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Wildcats to host Rich East in first round of playoffs

By Justin Walker
updated: 10/21/2018 9:09 PM

MARION -- The Marion Wildcats learned Saturday night they'll be hosting a Class 5A first-round playoff football game.

Marion, which is 6-3 after Friday night's narrow loss at Mattoon, hosts Park Forest Rich East on Saturday.

Rich East, which plays in the Southland Conference, is also 6-3.

The Wildcats, who clinched their 14th straight postseason appearance, made long road trips the past two seasons but now Marion gets to play at Wildcat Stadium -- and face a team that will drive nearly 300 miles and make a four-plus-hour trek south.

"After traveling to Morris and Rich Central the last two years, it's a great relief," said Marion coach Kerry Martin. "We know what it takes. It's a large undertaking. It's nice to know we'll be at home."

One of the Rockets' three losses was to Rich Central, Marion's first-round opponent last year. Rich Central beat Rich East by just two points -- in fact, the Rockets' three losses were by a combined 10 points.

Rich East has won its last two games, including a 50-0 beatdown of Rich South and a 15-14 squeaker over Kankakee. Marion played Rich South very recently twice during the regular season -- those games were played in Springfield.

"We're familiar with their conference," Martin said. "We know it's a good conference. When you're in Class 5A, you're going to face a very good team. Records can be deceiving based on schedules."

The game time has been set for 2 p.m. Saturday.