PEKIN — The first football playoff game at Pekin High School in a decade was not played on a picture perfect night.
There was wind and there was rain which only increased at times in intensity as the night continued. The rain was so constant throughout the day that by the time the 7 p.m. kickoff rolled around, Tom Stone Field was already soaked and forced the opening kickoff to take place in one of two visible puddles that had developed in the middle of the gridiron.
It all sounds like an environment nobody would want to be a part of for any high school football game. After 11 years without a playoff win, however, Pekin players were ready to go through anything in order to snap a six-game postseason losing streak.
In the end, the Panthers turned a soggy Wednesday night into a beautiful evening for their fans. For the first time since 2002, Pekin picked up a postseason football win with a dominant 43-0 shutout against Lone Tree in the opening round of the Class A State Football Playoffs.
They were soaked. They were covered in pieces of turf. But the Pekin locker room was as loud and enthusiastic as ever after finally getting that long sought-after postseason win.
“It was a hell'uva time out there,” Pekin senior Petie Clubb said with a huge smile on his face. “We didn’t stop executing, but we had some fun. We slid on the turn and just had to hold on tight to each run and each tackle.”
Clubb joined teammate Chase Copeland to establish a healthy running attack yet again for the Panthers. Copeland, a junior, led the charge narrowly over Clubb with 90 rushing yards on 14 carries to Clubb’s 81 rushing yards.
But no matter got the ball between the two, most of the night the end result was a productive run for the Panthers setting up one of the five touchdowns the offense would produce in the victory.