The high-scoring Anna-Jonesboro football team defeated Hillsboro by two scores and earned Brett Detering his 150th career win a week ago.
The Wildcats (10-0) will have to beat another South Central Conference team, Pana, to advance to the Class 3A quarterfinals.
The Panthers (9-1) travel to Anna for a 2 p.m. contest today. Anna-Jonesboro beat Hillsboro, 22-8, in round one, and Pana knocked off Du Quoin, 39-26.
Anna-Jonesboro has blown out almost all of its opponents this season, but it took two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to get by Hillsboro.
“It was really a great defensive battle for our kids,” said A-J coach Brett Detering. “It was great for our kids to have some success on the defensive side. Most of our success this year has been by outscoring people. To have a defensive battle was good experience for our kids.”
The game was tied in the fourth quarter when Bryce Osman threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Arieh Hart. Damien Chrisp blocked a punt as well, which ultimately led to another Wildcat touchdown.
The Wildcats will have to slow down the highest scoring team in the South Central Conference to win this week.
“Last week we played the team that had given up the fewest points in their conference, and this week we play the team that has scored the most points in their conference,” Detering said. “We’re getting both ends of the spectrum from the South Central Conference. They had five teams in the playoffs, and four of them advanced. The only one that didn’t was the one that we beat. It says a lot about their conference, which is pretty good.”
The Pana game against Du Quoin was a good and close one. Pana trailed at halftime, but bounced back for the victory. Du Quoin committed five turnovers in that contest.
“It was a fun game to be a part of, and our defense was able to get some turnovers and some scores, but our offense really didn’t play that well,” said Pana coach Trevor Higgins. “Our special teams and defense really stepped up for us at big times. We do all kinds of strip drills to get the ball out, and our guys were able to do that all season. We had a couple of lucky bounces go our way on the fumbles where we were able to scoop and score.”
Osman rushed for 106 yards, and Jayce Turner added 85 rushing yards in the Anna-Jonesboro playoff victory. The Wildcats will need a big effort from those two players and the offensive line to win today’s game.
“I think it’s going to be similar to the Du Quoin game with two even teams,” Higgins said. “This one will be a contrast in styles. Anna-Jonesboro loves the ground and pound, but they will hurt you with the pass if you sleep on it. With us, we want to spread the ball around, go fast and try to put up points quickly. I would guess it’s going to be a high-scoring game.”