The Illinois high school football playoffs are back.
Moline (8-1) and Geneseo (5-4) earned spots in the bracket among the local teams from the Western Big 6, with the Maroons hosting the first round for the second straight season.
Three Rivers Conference champ Rockridge (8-1), Annawan-Wethersfield (7-2), Mercer County (7-2), Fulton (7-2), Morrison (5-4) and ROWVA (5-4) are the schools from the area in the field as the IHSA released pairings Saturday night.
Moline will host DeKalb (6-3) at 7 p.m. Friday at Browning Field in a Class 7A matchup. The Maroons are relishing the opportunity to play at home at least one more time.
“This was one of our goals leading into the season and so to be able to not only add another game to the season, but to have it as a home game is exciting,” Moline coach Mike Morrissey said. “The kids earned this opportunity. These seniors have been incredible over the last four years.”
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DeKalb has a lot of success on the ground with backs Talen Tate and Jamari Brown. Tate had 180 rushing yards and Brown added 60 more and two touchdowns in the Barb’s win over Waubonsie Valley on Friday.
“Our preliminary reaction to (DeKalb) on film is that they’re pretty talented and play in a good league,” Morrissey said. “They play against teams that are the top in the state so we know they’re going to be a really good match up.
"They do a lot of the same things we’ve seen from teams this year, but they do it extremely well.”
Moline will also rely on its run game, but the Maroons have tried to balance their offensive attack in recent weeks.
Senior Grant Sibley threw for over 100 yards in Moline’s last four games, but the Maroons lean on senior back Riley Fuller, who racked up 291 rushing yards in Moline’s 42-13 victory over Geneseo.
“We did a lot of things well (Friday) night and that was a nice game against another playoff team,” Morrissey said. “Our kids didn’t lose focus and defensively I thought we took some steps forward.
"Our first two wins we threw for like a total of 10 yards, but coming into (the playoffs) we are a little more balanced. It’s starting to take shape.”
Moline earned a second straight home game after going undefeated in WB6 play for the second straight season.
Geneseo, making its first playoff appearance since 2017, will travel to No. 1 seed Carterville (9-0) in a Class 4A matchup.
The Maple Leafs will travel a little over five hours to southern Illinois to face the Lions. Carterville is ranked No. 7 in the Class 4A AP Poll and won eight of nine games this season by three or more possessions.
Geneseo picked up a fifth win against Rock Island (4-5) in a pivotal Week 8 matchup on the road.
Rockridge earned the No. 4 seed in Class 2A and will host Sterling Newman (6-3) in the first round 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Rockets have won their last eight games, all by two or more possessions.
Mercer County, the No. 5 seed in Class 2A, will host Bloomington Central Catholic (6-3) in the first round.
If Rockridge and Mercer County both win, the pair would meet in the second round on Nov. 5.
In Class 1A, two locals are also on a collision course to face each other in the second round.
No. 4 Fulton will host Aurora Christian (5-4) in the first round. The Steamers won their last four games of the regular season for a chance to host.
Annawan-Wethersfield, the No. 5 seed in Class 1A, will host Rockford Lutheran (5-4) to begin postseason play. The Titans shared the Lincoln Trail Conference title with Mercer County.
Morrison also snuck into the postseason with a 25-14 victory over Erie-Prophetstown (4-5) in Week 9.
The Mustangs will travel to No. 3 seed Ottawa Marquette (8-1) for the opening round of the playoffs.
The time and date of each playoff game will be decided in the next two days. A majority of teams will either play on Friday night or Saturday afternoon.