EDWARDSVILLE - The Edwardsville and O'Fallon football teams are set to lock horns once again in the first round of Class 8A as the IHSA football playoffs are set to begin across the state this weekend. The Tigers and Panthers will play each other at OTHS Panther Stadium Saturday night at 7 p.m.
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The Tigers and Panthers played in a week four game at Tiger Stadium on Sept. 16, with O'Fallon coming back from a 21-0 deficit, later becoming 31-21, to score the winning touchdown and two-point conversion with 1:20 left in regulation to pull out a 32-31 win over Edwardsville in dramatic fashion. Since then, the Tigers won three of five, the highlight of that string being a 28-27 overtime win over Belleville East at home, then the next week gave East St. Louis everything they wanted before losing to the Flyers 26-7.
The Tigers are led by quarterback Jake Curry, who's 97-of-151 passing for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns, also rushing for 202 yards and seven scores. De'Shawn Larson is the leading rusher for Edwardsville with 498 yards and five touchdowns, with Jordan Bush giving the Tigers a strong one-two punch on the ground, going for 402 yards and eight touchdowns.
The receivers are also a strong point for the Tigers, with Daion Gaston having 32 catches for 517 yards and seven touchdowns, while Kellen Brnfre has 31 receptions for 419 yards and three touchdowns.
The Panthers will counter with quarterback Colt Michael, who's 135-of-232 passing for 1,948 yards and 29 touchdowns. He's also run for 85 yards and two touchdowns. The O'Fallon ground game is led by Christopher Caldwell, who's run for 928 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Kylan Green has run for 262 yards and six scores.
O'Fallon's passing attack is among the best in the area, with Jalen Smith catching 48 balls for 765 yards and 15 touchdowns, while Christian Jones has 30 receptions for 445 yards and seven touchdowns. In total, the Panthers have four receivers in triple figures in yardage and will be a formidable challenge for the Tigers.
The winner moves on to the second round and a game between the winner of Plainfield South and Wilmette Loyola Academy.