Three out of the five local teams remain in the playoff hunt with Amboy-LaMoille (2-5) and Princeton (2-5) eliminated with their fifth losses last week.
At 4-3, Hall and Bureau Valley need just one win to become playoff eligible and could clinch a berth with two wins. St. Bede (3-4) must win out, but even then may fall short on playoff points (28 now), the combined number of opponents wins.
Three teams from the Three Rivers have clinched berths — Newman (7-0), Orion (6-1) and Rockridge (6-1) — while Fulton (5-2) has become playoff eligible. Kewanee (4-3) and Morrison (3-4) are still in the hunt.
Dave Smith’s Dixon Dukes (7-0), Sterling (7-0), Annawan-Wethersfield (6-1), Ottawa Marquette (6-1) and Fieldcrest (6-1) have clinched while Rochelle, Geneseo, L-P and Stark County, all at 4-3, remain in the hunt.
Dixon and Byron could both finish undefeated in the Big Northern without playing one another and will remain as co-champs as there is tiebreaker in place. Last year, Genoa-Kingston and Byron were co-champs.
• Big game for Snyder, Stockton: Former Princeton coach Jesse Snyder is off to a good start at Stockton, where the Blackhawks (5-2, 5-0) face a showdown with Freeport Aquin (6-1, 5-0) for the league lead in the NUIC Upstate Illini. It’s been a great homecoming of sorts for Snyder, who is living about a mile from where he grew up in neighboring Lena-Winslow.
“It’s about as close to home as you can get,” he said. “It’s been exciting. When you take over a new program, there’s a lot of moving parts. I feel like the kids have responded in a pretty positive way. I think we’ve got better every week and are starting to hit our stride.”
Aquin is a spread team, which will create a lot of matchup problems, Snyder said.
While Stockton has not faced his alma mater in crossover play, Snyder and the Blackhawks could square off against Lena-Winslow in the playoffs.
• Rumbling, stumbling: ESPN legend Chris Berman would have had a field day with Saturday’s homecoming game in the rain and mud with his trademark, “Rumbling, stumbling, fumbling.”
There were 17 fumbles on the day, split with visiting Monmouth-Roseville fumbling nine times to St. Bede’s eight.
“Crazy,” Bruins coach Jim Eustice called it. He said the legend of the game will keep growing for many years.
Boys will be boys: The Bruins celebrated the victory by diving and sliding on the mud-slickened field after the game.
“They all wanted to hug me and I told them no. I should have let them,” Eustice said.
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