GREENFIELD - Arcola's second-round football playoff opponent, Greenfield-Northwestern, is a threat to score in multiple ways.
The Tigers have a balanced offense with three running backs that average between 42.4 and 37.4 yards per game. As a team Greenfield, 8-2, averages 165. 6 yards per contest. The Tigers, who are making their second straight and 26th overall playoff appearance, average 130.2 yards passing.
"We don't have that one guy that we depend upon and we hope to be diversified in our system," said Greenfield coach Joe Pembrook, a 1996 Greenfield grad, who has been the head coach since 2012. "This team has been able to get over a couple of hurdles that have held us back in previous seasons."
Greenfield-Northwestern has an enrollment of 233 and competes in the Western Illinois Valley Conference South Division with five other teams, including Carrollton and perennial power Hardin Calhoun/Brussels. The Tigers won the division at 5-0.
The Greenfield roster has seven seniors on the team of 34.
"We are a fairly young team, but experienced," said Pembrook, who is also the head boys' basketball coach and athletic director. "We have been fortunate to have had some success in the past and we are relying on those experiences."
Last year the Tigers went 6-4 and lost in the first round to the eventual runner-up, Camp Point Central, 43-12. The seniors also made the playoffs as freshmen when Greenfield went 6-4 falling to Brown County 27-6.
"As far as goals are concerned we try to set and achieve many short term goals, but we realize that if we can accomplish enough of those goals that our long term goals will be a success."
Pembrook has been at Greenfield since 2001 and was an assistant coach at Piasa Southwestern in 1999 and 2000. The SIU-Edwardsville grad is 48-30 in his eighth season with six trips to the playoffs. This is the first time he has led the Tigers past the first round. They did so with a thrilling 22-21 win over Brown County in which the Hornets were called for holing in the end zone with 6:45 left in the game for safety and the game-winning points.
Regular season stats have quarterback Jacob Lansaw as 87-of-134 for 1,065 yards with eight touchdowns. He has been intercepted seven times.
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The top running backs are Denver Davenport, Colin Grummel and Drake Stuart. Davenport averages 42.4 yards per game and has seven touchdowns, while Grummel averages 41.6 and has a team-high 10 touchdowns. Stuart averages 37.4 and has seven touchdowns.
The top receivers include the coach's son, Brady, who has 26 catches for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Blake Woelfel had 23 catches for 344 yards and three touchdowns.
Blake Motley and Stuart are the top tacklers on the team with averages of 9.2 and 8.5, respectively.
Greenfield averages 29 points per game while allowing just 13.7. The Tigers began the season with 20-6 loss to Camp Point Central, which is also in the second round of the playoffs. They put together a six-game winning streak starting with a 43-0 triumph over Jacksonville Routt and followed by a 20-6 victory over Winchester. Greenfield beat Carrollton, another second-round team, 22-14. After a 56-12 win over Pleasant Hill/Western, the Tigers topped playoff team North Greene 47-0. The winning streak came to an end with a 43-14 loss to Class 3A Beardstown. The regular season ended with a 14-7 win over Brown County.
Pembrook played under coach Dan Bowman, who coached from 1980-2001 going 232-105, including a Class 1A runner-up finish in 1991. Pembrook was an assistant under Bowman from 2001 through 2011.
"This made the transition smooth, but there's always pressure when you take over for a legendary coach," said Pembrook.
Arcola and Greenfield have played twice in the playoffs. The 1995 Purple Riders beat Greenfield 26-16 in the semifinals and in the 2007 quarterfinals beat them 35-14. Both games were at Arcola.
"The 1995 loss will always sting," said Pembrook, the quarterback on that team. "But obviously you learn to appreciate all we accomplished that season."
Greenfield's 1995 team was led by all-state junior running back, Patrick Bowman, the coach's son. He had 1,470 yards rushing and was held to 33 yards on 16 carries. Bowman is currently 14th all-time in rushing with 5,626 yards.