Annawan-Wethersfield was ranked third in Class 1A in the final Associated Press poll. It received 69 points in vote and retained its position.
Annawan-Wethersfield plays Lewistown in the first-round of the Class 1A playoffs at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The AP panel awarded seven first-place votes to Lena-Winslow, which kept the top spot. Moweaqua Central A&M received one first-place vote and was second.
Morrison received one first-place vote and came in fourth. Freeport Aquin was fifth.
All top five schools in the poll are undefeated at 9-0.
The poll notwithstanding, Annawan-Wethersfield received the No. 1 seed for the top half of the 32-team Class 1A bracket, while Moweaqua Central A&M was No. 1 for the bottom half of the bracket.
Illinois High School Association seedings are based on a system that divides the field geographically, then uses wins and playoff points based on opponent wins to set pairings.
Scout team is ‘huge’
Annawan-Wethersfield junior quarterback Coltin Quagliano has playoff experience in football, but also in basketball. He was the leading scorer and point guard for the Wethersfield boys basketball team that won a Class 1A regional title last season.
In basketball, the workouts and incremental adjustments that take place over five months and after 30 games move seamlessly into the playoffs. Football is more meticulous, more specific to that week’s opponent, he says.
“Football, you’ve got eight days and you have time to work on every single play,” Quagliano says. “Football is a lot more preparation. Basketball just happens.”
Part of that preparation requires the second unit to serve as the opponent in drills and schemes. Quagliano says that role is significant in the postseason.
“Just executing and getting the scout team as many reps as we can,” he says. “Scout team is going to be huge for us this week.”
Losses still smart
Annawan-Wethersfield’s unbeaten run through the season was motivated in no small part by the losses the team suffered a season ago. First-year coach Logan Willits said as much in the preseason.
Defeating Illini West in Carthage and following up with a victory over Farmington were on the team’s checklist, for certain.
So was its quick exit from the playoffs, when Aurora Christian beat A-W 26-20 in the first round last year.
“We worked so hard in the offseason,” said linebacker Drake Van Hyfte. “ To go 9-0 is just an amazing thing.”
Now, the goal is to stay focused. “We just got to keep our minds right. Can’t get cocky.”
Quagliano echoed the sentiment: “Knowing that we lost our first playoff game last year, we want to battle back and execute. We’re going to come here and fight.”