Ryan's View: A look at Saturday's quarterfinal playoff game between El Paso-Gridley and GCMS

GIBSON CITY -- There are two things people like to mention before this weekend’s quarterfinal matchup between GCMS and El Paso-Gridley.
 
First, fans wonder how this year’s Falcons 11-0 squad compares to 2015’s team, who lost in the quarterfinals (also at home). Then, superstitious fans might begin to think history is repeating itself - but in a bad way.
 
Let’s start with the comparisons between the 2015 team and this one.
 
Defensively, both units are nickname worthy, as both teams held opponents to less than a touchdown per game. The 2017 squad wins, giving up six to seven this year.
 
When it comes to yards allowed however, the 2015 team earns first with 117 given up per game compared to this year’s mark of 136.
 
On the attack, GCMS was led by a lead back with solid complement at fullback. In 2015, Mitch McNutt was the fullback to Nick Meunier. Two years later, McNutt is the lead back with Jared Trantina playing the bruiser role.
 
Overall, 2017’s team scores more points per game - 45 to 39 - but they also average more yards per game - 378 to 317. The 378 yards per game is the most since GCMS joined the Heart of Illinois Conference in 2006 (second place is 2009’s team that averaged 372).
 
Is there an answer to which team is better? No. But, it is fun to talk about.
 
Now, for you superstitious fans reading today and tuning in on Saturday. This weekend’s game against EPG marks consecutive years the two teams will have squared off in the regular season and postseason.
 
Let’s look at last year’s regular season overtime loss, 22-20, in week three (at home) to the Titans. The Falcons rushing attack, led by McNutt, had a hard time gaining positive plays, as the offense averaged only 2.2 yards per play.
 
In the test of the season for GCMS last weekend, West Carroll tackled Falcons runners six times for a total loss of 26 yards. In week three, EPG had seven tackles for a total loss of 25 yards.
 
GCMS earned revenge over EPG with a first round victory, 35-7, in last year’s class 2A state playoffs. This year, the Falcons held a 31-12 lead at halftime.
 
While that seems like a sizable advantage, GCMS has scored almost 78 percent of its 498 points this season in the first half. At the same time, its defense has only allowed two other teams to score in the first two quarters: Paxton-Buckley-Loda with seven in week 1, and Eastland-Pearl City scored six in the first round.
 
Then again, all of these thoughts, statistics, and coincidences do not mean a thing once the clock strikes 2 p.m. in Gibson City and quarterfinal action gets kicked off on N. Sangamon Avenue.
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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