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CHAMPAIGN – It was the first day of basketball practice, and as James Kinney scanned Centennial's gym, he found few familiar faces.
"We lost a lot of people," the Chargers junior said. "We had a lot of seniors last year, six or seven. And then we lost Mikel (Leshoure) to football, so we're real young."
If he had another chance, Don Dobrino would switch things up a bit. After dissecting last week's 49-27 loss to Tuscola, the Mount Olive coach thinks a different defensive philosophy might have helped his Wildcats stop the potent Tuscola offense.
"I think I would probably go man-to-man and maybe blitz them a little bit more," Dobrino said. "(Tuscola quarterback John Wienke) just stands there and throws it, and I noticed when he has to roll a little bit more he's not as accurate."
WESTVILLE – Coach Guy Goodlove's unbeaten football team is no different than any of the other state semifinalists. The players who carry the ball, pass the ball or catch the ball are the ones whose names fans can readily recite.
The athletes who aren't generally in the limelight often play vital roles in a team's success, however, and Westville has one of those unheralded heroes in senior Kyle Strebing.
WINNETKA – Centennial divers Emily Weber and Norah Cetin on Friday reached the finals of the state meet.
Weber is eighth heading into today's finals, compiling 254.70 points. Cetin, who set pool and meet records while winning last week's sectional, is ninth at 250.95.
WESTVILLE – Maroa-Forsyth was undefeated. The Trojans had a dominating offense and were playing on their home field. This game was theirs to lose, right?
That's what they thought, but when Westville coach Guy Goodlove and his players walked off the field last Saturday, they walked off the field victorious.
As far as siblings go, Andy and Jennifer Jones are as close as they come.
"She's always been his No. 1 fan," said Bob Jones, Andy and Jennifer's father. "After every game, she was always the first to call him and congratulate him, still does to this day."
PAXTON – After a disappointing season for himself, his players and his team's fans, Paxton-Buckley-Loda football coach Jim Zenner has resigned.
Zenner's second PBL coach went 1-8. The Panthers were 5-5 in 2006, losing in the first round of the playoffs to Spring Valley Hall.
ARCOLA – When Cameron Anderson left Arcola's quarterfinal game Saturday with an ankle injury, there was cause for concern on the Purple Riders' sideline.
Arcola has lost two games this season, and Anderson, a tailback and outside linebacker, played in neither because of injury.
WESTVILLE – If Westville senior Jeremy Lutchka had known that playing on the offensive line would be so enjoyable, he would have volunteered years ago.
Instead, he toiled in the Tigers' backfield and at tight end for three seasons before volunteering to patch a team need at guard in the preseason. It's a switch that he and his teammates are glad he made.
CHAMPAIGN – Athena Liao shocked herself Saturday. This weekend, she'll get a chance to show the state how far she's come.
The Urbana senior, who spent much of the season recovering from summer knee surgery, is seeded seventh and eighth in her top events at the state swimming and diving meet in Winnetka.