Kroner's Friday night storylines
A new co-op begins
The participation level is up at Villa Grove, which will debut its co-op with Heritage by playing at home against a Westville team that has 21 seniors. It’s a rematch of last year’s opener between the same teams, a game the Blue Devils won by 27 points. The 52 squad members is an increase of 10 over last year’s turnout at Villa Grove. Quarterback John Henderson was one of the two Blue Devils to rush for at least 1,000 yards last year, and he’s back as a third-year starter. Coach Chad Musselman hopes his co-op works as well as ones last year at rival schools Arthur and Cerro Gordo, which had playoff seasons.
A new era at Urbana
Sophomore quarterback Alex Beckman will take control of the Urbana offense, a unit that was under the direction of Cameron Mammen the past three years. The Tigers lost (to Danville at home) in Mammen’s first game as a starter, a game in which he completed 10 of 14 passes. The Beckman era starts with a home game against Normal Community. If this is any indication of the direction of the Tigers’ offense, 18 of 35 players on the varsity roster are listed with wide receiver as their main position. Prominent in that group are James Cobbs, Dustin Lard, Tanner Russell and freshman Jaimin Carter.
Starting with a bang
Coaches recognize that playing tough opponents helps in preparation for the postseason, but Danville’s B.J. Luke and Bloomington’s Rigo Schmelzer surely wish they didn’t have to face one of the top projected teams on their schedule in Week 1. The Vikings travel to Bloomington for a showdown between teams that received votes in the Class 6A state poll and which are regarded by Big 12 Conference coaches as among the league’s best. Bloomington, led by quarterback Jake Romani, was picked as the team to beat. Danville, led by quarterback Trent Sherfield, tied for second in the preseason poll.
A source of consistency
Every Friday night during the regular season, there will be a varsity football game at Champaign’s Tommy Stewart Field, which is adjacent to Centennial High School. The field is shared by the Chargers, who start at home Friday (7 p.m.) against Decatur Eisenhower, and Central’s Maroons, who make their home debut in another week against Urbana. Three visiting teams (Eisenhower, Urbana and Normal Community) will make two trips to the field. The annual City of Champaign rivalry — this will be Year No. 41 — is scheduled for Oct. 18, with Centennial serving as the home team in the Big 12 matchup.
Point of contention
For three consecutive years, the Fisher Bunnies have managed one touchdown in their first-week game. However, coach Matt Leng’s team is 1-2 in that span, thanks to an 8-7 win in 2011 against St. Thomas More. Friday’s home opener against Ridgeview provides Fisher with a chance to avenge a season-opening loss (36-6) last year to the Mustangs. Though Fisher has an enrollment of 188 students, it can put together a lineup with some size, including heavyweight wrestling state champion Josh Wallick (285 pounds), Gilvie Zook (245) and Hayden Fiedler (230), all of whom are seniors.
Arcola at Salt Fork (Catlin)
Robinson at Watseka
Unity at Warrensburg-Latham
Westville at Villa Grove/Heritage
GCMS at Lexington
Clinton at Argenta-Oreana
Eisenhower at Centennial
Central at Normal West
Danville at Bloomington
Sullivan/Okaw Valley at Tuscola
Normal Community at Urbana
Charleston at Rantoul
Arthur at Hoopeston Area
Martinsville at Bismarck-Henning
Danville at Bloomington
Monticello at Central A&M
Olympia at St. Thomas More
Marshall at St. Joseph-Ogden
Prairie Central at Clifton Central
Deer Creek-Mackinaw at LeRoy
PBL at El Paso-Gridley
Eureka at Iroquois West/Tri-Point
Ridgeview at Fisher
Oakwood/A-P at Flanagan
Dec. Lutheran at Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman
Milford/Cissna Park at Tri-County
Mahomet-Seymour at Mt. Zion