HOOPESTON — The goal of the Hoopeston Area/Schlarman Academy/Armstrong-Potomac football team this season is to make the playoffs.
After their last two games, the possibility could not be that far-fetched.
The Cornjerkers, who haven't played an IHSA playoff game since 1993, are coming off a win over Fisher two weeks ago and a 21-7 loss to Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin last week, a game where the Cornjerkers were up 7-6 at halftime.
"We knew that we could hang with them, we just had to prove it, not just to us, but to them, our town, our school, our community," HASAAP coach Trey Stille said. "It was a fun game with a roller coaster of emotions. It was back and forth for a while and it was like heavyweight fight. It came down to knowing how to close. We have to figure out the little things, but we can't beat ourselves."
With a 1-2 record and 0-1 record in the Vermilion Valley Conference, Stille said that the season has seen many eye-openers for him and the team.
"Against Fisher, it was eye-opening in that we can't overlook anyone when it comes to size and who they lost from the year before," Stille said. "Iroquois West was eye-opening because we saw we could be a real great tackling team and score points and create turnovers as long as everyone does their job and play together.
"Bismarck was eye-opening in that we were hanging tough with the conference bully. To hang with a formidable opponent was strong for our confidence and showing that you are capable of playing with high-qualify opponents, we just have to learn to beat them."
HASAAP will try to build on their recent run on Friday when they host Oakwood, who will not only have its first VVC game, but first road game after hosting the first three games of the season. The Comets lost those games, but by a total of 25 points.
"They lost a lot,'' Stille said. "They went from two winning seasons and lost players and their coach. But they are a capable team and they can score. They can put some points on the board and if we can stop them from doing that, then we are confidence. But you actually have to do it. We are not overlooking them, They have had some tough games and they are not getting blown out."
While Stille is loving how the defense is playing, he wants the offense to start playing up and take advantage of opportunities as well.
"We have to get the offense going. Our defense has done a great job and keeping us in games for us," Stille, who also calls the plays on offense, said. "We have had two kickoff returns for a touchdowns and a interception for a touchdowns, so offensively,we have not put up a lot of points, so I have to be better in how to attack the defenses. I will take the fall that I will have to be better as a offensive playcaller.
"We can be our own worst enemy at times. You have to always be working toward that goal and not taking any time off and not taking reps off, going to the weight room and it started six month ago. so if we can come together as a team, we will be all right."
Statistically, the Cornjerkers are led by Caleb Larkin, who has rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns this season. Quarterback Marcus Blurton is 12-for-29 for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Jacob Catron has five receptions for 80 yards, while Vaughn Black has six catches for 76 yards.
Anthony Colunga leads Hoopeston Area with 32 tackles, while Max Conn has three sacks.
The Comets, who are attempting to get new head coach Al Craig his first win, have beaten the Cornjerkers the last five times this teams have meet.
The game will start at 7 p.m.
Georgetown-Ridge Farm at Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin
When — 7 p.m. Friday
Where — Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin High School
Radio — WRHK-FM 94.9
Records — Georgetown-Ridge Farm 0-3 overall, 0-1 in Vermilion Valley Conference; Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 3-0 overall, 1-0 in Vermilion Valley Conference.
Storylines — The Buffaloes have yet to get past 10 points in a game all season and they might have to do that and more against the Blue Devils. BHRA has scored more than 30 points in two of its three games and even last week's 21-point effort against Hoopeston Area/Schlarman Academy/Armstrong-Potomac was aided by constant rain.
Salt Fork at Westville
When — 7 p.m. Friday
Where — Westville High School
Records — Salt Fork 3-0 overall, 1-0 in Vermilion Valley Conference; Westville 0-3 overall, 0-0 in Vermilion Valley Conference
Storylines — The Tigers finally return to Memorial Field for their home and Vermilion Valley Conference opener against the Storm. Both teams come into this contest from different directions as Westville has scored 13 points in its opening losses, while the Storm have held teams to a combined total of 14 points in their victories.
Seeger at Covington
When — 7 p.m. Eastern
Where — Covington Sports Complex
Radio — WKZS-FM 103.1; WSKL-FM 92.9
Records — Seeger 2-2 overall, 1-2 in Wabash River Conference; Covington 0-4 overall, 0-4 in Wabash River Conference
Storylines — The Patriots' season has been a loss followed by a win, but on Friday, they want to win their second game in row. Seeger has won the last two games in the series, but it has been close with a 28-15 win last season and a 27-20 triumph in 2016. The Trojans have not lost more than four in a row to start the season since 2013, but they would like to equal what the 2014 team did. Covington was 0-4 before beating Seeger 41-30 and would go to a 5-6 record.
Fountain Central at Attica
When — 7 p.m. Eastern
Where — Attica High School, Attica, Ind.
Records — Fountain Central 4-0 overall, 2-0 in Wabash River Conference; Attica 3-1 overall, 2-1 in Wabash River Conference
Storylines — With Parke Heritage taking over first in the WRC, both the Mustangs and the Red Ramblers want to stay in the hunt at the top. Attica has not lost two straight WRC games since 2016, but the Fountain Central Mustangs last lost to the Red Ramblers in 2014.
North Vermillion at Riverton Parke
When — 7 p.m. Eastern
Where — Riverton Parke High School, Montezuma, Ind.
Records — North Vermillion 3-1 overall; 2-0 in Wabash River Conference; Riverton Parke 0-4 overall, 0-4 in Wabash River Conference.
Storylines — After the Falcons fell to Linton-Stockton last week, they look to take that out on the Panthers and history states that they will. The last time the Falcons lost to the Panthers was in 2007.