Athens at Central
What: Class 1A second-round playoff game
Where: Camp Point, Ill.
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Records: Athens -- 8-2 (7-2 Sangamo Conference). Central -- 9-1 (4-1 Western Illinois Valley Conference North Division).
Last meeting: Oct. 29, 2011 -- Central 27, Athens 14. The Panthers ran the ball on 61 of their 63 offensive plays, grinding out 305 rushing yards with Garrett Kestner getting 105 yards on 14 carries and Nathan Knuffman with 102 yards.
Inside the matchup: There are a number of subplots that will pique the interest of most fans, but the matchup in the trenches is where this game will be decided. Specifically, can the Warriors' offensive line blast open holes the way it did in the first-round victory against Casey-Westfield? Or can Central defensive tackle Remington Buehler and the rest of the Panthers plug the gaps?
Buehler is a 300-pound beast who has played his best football in November the last two seasons, with 33 tackles and four tackles for loss this season. He needs to be active and powerful against a line that has paved the way for the Warriors to rush for 3,563 yards this season.
Athens senior running back Nic Laird had 362 yards and six touchdowns on 18 carries last week and comes into this week with 1,046 yards and 17 touchdowns overall. Deyson Davis has 1,068 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Dylan Fletcher has 349 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Warriors have committed just six turnovers this season and are plus-six in tunover margin. Senior defensive back Wyatt Boyer has six interceptions and one fumble recovery, while linebacker Ryan Lopian has 105 tackles.
Central is equally talented in the running game, although Brandon Rossmiller has been more of a workhorse than anyone else. He has 1,246 yards and 17 touchdowns on 103 carries, while Clayton Boehler had 806 yards and eight scores and Jaxon Mueller had 469 yards and nine TDs. The Panthers have rushed for 2,932 yards and average 7.2 yards per carry.
The Panthers have turned the ball over 11 times and are plus-11 in turnover margin, having recovered 14 fumbles. Rossmiller has two interception and three fumble recoveries to go along with 35 tackles.
-- Matt Schuckman