What we learned: 4 takeaways from Week 9 high school football around Peoria

Adam Duvall
Journal Star

Playoff spots locked in, how Peoria High bounced back and figuring out the final Mid-Illini Conference standings.

These storylines and more make up our top takeaways from high school football in Week 9 around the Peoria area:

Looking to the first round

With Week 9 all wrapped up, the playoff picture has become clear for Peoria-area teams. There are 20 teams that are playoff eligible with five or more wins.

Undefeated teams at 9-0 include Pekin, Macomb and Princeton, while Peoria High (8-1) is the lone one-loss local squad. Eureka, Farmington, El Paso-Gridley, Annawan/Wethersfield and Knoxville all enter the playoffs at 7-2.

More:The Peoria area's top performances from Week 9 of the high school football season

The 6-3 teams include Metamora, Washington, Elmwood/Brimfield, Rushville-Industry and St. Bede. Dunlap, Stark County, ROWVA/Williamsfield, Hall/Putnam County, Monmouth-Roseville and LaSalle-Peru are among the six teams at 5-4.

All these teams will know their fates come 8 p.m. Saturday with the announcement of the Illinois High School Association playoff pairings.

Peoria High ends with a win

Following last week's 30-6 loss to eventual Big 12 Conference champion Normal West, Peoria High responded in a big way on Friday at Peoria Stadium. The Lions cruised to a 48-7 win over city rival Peoria Notre Dame.

This puts Peoria High (8-1) in a great position to host a home Class 5A playoff game. Running back Malachi Washington and wideout Ricky Hearn each had long touchdowns as the Lions defense held its second opponent this season to single digits.

Peoria High coach Tim Thornton has now guided the Lions to their eighth playoff appearance since 2013.

More:Peoria High football lost the conference title. Here's why that could be a good thing

Final Mid-Illini standings

No more projections are needed when it comes to the Mid-Illini Conference race. Those standings are locked in for 2022.

Pekin (9-0) went 7-0 to claim its second league title in four seasons. Washington (6-3) finished in sole possession of second place with a 6-1 mark. Metamora's win over Dunlap broke a tie for third and gave the Redbirds (6-3) a 5-2 conference record.

The Eagles (5-4) come in fourth at 4-3, while Morton (4-5) went 3-4 for a fifth-place finish. Canton (2-7) got its lone wins in M-I play to finish sixth at 2-5.

East Peoria (2-7) was the seventh-place finisher at 1-6 as Limestone (0-9) rounds out the conference standings at 0-7.

More:How Washington's defense kept rolling — and kept Morton from the football playoffs

El Paso-Gridley wins a big one

El Paso-Gridley beat Downs Tri-Valley for the first time in program history, knocking off Class 2A's sixth-ranked team, 30-22.

The Titans (7-2) entered Friday night with a 0-10 record against their Heart of Illinois Conference-Large Division rivals before putting on a big-time rally. EP-G scored the game's final 17 points including Illinois recruit Declan Duley's 52-yard field goal with 3:20 left in the third quarter.

Tri-Valley (7-2) looked to respond but a Kamren Schumacher interception set up a Dax Gentes 10-yard rushing touchdown just 1:34 into the final 12 minutes. Defense stepped up big for El Paso-Gridley in the game's final three minutes.

First, Gentes nearly had a pick-6, but was stopped on the Tri-Valley one-yard. Schumacher gave the Titans a lasting lead with his one-yard QB sneak and just 2:53 left on the clock. Duley kicked the extra point that set the final score.

However, the Vikings threatened, getting all the way down to EP-G's 12-yard-line before four incomplete passes sealed the Titans victory.