GILMAN -- Another week, another leaf to turn.
That is the mantra of Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School head football coach Josh Pritchard as his team travels to Gilman for its Sangamon Valley Conference debut against Iroquois West on Friday.
"It's the same thing we said last week -- we're turning over a new leaf," Pritchard said. "Week two's in the past. We're looking forward to week three, and obviously, the first conference game."
The Panthers turned over a new leaf last Friday as they rebounded from a week-one loss to Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley with a 52-12 victory over Georgetown-Ridge Farm.
"The leaf that we turned over last week was pretty good," Pritchard said. "We hope we have a lot more leaves like that."
As it goes into its first SVC contest, PBL seeks its first conference title since 2016.
"Every conference game's a big game," Pritchard said. "You're guaranteed to get into the playoffs if you win your conference, and obviously, we play the same teams every year in the conference. We know each other pretty well, so I think our kids are going to be ready to play, and that's our goal this week."
Despite its win over G-RF, PBL still has some room for improvement, according to Pritchard.
"We had a few mild mistakes that I think we need to clean up," Pritchard said.
Improvement will be a goal for PBL for the rest of the season.
"We have to improve. Every team will tell you that," Pritchard said. "You hope what you look like in September's not what you look like in November. You hope that you can continue to improve every week."
Pritchard is looking for fewer penalties and better defense and special teams after the Panthers allowed a kickoff-return touchdown against G-RF.
"We had a few miscues on special teams and defense. We want to shore those up and hope we can improve each week," Pritchard said. "I hate stupid penalties like false starts and holds and stuff like that. Those are dumb penalties, in my opinion."
Like PBL, Iroquois West is also coming off its first win of the season as the Raiders shut out Hoopeston Area/Armstrong-Potomac en route to a 32-0 victory last Friday.
"Anytime you shut out a team, you obviously played pretty well," Pritchard said. "I don't care how good or bad the team is. It's hard to shut out teams. They did a good job of it."
Against G-RF, Gunner Belt passed for three touchdowns and ran for one while Drake Schrodt accounted for three scores -- two via reception and one via a rushing touchdown.
"We just hope we can run what we want to offensively," Pritchard said. "If we can move them up front, that helps out our offense a lot."
While Damian Melgoza made three field goals for Iroquois West last Friday, Tibaldo Alvarez connected with David Netzband for a 27-yard touchdown.
Jaeton Schacht and Dane Thorne each had a rushing touchdown and Schacht also recorded a tackle for a safety.
"They've got a nice, young core. They play really hard," Pritchard said. "They have a quick quarterback and some really tall receivers on the outside."
The Panthers played last Friday without a couple of players who were out due to injury.
Gavin Coplea was out with a sprained ankle.
"He may be back this week," Pritchard said. "It's just a matter of how his ankle is. We're going to test it out this week and see if he's ready to go."
Trevor Masterson, a wide receiver, was out with a knee injury.
"We're still waiting for MRI results on that," Pritchard said. "We're hoping we don't have him gone for the year, but we've just got to wait and see. We're going to go with what we have, and nobody else has any major injuries this week, so I think we'll be full-go."