Peoria Central at QND
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Advance Physical Therapy Field
Records: Peoria Central -- 2-0 (2-0 Big Twelve Conference). QND -- 2-0 (0-0 West Central Conference).
Radio: WGEM 1440 AM, WGEM 98.9 FM
Last meeting: Sept. 21, 2012 -- QND 33, Peoria Central 29. The Raiders trailed 29-19 with 7:22 remaining in the fourth quarter before getting two touchdowns and a defensive stand to regain the lead with 54 seconds remaining. One more defensive stop was needed. QND cornerback Zach Vahle refused to allow Peoria Central wide receiver Moses McConnell to gain possession as they tussled for the ball while falling to the ground, pulling it away from McConnell for a game-ending interception.
Inside the matchup: Three years removed from having one of the greatest offensive juggernauts in state history, Lions coach Tim Thornton and his staff are up to their old tricks. The Lions tied the single-game school scoring record with a 96-14 victory over Champaign Centennial in Week 1 and followed it with a 56-24 victory over Peoria Notre Dame last week.
And averaging 76 points per game will get you noticed.
The Lions have climbed into the Class 6A state poll, rising to No. 8 this week. The Raiders have drawn notice, too, with their solid start and are ranked 10th in Class 3A this week. The Raiders have allowed a combined 29 points in their two victories and know their defense has to be stout to temper the Lions' attack.
"This team is all about defense," QND junior linebacker Lake Bergman said. "Defense is our main specialty."
Peoria Central quarterback Gabe Hernandez has thrown eight touchdown passes and added two rushing TDs despite spending most of the Champaign Centennial game on the bench. He has a myriad of weapons, highlighted by senior wide receiver Kaevion Mack. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound wideout is a three-star recruit with interest from multiple NCAA Division I programs.
If the Raiders can keep the ball out of his hands, they give themselves a chance.
"We've got our special guys matched up with their special guys," Bergman said. "We'll be prepared."
-- Matt Schuckman