MOWEAQUA — Nick Lindsey’s Arcola football program suffered two regular-season losses this year by a combined five points.
The 2019 Purple Riders are accustomed to either winning big or falling short by ultra-slim margins.
Those same kids, however, hadn’t faced a foe like Central A&M.
Fourth-seeded Arcola was required to in Saturday’s Class 1A quarterfinals, and the top-seeded Raiders got the better of the Purple Riders in every aspect of a 42-8 win.
“It’s hard to simulate all the weapons they’ve got,” Lindsey said. “They’ve got a couple kids that are legit offensively with their speed and other things that put us in binds.”
Among them was Jacob Paradee, who got loose on a short screen pass that went for an 81-yard touchdown less than a minute into the contest. The receiver also rushed for a 6-yard score for the Raiders (12-0).
Paradee, according to Lindsey, brought a speed element that Arcola (9-3) couldn’t completely account for.
And that was on top of Central A&M boasting a size advantage among its roster.
“Other than Paradee, their skill kids are big,” Lindsey said. “So that really puts us in a bad spot.”
Raiders quarterback Connor Heaton dashed 46 yards to paydirt to put the Purple Riders behind 14-0 about five minutes in and the rout was on.
That was more than enough offense for Central A&M, which limited Arcola to a Pedro Gauna 3-yard scoring plunge in the fourth quarter.
Playcaller Beau Jones didn’t complete a pass on the afternoon, and while leading rusher Austin Hopkins compiled 129 yards, 53 of them occurred on a single play.
“(The Raiders) were so fast defensively, and the holes closed so quickly,” Lindsey said. “We didn’t do ourselves any favors with penalties and playing clean. They were a really good team, and they’re 12-0 for a reason.”
The Purple Riders’ deepest postseason effort in Lindsey’s three years ended on a sour note for its 16 seniors, including Hopkins, Gauna, fellow playmaker Ivan Franco and linemen Hugo Garza and Beau Smothers.
“They’re such a special group to me,” Lindsey said. “I’ll miss them so much.”
Effingham 27, Prairie Central 14. The third-seeded Flaming Hearts produced the final 20 points of a Class 4A quarterfinal tilt in Fairbury on Saturday, lifting them past the 10th-seeded Hawks.
Kaden King rushed for a 24-yard touchdown and hit Corbin Moser on a 51-yard scoring pass against Effingham (11-1) to put Prairie Central ahead 14-7 in the second quarter.
But Prairie Central (9-3) couldn’t find enough success to produce a third upset by seed in this postseason. King led the Hawks with 90 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Milford/Cissna Park 62, Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland 12. The top-seeded Bearcats will defend their 8-Man Association championship after blowing out the fourth-seeded Falcons on Saturday in Milford.
“Everyone’s having a good time with it,” M/CP coach Clint Schwartz said. “To go back to (the final) after being in it last year is something that’s really special.”
Penn Stoller rushed for 209 yards and six touchdowns to pace the Bearcats (11-0), who take on No. 2 Polo (11-0) for the league title Friday at Monmouth College.