CHAMPAIGN — Centennial's volleyball team, fresh off team honors in its own invitational Saturday, is ranked 49th nationally and fourth among Illinois high schools (regardless of class) in rankings compiled by prepvolleyball.com.
The Chargers are among the teams to beat in this weekend's Crossroads Classic Tournament at Effingham. The team favorite is Wheaton St. Francis, rated third in the state and 26th nationally. Other highly regarded Illinois teams in the field include Naperville Central (ranked ninth in the state) along with Bloomington and Edwardsville (tied for 25th in the state).
Champaign referee Felix Madera is among the tournament officials and will work the championship match.
The elite 24-school field has a national flavor and includes two 2011 state championship teams — Jonesboro (Ark.) Valley View and St. Louis Villa Duchesne — in addition to a state runner-up from last year, Indianapolis Chatard.
All schools are guaranteed of playing five matches. Centennial opens against Toledo Cumberland at 6 p.m. Friday. The other area team in the field, Tri-County, faces Breese Central in its opening match.
Ex-Charger Kinney on list
Former Centennial guard James Kinney was named one of the top 15 long-range shooters in college basketball by bleacherreport.com.
The San Jose State senior shot 39.8 percent (86 of 216) from three-point range last season. Kinney also averaged 2.8 three-pointers per game in Western Athletic Conference action, tying for the league lead.
The 2009 News-Gazette All-Area Player of the Year led San Jose State in scoring (15.8) while starting all 31 games for the Spartans.
Other players on the top 15 list include Associated Press first-team All-American Doug McDermott of Creighton. Jordan Hulls of Indiana and Seth Curry of Duke.
Newcomer starts strong
EUREKA — Chrisman native Jordan Kindred is a senior basketball player at Eureka College who decided to play football for the first time this fall. His debut in the sport Saturday was part of an NCAA record performance.
A wide receiver for the Red Devils, Kindred snared 13 passes for 235 yards in his first football game at any level, helping Eureka quarterback Sam Durley break the NCAA single-game passing record with 736 yards. Durley was 34 of 52.
Kindred's 13 receptions were the third best ever by an athlete from Eureka College, and his 235 receiving yards rank fourth all time on the school's charts.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Kindred wasn't the only former area athlete to play a prominent role as Eureka rallied to beat Knox College 62-55 in Galesburg.
Freshman Zach McCoy, a Centennial product starting the first game of his collegiate career, rushed 26 times for 88 yards and three touchdowns. Junior receiver Cody Followell, from Prairie Central, had six receptions for 79 yards. Senior Murad Abbed, a safety from Bismarck-Henning, was second on the team with 10 tackles. Senior Dan Bolsen, a Lovington product, had two tackles.
Area teams enter rankings
Area schools are well-represented in the state's first cross-country state rankings, released last week by Illinois Prep Harrier.
Five area boys' teams in Class 1A are rated among the top 20: St. Thomas More (first), Urbana Uni High (11th), Monticello (14th), Unity (16th) and St. Joseph-Ogden (19th).
In the girls' Class 1A rankings, four area schools received mention in the top 20: Monticello (second), St. Joseph-Ogden (12th), St. Thomas More (13th) and Urbana Uni High (17th).
In Class 2A, the only area school recognized was Mahomet-Seymour. The Bulldogs' boys' team was rated 14th, and the M-S girls' program entered the Top 25 at No. 24.
Former teammates now rivals
ATWOOD — One of the marquee Week 3 football games Friday finds the Cerro Gordo/DeLand-Weldon/Bement cooperative team playing at Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond.
Until this year, athletes from Atwood-Hammond and Bement played together for the South Piatt cooperative team. This week, they will line up against one another in the only home varsity game played at Atwood this season. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
The Little Okaw Valley Conference opener takes on added significance because each team is 2-0 this season. The game will be homecoming for the Atwood-Hammond students. Among the Atwood-Hammond students who will get a final game on their home field are Logan Dukeman, Jordan Feagin, Kyler Gray, Cody Sebens and Andy Webb.
Among those on the other side who were teammates in 2011 are Steve Isbell, Chris Kocher, Andy Maltby and Tyce Rittenhouse.
Former Cerro Gordo head coach and athletic director Paul Workman has rejoined coach Andy Kerley's Broncos staff this season as an assistant coach.
Jeff Huth and Fred Kroner