Pana rides hot offense into second round of 3A playoffs

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Pana head coach Trevor Higgins has led the Panthers to the 3A playoffs in each of his two seasons since taking over for program great Al Stupek. Pana head coach Trevor Higgins has led the Panthers to the 3A playoffs in each of his two seasons since taking over for program great Al Stupek.

PANA -- It's been a banner year for the South Central Conference, with No. 15 seed Vandalia and No. 10 Greenville each pulling off upsets in the first round of the 3A playoffs to go with wins for No. 5 seed Carlinville and No. 6 seed Pana. In all, No. 14 seed Hillsboro was the only team to lose in the first round, a 22-8 contest against No. 3 seed Anna-Jonesboro.
 

(6) Pana (9-1) at (3) Anna-Jonesboro (10-0)
2 p.m. Saturday


Pana travels to Anna to take on the 10-0 Wildcats, who were forced down to a No. 3 seed in a highly competitive top tier of the bracket in 3A.

Anna-Jonesboro got to 10-0 by scoring 44.4 points per game while allowing just 17.3 points per game. The Wildcats' only close game came in Week 7 at home against DuQuoin (42-36), the team Pana beat in the opening round of the playoffs 39-26.

Pana head coach Trevor Higgins has carried the program's momentum from previous coaches like Al Stupek (seven playoff trips in eight years from 2008-2015) and Gerald Tidwell (7 trips in 12 years from 1990-2001). His Panthers are back in the playoffs thanks to the South Central's top offense (48.0 points per game), a strong offensive line and a quarterback in senior Jacob Beeson who has 1,900 passing yards, 900 rushing yards and an incredible 35:1 touchdown to interception ratio despite injuring his shoulder in the team's lone loss (to 2016 3A runner-up Carlinville).

Kickoff for Saturday's second round matchup is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Anna.

(15) Vandalia (7-3) at (10) Greenville (8-2)
1 p.m. Saturday


Meanwhile, No. 15 seed Vandalia and No. 10 Greenville have a South Central rematch on the other side of that pod in 3A. Greenville took their Week 3 meeting in Vandalia by a final score of 40-36. The Vandals have the second-ranked offense in the South Central (47.4 points per game). Greenville's strength is its defense, which ranked third in the league with 22.5 points per game.

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