FOOTBALL

East Peoria will forfeit its second varsity football game in the last two weeks

Adam Duvall
Journal Star

East Peoria will forfeit its second consecutive varsity football game, one week after the school canceled a game because its roster was reduced by players out with injuries and illness.

The Raiders will forfeit their Week 8 Mid-Illini Conference game, originally scheduled for Friday, the school announced on Twitter on Wednesday morning. Opposing school Metamora had announced the cancelation via its Facebook page on Tuesday night. The freshmen-level game will go on as scheduled, the post said.

"It's heartbreaking for our kids and the East Peoria students, as well," Metamora coach Jared Grebner said. "I know that all players like to get an opportunity to play on Friday nights whenever possible. Unfortunately, it wasn't the case for this Friday."

'Safety factor':Inside East Peoria football's decision to forfeit and what comes next

Why did East Peoria forfeit against Morton?

East Peoria also canceled the game last week against Morton, citing the inability to field a competitive roster because of injuries and illness. The Raiders (2-6, 1-5) only have a visit to Pekin in Week 9 remaining on their schedule.

"That's why we always talk about, 'Friday nights are precious,' " said Grebner, who was told Monday about EP's decision. "Don't leave anything out on the field because you just never know what's going to happen,' but your heart breaks for kids from both schools."

Last Friday, East Peoria coach Dustin Jefferson was optimistic his team would be ready to play this week Metamora. He cited "18 or 19 guys who truly, truly were 100 percent healthy" that practiced leading up to the Week 7 meeting with Morton.

However, Jefferson and his coaching staff had monitored the 30-player roster throughout last week. Ultimately, the third-year coach made the decision to contact Morton and cancel.

"It just kind of began to become a safety factor," Jefferson said last week. “We could try to do it, but we’re going to be spreading ourselves really thin and I just wasn’t for that.”

A text message left with Jefferson on Tuesday night wasn't immediately returned.

What is next for Metamora?

Metamora (5-3, 4-2) becomes playoff eligible thanks to the forfeit and now directs its focus to a Week 9 showdown with Dunlap. The Redbirds have 10 days to prepare for their trip to face the Eagles, who last season lost to Metamora, 45-14.

More:Why East Peoria had to forfeit its Week 7 high school football game against Morton

Grebner says he's already adjusted his practice plans while attempting to replicate game speed. The Redbirds will keep working on fundamentals and getting better.

"We kind of turned our attention to Dunlap a little bit," Grebner said. "You kind of had to take a different path down the road and kind of switch our mindset a little bit."

Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. Email him at aduvall@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.