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Watch now: Ridgeview-Lexington proves it is not to be taken lightly entering state semifinal

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LENA — With four regular-season losses, the Ridgeview-Lexington football team was understandably not part of the conversation in voting for the final Associated Press Class 1A state rankings.

Yet the Mustangs are proving they belong with the best small-school teams in the state during a playoff run that has landed them in Saturday’s 2 p.m. state semifinal game against No. 5-ranked Lena-Winslow.

“It’s not something we pay attention to really,” said Ridgeview-Lexington coach Hal Chiodo, whose team has knocked off unranked Rushville-Industry, No. 9 Peru St. Bede and No. 7 Abingdon-Avon en route to the semifinals.

“We have four losses and were a 13 seed (in the 16-team northern bracket), but that doesn’t affect the way we play at all. Maybe it puts a little chip on our shoulders.”

The 8-4 Mustangs and the 10-2 Panthers will match powerful offenses for the right to meet either No. 1 Carrollton or unranked Central A&M for the 1A state championship on Nov. 26 in DeKalb.

“We do a lot of the same things with the jet sweep, running right at you and the play action pass,” Chiodo said. “They have three good running backs, the quarterback is good and they’re very big.”

Lena-Winslow has a hurry-up offense without going no huddle.

“It’s hard to get lined up to their formations,” said Chiodo. “They run to the line from the huddle and don’t waste much time. Maybe a second or two and it’s off.”

The Panthers feature two 1,000-yards rushers in Marey Roby (1,339 yards, 19 touchdowns) and Ethan Fye (1,076, 16 TDs).

“No. 43 (Roby) is a four-year starter and very quick, a scat back,” Chiodo said. “The other guy is big and powerful.”

Brady Eilders adds 648 yards on the ground, and quarterback Luke Benson has completed 24 of 42 passes for 367 yards and six scores. The top receiver is Brody Mahon with eight catches for 138 yards.

“They are very solid on defense and very big up front,” said Chiodo. “They have a lot of guys play both ways. They don’t give up many big plays. They play hard and are very good tacklers.”

The Panthers have eliminated three ranked teams in the playoffs: No. 10 Aurora Christian (54-7), No. 4 Forreston (38-8) and No. 6 Fulton (54-28).

Ridgeview’s Kaden Farrell is on the brink of a 2,000-yard season with 1,971 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground.

“We practice very hard,” said Farrell when asked for the key to a Mustangs’ offense that has averaged 44 points in the postseason.

Farrell gets support from Logan Friedmansky’s 534 yards rushing. Quarterback Carter Coffman (436 yards rushing) averages 21.4 yards on his 24 completions, and receiver Ben Peacock 33.2 yards on his 13 catches.

“Like any other big game, you have to make sure you don’t turn the ball over and get some turnovers,” Chiodo said. “We need to play smart.”

Contact Randy Reinhardt at (309) 820-3403. Follow him on Twitter: pg_reinhardt


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