Ask our prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner about fall sports teams
Greetings again. We'll try to get to as many questions today as time will allow. Thanks to all who are participating.
IN YOUR OPINION, IF URBANA BEATS DECATUR MCARTHUR THIS FRIDAY, WILL URBANA GET AN AT LARGE BID TO THE PLAYOFF'S? WHAT IS THE FORMULA THE IHSA USES TO DETERMINE AN AT LARGE BID FOR A TEAM THAT HAS WON 5 GAMES?
Hi Keith. Great question. First, here's how the system works. Schools which win at least six games are going to qualify for the playoffs. to fill out the 256-school field, the IHSA will take as many 5-4 teams as possible. The first criteria (the way the 5-4 teams are ranked) is playoff points. Quite simply, playoff points are the number of wins that the nine schools on your schedule accumulate. If there are too many at a particular point total, the next tiebreaker is the number of wins accumulated by the schools on your schedule that you beat. To give a general idea, the playoff point total has risen recently. Two years ago, the cutoff was 38 points. Last year, it was 39. There's speculation that the cutoff could be 40 points this year. Here's how that affects Urbana (or for that matter, MacArthur, which also has a 4-4 season record): the winner of Friday's MacArthur at Urbana game will have 40 playoff points. No more, no less. If that winner is Urbana, the point total for the teams it will have beaten will be 12, 13 or 14,l depending on various outcomes this week. That makes the Tigers very much a bubble team. Entering this week's games, 171 of the playoff slots have been filled. There are 85 spots still open. There are a number of current five-win teams which will reach six wins this week, thus becoming automatically eligible. For the Urbana/MacArthur winner, there will be plenty of anxious moments until the playoff field is released late Saturday afternoon.
Do you think any big 12 players especially Danville's Dennis Hightower or Guy Rowell or Central's Brad Wright ,Normal West Alex Jefferson Normal Comm. Jalen Cribbs have a chance of getting any notice from the U of I for football? or any Div 1A FBS Schools And do you know any feeds or stories from school that are interested in any of the ones named?
Hi Jasper. The players you have listed are certainly some of the best ones in the Big 12. At this point, I haven't heard that the UI is interested, but things could change. Hightower and Jefferson are quarterbacks who aren't particularly big. Hightower is 5-foot-11 and Jefferson is a bit shorter. I see Hightower's future as a runner, or as a defensive player and there are absolutely schools where he could play. Jefferson is an outstanding baseball player. He is just a junior, but could wind up with some Division I offers in that sport. Wright is an aggressive running back who has been hampered by a series of nagging injuries and ailments. That will slow down the recruitment, but there will still be interest. Rowell is a very good high school linebacker, who has a knack of penetrating into opposing backfields. I don't know as much about Cribbs, but I believe all of these athletes could play at the next level, if that is their desire.
Fred,Do you think we will have 5 Teams from the Big 12 make the Playoffs?
Hi Tom. Normal West, Danville and Normal Community are already in. That leaves the MacArthur/Urbana winner and possibly Bloomington as the five-win teams that will be on the bubble. Bloomington should handle Eisenhower this week to become playoff eligible. Don't know what to think about MacArthur/Urbana, but that winner will have the required five victories needed for consideration. For there, I don't see any way to predict. Any Big 12 team with five wins with have 40 playoff points. That has always been enough in years past, but that could change this year. I am hearing that some 5-4 teams with 40 playoff points won't qualify. That would be a shame, but at least those schools will have the satisfaction of having earned a winning season. I wish I had more insight.
Fred, Urbana HS recently inducted some impressive members to their sports hall of fame. What about hall of fame inductees to schools in the area this year and did you notice any standouts? It doesn't appear the N-G has an article this fall for each area school with a new hall of fame class? Why would Urbana get an article and not the Monticello Sages which also had an impressive class? Do you think the N-G should have an area hall of fame, similar to an IBCA?
Hi Trent. Good point. We had articles on several area Halls of Fame, including Urbana, Central and Gibson City. Monticello's was listed in a note written by Loren Tate a few Sundays ago, but it did not get the treatment of the other schools. Honestly, I think we erred and should have had more details about those deserving former Sages' athletes. As for a News-Gazette Area Athletic Hall of Fame, that would be interesting, but there are several potential obstacles not the least of which is our changing circulation area. At one time, for example, Heyworth was considered an area school. It no longer is a community where we have circulation. Would athletes from those schools be considered just for the time it was a part of our area? On the other hand, for years Danville High School was not a part of our coverage area. For more than 20 years, it has been. Would athletes from the 1950s and 1960s be eligible to be included since they weren't ones we covered back then or considered for All-Area teams? Also, I believe if there is a Hall of Fame, it needs to be more than something done on paper. We've seen how long it has taken for the IBCA to get its Hall of Fame up and running in Danville (target date 2013) and that is just for one sport. While I somewhat like the idea, I'm not sure it would be feasible. It certainly sounds intriguing though.
Does SJO make the playoffs?
Hi Roger. SJ-O is in good position. First, the Spartans already have five wins, so a win this week over 2-6 Paxton-Buckley-Loda and they are in automatically. Even with a loss, SJ-O would have at least 41 playoff points -- likely more -- and should keep the playoff streak alive.
We are not happy over here in Decatur about Jennings not getting the ball over the past 2 weeks! Can Urbana honestly beat MacArthur if Brian Jennings II get's 20+ carries? They are 4-0 when he does and 0-4 when he doesn't.
Hi Big T. I haven't had the chance to see the Generals play this season, but here's my take on the two 4-4 teams. Both schools defeated Mattoon, Centennial and Eisenhower. Urbana shut out two of those teams, including a Centennial team (40-0) that MacArthur edged 17-14. On the other hand, Urbana handed a still playoff hopeful Bloomington team a 20-point loss and Bloomington beat MacArthur by 19 points. MacArthur owns a seven-point win over a Champaign Central team that scored late to nip Urbana by three points. What does it all mean? In my mind, Urbana has to be considered at least a slight favorite based on the comparative scores and playing at home. Being a slight favorite, however, means there's little margin for error. If a couple of breaks or big plays go the Generals' way, momentum could shift quickly and the visiting team could get the win. The other off-hand thought I have is that Urbana appears to have a more balanced offense, and can gain yards by running or passing. MacArthur seems to be more run-oriented and, based on your statistic, I would certainly make certain that Brian Jennings II gets at least 20 carries. This could easily be our Game of the Week. Two quality teams with postseason ambitions righting tooth and nail to stay in contention. Hope the game lives up to the hype.
Fred,Urbana will have to play a strong game against Mac Arthur and stop the run as they don't pass much which they should do. As far as making the playoffs Urbana is in the 36 th spot right now and if you eliminate Chicago Public Teams that will be eliminated by their rules and we beat 1 team ahead of us is Mac Arthur and Freeport which should lose we should make the Playoffs.I believe we will go to Troy-Triad,Centralia or Marion first round.What are your thoughts?
Hi Tom. Not sure how you have that figured so closely, though it certainly doesn't hurt to be optimistic. The first thing is becoming playoff-eligible. At this point, that is all Urbana can control. From there, what happens at a bunch of other locations will have a direct impact on the Tigers' postseason fate. The schools you mention as possible opponents are good guesses. I think it will hinge on whether the IHSA quadrants are more north/south or east/west and whether the seedings are done as four eight-team brackets or two 16-team brackets. I wouldn't rule out a school like Washington, which should wind up with an 8-1 record. As for needing a strong game against MacArthur, that will be essential. In reality, for both of these teams, this should be treated like a play-in game for the playoffs because the loser will be done with football until next year.
How many All-Staters will come from the Area? Who will be All-Big12 at the Skill Positions?
Hi Big T. I think it's still too early to speculate, especially as far as All-State. It will be difficult for any player to make The News-Gazette first team (which encompasses all classes) if their school is not in the playoffs. The coaches teams are different because they select all-staters for each class. I think one of the most interesting questions in the Big 12 will be what happens at quarterback for the all-conference team. Jefferson, from Normal West, and Hightower, from Danville, are the two high-profile players at the position and each has outstanding credentials. Maybe the coaches don't limit it to one quarterback this season. I would hate to be in position of deciding which of those two wouldn't be on the first team. There are a number of good running backs, too. Perhaps the soluttion is create a category called "backs" and consider both quarterbacks and running backs and have three or four selections.
Fred,Do you think any area Teams will make it to the State Finals?
Hi Tom. Barring surprises, the two from our immediate area I see as most likley to be in state championship games in November are Tuscola in Class 1A and Unity in Class 3A. If anyone else advances that far, I will be surprised.
What in the WORLD happened to the two big men we are recruiting?? Schilling and Hamilton were BOTH supposed to be in Champaign....neither showed up??!! Alexander another big man from Chicago was at MSU last weekend. He says THEY are now his leader!!
Whats up with out big man recruiting??
Hi illininutt. This is better directed to our UI beat writer Paul Klee. He will have much more insight than I have on the subject. Sorry.
That's all we can do this week. We'll be back next week to talk about IHSA playoff draws for football and anything else on your minds. Thanks for all of the questions.