CHICAGO – Commitment. Family.
Two important words to Steven Filer. Two words that drive his life.
WESTVILLE – The man sitting in a lawn chair at practice rose and spoke to Guy Goodlove during a break in the preseason scrimmage.
It was a hot August afternoon in 2004, a couple of weeks before Westville would play its season-opening football game.
URBANA – It's not too surprising that Katarina Marjanovic became a tennis player.
The sport is a Marjanovic family institution. The family affectionately calls Atkins Tennis Center – where they play and volunteer regularly – their second home.
WESTVILLE – You may not hear Tanner DeLaurier's name called during Friday's Class 2A state title game at Memorial Stadium, but it will certainly be announced along with the rest of the Westville football team during the postgame awards ceremony.
DeLaurier's contributions to the Tigers' success over the past four years won't show up in the statistics, but during that time the 17-year-old has made a definite impact on the Westville program.
DANVILLE – It was, quite simply, a show.
A show of teamwork.
MAHOMET – Heath Grote anticipated he might get the call to officiate one of the eight IHSA state championship football games this weekend at Memorial Stadium. And the 21-year veteran official did – he'll be on the field for Friday's final game, the Class 4A game between Addison Driscoll and Bloomington Central Catholic. But the way the news was passed down to him was more of a shock than the actual message.
"The news actually came in the mail," Grote said. "The IHSA usually does about everything it can over the Web, so to get it in the mail was kind of odd."
WESTVILLE – Somewhere between first down and the end zone, Aaron Johnson figured he'd get his chance, but the Westville senior never thought he'd convert the longest scoring play of the first half in Saturday's Class 2A football semifinal game against Casey-Westfield.
Johnson's shining moment in the Tigers' 27-19 victory in a showdown between undefeated teams almost never materialized.
WESTVILLE – The competition went beyond what Casey-Westfield provided as 3,000 spectators watched. Westville's Tigers were seemingly trying to outdo one another Saturday to register the Play of the Game.
By the time Westville had advanced into the Class 2A title game for the second consecutive season – thanks to a 27-19 semifinal conquest of the Warriors – there was a laundry list of second-half superlatives.
TUSCOLA – With 1:26 remaining in Tuscola's 48-6 win against rival Arcola, Stan Wienke removed his starting defense from the game. Defensive coordinator Lenny Sementi was doused with Gatorade and the Tuscola faithful stood and applauded the Warriors as Wienke smiled for the first time in what seemed like ages and players high-fived and hugged.
"We're goin' back, boys," a player shouted.
TUSCOLA – Arcola coach Jarod Kiger and his Purple Rider football players have joined the Tuscola bandwagon.
"I never thought I would say this," Purple Rider junior running back Beau Fishel said after Saturday's 48-6 Class 1A semifinal loss to the Warriors, "but I'm definitely going to be a Tuscola fan next week. They have size, speed, and they play smart. They are a good all-around team. Their linebackers really filled the holes, so there were not many places I could run (33 yards on 14 carries). Once they get on a roll on offense, they are hard to stop as well."