IHSA Class 3A Quarterfinals: #3 Anna Jonesboro (11-0) at #15 Vandalia (8-3)

By Steve Dunford

Along with the Herrin Tigers in 4A the Anna-Jonesboro Wildcats are still standing in the playoffs as this is the Elite 8 Weekend.

A-J’ beat Hillsboro 22-8 in the first round of the plaoffs.  Last Saturday they defeated Pana 2-14.

The Vandals beat the Fairfield Mules at the Train Yard 41-14 in the first round.  Last Saturday they beat their conference rival the Greenville Comets 27-14.

Both Anna-Jonesboro’s opponents in the playoffs came out of the South Central Conference, which Vandalia is a member of.  In league play the Vandals beat Hillsboro 26-7 and lost to Pana 63-55 (that is not a misprint).

Here is what Vandalia Coach  Jason Clay told me about his team. “Offensively we try to spread the ball around. Sophomore Matthew Wells is our QB (1800 passing, 300 rushing, 26 TD’s).  Junior Running Back Trevor Smalls has over 2000 rushing and 29 TD’s.  Marcus Zimmerman is our leading receiver.”

“Defensively we are lead by three linebackers – Garett McNary, Chandler Boyd, and Zimmerman all of which are close to 100 tackles. I expect a very tough physical game. They run the ball very effectively and can throw when they need to. The option is tough to defend and our defense will really be tested. Defensively AJ really flies to the football so we will have to stay balanced on offense to try and move the football. We are excited to be hosting this quarterfinal game and look forward to a great football game.”

I talked to A-J Coach Brett Detering and here is what he had to say about the match-up with the Vandals.  “They are playing their best football right now.  They gave up a lot of points in the regular season, but they have held their opponents to to 14 in each playoff game.  They also had two TD’s called back against Greenville last week.”  

“They have hit their stride at the right time.  They have great size and one of the best running backs we have faced all year (Smalls), and that presents us some challenges.”  

“This is the best opponent we have played all year,  however, we have rose to the strength of our opponent.  I expect an excellent football game. “

I went back and rewatched some of the video of the Farifield game.  The Mules have a reputation of having a big line, and their line look small to the Vandals.

From watching the Fairfield game, and clips on Hudl and MaxPreps, I see two teams that are mirror images of each other.  Jase Turner might have an inch or two and ten or twenty pounds on Smalls but they run a lot.  Wells and Bryce Osman are similar, they can pick up a few yards on the ground and go to the air when they need to as well.   Arieh Hart might be a half step quicker than Zimmerman.

This has the shaping to be an outstanding football game.  Click on the link below to listen to Moury Bass and Mike Chamness on WIBH 1440 AM in Anna.





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