BISMARCK, Ill. - Bismarck-Henning coach Mark Dodd doesn't have to remind his team about where they have been or how far they have come. The Blue Devils are well aware of both. This year's seniors have won 38 games in four years, but they had never made it past the second round. That was until Saturday when they became the best in school history with a three touchdown win over perennial powerhouse Casey-Westfield. "It meant a lot," said quarterback Dylan Allen. "It was very exciting since it had never been done before."
PORT ARTHUR, Tex. - When John Groce signs his 2015 recruiting class tomorrow, there will be at least one familiar face on it. Darius Paul plans to sign with Illinois - again - after spending a year at Lamar State-Port Arthur, a junior college in Texas. Paul was on Illinois' roster last year, but he sat out due to NCAA transfer rules after he left Western Michigan. In May, though, Paul was suspended for this season after being arrested for underage drinking and resisting police. Instead of sitting out again, Paul transferred to junior college, where he could be recruited by any Division I program. He said all along he hoped to return to Illinois - and according to a press released from Paul's junior college - he will officially sign with Illinois Wednesday. Paul is one of four players expected to sign with Illinois Wednesday, along with Aaron Jordan, D.J. Williams, and Jalen Coleman-Lands.
Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt will start for the Illini Saturday against Iowa. He has been out since breaking his leg during the Purdue game on October 4.
Fighting Illini men's tennis seniors Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon fell short of claiming their first national title Sunday afternoon after a 6-3, 7-5 loss to No. 19  Hanfmann/Quiroz at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York.
Watseka beat IC Catholic in three sets at the Class 2A Christ the King super-sectional Saturday afternoon to advance to the state tournament. Cissna Park knocked off Schlarman in three to move on in the 1A tournament.
St. Joseph-Ogden won the Class 1A girls cross country state title Saturday afternoon while Monticello won the Class 1A boys championship.
SJO beat Unity 41-14 while Tuscola edged top-seeded Lawrenceville 28-21 Saturday afternoon.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Friday night's exhibition game for Illinois became a coming out party for Leron Black. The freshman from Memphis, Tenn. wowed the Illini crowd with 15 points and eight rebounds in a 91-62 exhibition win over Quincy. Sophomore Malcolm Hill scored a game-high 20 points, and Nnanna Egwu did the dirty work pulling down 13 rebounds and blocking five shots. Illinois now has a week off before their season opener next Friday against Georgia Southern.
HIGHLAND, Ill. - Taylorville fell behind early, but ran away with the game down the stretch as they beat Highland 36-15 in the second round of the playoffs Friday night. The Tornadoes not only earn their first ever 10-win season, but they also advance to the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history. Taylorville awaits the winner of SHG/Marion next weekend.
MAHOMET, Ill. - Mahomet-Seymour will make the 90-minute trip north Saturday to face Morris in the second round of the IHSA state football playoffs. The Bulldogs are coming off the program's first ever Class 5A playoff victory; they beat Washington by 20 last weekend. Mahomet-Seymour has predominantly been a 4A school; they've only played in 5A two other times. Increasing enrollments, though, have bumped the Bulldogs up this year. That jump means tougher competition. Morris is 6-4, but two of their losses were in overtime to 5A and 6A schools. "They come from a super tough league, they're a very good football team," Mahomet-Seymour coach Keith Pogue said of Morris. "If we can pass block and get a little bit of a run game going it's going to present them a lot of challenges. On the other side of the ball, we've got to play solid run defense. So stopping their run and having solid pass protection are two of the big keys for us."
VOLLEYBALL CLASS 1A Schlarman def. Mt. Pulaski 21-25, 25-22, 25-20 Cissna Park def. Lexington 25-20, 25-21 CLASS 2A Watseka def. Westmont 25-17, 19-25, 25-21 Maroa-Forsyth def. SJO 25-17, 25-21 Dee-Mack def. Williamsville 25-12, 25-16 Edwards Co. def. Tri-County 25-18, 25-17 CLASS 3A Mattoon def. Columbia 25-21, 22-25, 25-17 Sterling def. Lincoln 25-15, 25-14 Breese (Mater Dei) def. SHG 25-16, 25-20 CLASS 4A Normal Community def. Springfield 26-24, 23-25, 25-15
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois basketball team will take the court for the first time Friday night when they host Quincy for their one-and-only exhibition game of the year. The orange and blue practiced at State Farm Center Thursday - just their second practice on that court. They scrimmaged against Dayton over the weekend in Indianapolis, but Friday's game will feel a little more like the real thing. "We're looking forward to the opportunity to get back out here tomorrow, and to play in here," said head coach John Groce. "I tell them all the time it's a privilege to be able to walk on to this court and play in this building. I think there's a little bit of excitement certainly with our guys both yesterday and today because of that."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois women play their exhibition opener Saturday at home against Millikin. The Illini are ready to put last year's nine-win season behind them. They return 11 players, including three of their top four scorers from a year ago. "We see what they're doing, we see the amount of scoring we're getting inside, the way we're shooting the ball and that gives us a lot of confidence and an excitement for the new year," said head coach Matt Bollant. "I know they're tired of playing against each other and ready to play someone else."
TOLONO, Ill. - No one knows the St. Joseph-Ogden/Unity rivalry quite like Cody Stunkard and Collin Davis. Both are assistant coaches on Scott Hamilton's Unity staff, but nine years ago they were a big part of the Rockets' 21-20 double overtime quarterfinal win over SJO. It is still regarded as one of the most historic games in the matchup. "That game is definitely one of the most memorable ones out of high school," said Stunkard. "They had the top defense in the state, and it goes to show that it's any given Saturday when it comes to the playoffs."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Wes Lunt could be back on the field for Illinois as soon as next Saturday when they host Iowa, but one of his key protectors on the offensive line won't be there. Starting offensive lineman Ted Karras will miss the rest of the season after tearing both his ACL and MCL in last week's loss at Ohio State. Karras was on crutches at the end of Saturday's game in Columbus, and head coach Tim Beckman confirmed the season-ending injury after practice Wednesday. Karras has started all but two games in his three years at Illinois.
Parkland volleyball sweeps Rend Lake 25-11, 25-19, 25-17
ARCOLA, Ill. - The playoff mohawks are out in full force this week in Arcola as the Purple Riders are one win away from their first 11-win season since 1997. Arcola will take a 10-0 record into Saturday's showdown with Camp Point (Central.) "It's exciting to be one of the few teams left playing," head coach Zach Zehr said. "Each week you go, it's a big step and it's a big win."
TUSCOLA, Ill. - When No. 10 throws a touchdown pass to No. 83, it has special meaning in Tuscola. It's a brotherly connection. Junior quarterback Nick Bates always knows where to find his senior brother Zach. "It's just really nice because the chemistry is always there because we just know each other so well, what we're going to do," said Zach. "We've been playing together for eight or seven years."
The St. Thomas More girls basketball team opened practice Monday. Jay Price takes over as head coach and the defending state champions hope to make it back there again.
Unity and SJO will play in the second round of the playoffs Saturday. The Spartans are out for revenge after losing to the Rockets in the regular season.
Monticello plays Wilmington in the second round of the IHSA football playoffs and they know it will be a challenging game.
Ohio State beat Illinois 55-14 Saturday night. The Illini fall to 4-5 (1-4) and have an open week up next. WCIA 3's Aaron Bennett has more from Columbus,. Ohio.
Highlights and scores from the first round of the high school football playoffs.
FOOTBALL Glenwood 31 Centennial 14 Wilmington 49 PBL 7 SOCCER Springfield 1 Danville 0 VOLLEYBALL Parkland def. Lake Land 25-5, 25-13, 22-25, 25-18
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Central High School officials have made a decision on who will coach the boys basketball team this season after head coach Wayne McClain passed away earlier this month, and the Maroons are keeping it in the family. Wayne's son Sergio has been chosen to lead the team this season. McClain will have the title of interim head coach. He spent last season on the Maroons' bench as an assistant coach under his dad. He also spent one year as Parkland's head coach. It is with mixed emotions that he gets ready to lead the Maroons this year. "He has passed me the baton," Sergio said of following in his dad's footsteps. "And I'm gonna run with it. I'm gonna go as far as I can go with it. Get an opportunity to prove yourself. It's gonna be trials and tribulations with this team in what they've been through losing a leader. It's just gonna all have to come together, and we're gonna have to lean on each other in order to get this done."
VOLLEYBALL Central def. Centennial 25-16, 25-14 Tri-Valley def. St. Thomas More 25-23, 25-17 Maroa-Forsyth def. Unity 25-16, 25-16
PAXTON, Ill. - When PBL beat Bismarck-Henning back in week two Panthers coach Jeff Graham had a feeling this would be the year they finally made it back to the postseason. "Obviously it's a huge game for us now looking back at it," he said. "It did give our kids some confidence on winning close games and being there."
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The University of Illinois has picked a location for the five men's basketball games next season that cannot be played at State Farm Center because of construction. Illinois announced Thursday they will play those games at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield. "We wanted to find a venue that made us feel at home, that was really welcoming, that we knew that we'd have a crowd that would be excited to have our games here," said Illinois executive senior associate athletic director Jason Lener. "The staff here, the venue, the community have had their arms open and welcoming to us, so we're real excited to come here."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois students got a chance to try and beat Illini basketball coach John Groce at his own game Wednesday morning. Groce was on the quad playing pop-a-shot to help the university promote its social media outlets. The school is trying to reach more students through twitter. So what better way than to have one of the most recognizable and popular faces on campus challenge students to a game of basketball between classes.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Central has won more than 675 football games dating all the way back to 1894, making it one of the most historic programs in the state. Recently, though, the Maroons have struggled. They haven't had a winning record in 12 years - until now. "After last year, I knew we were going to be the team to do it," said senior running back Montrel Moore. "We've been working so hard."
MEN'S SOCCER Region 24 Semifinals SWIC 1 Parkland 0
BOYS SOCCER Hersher 1 Blue Ridge 0 Danville 2 Normal West 0 Springfield 7 Mattoon 0 VOLLEYBALL Centennial def. Rantoul 25-16, 25-17 Central def. Mahomet-Seymour 19-25, 25-9, 25-18
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Reilly O'Toole will get his third straight start at quarterback when the Illini visit Ohio State this weekend. The senior earned another start by leading Illinois to its first Big Ten home win in more than three years Saturday against Minnesota. "I thought we played really hard, came ready to go," O'Toole said. "We got off to a quick start, but really again we gotta be more consistent, put all four quarters together."
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Centennial Chargers are back in the playoffs for the first time in four years. When they host Chatham Glenwood Friday night, it will be the first time since 2002 that the Chargers have hosted a first round playoff game. "We've got something to prove," said senior Austin Maltbia, who leads the team in rushing. "We haven't been as good in the past, and with our huge senior class, we all want to prove something - prove that we deserve to be here."
Fisher and Rantoul volleyball both won their regional games in three sets.
Game times for the first round of the IHSA football playoffs.
St. Thomas More senior Lexi Wallen is a three-sport standout for the Sabers. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns has more on why the Illinois State volleyball recruit will go down as one of the best athletes in school history.
Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt should be back on the field soon. "We feel there's a great possibility for him to be back after the open week," said Illinois Head Coach Tim Beckman. Illinois plays Iowa after the open week on November 15. Lunt broke his leg in the game against Purdue and was expected to be sidelined 4-6 weeks.
Friday Football Fever plays of the week
Bret Beherns and Robert Rosenthal talk about the latest Illini football win.
Highlights from the Illini basketball scrimmage.
Illinois used a scoop and score from V'Angelo Bentley late in the fourth quarter and a strong defensive effort to upset Minnesota 28-24 Saturday afternoon on Homecoming at Memorial Stadium.
Blue Ridge won its first sectional title in program history Saturday, beating St. Thomas More 1-0. Danville won its first regional title Saturday, beating Central 2-1.
IHSA playoff pairings were announced Saturday night. Central is back in the postseason for the first time since 2008. The Maroons will play at Metamora in the first round, as they try and win their first playoff game since 1982.
Highlights and scores from Week 9 of Friday Football Fever
All the best moments from Week 9 on Friday Football Fever - in 90 seconds
VOLLEYBALL Centennial def. Danville 25-16, 25-14 Springfield def. Central 25-23, 25-18 Parkland def. Lincoln Trail 25-3, 25-11, 25-8
GIBSON CITY, Ill. - GCMS will try to get that all-important sixth win Friday night when they visit Fisher in our Friday Football Fever spotlight game. To get ready for the playoffs GCMS played both of its non-conference games this year against playoff-contending teams. One of those, Unity, beat the Falcons by 40 points. They say it wasn't necessarily a bad thing, and if they can get a win Friday and lock up a playoff spot, they'll be better off for it.
FARMER CITY, Ill. - The Blue Ridge boys soccer team will try to win the school's first ever sectional title Saturday when the Knights face St. Thomas More. In his tenth season head coach Marty Price has really turned the program around to get them to this point. As always they'll be leaning on senior Dylan Grammer, who is one of the best in the area at putting the ball in the net - and the chance to make some school history is one thing driving them into Saturday's game.