Prep Football

Containing Tigers' Guilavogui is Raiders' toughest task

Quincy Notre Dame defensive end Zac Becker takes down Alton Marquette quarterback Logan Sternickle as Raiders linebacker Jack Marth, right, joins the play during a game earlier this season at Advance Physical Therapy Field. The Raiders put an emphasis on containment during practice this week as they prepare to face Beardstown and all-state running back Pascal Guilavogui in Saturday’s Class 3A second-round playoff game. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 9, 2019 12:40 am Updated: Nov. 9, 2019 1:03 am

QUINCY -- The last name may be difficult for some to pronounce, and none of the Quincy Notre Dame football team's 11 defensive starters are concerned with getting it right.

Their mission is to contain Beardstown running back Pascal Guilavogui, not talk about him.

"But we know who he is for sure," Quincy Notre Dame defensive end Zac Backer said.

They better because Guilavogui is expected to be involved in 80 to 90 percent of the Tigers' offensive snaps during Saturday's Class 3A second-round playoff game at Advance Physical Therapy Field.

Guilavogui will line up at running back, wide receiver, split end and quarterback. He's scored in every variety during the Tigers' 10-0 season, including the kicking game.

In last week's 31-6 victory Newton, Guilavogui had 220 yards rushing and three touchdowns, two receptions for 54 yards and a score, kicked four extra points and booted a 40-yard field goal. He's 39 of 41 kicking extra points this season to go along with a series of other gaudy numbers.

"His ability to separate is special and he's got great vision, too," Beardstown coach Robbi Howard said. "He's a player that so versatile."

Guilavogui has rushed for 2,221 yards and 28 touchdowns as the catalyst for an offense that averages 39.7 points. His big-play potential is what truly sets him apart. Guilavogui turned a sweep into a 65-yard scoring run for the first touchdown against Newton.

"Every coach in the world works a pursuit drill, take the pursuit angle and everything like that," Howard said. "That's hard to replicate if it's against Pascal. A lot of teams and a lot of kids pursuing Pascal end up 2 or 3 yards short."

That's why the Raiders have talked endlessly all week about containing the Tigers.

"It's important to keep everything inside the tackle box," QND junior linebacker Jack Marth said. "Once he gets in the open field, he's gone honestly. So we have to contain."

That means sticking to assignments and being prepared.

"This might be the most prepared I've been for a game in my high school career," Marth said. "It's been about watching film every day by yourself and doing the individual work along with the team film study and practice. That's really important this week. A common message this week is to go above and beyond. That's what is going to give us an advantage."

And this won't be the first time the Raiders have seen speed and versatility in the form of a once-in-a-lifetime running back.

They went toe-to-toe with former Quincy High School running back Jirehl Brock a year ago and faced three teams -- Peoria Central, Breese Mater Dei and Richmond-Burton -- that were blessed with NCAA Division I talent and speed.

"It really does help," Becker said. "If we had to play someone like this, without facing guys like Jirehl (Brock) and guys from Peoria Central and Richmond-Burton, this might be daunting. We have an idea what we're up against."

What the Raiders can't lose sight of is the fact Beardstown is equipped with more than Guilavogui on offense. Avery Quigley is a 1,300-yard runner and a 500-yard receiver. Tight end Clement Kayambe is a quality blocker and pass catcher. And quarterback Clint Cooper is a tough field general who is not afraid to get out and block for his backs.

So stopping one aspect of the offense doesn't mean the Raiders can relax and feel as if they've stopped it all.

"Football is like throwing a wolf out the back door," Cornell said. "You have to throw one wolf out the back door, while you have another coming through the front door and others climbing in the windows. We have to do a good job of trying to stop what's in front of us and do our job one play at a time."

The Raiders feel ready to do that.

"We've been preparing for this ever since the start of two-a-days and getting our minds right for these kind of games," Becker said.