Zeb Katzmarek carries the ball against Hillsboro in Roxana's first round matchup of the playoffs last Saturday.

ROXANA - Sophomore running back Zeb Katzmarek isn't exactly the Roxana football team's go-to receiver. That's why when he was given the ball and saw a lane open up to the end zone against Hillsboro in the IHSA football playoff first round, he couldn't believe it.

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With the game tied at 7-7 in the third quarter, Zeb got the ball, found a hole in the defense, and just kept running for a 66-yard touchdown. It went on to be the game-winning score.

"I'm just glad I can contribute honestly," he said after the 13-7 win over Hillsboro. "I was waiting for my shot all year to run the ball and I finally got it."

"I remember watching us in the playoffs a couple of years ago and now I'm here and I contributed and it's just the best feeling in the world," he added.

Zeb flies by a defender in route to scoring the game-winning 66-yard TD against Hillsboro.

He contributes not only on the offense but also on the defensive side of the ball. He's one of the team's leading DBs. He recorded a single tackle on Saturday against the Hilltoppers.

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When asked what his favorite thing about the postseason was, Zeb said undoubtedly the fans.

"I think the environment is so different in the playoffs," he said. "When we have a whole community behind us it's just way easier to play football and win football games. I think that's going to be a key thing next week."

"We're undefeated at home and I think that's going to help us a lot," Zeb added.

Five of the team's six wins in the regular season came at home. They had only won a single game on the road and that was the big upset over rivals Wood River. That's why it was such a big deal winning in Hillsboro and being able to come back home to host the second round.

That second round is going to be tough too. The Shells will take on undefeated Prairie Land (10-0) this Saturday.

"They're going to be tough no matter what," Zeb said. "We have to bring our A-game. We have to be better next week, we have to be perfect."

The game against Prairie Land is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, November 5, in Roxana. The game will be livestreamed on Riverbender.com.

Zeb celebrates with a teammate after scoring his touchdown.

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