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“Honestly, we don’t talk much about the IL title.” - Lincoln Prep head coach William Lowe

No one really expected Central to be in a position this year to capture a piece of the Interscholastic League crown.

But the Missouri Class 3 Blue Eagles are primed for a first-place showdown Saturday with reigning league champion and undefeated Class 4 Lincoln Prep.

Central first-year head coach DJ Pittel said his group knows the ramifications of a league title.

“It would be huge,” Pittel said after a Week 7 loss to Pembroke Hill (6-1).

Lincoln Prep comes into the road contest sporting a perfect 7-0 mark (3-0 in the IL). The Blue Tigers knocked off University City of suburban St. Louis 48-0 in its last game.

The nearly 250-mile trip to the eastern side of the state was just what the doctor ordered for a Lincoln Prep team closing in on an undefeated regular season.

The Blue Tigers’ brass treated the trip as an opportunity to prepare for an extended postseason run.

“We stopped in Columbia on the way and got a practice in and then catered dinner into the hotel and had an early night,” Lincoln Prep head coach William Lowe said. “It was very much a business trip and we used it as a preparation for the playoffs.

“We knew the game last year (against U. City) was competitive so we were expecting a close game going in. Our coaching staff was extremely proud of how our team played and the level of effort we displayed for four quarters.”

The Blue Tigers are loaded on offense, averaging more than 40 points per game. But it is the defense led by middle linebacker Jermaine Hamilton-Jordan that has up the ante.

Lincoln has only given up on average less than six points per game over their last six. A hard-hitting, swarming defense will travel well in postseason play.

“Honestly, we don’t talk much about the IL title,” Lowe said. “We try to keep our kids focused on just playing week to week and playing the best we can. I think a few weeks ago we felt the stress of being undefeated but now I think the team is embracing it and looking forward to finishing strong.”

Lincoln Prep and Central (2-6, 2-1) are not the only teams playing this week for a piece of the IL title. If both Central and East win, the three teams will share the crown.

The Bears, 2-5 overall and 2-1 in the IL, will host winless Southeast (0-7, 0-2) in Week 8 action.

In other league news, winless Northeast (0-7, 0-3) will take on Hogan Prep (4-2) on Saturday.