CAMP POINT, Ill. (WGEM) -- For the sixth straight season Camp Point Central is a playoff football team. And, for the second consecutive season the Panthers are in the quarterfinals.
Come Saturday, Brad Dixon's squad has another goal - their second straight Final Four berth.
"Just the opportunity that we get to go out and play even in a quarterfinal game is amazing," senior Mike Johnson said.
"Yet to be able to participate in a potential semifinal is indescribable."
Fourth ranked Central pays a visit to top ranked Maroa-Forsyth and don't expect an overwhelmed visitor. As Dixon points out, the Panthers were in the same scenario in last season's Class 2A quarterfinals and won at DuQuoin.
"I think to be able to go to Maroa we kind of know what to expect. We're definitely not scared of the opportunity and we're embracing the opportunity," Dixon said.
"I think our guys take a lot from that experience we had last year."
The Panther defense will face their biggest test to date against a Maroa-Forsyth offense that's scored at least 38 points in all but one game this season, and features an NCAA Division I caliber quarterback in Jack Hockaday.
"He's a great quarterback," Central senior Cole Phillips said of Hockaday.
"We've just got to, as (defensive backs), stay deep and (we) can't let any big plays go. Our linebackers have to keep an eye on the quarterback in case he pulls (the ball) and run, and our (defensive line) just has to get some pressure."
Part of the Panthers goal is to sustain drives when they get the football.
"We've got to keep the ball out of their hands as much as possible, and then when they do have it, we just have to make them try to earn everything they get," Dixon noted.
"Hopefully we'll get some stops or we'll get some takeaway's."
A proven winner on the road this season, Central looks to continue that trend.
But easier said than done.
The host Trojans are the defending Class 1A state champs and they've won 23 straight games.
"As a coach or a player this the type of game you want. When you do all the things you do in the summertime you dream to be in a position to play in this game and to have this opportunity," Dixon explained.
"To look into their eyes when we take the field, and the look in their eyes after the game if we go there and take care of business, it will be something I'll always remember."
Game time for Saturday's Class 1A quarterfinal is set for 3 p.m.
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