Can't wait for more? Circle these 10 dates on next season's preps calendar

Can't wait for more? Circle these 10 dates on next season's preps calendar

Aug. 24, 2018

Friday night lights. Marching bands. Student sections. Pork chop sandwiches. That's right, the high school football season kicks off this night. Defending Class 2A state champion Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley opens at Ford County rival Paxton-Buckley-Loda, one of many marquee games set for the next nine weeks.

Oct. 13, 2018

Alaina Bowie could win a state title in girls' golf at Red Tail Run in Decatur. The St. Thomas More junior, who started last season with a 64 in her season-opening tournament and ended it with a third-place individual finish in Class 1A, is poised to add to her already growing legacy on the links this fall.

Nov. 3, 2018

Detweiller Park in Peoria is where all the cross-country action will be at the state finals. On the boys' side, Mahomet-Seymour will try to win a third straight Class 2A state title, as coach Neal Garrison has built a powerhouse. On the girls' side, Unity will vie for its third 1A state title in the past four years. Wow.

Nov. 19, 2018

The boys' basketball season tips off. In a big way in Champaign County, too. Central, Centennial, Danville, Mahomet-Seymour, Rantoul and St. Thomas More will all take part in a weeklong Thanksgiving tournament that culminates on Nov. 24 with the championship game at Central's Combes Gym.

Nov. 23-24, 2018

State football title games are back in Champaign at Memorial Stadium for the 17th time. Four championship games will take place the day after Thanksgiving, with Class 1A through Class 4A taking place on Nov. 23 before the Class 5A through Class 8A championship games kick off on Nov. 24. Enjoy.

Dec. 26, 2018

Stash away the presents for a few days. It's holiday hoops tournament time. The State Farm Holiday Classic in Bloomington-Normal, tips off this day, with thousands of games at various locales across the state taking place during the next four days. Centralia, Pontiac and Monticello, among others, will be popular destinations.

Feb. 23, 2019

Only 15 girls' basketball programs across the state can lay claim to winning consecutive state titles. Schlarman will try to add to that legacy this winter. Led by Notre Dame commit Anaya Peoples and a talented roster returning, the Hilltoppers could do just that after breezing to a Class 1A state championship last year.

March 18, 2019

Power pitcher meet power hitter. St. Joseph-Ogden softball is set to open its season at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. The Spartans feature Alabama commit Bailey Dowling, who has 43 career home runs. GCMS, meanwhile, counters with ace Madi Eberle, who recorded an area-best 302 strikeouts this past spring.

May 25, 2019

Track and field season closes with the boys' state finals at O'Brien Field on the campus of Eastern Illinois University. Expect plenty of titles from area standouts in both the girls' and boys' meet. This past season, area athletes claimed 14 individual state titles combined and collected five team trophies. Nice.

June 1, 2019

The final day of the small-school baseball season the past three years has seen an area team playing at Dozer Park in downtown Peoria. This year, Tuscola filled that role after St. Joseph-Ogden did so in 2017 and 2016, along with Salt Fork in 2016. Chances are, at least one program is vying for more state hardware.