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HS Football Week 9: Southwestern returns to postseason, Carlinville improves seeding

Rex Reels threw for four touchdowns and 214 yards for the Carlinville High School football team against Gillespie Oct. 20. The Cavaliers defeated the Miners, 44-6, and headed into the IHSA Class 3A playoffs with a 6-3 record. Photo contributed.


Enquirer Democrat Reporter

Southwestern clinched a playoff berth and Carlinville improved its overall seeding as the 2023 high school football regular season came to a close Oct. 20.

Southwestern dominated Hillsboro in Piasa and Carlinville handled business against hapless Route 4 rival Gillespie on home turf.

Southwestern 35, Hillsboro 7

Hillsboro had had Southwestern’s number in recent years, but not last weekend.

Needing a win to get in, the Piasa Birds downed the Toppers for just the second time in the last 10 meetings, and ensured that they would return to the playoffs after being eliminated from contention by Hillsboro during Week 8 of the 2022 campaign.

Southwestern scored a touchdown on the game’s opening drive. From that point on, the Birds were in complete control. With an ecstatic Senior Night crowd spectating, Southwestern limited the visiting Toppers to just 13 total yards while the offense grew the advantage to 21-0 at halftime.

Behind the leadership of Blake Rimbey and Rocky Darr, the Birds soared to a convincing 35-7 victory and celebrated their program’s second Illinois High School Association berth in the past three seasons. Prior to 2021, Southwestern had to endure a 12-year drought.

Piasa quarterback Rimbey scored three touchdowns, completed four of five passes for 84 yards (1 TD) and carried the ball 11 times for 92 additional yards (two TD) on keepers.

Darr contributed 81 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries while making a team-high 12 tackles. The senior also reeled in a Rimbey throw that resulted in a 21-yard scoring catch.

One night later, Southwestern received official word that it would be a 13th seed in the IHSA Class 2A bracket. The 5-4 Piasa Birds are faced with a tough road dual at No. 4 Athens Sat., Oct. 28. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.

Carlinville 44, Gillespie 6

Carlinville built a 44-0 lead in just 17 minutes and pummeled Gillespie, 44-6, to finish 6-3 overall and take an important leap in the IHSA Class 3A rankings.

On his Senior Night, Rex Reels scorched the winless Miners with 10 completions for 214 yards and a quartet of touchdown passes to Mason Gilpin, Triston Thompson, Noah Convery and Jack Rouse – all in the first half.

Carlinville led 44-0 at the break and sent Gillespie to its first 0-9 season since 2014.

The Cavaliers make their 17th consecutive IHSA postseason appearance Sat., Oct. 28 at 2 p.m. Carlinville travels to St. Joseph as a No. 11 seed to meet the sixth-ranked Spartans of St. Joseph-Ogden.

Other action

In other action, it’s “better luck next year” for Staunton and North Mac.

Both teams, which had already been eliminated from postseason contention in previous weeks, ended 2023 on the losing side.

Staunton fell short in a hard-fought battle against Pana, 19-13, to finish 3-6.

North Mac had its Senior Night spoiled by outright South Central Conference champion Greenville, 48-20. The Panthers finished 1-8 on the year after winning eight games in 2022.

Southwestern 35, Hillsboro 7
Litchfield 38, Vandalia 34
Carlinville 44, Gillespie 6
Pana 19, Staunton 13
Greenville 48, North Mac 20

y- Greenville (9-0)
x- Carlinville (6-3)
x- Litchfield (6-3)
x- Vandalia (6-3)
x- Pana (6-3)
x- Southwestern (5-4)
e- Staunton (3-6)
e- Hillsboro (3-6)
e- North Mac (1-8)
e- Gillespie (0-9)