A home playoff game awaits Antwerp.

That comes on the heels of a 41-6 victory over Hicksville on Friday night in the regular-season finale. The win left the Archers in seventh place in Division VII Region 26 and a first-round playoff contest against Patrick Henry.

“To make the playoffs and host a game means everything to this program,” Antwerp coach Jason Hale said after the Archers completed an 8-2 regular season to set up a matchup this Saturday at 7 p.m. against the NWOAL perennial power. “The support we have received all year has been amazing and now we get a chance to do it one more time in a playoff game in front of our home fans. It’s going to be electric and I can’t wait. It’s been a long time since we have hosted a home game and we’re gonna enjoy it.”

A 21-point second quarter ignited Antwerp to its sixth-straight win to set up the home playoff game. Leading 6-0 courtesy of a Carson Altimus to Landon Brewer 33-yard TD pass with 8:29 left in the first quarter, the Archers took possession in Hicksville territory following an interception.

A 33-yard pass from Altimus to Brewer on third-and-12 set up an eight-yard toss to Reid Lichty on the next play and with it a 14-0 advantage with 8:26 until halftime.

The Aces responded with a 46-yard TD connection from Aaron Klima to Kyler Baird three minutes later to pull within 14-6, but Antwerp scored two touchdowns before the break.

An 85-yard pass from Altimus to Parker Moore made it 21-6 with 4:54 to play and a 17-yard Altimus to Brewer strike with 1:17 left upped the halftime advantage to 27-6.

“The two scores were big when they were close,” Hale noted. “I felt like it gave us the momentum back and then ultimately we kept it on our side all night. Our defense did a great job before half of holding them and getting an interception to help secure the victory.”

Antwerp limited the Aces to seven first downs and 252 yards of total offense in the game, with Camden Fuller, Trayce Lenghacer and Lichty all picking off a pass for the Archers..

“Defensively we took away their best players and our guys did a great job of executing the game plan,” noted Hale. “We did exactly what we wanted to do, take away their best players.”

Baird had 93 yards receiving and Jackson Bergman 50 yards rushing, with Klima 9-18 passing totaling 118 yards for Hicksville, which closes on the season 1-9 overall and 1-6 in the GMC.

Hayden Wagner, the leading tackler on the season for Antwerp, had seven tackles while Fuller added six, two for a loss. Altimus, Kaden Recker and Kaden Phares all were in on six tackles for the Archers.

“We really played well together,” Antwerp senior lineman Mason Steel said. “We talked all week about playing together and having fun with each other. I feel like we did a good job using it as a chance to work on getting better at what we do.”

Admittedly there were a few nerves knowing it was the final regular-season game at home for the seniors.

“I knew this was the last time I was gonna be at home for a regular-season game but I really didn’t think about it at the time, so it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been,” Steel related. “I just wanted to come out and do my best to help us have another chance to play at home in the playoffs.”

The performance of Altimus helped that happen, with the sophomore quarterback throwing four first-half touchdowns while adding a TD run in the third quarter. The Antwerp signal-caller finished the game 15-21 for 247 yards while adding 58 yards rushing on six carries.

“Carson had a great game,” Hale pointed out. “He made plays and took advantage of what the defense was giving him. He made great reads all night and fired the ball on time to the receivers.

“Our offensive line also did a great job all night of providing great protection. He’s an added weapon in the run game because sometimes they forget about him. He doesn’t need much of a hole, and when he hits it he explodes through for big plays.”

Lichty led the ground attack with 93 yards on 12 attempts, including a 41-yard run for the final touchdown of the game. Brewer recorded seven catches for 108 yards while Moore hauled in two for 97 yards for the Archers, which end the year in second place in the GMC at 6-1.

The win puts Antwerp in the playoffs for the eighth time, counting last year, and the first time qualifying since 2007. The last postseason win before 2020 came back in 2000 during a record-setting 10-2 campaign.

“This is so much fun,” noted Steel, the third leading tackler on the Archers and one of 14 seniors on the squad. “Going from not winning a lot of games the past couple of years to now has been great. It shows how much time and effort we put in all off-season.

“It means a lot to be in the playoffs and hosting a game,” Steel continued. “It’s been a long time since a team from Antwerp has done this and it’s special to be a part of it. We can’t wait to play another game in front of our amazing fans who have supported us through it all this year. We couldn’t do it without them.”

After winning two games the past two seasons combined, including a 20-17 playoff win over Waynesfield-Goshen last year when every team made the postseason, Hale looks forward to the upcoming game with Patrick Henry.

“The key to success is that we have to be balanced offensively in the postseason,” Hale said. “We have to be able to take care of the ball and execute. Defensively, we have to get to the ball and tackle well as a team.”

PH comes into the playoffs with a 6-4 record, the losses coming to teams with a combined 35-5 record. The lone common opponents are Wayne Trace and Hicksville. Antwerp defeated WT 43-18 in game six while Patrick Henry knocked off the Raiders 17-6 in week two after beating the Aces 41-16 in the season opener.

SUMMARY

Hicksville 0 6 0 0 - 6

Antwerp 6 21 14 0 - 41

A - Brewer 33-pass from Altimus ( kick failed)

A - Lichty 8-pass from Altimus (Brewer pass from Altimus)

H - Baird 46-pass from Klima (run failed)

A - Moore 85-pass from Altimus (Walker kick)

A - Brewer 17-pass from Altimus (kick failed)

A - Altimus 52-run (Walker kick)