The News-Gazette's weekly look at area prep football:
St. Joseph-Ogden has garnered attention because of the production of its offense. The Spartans scored at least 41 points in each of their first five games. But the play of the defense has been overshadowed somewhat. Through six games, the Spartans have yielded 52 points – most of those with their second unit in the game – including two shutouts.
"I think a lot of the success has been because we've got some kids that can actually run," SJ-O coach Dick Duval said. "We've always tried to get two pretty solid people at defensive end with some speed, which helps us keep people from getting on the outside against us."
Mike Bialeschki, a three-year starter, is one of Duval's defensive ends along with senior Nick Rogiers. Rogiers inherited the spot from Zach Becker, who now starts at middle linebacker for the Spartans.
"Nick Rogiers is a pretty talented kid himself who has a lot of speed," Duval said. "We let Becker stand on his feet and play this year to try and help him get a shot at the next level. He's kind of shored up the middle pretty well for us."
The Bob Benefiel Memorial Scoreboard will be dedicated prior to Friday's home Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley football game against Fieldcrest. A former teacher and elementary school principal in the district, Benefiel ran the scoreboard for 49 years.
A reception at the Kietzman Pavilion, south of the football field, for the Benefiel family will take place at 6:15. The unveiling of the scoreboard name will occur shortly before the 7 p.m. kickoff.
GCMS football coach and athletic director Mike Allen orchestrated the honor for Benefiel, who died July 29 at age 78.
Trip to remember
When the Villa Grove players saw their schedule and learned they would travel more than two hours by bus to play a game just outside Indianapolis, they were less than thrilled. But coach Chad Musselman put his own spin on the road trip to make sure his players are ready to play when they get off the bus.
"I told them to treat it like a playoff game," Musselman said. "It's a Saturday, we're playing in the middle of the day, so it's going to be like a playoff-type atmosphere."
The Blue Devils found themselves scrambling to add a game to the schedule after Tuscola left the Little Okaw Valley. Musselman said the athletic department had a difficult time finding a team in Illinois to fill the schedule and eventually settled on Our Lady of Providence, which is located in Clarksville, Ind.
Injuries bugging Tigers
Coach Mike Hoskins' Urbana Tigers have endured a rocky season on the field. It hasn't helped that they've had trouble avoiding injuries and other personnel problems.
Running back Antonio Jones (knee), the team's biggest offensive weapon, has been out for three weeks but is expected to return soon. Linebacker Caleb Blaney was out for three weeks before returning recently, and the team still is missing defensive back Anthony Hearnes, who could return.
"One week we had five kids out," Hoskins said.
The Tigers didn't have much depth to start. The injuries have been especially troublesome, causing other players to switch positions to compensate. Linebacker Jack Leclair is a perfect example.
"He has played (weakside linebacker, middle linebacker, strongside linebacker) and nose (tackle)," Hoskins said. "As a starter. Four different ballgames. And the kid's done a great job."