The Red Zone Game of the Week audience was treated to a thriller in the opening round of the Class 5A state playoffs. Washington, which had been thumped 40-0 at Metamora just two weeks earlier, responded with a vengeance and pulled out a 19-14 win at Metamora, scoring in the last minute at Malone Field. Washington then held off the Redbirds offense on its last possession to stay alive in the post season. The Panthers welcomed back star running back Austin Harrell, who hadn't played in a month due to an ankle injury, and offensive tackle Brock Hoover, who'd missed a few games with a sprained knee. They - and all the Panthers - upped their intensity and pulled off the upset of their main Mid Ilini rival.
This week, Bruce Cowdrey and I will follow the Panthers home, where the task gets no easier in the second round. Washington plays host to unbeaten, state ranked Normal U-High. The Pioneers are 10-0, their best season in school history. U High features veteran offensive and defensive lines, highlighted by mostly underclassmen playing the skilled positions. Quarterback Arion Worthman is just a sophomore. He throws out of the spread offense often, usually to one of the tall basketball brothers, 6-4 Malik Wildermuth or 6-5 Kane Wildermuth. They're coached by former ISU and Bloomington indoor (Extreme/Edge) quarterback Dusty Burk.
Listen for the pregame show at 6:30. Kickoff's at 7 o'clock Friday night for week two of the playoffs on the Red Zone Game of the Week. And senior reporter Tom Meredith will help out with sideline reporting Friday night.