Week seven of the 2017 football season has Shelbyville and Cumberland going for win number six and an automatic playoff berth, while Arcola goes for win number five to become playoff eligible.
The final two homecoming games of the area schools this season are to be played as well as Arcola plays host to Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond in a battle between two JG-TC teams, while Martinsville is to play host to Palestine-Hutsonville in a game involving two teams looking for their first win.
"We will prepare like we prepare for every other game," said Arcola coach and athletics director Nick Lindsey. "The kids know that the football game is the most important thing. I want them to enjoy all of the activities that go with homecoming, but we all know playing well is the most important."
The Arcola vs. A-L-A-H game is a Little Okaw Valley Conference Northwest Division game, while the Martinsville contest is a LOVC Southeast Division game.
Shelbyville, the No. 6 team in Class 1A, is to travel to Clinton in a Central Illinois Conference game, while Sullivan/Okaw Valley travels to Moweaqua to play Central A&M, also in a CIC game.
Another contest involving two area teams is to be at Oakland as Tri-County plays host to Cumberland in a LOVC SE Division game.
All games are to start at 7 p.m. Friday.
Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond (3-3, 1-2) at Arcola (4-2, 2-1)
A-L-A-H is coming off a 19-0 win over Sangamon Valley/Tri-City, and Arcola is coming off a 20-14 victory over previously undefeated Decatur LSA.
"Once we got settled in and made a few adjustments, we were able to shut down their passing game," said Lindsay, whose team trailed 14-0 after the opening quarter. "They did a nice job of keeping us off balance early. We have resilient kids. They never changed their attitude and never quit. I was proud of the way they responded. Our kids understand that games are four quarters long and we put a lot of focus on that."
It was the first shutout of the season for the Knights.
"Our inside linebackers are getting better at reading their keys and getting to the fullback," said A-L-A-H coach Dale Schuring. "Our free safety was much more involved in stopping the run game as well."
Offensively for A-L-A-H Schuring said the key was, "We took advantage of what they were giving us based on alignment. They were trying to protect against our speed and left the middle vulnerable."
Marcus Vanausdoll led the Knights with 24 carries for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Vanausdoll averages 83.3 yards per game.
Arcola quarterback Conner Strader had 32 carries for 171 yards bringing his average to 69.7 per game.
"I think our tempo played a huge part in the game, and then for Conner and our offensive line to play the way they did was huge," said Lindsey.
Strader averages 83 yards per game passing, while A-L-A-H quarterback Will Cohan averages 63.6.
"Their running game is obviously the biggest concern," said Schuring. "They do a nice job of spreading you out and attacking the weak points. Their offensive and defensive linemen look very formidable on film. They get off the ball well and attack on both sides of the ball."
Lindsey said of A-L-A-H, "Their running back runs hard and they have a couple of players who can get on the edge. I think their line gets off the ball hard. So we will definitely have to be ready to play. There is always a concern coming off a big win and homecoming, but I don't think our older players will let that happen."
Cumberland (5-1, 3-0) at Tri-County (3-3, 2-1)
The last time Cumberland won six straight games was in the 2005 season when the Pirates won their first six of the season and finished 7-2 in the regular season and 8-3 overall. The Pirates are going for their sixth straight win Friday.
"We have not really discussed the winning streak we are on," said Cumberland coach Lucas Watkins. "We just want to go out and play to the best of our ability each week. We know we are undefeated in division play, and this week is another step in defending our division title."
Cumberland has a good balance of running and passing, with Myles Gerhardt and Ryan Yaw leading the rushing attack with 57.5 and 50.7 yards per game, while quarterback Gabe Hatfill has averaged 155.2 yards per contest.
Cumberland is coming off a 41-6 win over Oblong, and the Pirates continue to have the top offense and defense in the six-team division with averages of 37.2 and 6.8, respectively.
"I felt as if our offensive line played pretty well last week," said Watkins. "They gave our kids some running lanes to run through and gave us time to find our receivers in the passing game as well. On defense, the key was us getting penetration along our front four and our linebackers playing very aggressively and flowing to the ball. We had multiple tackles for loss, and that is a credit to our front eight playing well."
Tri-County is coming off a 27-20 win over Martinsville, and Joey Keske has had back-to-back 200-plus-yard games rushing.
"He is a good running back and a strong kid," said Tri-County coach Casey Pinnell. "He has done a good job of getting himself in shape. He had a flu bug and was throwing up before the game last Friday. We had him all wrapped up in blankets at halftime. He is aggressive and we had a lot of guys around him blocking for him."
Keske averages 85 yards rushing, and the team averages 212 yards per game overall. Quarterback Dylan Campbell averages 64.3 yards per game passing. Keske is also the top defensive player, averaging 6.7 tackles per game.
"Our main concern with Tri-County is trying to slow down their running game," said Watkins. "We know Keske has had big games and we need to key on him. Additionally, the Titans have a quality offensive line that is good-sized and mobile."
Pinnell said of Cumberland, "My biggest concern is on the defensive side of the ball. We have done well against defenses that pressure us like that all year. We need to make sure we can sustain drives this week. We may not necessarily need to score on every drive, but we absolutely have to move the chains and keep the ball out of their hands."
Shelbyville (5-1, 3-1) No. 6 in Class 1A at Clinton (2-4, 1-3)
Both teams have played Tuscola and Sullivan, with the Rams falling to Tuscola 47-44 and Clinton losing 46-0. Against Sullivan, Shelbyville won 58-7 and the Maroons won 35-9.
Clinton averages 66 yards passing and 118 rushing with Bryson Carson leading the ground game at 83.7 yards per contest. Ty Berter, a sophomore, is the quarterback and averages 60.5 yards per game.
The Rams, who are without coach Bill Duckett, who suffered a mini-stroke, have the top offense in the eight-team conference at 51 per game, while allowing 19. Defensive coordinator Brad Hilbert takes over in his place.
Shelbyville averages 169.3 yards rushing, and quarterback Turner Pullen averages an area-leading 232 yards per game passing. Pullen and Cade Helton are the top running backs at 57.3 and 42.8 yards per game, respectively. Kentrell Beck, Cade Watson and Mason Cameron are the top receivers, with 27, 15 and 14 receptions, respectively.
The Rams' defense allows an average of 103.7 yards per game, and Eli Houska is the top tackler at 5.1 per game.
Palestine-Hutsonville (0-6, 0-3) at Martinsville (0-5, 0-3)
The last time these two teams played, Oct. 7, 2016, was also P-H's last win, 18-8. The Pioneers have lost eight straight games.
Martinsville has lost 13 straight, dating back to the season-opener last year, a 34-30 win over Hoopeston Area/Danville Schlarman. The Bluestreaks almost ended the streak last week, outscoring Tri-County 14-0 in the second half but falling short 27-20.
"Palestine-Hutsonville is a lot like us, and a lot like Tri-County and a lot like Oblong," said Martinsville coach Obie Farmer. "They are tough kids who are going to try and beat you up and down the field. They are going to be ready to play."
The closest Palestine-Hutsonville has been to a victory was a 15-6 loss to Oblong Sept. 15. Pioneer quarterback Evan Newlin averages 58.5 yards passing per game, while the team averages 76. 5 yards rushing.
Pal-Hut averages 7.3 points per game and allows 40.3.
Casey-Westfield (1-6, 1-4) at Red Hill (6-0, 5-0) No. 10 in Class 1A
Trey Clark leads Casey and the entire area in rushing with an average of 117 yards per game, while quarterback Jarod Brandenburg passes for 60.3 yards per contest.
Both teams have played Paris, Newton and Robinson. Red Hill averaged a 38.7 to 17.3 points, while Casey averaged a 41.3 to 13.7 loss.
The Salukis have a one-game lead over Newton and Marshall in the LIC. Quarterback Chase Murray averaged 69.8 yards passing through five games, while the rushing attack, one that averaged 258.3 through five games, is led by Drew Moore (132.5) and Landon Florkowski (106.6).
Sullivan/Okaw Valley (0-6, 0-4) at Central A&M (4-2, 2-2)
Sullivan lost to Clinton 35-9 last week, while Central A&M lost its second straight game, 55-20 to Decatur St. Teresa.
Luke Bowman leads the Redskins in rushing with 50.2 yards per game.
Both teams have played Meridian and Clinton. Sullivan lost to Meridian 52-21, while Central A&M won 40-20. Against Clinton, the Raiders won 28-18.
A Central A&M win would make the team, coached by former Sullivan assistant Brent Weakly, playoff eligible.