'Tunnel vision for 48 minutes.' Focus will be a key for Abingdon-Avon in IHSA quarterfinals – Yahoo News

ABINGDON — The lights surrounding Don Viar Memorial Field have never been turned on this late in the fall before.
Abingdon-Avon High School's football team hasn't had to deal with smoke billowing in the air while its practiced on the natural grass playing surface much either.
The Tornadoes did Tuesday evening, and that's because it was a "T" day. Open burning of leaves is allowed on Tuesday's and Thursday's in Abingdon in the fall, and an area resident was taking advantage of the opportunity.
A-Town coach Rick Quinn is more than OK with both situations — while the haze in the air made things difficult at times — because his squad is preparing for the Class 1A quarterfinals. No football team associated with Abingdon or Avon has been this deep into the playoffs before.
The 10-1 Tornadoes will face the Mustangs of Ridgeview/Lexington (7-4) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Colfax, which is located in McLean County. The Mustangs are members of the Heart of Illinois Conference, and the Tornadoes' game plan won't change when they face them.
“We have to be sure that we’re not getting ourselves overwhelmed," Quinn said after Tuesday's practice. "At the end of the day, if we play the way we play we think that we have a good chance and that's not taking anything away from them because that’s a really good football team."
"They play in a great, great conference and that is a very good football team."
Quinn's is, too, and after three straight home games — two in the playoffs — A-Town will hit the road.
“We know we have to come to work to prepare for the atmosphere," Quinn said. "We have to have confidence but not be cocky and not let the moment be too big.
"I’m sure it’s going to be a crazy atmosphere and we have to make sure we kind of have tunnel vision for 48 minutes."
Despite being in the situation they're facing, the Tornadoes don't always click on the field. It showed in Tuesday's practice, however, Quinn is confident his young men will be ready when the pigskin is kicked this weekend.
“I thought initially they were fine. We got into team and we struggled a little bit," Quinn said. "It could be nerves. We’re talking about 14 to 18 year old boys. They’ll come back ready to go tomorrow.
"I would say last Tuesday we didn’t practice great either," Quinn added. "The key is just to get it right by Saturday morning, and I have no doubt that they will. I think they’ll be checked in. I don’t think we’re going to have to be worried about them being ready to play. I think they’ll meet the challenge and then whatever happens, happens, you know.”
Defense wins championships, as they say, and Quinn's liking the way A-Town's defensive unit has been performing.
“If they’re playing well it puts less pressure on the offense. When our defense is getting us stops and getting us extra possessions I feel really good about that and they’ve done that the last two weeks," Quinn said. "They’ve been getting stops and they forced a turnover last week which is always important. We also recovered an onside kick.
"Anytime we can get extra possessions offensively because our defense is creating turnovers that makes me feel really good about where we’re at.”
The No. 1 seeded Tornadoes dominated from start to finish in their second round game last Saturday afternoon, and they came away with a 55-30 win over the Raiders of Iroquois West.
"I think it’s important for us to start quick again like we did last week. It will give us some momentum and get some energy going," Quinn said. "I think that start last week gave us a lot of momentum and after that honestly it just seemed like any play we called was working."
Ridgeview/Lexington, a No. 13 seed, upset No. 5 Peru St. Bede 47-20 last Saturday in Colfax. The Mustangs racked up 324 rushing yards — 397 total yards — and the Bruins finished with 68 yards on the ground.
Ridgeview/Lexington senior quarterback Carter Coffman threw only three passes. However, two of them were for touchdowns — a 48-yard strike and a 15-yarder.
The Bruins held a 20-19 lead over the Mustangs midway through the third quarter but Ridgeview/Lexington secured 28 unanswered points from there for the victory.
Senior quarterback Easten Schisler has completed 87 of 140 passes for 1,348 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Tornadoes. Schisler, who has thrown four interceptions, also has 93 carries for 685 yards and 11 TDs.
Senior Parker Stoneking filled in for Schisler in Week 7 against Princeville, and he completed 9 of 20 passes for 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Stoneking has 21 grabs for 240 yards and five touchdowns. He also has a rushing TD.
More: A flag for that? Inside 5 obscure rules of Illinois high school football
Senior Parker Darst has 63 carries for 378 yards and five touchdowns, and he has eight catches for 91 yards and a pair of TDs. Senior Clay Slagel has 40 catches for 857 yards and nine touchdowns. Sophomore Kellen Hook has 15 grabs for 231 yards and two TDs
Junior Ronan Pompeo has a 5-yard TD catch, and sophomore Tyler Condreay has six carries for 148 yards and a touchdown.
"We have to continue getting our athletes the ball," Quinn said. "When we get five or six guys involved in the offense I think it makes us hard to defend.
"Teams are going to try to take guys away from us but we’ve got to do a good job of scheming away to get them the ball.”
More: Tornadoes football has Abingdon and Avon residents excited. Here’s what the fans are saying
Week 1: Abingdon-Avon 40, ROWVA/Williamsfield 12
Week 2: Abingdon-Avon 44, Stark County 9
Week 3: Abingdon-Avon 52, Ridgewood 14
Week 4: Abingdon-Avon 38, Mercer County 14
Week 5: Abingdon-Avon 34, Annawan/Wethersfield 12
Week 6: Abingdon-Avon 1, Havana 0 (Forfeit win)
Week 7: Abingdon-Avon 18, Princeville 7
Week 8: Abingdon-Avon 20, Knoxville 19
Week 9: United 40, Abingdon-Avon 26
Week 10: Abingdon-Avon 14, Annawan/Wethersfield 8
Week 11: Abingdon-Avon 55, Iroquois West 30
Matthew Wheaton can be reached at (309) 315-6073 or at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @matthewlwheaton
This article originally appeared on Galesburg Register-Mail: IHSA Football: Focus is key for A-Town Tornadoes in quarterfinals
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