CATLIN — Since it’s inception in 2004, Salt Fork and Westville contest has been an important game in the Vermilion Valley Conference.
The Storm and the Tigers have played 14 regular-season games during that stretch and there has also been a pair of playoff games between the schools during the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
In those 16 games, Salt Fork enjoys a slim 9-7 advantage over Westville, but both coaches will quickly tell you that those games are in the past.
So, what about Friday’s contest that will be played on Lashmet-Hageman Field?
“This game will be like all the others between Salt Fork and Westville,’’ said Salt Fork first-year coach Joe Hageman. “It’s going to come down to blocking and tackling.
“And that’s an area that I thought we made improvement last week, but we need to keep getting better in those areas.’’
Westville coach Guy Goodlove says that he is pleased with his team’s progress this year.
“We always talk about being better tomorrow than we were today,’’ he said. “These kids have been very coachable, they listen very well and we are getting better every game.’’
The Tigers, who are 1-2 overall, will be playing their conference opener on Friday night, while the Storm, 2-1 overall, are already 1-0 in the league after last week’s 21-16 win against Georgetown-Ridge Farm.
“When you are only guaranteed nine games in a season, every one of those is important, especially if you want to play a 10th,’’ said Hageman, referring to the playoffs as Salt Fork is looking for its 18th trip in the past 19 years. “Your goal when the season starts is to get to six wins. We are going to need four in our final six games to get there.’’
Westville, which has played two state-ranked teams in its first three games, is looking to get into playoff contention after going 0-9 a year ago.
“We’ve played some really good football teams,’’ said Goodlove referring to Moweaqua Central A&M, No. 3 in Class 1A, and Clifton Central, No. 3 in Class 2A. “I thought we did pretty well last week against Clifton Central.’’
Ironically, both Salt Fork and Westville already have a common opponent this season — South Beloit.
The Storm defeated the Sobos, 38-14 in week 1 contest in Catlin. While the Tigers defeated the Sobos 34-12 in week 2.
“A lot of things change during the season, so what a team did in week 1 isn’t always the same as what they do in week 2,’’ Goodlove said. “We just know that we are getting a very good Salt Fork team that is well-coached and they have the ability to spread things around.’’
Running back Tate Johnson and linebacker Payton Taylor are two players that Goodlove knows will be handful for Westville.
“They also have a nice blend of veterans and young players,’’ he said.
On the other side, Hageman said one of the keys for the Storm will be matching up with the Tigers physically.
“I think we are somewhat similar,’’ Hageman said. “We both want to establish the running game to set up the throwing game.
“Winning the battles along the line of scrimmage is going to be important for both teams.’’
Friday’s game is set for a 7 p.m kickoff and the game can be heard locally on WRKH-FM 94.9.
Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin at Georgetown-Ridge Farm
When — 7 p.m. Friday
Where — at Georgetown
Records — Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin 3-0 overall, 1-0 in the Vermilion Valley Conference. Georgetown-Ridge Farm 0-3 overall, 0-1 in the VVC.
Summary — The Blue Devils are just two wins away from their 11th straight winning season. Senior running back Caleb Lahey, the 2018 Commercial-News Player of the Year, has rushed for 379 yards and 7 touchdowns this season for Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin, while senior quarterback Avery McConkey has throw for 517 yards and nine touchdowns. Evan Walworth is 16-of-18 on extra points this season for the Blue Devils. The first four opponents for the Buffaloes have combined for wins in 10 of 12 games this season, and their second ranked opponent this year. The Blue Devils have won 11 straight against the Buffaloes. The last win for Georgetown-Ridge Farm was a 14-8 victory in the 2007 season.
Hoopeston Area/Armstrong-Potomac at Oakwood
When — 7 p.m. Friday
Where — at Oakwood
Records — Hoopeston Area/Armstrong-Potomac 0-3 overall, 0-1 in the Vermilion Valley Conference. Oakwood 2-1 overall, 0-0 in the VVC.
Summary — The Comets have two straight and they have outscored their opponents 119-7 in those games. Oakwood senior running back Colby Smiley is among the area leaders in rushing. The Comets have won six straight matchups against the Cornjerkers. The last win for Hoopeston Area was 22-18 triumph in 2011. Elijah Venecia has passed for 531 yards and 1 touchdown this season for the Cornjerkers.
Milford/Cissna Park at Schlarman Academy
When — 7 p.m. Friday
Where — Drummy Field
Radio — WDAN-AM 1490
Records — Milford/Cissna Park 3-0 overall. Schlarman Academy 2-1 overall.
Summary — The Hilltoppers have won back-to-back games including an overtime thriller last Saturday against North Fulton. Senior Vaughn Black and junior Rance Bryant have combined for 454 receiving yards. Defensively, junior Andy Craig leads Schlarman Academy with 24 tackles. Quarterback Penn Stoller has accounted for 915 yards of offense (545 rushing and 370 passing) in three straight wins for the Bearcats. Milford/Cissna Park is the defending Illinois 8-man state champions.
Attica at Fountain Central
When — 7 p.m. (Eastern) Friday
Where — Mustang Field in Veedersburg, Ind.
Records — Attica 3-1 overall, 2-0 in the Wabash River Conference. Fountain Central 0-4 overall and 0-2 in the WRC.
Summary — The Mustangs are trying to avoid an 0-5 start. The last time that Fountain Central lost its first five games was the 2001 season, when it finished 2-9. Attica’s 32-8 win last year snapped a three-game winning streak in the series for Fountain Central. The Red Ramblers haven’t had consecutive wins over the Mustangs since the 2007-08 seasons. Senior running back Eli Kirkpatrick has had four straight games of more than 100 yards for Attica.
Covington at SeegerWhen — 7 p.m. (Eastern) Friday
Where — Patriot Field in West Lebanon, Ind.
Radio — WKZS-FM 103.1
Records — Covington 1-3 overall, 1-3 in the Wabash River Conference. Seeger 2-2 overall, 1-2 in the WRC.
Summary — In the last 10 meetings between the conference rivals, Seeger has won six times, while Covington has won four including a 34-26 triumph a year ago. Senior quarterback Colton Brown has thrown for 672 yards for the Trojans with nine touchdowns and only one interception this season. Senior running back Tristan Bahms is averaging 102.0 rushing yards per game for the Patriots.
Riverton Parke at North VermillionWhen — 7 p.m. (Eastern) Friday
Where — Gibson Field in Cayuga, Ind.
Records — Riverton Parke 1-3 overall, 1-3 in the Wabash River Conference. North Vermillion 3-1 overall, 1-1 in the WRC.
Summary — The Falcons have won 12 straight contests against the Panthers. Riverton Parke’s last victory was a 14-8 triumph during the 2007 season. North Vermillion currently enjoys an eight-game conference win streak. Senior quarterback Brennan Ellis has passed for 752 yards and rushed for 246 yards for the Falcons.