

Playoff trivia: Seneca has 15 all-time playoff wins, but Saturday’s 40-point margin of victory against Robeson was the program’s largest in a playoff game in Fighting Irish history.

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