Football notes: Goal is to finish strong

With postseason qualification secured, the Vandals will now shift their focus to getting the highest playoff seed that they can.

And neither of the next two games will be easy wins.

Vandalia travels to Pana (4-3) on Friday and will host Greenville (6-1) next Friday in the final two games before the postseason starts, and coach John Stout said that the opposition doesn’t matter as well as the team executes well.

“We need to be playing well at the end of the season to get ready for the postseason,” Stout said. “Whoever you are against, you have to play well.”

The Panthers have been inconsistent this season, securing a win at Carlinville (6-1) but also losing to Southwestern (3-4) and Staunton (3-4).

“Coach (Al) Stupek always has some things ready to go,” Stout said. “They are getting hurt by injuries now, but we will have to be ready to play.

“They play defense and run the football well.”

Pana has always played Vandalia tough, and that showed last season, when the Vandals won the regular-season matchup, 20-14, but then lost to the Panthers in the first round of the playoffs, 14-7.

“They knocked us out, so that’s a motivator,” said senior Ryan Ambuehl. “They are always a tough team, and I'm sure coach Stout has some things that will allow us to shut them down and score on them.”

Playoff gear

Vandalia playoff hooded sweatshirts and T-shirts are available to be ordered at the high school office.

A sweatshirt is $25, a long-sleeved T-shirt is $17 and a short-sleeve T-shirt is $10.

Playoff picture

Three teams from the South Central Conference have already clinched automatic playoff bids, and it’s still up in the air how many others will join the postseason party.

At 6-1, each Vandalia, Greenville and Carlinville have punched their playoff tickets, but there are still four other teams in the SCC who can get to five wins to become playoff eligible.

Pana (4-3) arguably has the easiest path, as the Panthers will be heavy favorites in Week 9 against Hillsboro (1-5).

Staunton (3-4) also has a chance to win its final two games, coming at Roxana and Gillespie.

Roxana (3-4) hosts Staunton and Southwestern (3-4) in the final two games, while Southwestern will host Carlinville (6-1) and travel to Roxana.

Scoring summary

Saturday, Oct. 6
First quarter
•VHS: 4:35 – 83-yard run by Ryan Ambuehl (Ambuehl kick).
Second quarter
•VHS: 7:20 – 59-yard run by Tim Ritchey (Ambuehl kick failed).
•VHS: 1:21 – 14-yard run by Ritchey (2-point conversion failed).
Third quarter
•VHS: 5:55 – 43-pass from Ritchey to Wade Cowger (Ambuehl kick).
•VHS: 1:24 – 27-yard field goal by Ambuehl.
Fourth quarter
•SW: 8:56 – 1-yard run by J.P. Mueller (Mueller rush for two).
•VHS: 5:23 – 29-yard run by Ritchey (Ambuehl kick).
•SW: 2:21 – 10-yard pass by Mueller to Dakota Duvall (2-point conversion failed).

Around the conference

Last week
•Vandalia 36, Piasa 14
•Pana 46, Litchfield 0
•Greenville 26, Staunton 20
•Carlinville 33, Hillsboro 7
•Roxana 47, Gillespie 34

Standings
•Vandalia, 6-1
•Carlinville, 6-1
•Greenville, 6-1
•Pana, 4-3
•Staunton, 3-4
•Southwestern, 3-4
•Roxana, 3-4
•Gillespie, 2-5
•Litchfield, 1-6
•Hillsboro, 1-6

This week
•Vandalia at Pana
•Staunton at Roxana
•Carlinville at Southwestern
•Hillsboro at Litchfield
•Gillespie at Greenville

Vandalia junior C.J. Runkel (33) gobbles up a Southwestern player during Saturday’s win.

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