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.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - We are learning new details about Champaign-Urbana's bid to bring the state basketball tournament back to State Farm Center. C-U tourism officials and the University of Illinois are partnering together to try to bring only the boys state tournament to town. There are no plans to bid on the girls tournament, according to Visit Champaign County CEO Jayne DeLuce.
BOYS SOCCER St. Thomas More 2 Williamsville 1 (F) Danville 2 Urbana 1 (F)
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Tim Beckman said this week you will see both quarterbacks, Reilly O'Toole and Aaron Bailey, in the game this Saturday against Minnesota. It has been an up-and-down season for O'Toole, who has completed 55 percent of his passes and thrown more interceptions than touchdowns. He wants to play, but he says he is prepared to share the snaps if that helps the team win.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Friends and family got together in Champaign Wednesday to remember Wayne McClain. The Central High School basketball coach, and former Illinois assistant, was laid to rest Wednesday after he lost his battle with lung cancer and pneumonia last week. Thousands came to celebrate McClain's life at the Fluid Event Center in Champaign. They remembered the four state titles McClain helped Peoria Manual win in the mid-1990s, but his contributions to Illini basketball came to the forefront. Dozens of former Illinois players and coaches were there, including Bruce Weber, Bill Self, Deron Williams, Jerrance Howard, Marcus Griffin and others.
BOYS SOCCER Blue Ridge 1 Monticello 0 (F) Salt Fork/Westville 4 Hoopeston Area 3 (F/PK) Central 2 Centennial 0 (F)
ARCOLA, Ill. - When Zach Zehr was named head coach at Arcola two years ago the Deer Creek native knew all about the Purple Riders' rich football history. Now he is part of it. Zehr has Arcola back in the spotlight - much like the program was in the 1970s and 1980s when Steve Thomas coached the Purple Riders to double-digit wins in 11 out of 17 seasons. "For me it just goes back to other people before me," Zehr said of Arcola's football tradition. "Everybody that's still around here who were part of building all that up."
LANCASTER, Tex. - Illinois basketball fans were on edge Tuesday as five-star power forward Elijah Thomas made his college decision. The talented big man from Dallas, Tex. had a group of finalists that included Illinois, but Thomas instead announced Tuesday afternoon he is headed to Texas A&M. Thomas picked the Aggies over Illinois, Oklahoma State, SMU and LSU. He made the announcement at a press conference at his high school in Lancaster, Tex. Thomas took his official visit to Illinois last month alongside Illini-commit Jalen Coleman-Lands. Thomas is ranked among the Top 30 players in the country, but he becomes the latest recruit to turn down Illinois in the final days of his recruitment.
The Illinois football team will wear special uniforms for homecoming. They honor Red Grange, the greatest football player in Illinois history.
The Central volleyball team is hoping to make a deep post season run this year.
Bonus interviews with Tim Beckman and Bill Cubit talking about how the Illini plan to use both Aaron bailey and Reilly O'Toole against Minnesota.
Friday Football fever plays of the week.