By: John Nee '93
The Mustangs will travel to Rockford tonight to battle the Auburn Knights in a Class 7A 1st round matchup. St. Rita (5-4) is the #25 seed in the 32-team Class 7A field while Auburn (8-1) is the #8 seed.
St. Rita has played two prior games versus NIC-10 teams in their history, a 42-12 victory over Rockford East in the 2001 quarterfinals and a 38-21 win over Harlem in a 2010 2nd round affair. St. Rita has a (54-26) all-time record in Illinois state playoff competition while the Knights come into tonight’s game with a (4-4) record.
The Auburn Knights advanced to the Class 7A quarterfinals last season, losing at eventual Class 7A champion Glenbard West 42-14. The Knights are led by a pair of dynamic running backs, Daqwuan Bell (985yds) and DreQuan Friar (955yds). The Knights, who come into tonight’s game as the smallest school in the Class 7A field, have not given up more than 22 points in any of their games this season.
The Knights are coached by Dan Appino, who in his 5th year at Auburn, has turned the program completely around. Appino, prior to his time at Auburn, spent 10 successful seasons as head coach at nearby Boylan Catholic where he won 97 games including back-to-back state titles in 2010-2011.
The winner of tonight’s game in Rockford will play the winner of tomorrow’s 1pm Class 7A 1st round game in St. Charles between the #24 seed Carmel Corsairs (5-4) and the #9 seed St. Charles North North Stars (8-1). Tonight’s game at Auburn High School in Rockford is located at 5110 Auburn Street Rockford, IL and will begin at 7:30pm.