In a normal football season, wrapping up the third game of the season means that the first third of the year is over, setting the stage for a six-game stretch that contains plenty of postseason position battles and conference title races. But this season is anything but normal and all that remains are conference crown competitions that are intensified more than other seasons due to the shorter schedules and lack of postseason.

Last week marked the halfway point, at least, for area football teams. While the third game was the exact midway point for many local squads, members of the Illinois Central Eight Conference only have two more games left in their five-game schedule.

When I was interviewing Central senior Jay Lemenager after he was responsible for as many touchdowns (six) as the Comets allowed points in their 40-6 win at Dwight and I asked him what changed for the team at halftime of their week 2 win at Seneca, seeing as how the Comets have outscored opponents 64-6 since then, and he said that defensive coordinator Matt Sertich reminded the seniors how little time they truly have left.

And for both the Comets and Trojans, along with a handful of other area teams, it’s not just the stretch run for the shortened season, but the stretch run for the Sangamon Valley Conference. After decades of legendary moments and unforgettable highlights, three weeks remain in the conference’s pigskin history. And if the Comets and Watseka remain unbeaten over the next two weeks, their week 6 showdown will be for the rights to be the final champion in conference history.

Quick Recap

Here are the area’s football scores for week 3:

• Bradley-Bourbonnais 40, Andrew 28

• Bishop McNamara 40, Chicago Christian 0

• Kankakee 35, Rich Township 0

• Peotone 28, Manteno 0

• Coal City 34, Lisle 6

• Herscher 34, Streator 7

• Wilmington 26, Lisle 21

• Central 40, Dwight 6

• Watseka 20, Seneca 14 (OT)

• Momence 50, Walter Christian 12

• Paxton-Buckley-Loda 36, Iroquois West 7

Shoutout of the week

The unquestioned best feature of smalltown USA living is the communal bond that comes along with it, and that was on full display at Dwight over the weekend, where the football game doubled as a fundraiser for one of the Trojans’ own. Curt Perschnick, a 2007 Dwight graduate who played football at Augustana, was recently diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer, and the Dwight community rallied together to raise money for Perschnick and his family. Difficult moments are never welcomed, but the way they allow people to come together is always beautiful to see.

Boiling point

I’ll never forget the gut-wrenching 14-10 loss Bradley-Bourbonnais suffered to Andrew last season on a Hail Mary to a fullback that was followed by a fake spike touchdown run. And the Boilermakers didn’t either when they visited Andrew Saturday, where they led 34-7 at the half before allowing the Thunderbolts to get as close as 34-28 before shutting the door for their first win of the season and getting their revenge. It was a great win for a young Boilers squad that saw some of its young talent on full display over the weekend.

The rivalry of rivalries

Bears-Packers. Red Sox-Yankees. Duke-North Carolina. Coal City-Wilmington. One of the Illinois Central Eight’s best rivalries was on full display when Peotone bested Manteno last Thursday and one of the others comes this week when the two perennial powers meet in a battle of 3-0 squads in Wilmington Friday. It’s a rivalry that records are thrown out in advance of, but with both teams peaking with perfect records, ICE implications are on the line, but more importantly so are the bragging rights.

Mason Schweizer is an award-winning reporter who has been with the Daily Journal since 2017 and sports editor since 2019. Save for time at the University of Illinois and Wayne State College, Mason is a lifelong area resident.