Week 2 storylines: Unity's unis & the Wright Street Trophy
Fred Kroner's five storylines for Week 2 of the football season:
The new-look Rockets
Personnel changes every season, but that’s not the only reason Unity’s Rockets will appear different for Friday’s home-opener at Hicks Field against Tuscola. During the offseason, Unity ordered completely new uniforms — pants and jerseys — for the varsity to wear for home and away games. Be prepared to see something different. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve never had anything but maroon and white, no third color on the jersey,” 20th-year coach Scott Hamilton said. The new Nike uniforms have more charcoal-gray. “With the cost of them, I felt if we’re going to spend that much money, you at least need to do something different,” Hamilton said. “It’s still a traditional look, but it has some different color schemes to it.” Something else will be different for the state’s top-ranked Class 3A school. Tuscola has returned to the schedule following a two-year absence, but it’s a one-and-done deal. With area conferences reshuffle in 2014, the football rivalry could not be maintained. Both Unity and Tuscola are coming off first-game victories.
One for the books
Even though his team suffered a loss, Danville senior Chris Collier had one of the best all-around games in state history. He caught eight of quarterback Trent Sherfield’s nine completions and gained 289 yards through the air, the 10th-best single-game total in IHSA history. Counting rushing and return yards, Collier amassed 503 all-purpose yards.
“That will be tough to do week after week after week, but he’s capable of having big games,” Danville coach B.J. Luke said.
The Vikings welcome another receiver this week when Denzel Smith returns for the 7:30 p.m. game at state-ranked (Class 7A) St. Rita . He sat out the 55-50 first-game loss at Bloomington. Danville and Bloomington are no strangers to wild opening-game encounters.
This year’s game was decided on a touchdown with 24.6 seconds left. Last year’s 43-42 Bloomington win was salvaged with a TD and two-point conversion in the final minute. In 2009, Danville beat Bloomington 30-28 in the opener and in 2008, the Vikings won 34-27 in two overtimes.
As yet, Danville has no opponent scheduled for Week 1 in 2014.
Striving for .500
One point is certain. By around 9:30 or 10 p.m. Friday, either Champaign Central or Urbana will have a .500 season record.
The local rivals square off in the annual battle for the Wright Street Trophy (a series the Champaign school leads 70-33-4) with each coming off season-opening losses. This year’s game, at Tommy Stewart Field adjacent to Centennial High, will be the first in the historic series for Central head coach Nate Albaugh.
“I am excited to be a part of the great history of the Central-Urbana rivalry game,” he said. “Friday night should be a great atmosphere for high school football.”
Urbana’s Nathan Watson won’t put an undue emphasis on the showdown.
“Rivalry games can be exciting, but since I have been here, we try to prepare for every game in the same fashion,” he said. “With that in mind, this week is big because we want to get the first win of 2013 out of the way. Yes, we are playing Central, but I view them as a faceless opponent for us to claim victory over in order to achieve our goals.”
Tiger sophomore quarterback Alex Beckman is questionable for the game with what Watson called “an undisclosed injury.”
Broncos hit season running
The road Warriors — actually Broncos — from Cerro Gordo/DeLand-Weldon/Bement try to follow up on a five-point first-game win over No. 14 (Class 1A) Lena-Winslow with a nonconference game at Westville on Friday.
CG/D-W/Bement, ranked No. ninth in Class 2A, is coming off an opener where coach Andy Kerley observed, “I think we played about as good a first game as we have since I’ve been here.”
That means nothing, he emphasized, this week.
“We have to avoid that letdown that teams have after winning a game of the magnitude we just did, and if we decide last weekend is going to get us any favors from them, we’re going to be in for a long night,” he said.
Westville coach Guy Goodlove has a long list of areas to improve after his team’s 15-12 first-quarter lead at Villa Grove ended with a 46-29 loss.
“We must control the line of scrimmage, sustain drives and take advantage of scoring opportunities,” Goodlove said. “We must do a better job of tackling.”
That latter is especially true. CG/D-W/Bement’s attack features Steve Isbell, the area rushing leader (215 yards).
Panthers take a pass
To anyone who has followed LeRoy football, the breakdown of offensive plays in Week 1 will not be a surprise. Coach B.J. Zeleznik’s team ran 48 non-punting plays from scrimmage in a 32-22 win over Deer Creek-Mackinaw.
The operative word is “ran.” The Panthers attempted one pass, which Joe Chastain completed to Austin Craig for an 11-yard gain. Otherwise, seven Panthers got into the act as ball carriers, teaming up for 347 yards on the ground.
Balance was the other word of the day. Four Panthers had between 67 and 91 rushing yards, led by tackling-leader Craig, who gained his team-high 91 yards on five carries.
LeRoy plays the second of three consecutive home games to start the season this week, facing Fieldcrest.
LeRoy’s running success came in the first game after the graduation of three backs (Shane Bruning, Austin Eddy and Cory Eastham) who teamed up for 4,018 rushing yards in 2012.
Bismarck-Henning at Arcola
Paris at Watseka
Argenta-Oreana at Monticello
Centennial at MacArthur
Urbana at Central
Tri-Valley at GCMS
Danville at St. Rita
Tuscola at Unity
Oakwood/A-P at Arthur-Lovington/A-H
St. Thomas More at Kincaid South Fork
Cerro Gordo/D-W/Bement at Westville
Warensburg-Latham at Clinton
Eureka at Rantoul
Fieldcrest at LeRoy
Fisher at Tremont
Tri-County at Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman
Iroquois West/Tri-Point at Milford/Cissna Park
Lexington at Ridgeview
Mahomet-Seymour at Prairie Central
Pontiac at Olympia
Salt Fork at Martinsville
PBL at Effingham
Meridian at Sullivan/Okaw Valley
Normal Community at Bloomington
Bloomington Central Catholic at Normal U-High
Central A&M at Shelbyville
Heyworth at Deer Creek-Mackinaw
Normal West at Eisenhower
Flanagan at El Paso-Gridley
Maroa-Forsyth at St. Teresa
Palos Heights (Chicago Christian at Momence
St. Joseph-Ogden at Cartervile, 1:30 pm
Villa Grove/Heritage at Carthage Illini West, 2 pm
Salem at Clifton Central, 2 p.m.