Expect to see a lot of new faces in uniform for Mahomet-Seymour when the Bulldogs host Mount Zion for Friday's opener. Three starters return from a team that went 8-2 and won a share of the Corn Belt title. "It's going to be interesting to see how they adjust to the speed of varsity football," coach Keith Pogue said. One of the new starters is senior quarterback Andrew Roney. Roney missed most of last season after suffering a concussion in Week 1 playing on special teams against the Braves. "A kid came up the middle on a punt and knocked him goofy," Pogue said. Roney has played some quarterback. As a sophomore, he completed 6 of 14 passes for 72 yards as a backup.
Strength in numbers
Low participation numbers the last two seasons forced Arthur-Lovington to use a high percentage of freshmen and sophomores to fill a varsity roster that totaled about 25 players. A program that had reached the postseason five times in Dale Schuring's six seasons in charge went 1-17 as a result. But the addition of athletes from Atwood-Hammond as part of a new cooperative agreement has restocked the roster. "We're doing much better now; we're not having to use freshmen and sophomores and expecting them to compete at the varsity level every week," said Schuring, Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond's coach. When the Knights take the field Saturday against St. Francis de Sales, about 45 players will be in uniform. Most will be juniors and seniors. "We're excited and feel like we should be able to compete every week," Schuring said.
Records within reach
Cameron Mammen's primary goal is to lead Urbana to the postseason for the first time since 2004. In the process, though, the senior quarterback might make a piece of personal history. Mammen has passed for 2,811 yards in his career, a figure that's third all time in Twin City history. Mammen needs 262 yards to pass Centennial's Bryan Banks for second and 296 yards to surpass the 3,106 yards Champaign Central's Doug Kyrouac totaled. "I'm just excited about the season and winning games," Mammen said. "That other stuff will take care of itself." Mammen also is within 80 yards of breaking former Urbana quarterback Preston Williams III's Twin City record for total offense.
Buffaloes in historic game
Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman's team is playing in an opener Friday that truly is a first game. Coach Josh Cavanaugh's team plays at Decatur Lutheran, which is playing its inaugural night home game since implementing a football program four years ago. "This is their first opportunity to play under the lights and it's a huge deal for them," Cavanaugh said. "To get a program off and running is a huge accomplishment. We have two schools in our conference that can barely field a team." G-RF/C quarterback Wyatt Covington is sidelined with a foot injury. Cavanaugh will rotate two sophomore quarterbacks. Riley Goodwin will play the first half, and Dylan Mills (who will start at safety) will play the second half.
Roberts ready to roll
Brett Roberts, an assistant at Central the last two seasons, makes his head coaching debut when the Maroons host Normal Community on Friday. "I got the butterflies; I'm having a hard time sleeping, just all that pregame-energy stuff," said Roberts, 39. Roberts was a longtime assistant under Tom Shallenberger at Mahomet-Seymour and spent a year at Rantoul before joining the program at Central. Having been around the players for two years has helped the transition. "I know where our strengths and weaknesses are, and I think I know what needs to be done to get the most out of the kids," said Roberts, who took over for Ira Jefferson in May. Roberts is trying to lead the Maroons to the postseason for the first time since 2008. Central hasn't won a playoff game in 30 years.