Friday's game between Charleston at Mattoon will be all about Coles County bragging rights, but it will also be about bragging rights for one family. But that isn't the only motivation Mattoon's Jacob Wagner had for getting back on the field. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns reports.
Charleston junior Myles Decker broke the single game school record for yards and attempts in his first career varsity start.
Congratulations to Clifton Central's Logan Podowicz for winning our Play of the Week honor for Week 4 of Friday Football Fever. Podowicz's bobbling TD catch vs. SJ-O won the fan vote at Facebook.com/WCIAfever
Highlights and scores from part three of Friday Football Fever from 9/20.
Highlights and scores from part two of Friday Football Fever from 9/20.
Scores and highlights from part one of Friday Football Fever on 9/20.
The Watseka Warriors are off to a slow start this year, but there is still time to put together a run to the postseason. WCIA 3's Bret Beherns has more on how a connection between brothers could be their key to success.
PBL head football coach Jeff Graham gave up a lot to return to the sidelines. Bret Beherns has more on Graham's second stint as Panthers coach.
We've got a monster matchup between a couple of the state's No. 1 teams on Friday when the Unity Rockets welcome in the Maroa-Forsyth Trojans. Both teams reached the state title game last year, and both have picked up right where they left off. Something will have to give when they take the field in Tolono Friday night. Both Unity and Maroa-Forsyth have been virtually untested through three weeks, though Tuscola gave Unity a game in Week 2. The Rockets are No. 1 in Class 3A. Maroa-Forsyth is No. 1 in Class 2A, setting up a titanic clash this weekend. "These are the type of games you want to play in and you want to coach in and you want to be a part of," said Unity head coach Scott Hamilton. "We've done a lot of things with our program over the last 5, 10, 20 years that have put us in situations like this. If you don't like playing in big games like this, you're probably in the wrong area." It may be the biggest matchup state-wide Friday night, but the Rockets say this game won't define their season. Hamilton said they'll use this game as preparation for the postseason. His players are keeping things in perspective as well. "It's exciting for a No. 1 against No. 1," senior Tyler Crowl said. "But it's just like us against Meridian. It's just another team. It's just football." You can bet it won't feel like just another football game, though, on Friday night. Unity is averaging nearly 45 points per game, while Maroa-Forsyth averages 43 points per game. The Trojans are led by all-state quarterback Jack Hockaday. "It never hurts to have a Division I quarterback who is being recruited by the Big Ten all over," Hamilton said. "And a really good set of skill position guys to go along with him, and a great linebacker in the middle. My guess is me whining about that isn't going to change anything. Those kids are still going to show up on Friday." Unity and Maroa-Forsyth will kick off at 7:00 pm Friday night at Hicks Field in Tolono.
CG-B's Sean Reed with the touchdown-saving interception --or-- Salt Fork's Garrett McFadden's long touchdown vs. Westville. To vote, go to Facebook.com/WCIAfever and leave a comment under the story. We'll announce the winners Tuesday at 6:00 pm
All the best moments from Week 3 of Friday Football Fever
Here's part two of Friday Football Fever with scores and highlights from week three of the high school football season.
Here's part one of Friday Football Fever with scores and highlights from week three of the high school football season.
Centennial head football coach Mike McDonnell says this week's game at Danville has the potential to shape the rest of the season for the Chargers. The Vikings host the Chargers in our Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game of the Week.
Danville quarterback Trent Sherfield and wide receiver Chris Collier have been best friends since kindergarten. Now as seniors, they're leading the Vikings offense. The duo have scored all the team's points so far this season.
A look back at week two of the high school football season in 90 seconds.
Central junior running back Jalen Rose is finding a way to succeed despite not having a mother around this fall. His mom, Yvette, is a member of the United States Army, serving in Afghanistan as a lieutenant colonel.
Friday night's game will be an important one for the Urbana Tigers. The defending Big 12 champs will try to avoid starting 0-2 after losing their opener last week. Urbana already knows they have an uphill battle if they want to repeat as conference champs. They can't afford another loss to start the year. "They say you can make the greatest increase between weeks one and two," said head coach Nathan Watson. "We looked at everything as a coaching staff in our meeting, and we're trying to improve every aspect of our game." Watson and the Tigers will visit Central Friday night in their annual battle for Wright Street trophy. "We're always going to get Central's best effort year in and year out," Watson said. "We just need to focus on us, ignore the rivalry, correct our mistakes and we'll be fine."
URBANA -- There's more to life than just football for Urbana offensive lineman Max Dragoo. The senior plays the saxophone in the school symphony orchestra. He also is a member of the jazz band.
Central will host Urbana in our Spotlight Game this Friday night, and like the Tigers the Maroons also had problems with turnovers in their season opener. Central fumbled the ball six times in a 41-point loss to Normal West. First-year head coach Nate Albaugh says taking care of the football his top priority in practice this week. "That's a major focus this week," Albaugh said. "We also saw a lot of lazy football away from the ball. If you weren't getting the ball, we found laziness, so those are our keys and points of focus this week. If we're going to be competitive we have to fix them." Central will host Urbana Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Tommy Stewart Field.
Your night of Friday Football Fever ... in 90 seconds.
Highlights and scores from part 1 of Friday Football Fever - Week 1
Highlights and scores from part 2 of Friday Football Fever Week 1
Big 12 preview
Okaw Valley, LOVC previews
Corn Belt, Apollo, SVC previews
Heart of Illinois, Vermilion Valley previews
The Charleston Trojans are coming off back-to-back Apollo Conference titles, and they hope they are starting to build a winning culture. They have gone toe-to-toe with the best in the state the last couple years; and while they lost a huge senior class, they're looking forward to the chance for some new young players to step in and fill their shoes. "The kids learned a lot the last couple years in terms of watching, but maybe not necessarily in reps or game-speed situations," said head coach Brian Halsey. "I think we have talent. We just have to get them the four quarters and a game or two under their belt to let them relax." That also means a new senior class is stepping up and assuming the leadership role. "It gave us a lot of confidence throughout the last couple seasons, and this season we just hope to repeat the same success," senior Tristan Brown said. Charleston opens the season at Rantoul Friday night.
The Westville Tigers are gearing up for another season opener, and we will feature them in our Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game for Week 1. The Tigers visit Villa Grove-Heritage in a matchup of two teams hoping for big seasons. We told you last night about VGH's wealth of experience. It's hard to believe, but Westville might have more. "With all the experience, you can win close games," senior quarterback Kyle Brazas said. "With seniors, you can usually come down with the win." The Tigers could start a senior at every position on offense and defense, something that has never been done before in Guy Goodlove's 19 years. "Where we are this year is where we left off last year," said Brazas. "I know we didn't do that great last year, but we're trying to make progress." Westville's experience will be tested Friday night at Villa Grove, but they think they'll be ready. "I feel like there's a lot more leadership this year," said running back Dalton Hilligoss, also a senior. "It's been flowing better because we know what we're supposed to do."
The Mattoon Green Wave, on paper, should be one of the favorites in the Apollo Conference, but don't tell that to them. They are staying humble and working hard in camp. The facts are Mattoon is one of the more experienced teams in the Apollo, especially at the skill positions, and the Green Wave could be poised for a big year. "What we're hoping is that we'll be able to run the ball better than we have in the past," said head coach Troy Johnson. "Being aggressive on defense is what our focus has been. We lost a lot of linemen, so we're trying to replace those guys." Mattoon will face a solid test in their season opener when they visit Troy Triad. The Knights went 4-5 last season. "Our non-conference schedule is pretty good, and Troy is a pretty good team," said junior Andy Vieth. "They've got a pretty good offense, and they're pretty big up front. We just have to handle it." Mattoon visits Triad at 7:00 pm Friday night.
Friday Football Fever begins in just a couple of days, and our first Spotlight Game of the year will be Villa Grove-Heritage hosting Westville in a matchup of conference title contenders. Villa Grove-Heritage is a brand new coop this fall. The Blue Devils have about a dozen more kids out for football this year, so the coop helps their numbers, and it should help their quality of play. So far they say the new coop has been a smooth transition.
Centennial football coach Mike McDonnell was forced to start a lot of young players last year. That inexperience made for a tough season, but it put the Chargers in a great position heading into this season. That's because almost all of those kids that played the bulk of the minutes last year are back. That includes junior quarterback Jimmy Fitzgerald, who already has offers from Illinois and Yale. He will be leading a team that, all of a sudden, has quite a bit of experience coming back.
There is a new energy around the Fisher Bunnies this season. They think this might be the year they get back in the hunt for a Heart of Illinois Conference title. Head coach Matt Leng says the team's senior leadership has been taken to a new level this year. "I think the team chemistry is really good," Leng said. "A lot of that has to do with the seniors. They've done a lot of offseason work, and they've really busted their butts out here." That high praise from the coach has led to some never-before-seen confidence from his players. Fisher is coming off a 2-7 season, their worst in Leng's 11 years, and they expect to bounce back in a big way. "I don't know if I've ever felt more confident about a team in my whole high school career," said Hayden Fiedler, a senior tight end and defensive end. "With the combination of the size and strength we have up front, with the speed and quickness in the back, we've got four backs we can hand the ball off to." And paving the way for those backs will be senior lineman Josh Wallick. He expects the team to be more balanced on offense than they were a year ago. "This year we have a lot more balance," Wallick said. "We always had good linemen, but this year its going to be even better. Our backfield is a little bit more balanced. We have the speed and we have the strength." Fisher has made the playoffs 8 of the last 11 years under Leng, and he believes they've got the talent to get back into the postseason. "I think offensively and defensively, we're going to be much improved than we were last year," said Leng. Fisher opens the season Friday, August 30th at home against Ridgeview.
Mahomet-Seymour will try to get back to the top of the Corn Belt this year, and head coach Keith Pogue is hoping his defense will carry them there. They return nine starters. Pogue says they're not big, but they are athletic. Add in their experience, and they should be a tough group for opponents to score on. "We've got all our linebacker back, and all of them were at least mentioned all-conference," said Pogue. "They all have a good nose for the ball. They've put in the time, so we're excited about that group." One of the returning seniors hoping to lead the way is two-way star Cully Day. "We should be outstanding defensively," Day said. "All four linebackers are returning this year. They should be the key part of our defense." Mahomet-Seymour opens the season Friday, August 30th at Mt. Zion.
The Central Maroons have another new head coach this year. Nate Albaugh is the Maroons' fourth different head coach in the last five years. He takes over a program that didn't win a game last year. He not only hopes to change the results on the field but also the culture around the team.
The Tuscola Warriors saw their string of 18 straight playoff appearances come to an end last season, and while their 4-5 record was subpar by their lofty standards they recognize they've got a lot of work to get back on track. "There's kind of like a 'Lets make it right' attitude," said head coach Rick Reinhart. "It started in February with our kids in the weight room getting after it, getting stronger." This year's Tuscola team is young, and they face a brutal schedule for any time, let alone a 1A school. The Warriors play almost all of the Okaw Valley 'big boys' including crossover games on the road at Unity and at Monticello. It's a tough draw, even for a team just two years removed from a state runner-up finish. "With the schedule we play, we have to be at our very, very best every week," Reinhart said. "We play the toughest schedule for a 1A team maybe in the state. This year is no exception." Tuscola will try to start a new playoff streak, and it all starts August 30th at home against Sullivan (Okaw Valley).
Head coach Dick Duval will be back on the SJ-O sidelines for the 26th straight year, and he's got a loaded squad coming back. The Spartans rolled through the SVC schedule unscathed last year, and they are hungry for more, which is bad news for the rest of the Sangamon Valley Conference. SJ-O returns four all-conference performers, including quarterback Dalton Walsh and wide receiver Brady DePratt, who was an all-conference defensive back a year ago. "This is one of the most close-knit teams I've ever played on," said DePratt. "We have a lot of people who were here last year, and we'll fight for each other. I know that we'll do whatever it takes to win." Winning is nothing new for SJ-O. The Spartans have been to the playoffs each of the last 22 years. They'll try to make it 23 this year. "Every kid that plays for St. Joe-Ogden knows they're expected to play at a high level, and anything below that is not going to be acceptable," said head coach Dick Duval. "Obviously it's the first day. We've got a lot of work to do, but it's a start." SJ-O opens the season August 30th at home against Marshall.