Coming off a lopsided loss to Morton in Week 2, Streator looked strong with a 16-0 lead in the first half at Plano in the clubs' Interstate Eight Conference Large Division opener last Friday night. However, the Reapers put together a solid second half, scoring the final 20 points of the contest to drop the Bulldogs to 1-2 on the season.
"I thought it was just a combination of us playing well in the first half and Plano playing better than us in the second half, to be honest," said SHS head coach Brian Hassett. "I think we are a good football team, I truly believe that, but we have to be able to put two good halves together.
"I felt we had plays that we executed well, but didn't work out our way. I really think we left some points, like 21 or 28, on the field because of miscues or not executing plays properly, and in the second half they made some big plays which hurt us too.
"There were positives, we scored a TD on defense, created a safety and blocked a punt."
For Streator to put a second overall mark, and first in league play, in the left column of the standings, the Bulldogs will have to top visiting Coal City.
The Coalers (2-1, 0-0) are ranked No. 8 in this week's Associated Press Class 4A poll and have rolled past Wilmington and Herscher the past two weeks after opening the year with a loss to Morris. Coal City has captured the last four meetings with SHS by a combined score of 131-12.
"In their last two games they have scored early, so we have to be able to get ourselves off to a great start," said Hassett.
Junior Payton Hutchings is the signal-caller for the Coalers and is 18-of-38 for 286 yards and four TDs, including 143 yards coming last week in a 28-7 win over the Tigers. Senior running back Connor Skubic leads the team (172.2 rushing yards/game) in rushing (27 carries, 231 yards), but left with an injury after the first play against Herscher and did not return. His availability is in question. Junior Austin Pullara, who has six catches for 117 yards, had a score rushing and receiving in CCHS's 27-0 victory over Wilmington.
"They look to be multiple on offense and run plays from several different sets," said Hassett. "They mostly run under center, but they'll also go to the shotgun at times. (Hutchings) has a really good arm and makes good decisions for them, and they have a solid run game."
Coal City features strong linebacker play, with junior Jack Bunton (20 tackles) and Skubic (19 tackles) leading the way. The Coalers held the Wildcats to 97 yards of total offense, including limiting all-state back Connor Dempsay to just 10 yards on 13 carries.
"They are scrappy. They are a 4-3 and blitz a little bit, but basically line up and try to outwork you," said Hassett. "We are going to have to take advantage in key situations, whether it's after a turnover or second-and-1 plays.
"We'll have to bring our 'A' game all the way around."
Coal City Coalers (2-1, 0-0) at Streator Bulldogs (1-2, 0-1)
GAME TIME: 7 p.m. Friday at the SHS Athletic Fields, Streator
RADIO: WSPL-AM 1250
LAST MEETING: Coal City 45, Streator 0 (2017)