CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The game time is now set for the Braggin' Rights game against Missouri. The U of I announced Friday that the game will tip off at 1:00 pm CT on December 20th and will be televised on ESPN 2. Meanwhile the Big Ten schedule was released Thursday night, and the big thing that stands out immediately is that Illinois opens up with four of their first five games on the road - including back-to-back games at Michigan at Ohio State. It's a tough way to start, but it makes finishing strong all the more important.
GIBSON CITY, Ill. - The high school football regular season begins one week from tonight, and if GCMS wants to get back to the playoffs again this year, youth will be the name of the game. GCMS is working hard in camp to replace 17 seniors. They have only five seniors this year, but those leaders are helping the younger players come along.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - SHG won the state title last season - the fourth in program history - and this year the Cyclones are once again primed for another deep playoff run. They return quarterback Gabe Green, a Southern Miss. commit - and Minnesota commit Quinn Oseland is back to protect him. Star receiver Malik Turner is gone - he's now a freshman at Illinois - but head coach Ken Leonard says they should have plenty of talent to fill his shoes.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) - Illinois struck first, but No. 16 Notre Dame netted the final three goals to spoil the season and home opener at the Illinois Soccer Stadium. Freshman Abby Elinsky scored the first goal of the year in the 23rd minute, but the Fighting Irish scored twice in the final six minutes in the first half and added another in the second stanza. "I'm really proud of the way we battled today," head coach Janet Rayfield said. "The things that we gave up, especially ones that affected the scoreboard, were things that we had control over, things that we can make better in a pretty short amount of time. I told this team I'm optimistic based on what I saw today. This team is going to get better.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Big Ten schedules for both the men's and women's basketball seasons were released Thursday.
TUSCOLA, Ill. - The new Central Illinois Conference look a lot like the old Okaw Valley - with a twist. Eight of last year's Okaw Valley teams decided to move in a different direction, so they formed the Central Illinois Conference - or CIC. St. Teresa and Tuscola headline the league alongside Shelbyville, Sullivan Okaw Valley, Clinton, Warrensburg-Latham, Meridian and Central A&M. Tuscola head coach Rick Reinhart says it will be a competitive conference from top to bottom. "We look forward to the challenge," he said. "We think that we're on the right track but the thing is everybody in the state thinks that right now, so somebody's right and somebody's wrong."
FISHER, Ill. - The Fisher Bunnies took a big step forward last year, winning six games after just two wins the previous season. They have a veteran group of running backs returning, but they do have big shoes to fill on the line - especially with the departure of standout Josh Wallick. The Bunnies are energized for another run, especially with an upgrade to the stadium and a new fitness facility as well.
URBANA, Ill. - Former Illinois basketball coach Lou Henson held his 13th annual Illini Rebounders golf outing Wednesday afternoon at Stone Creek in Urbana. All the proceeds benefit the Illinois basketball program.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tim Beckman put an end to the quarterback competition Wednesday when he announced sophomore Wes Lunt will be the starting quarterback when the Illini open the season August 30 against Youngstown State. Lunt had been the frontrunner for the starting job since the end of spring practice, and today Beckman made his decision.
RANTOUL, Ill. - Every year before Camp Rantoul ends, each senior stands in front of the team and gives a speech. It is often a time of reflection, reminiscing about how fast their time has flown by. It is also about the future - cherishing every moment they have left in their final season. Donovonn Young's speech was no different. "I put a lot of emphasis on the fact that I was going to miss these guys a lot," said the senior running back. "College football has done so much for me, really molded me into the man that I am today."
RANTOUL, Ill. - All signs indicate that Wes Lunt is in the driver's seat to be named the starting quarterback when Tim Beckman makes that announcement Wednesday. Lunt has consistently outperformed senior Reilly O'Toole and sophomore Aaron Bailey so far in camp. The latest performance came in a scrimmage Saturday where Lunt completed more than 80 percent of his passes for nearly 250 yards. "I felt as an offense we did pretty well," said Lunt. "I thought we punched it in when we needed to. We had a couple three-and-outs. Need to cut down on penalties, but other than that I thought the offense played pretty well."
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Illinois recruiting target Jimmy Whitt verbally committed to Arkansas at a press conference Tuesday afternoon at Hickman High School. White is a four-star combo guard, who is ranked among the Top 60 players nationally. He took an unofficial visit to Illinois last month and had scheduled an official visit to Illinois this fall, but Whitt decided to end his recruitment. He told reporters the decision ultimately came down to Arkansas and Missouri, his hometown team.
Champaign Centennial graduate Michael Finke, now a freshman on the Illinois basketball team, accepted Aaron Bennett's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge - and issued a few more challenges to his Illini teammates.
ST. JOSEPH, Ill. - St. Joseph-Ogden lost 17 seniors from last year's state runner-up squad, and head coach Dick Duval hopes the underclassmen learned valuable lessons as they prepare for this season - their first in the new Okaw Valley. "A lot of these guys got to play in a big game last year," Duval said. "Hopefully that will help them this year when we get into those big games. There's going to be quite a few of them in the regular season this year with this conference."
RANTOUL, Ill. - The Illinois quarterback competition is coming down the last couple days, as Tim Beckman says he will announce his starter on Wednesday. Sophomore Aaron Bailey may be running out of time to make an impression. That's because Bailey left Monday morning's practice with some stiffness in his shoulder and neck area. Beckman says it doesn't appear to be anything serious; he's just playing it safe.