Friday's state football notebook: Grandma works OT
CHAMPAIGN — Champaign's Janet Scribner was in Memorial Stadium for Friday's first and fourth state championship games. For the second consecutive year, she had grandsons playing in each contest.
In the Class 1A game, Tuscola senior Jordan Scribner had four tackles, four receptions and one interception in the Warriors' 41-27 loss to Dakota.
In Class 4A, Rochester senior Charlie Scribner is a lineman.
Though it made for a long day, Janet Scribner said it was better than the alternative.
"For family harmony, I'm glad they play in different classes," she said.
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Current Monticello coach Cully Welter had an appreciation for both programs participating in Friday's Class 1A championship game. While coaching at Aledo, Welter coached against Dakota in the 2005 Class 2A championship game, losing that one 20-15.
The next year, he coached against Tuscola in the 1A title game that the Warriors won 34-20.
"These are two traditional powers who are here quite often," said Welter, who won three state titles at Aledo.
Welter knows Tuscola well, coaching against Rick Reinhart's program now in the Okaw Valley Conference. He's got a good relationship with longtime Dakota coach Jerry Lano.
"We coached together in an all-star game and kind of kept in contact over the years," Welter said. "I know he's a very patient coach, as you saw today. He understands his offense extremely well, and eventually he'll find a way to move the ball."
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Lano, who has been on the Dakota sideline the last 23 years, almost wasn't around for this year's title run. Lano retired at the end of last season, but after a few months away from the game, he was asked to come back to the program after a replacement for him couldn't be found.
"I wanted to leave something for somebody coming in; I didn't want to leave the cupboard bare," said Lano, who started seniors at 21 of 22 positions Friday. "There's a reason for everything. I don't know why I got asked to come back."
Lano picked up his third state championship with the Indians on Friday.
"I'm tired, man," the 58-year-old Lano said. "It is hard work, and it mentally drains you. I don't think I've slept all week."
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If he had his way, Dakota running back Jake Apple would compete in athletic events in Champaign all the time. In February, Apple captured the Class 1A state championship in wrestling at 171 pounds.
Friday, he set a record for all classes in a state championship game, rushing for 373 yards against Tuscola. He tied the Class 1A record with four touchdowns.
"Champaign's treated me nice, and hopefully it treats me nice this February," Apple said.
Asked which championship means more, Apple picked the football title without hesitation.
"I get to enjoy it all with my friends and pretty much my family for the past 14 weeks," he said. "It just feels amazing because we all get to feel this amazing feeling."
It was the second consecutive year a 171-pound wrestling champ did in Tuscola, a school that doesn't offer wrestling.
In 2010, it was Lena-Winslow's Trey Griffin, who rushed for 156 yards and scored one touchdown.
Lena-Winslow and Dakota are from the same conference, the Northwest Upstate Illini.
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Reinhart remembers one of his first meetings with Philip Meyer, who went on to become a four-year football letterman for Tuscola.
"He said he wasn't going to get a class ring because we were going to have a state championship," Reinhart said. "I was hoping he'd be able to get two (championships) rings."
In the past three years, Tuscola had a first and two seconds at state.
Meyer passed for 222 yards in the 1A title game, connecting with five receivers. For the season, Dillon Hoel, Jimmy Knight and Jordan Scribner all had at least 25 receptions and more than 600 receiving yards.
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Lano said to win state titles, a team needs more than talent.
"I'm not afraid to admit, you need some luck," Lano said.
Tuscola led 14-0, but it could have been at least a 20-point deficit. Austin Sexson had a 92-yard punt return nullified by an illegal block.
"Sometimes they (officials) see 'em, sometimes they miss 'em," Lano said. "That could have been one they missed. I'd rather be lucky than good."
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Friday's 1A title game marked the 339th game on the sidelines for Reinhart. His head coaching career began 34 years ago at Fairfield.
He wouldn't be opposed to a 35th year, and a fifth one at Tuscola.
"If they'll have me," he said, "I'd like to come back."
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When Wilmette Loyola plays in tonight's 7 o'clock Class 8A championship game against Bolingbrook, there will be at least one former Champaign Central athlete cheering for the Ramblers.
The son of former Central baseball standout Scott Rafferty, junior Danny Rafferty, is the long snapper for Loyola Wilmette. He is also a backup defensive back.
Like his father, Danny's best sport is baseball. He has been a varsity starter since he was a high school freshman. He has two older brothers who are already playing college baseball.
Loyola, one of two unbeatens that advanced to state title games, is coached by ex-Illini John Holecek.
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Former Rantoul baseball coach Howard Owens, from Sullivan, was the referee for the 4A title game. His crew included Arcola's Mark Thomas as linesman and three Mattoon residents: Addison Owen, Dave Purvis and Rex Roberts.
Fred Kroner and Marcus Jackson