The town is fired up for the playoff game
After defeating Staunton during the last regular season game, the chances Gillespie would host their first playoff game at home increased dramatically. The Miners were thinking they would be playing New Berlin or possibly Staunton, but learned they would be playing Lawrenceville, an opponent many fans were unaware of, after the Illinois High School Association announced the pairings Saturday evening.
The matchup will take place today at 2:00pm at the Schmidt Complex in Gillespie. District 7 administration announced earlier this week parking will not be available parallel to the football field. Playoff fans will have to park in the staff parking lot across the street from the high school, the parking lot behind Dairy Queen by the middle school, or the parking lot north of the new Ben-Gil Elementary school which is west of the football field.
GHS (8-1) is seeded third in the southern quadrant of the Class 2A bracket with their only loss to South Central Conference champion rival Greenville, while Lawrenceville (7-2) is seeded sixth. The Miners are making their 13th appearance in the state playoffs this season after rebounding from a 3-6 finish in the 2012 season.
The talk of the town all week has been the big game today. Parents and fans have decorated the town all week for the big game, players and coaches have watched countless hours of game film, and the question “Who is Lawrenceville?” has been asked hundreds of times.
Well, we did a little homework.
Lawrenceville, the home of the Indians, is a city laying on the Embarras River comprised of about 4,300 people. It is a 3-hour drive from Gillespie and a short 10-minute drive from the state of Indiana.
Third-year coach Greg Wood leads the Lawrenceville football team and this season marks consecutive playoff appearances for LHS after making the playoffs in 2012. The Indians also made the playoffs in 2004, 2002, and 1977, but they are still searching for their first post-season win and they haven’t won their conference since 1979.
Although the team has a spread of upper and lower classmen, junior quarterback Zach Shoulders provides the offensive spark. Shoulders is the team’s 6’2”, 180-pound quarterback who accumulates most of their rushing yards. In addition to Shoulders, the Indians have three running backs that are all equal threats: Dalton Vories, Wyatt Rinsch and Austin Wanke.
Expect the Indians to run the ball nearly every offensive play as their passing game has proved to be unsuccessful thus far. Also expect Lawrenceville to attempt a 2-point conversion following scoring plays, much like Gillespie. The Indians might also throw trickery at the Miners if they think they see a loophole. The team has successfully recovered onside kicks this season and Shoulders does take snaps from a shotgun formation every once in a while.
The quarterback, Shoulders, has been nagging injuries this season, but he is supposedly 100% and healthy. If Shoulders isn’t the play-caller, the Indians turn to freshman Bryce Winningham and line up in a wishbone formation. When Winningham is under center, Shoulders doubles as a running back.
Both Gillespie and Lawrenceville have been doing their homework all week on each other after the head coaches met on Sunday to exchange game film. Both teams are in the same position, but its Gillespie who has the home field and home crowd advantage.
The winner of the Gillespie-Lawrenceville matchup today will play either Carmi (6-3) or Chester (8-1) in next week’s second round of playoffs.
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