Playoff primer: Postseason rematch pits Panthers against Tigers in Class 1A state semifinals


A large, boisterous crowd is expected in Camp Point, Ill., on Saturday when the Central football team plays host to Greenfield-Northwestern in the Class 1A state semifinals. | Photo courtesy Mike Pritchard

CAMP POINT, Ill. — It’s no secret the chance of a Camp Point Central vs. Greenfield-Northwestern postseason rematch had been on everyone’s mind throughout the regular season.

It’s finally time.

The Western Illinois Valley Conference division champions both sit 12-0 heading into Saturday’s Class 1A state semifinal taking place in Camp Point. Last year, the Panthers and Tigers met in the state quarterfinals with Central erasing a 12-0 deficit and winning 24-12 before eventually finishing as the state runner-up.

The Panthers expect the Tigers to play with some vinegar in their blood because of that outcome. It should make for a spirited and energetic matchup. Here is a closer look at the state semifinal:

Greenfield-Northwestern (12-0) at Camp Point Central (12-0), 2 p.m.

Radio: No broadcast planned.

Livestream: Central Illinois Sports on YouTube

Scouting the Tigers: Senior quarterback Dylan Pembrook runs the Greenfield offensive juggernaut, having completed 124 of 177 passes (70.1 percent) for 1,984 yards with 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He also has rushed for 673 yards and seven touchdowns. The Tigers are the second highest-scoring team in the Western Illinois Valley Conference, averaging 41 points per game. Greenfield beat Sesser-Valier 44-16 in last week’s quarterfinals. Senior running back Kohen Vetter leads the Tigers’ ground game with 181 carries for 1,330 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Tigers have four wide receivers with 22 or more receptions apiece, led by senior Nathan Nord with 49 catches for 721 yards and 11 TDs. Defensively, Greenfield allows just 11.1 points per game. The Tigers have intercepted 23 passes with Vetter hauling in nine picks. They have forced 30 turnovers overall.

Scouting the Panthers: Central is 2-2 all-time in state semifinal matchups, losing to WIVC South champion Carrollton in 2014. That was also the first season the Panthers faced Greenfield in the postseason, winning 21-8 in the first round. Central is 3-0 all-time in the postseason against Greenfield, reaching the state semifinals or beyond each of those seasons. The 22 points allowed in last week’s 42-22 victory over Belleville Althoff was almost a fourth of the total points allowed by the Panthers this season. Central is allowing just 8.1 points per game, while scoring 47.1 points per game. The 565 total points marks the most scored by Central in a single-season ever. Senior running back Drew Paben (1,015 yards, 15 touchdowns) and junior running back Elijah Genenbacher (794 yards, 20 touchdowns) were named Class 1A first-team all-staters by the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association. Central has won 18 consecutive home games and is 19-1 in home games over the past three seasons.

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