MONTICELLO -- The Sages take on the Unity Rockets in this week's spotlight game.
VOLLEYBALL Centennial def. Urbana 25-17, 25-17 PND def. Danville 25-23, 11-25, 25-19 St. Thomas More def. Watseka 22-25, 25-18, 25-18
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) - On Thursday afternoon at the Illinois Soccer Stadium, No. 22 Illinois earned its fifth shutout of the season, blanking Indiana 2-0 behind a set-piece goal in each half by senior Jannelle Flaws. Sophomore Claire Wheatleystopped a key penalty kick and collected her third solo shutout with help from the Illini back line that limited the Hoosiers to four shots. Illinois, which took 20 shots, held its opponent to single-digit shots for the sixth straight game, tying its school-record streak from 2005. "Every shutout we get feels good," head coach Janet Rayfieldsaid. "We wanted to make it a better defensive season compared to last year, and five shutouts shows we have really made a difference. Jannelle took advantage of both her opportunities on set pieces and Claire made a big save on a penalty kick that didn't allow Indiana to get back in it."
MONTICELLO, Ill. - When Monticello's Clay Becker gets to a game Friday night, he's there to play. He rarely ever sits. In fact, he had to think long and hard about the only time he's on the bench "Sit? Kick-off," Becker said. "Yeah that's pretty much it." He wouldn't have it any other way. He's been a standout for the Sages this season. On defense, he recorded 25 tackles in a game earlier this year. He's also scored four offensive touchdowns through three contests this year.
PAXTON, Ill. - The PBL Panthers are staying in the Sangamon Valley Conference. The PBL school board voted 5-2 Wednesday night to reject an invitation from the Okaw Valley Conference, meaning the Panthers will stay put in the SVC. Okaw leaders had hoped to entice PBL to become the league's sixth member when Maroa-Forsyth leaves for the Sangamo in 2016. PBL received the invitation in early August and after less than two months of deliberation, they've chosen to stay put.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Early season bragging rights will be on the line between Central and Centennial Friday night, but this game will mean a lot more than that to both schools. Central and Centennial are each undefeated, 3-0, heading into Friday's showdown. The Maroons are trying to start 4-0 for the first time in more than a decade. Centennial, meanwhile, is trying to keep its season on track after losing quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald for the season with a torn ACL. Both teams have struggled the last few years, but this weekend one of them will be 4-0 and in prime position to qualify for the playoffs.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois football team isn't panicking after suffering their first loss of the season Saturday at Washington. In fact the Orange and Blue are keeping things positive as they look to pick up win No. 3 this weekend. Illinois ran into a buzz saw in Seattle, and some early mistakes were the difference. All things considered, they still feel like they sit in a pretty good position. "The first three games are done," said head coach Tim Beckman. "We're 2-and-1. I mean a lot of teams aren't 2-and-1, and we are. So we're happy to say that, yeah, we can make definite strides in everything we gotta do, but we've got 2 W's and we've got 1 L. So we're heading, at least moving in that direction we want to go."
SOCCER Urbana 1 Centennial 1 (F) VOLLEYBALL Centennial def. Manual 25-11, 25-14 Central def. Peoria H.S. 25-4, 25-8
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois football team is dead last in the Big Ten in rushing offense through the first three games of the season. In fact the Orange and Blue are getting less than 20% of their offense on the ground. That's one of the worst in the country. Early on the emphasis hasn't exactly been on running the ball. Only two Big Ten teams have run less often, but the success hasn't been there. The Illini are averaging a little better than 70 yards per game on the ground, and it's not just a running back problem.
TOLONO, Ill. - A sign outside the Unity football field says it all. A new beginning. The Rockets have a different look and feel on offense this season. They're passing the ball almost as much as they're running it. It's a new approach for head coach Scott Hamilton, whose run-first philosophy has won him nearly 200 games the last two decades.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt has been one of the best in the Big Ten so far this year, but he will be the first to admit Saturday's game at Washington wasn't one of his best. Lunt threw an interception that got run back for a touchdown, and then later he had the ball stripped away, and it was run back for a Washington score - a couple mistakes in what has been an otherwise outstanding start to Lunt's season. He was proud of the way his team responded in Seattle after he says he put his team in a tough spot.
URBANA -- A local sports program could be in jeopardy if it can't get the funding it needs.
Ryan Allen is giving the SJO Spartans a big lift this season after moving back to the area from Florida.
One of the area's top high school basketball players may be ineligible to play his senior season. Christian Williams transferred back to St. Teresa Monday. He transferred to Lanphier High School in Springfield to start the school year. "I have attended Decatur Catholic Schools with my friends since 4th grade. I want to attend St. Teresa High School whether or not I'm able to play basketball. My goal has always been to graduate from St. Teresa", Williams said. IHSA rules may prohibit him from playing after transferring back from a public school to a private one.
Friday Football Fever play of the week nominees: