Plenty at stake for league rivals
One Sangamon Valley Conference school will move a step closer to the IHSA playoffs while another will have its season record drop to .500 on Friday night when St. Joseph-Ogden plays at St. Thomas More in the Sabers’ homecoming game.
“We are both 3-2, so this game is critical to both teams,” SJ-O coach Dick Duval said. Senior tackle Nick Barnes was injured last week in SJ-O’s 43-27 win at Iroquois West and is not expected to play this week. Junior fullback Connor Janes also was sidelined but likely will return to the lineup.
Next year, SJ-O and St. Thomas More will remain conference opponents, but they each will compete in the realigned Okaw Valley. The Spartans will play the Sabers in Week 4 of 2014, back in Champaign.
Duval expects the SJ-O defense to be challenged this week. “We have to somehow contain (senior quarterback) Storm Joop, but the tailback (freshman Josh Parker) is very, very good,” he said. Three Spartans have been a part of at least three tackles for loss: junior Chase Gadau, senior Austin Hedrick and senior Jake Rahn.
Also looking ahead to next season, when SJ-O and Unity renew their rivalry, the football game will be played Week 8 in Tolono.
Farewell tour concludes
Danville’s Vikings travel to Decatur for the second consecutive week but possibly for the last time for years in football. MacArthur — as well as last week’s opponent, Eisenhower — are withdrawing from the Big 12 Conference at the end of the school year.
Coach B.J. Luke’s 2-3 team still controls its playoff destiny. He hopes to keep it that way. “This is a big game as will be the Central game (in Week 7) and every game here on out if we want to be a playoff team,” Luke said.
Sophomore Caleb McLain burst onto the varsity scene last week with a 105-yard rushing effort. “Caleb will continue to get reps,” Luke said. “It’s always good if you have options running the ball.”
MacArthur is 4-1 and received mention in this week’s Class 5A state poll. The Vikings’ shutout last week at Eisenhower (47-0) was the school’s first in 19 games dating back to 2011.
“We’ve gotten young help on the defense from Tavion Boyd, Trey Reed and Alan Bryant (all underclassmen),” Luke said. “Austin West (senior) has done a nice job at nose recently. We need to keep improving.” Replacing the Decatur schools (and St. Rita) on the Vikings’ schedule next fall are Kankakee, Lemont and Grayslake Central.
Bombers face No. 1 challenge
Argenta-Oreana (No. 7 in Class 1A) plays at the top-ranked Class 2A team, Maroa-Forsyth, on Friday. “Maroa is loaded with athletes at every position,” A-O coach Chad Eisenmenger said. “Couple that with a Division I athlete at quarterback and safety, you have a team that should be favored in almost every game. They are very diverse in what they do offensively.”
Bombers Cameron Hupp, Austin Wenskunas and Taylor Ferrill have combined for more than 1,400 rushing yards. Each is averaging at least 10 yards per carry. “We have the size up front, and skill kids to do that, but this week we will have to be able to run and throw to have a chance,” Eisenmenger said.
Jesse Brown has filled in at quarterback while early-season starter Gage Eller sits out four games. “Jesse is a great leader and knows the system very well,” Eisenmenger said.
Defensively, A-O is seeing benefits of moving Hupp from outside linebacker to the inside. “We found teams were making a living last year running away from him, so we decided to move him inside where that would be more difficult,” Eisenmenger said. The coach said 295-pound nose tackle Taran Trudeau “has made it difficult for teams to run inside on us.”
Maroons getting closer
Whether moral victories are meaningful, it’s clear Champaign Central’s 1-4 team is progressing. In going 0-9 last season, the Maroons’ closest loss was 11 points.
This year, a 21-18 loss last week to MacArthur was the second in three weeks by no more than three points. “There is no doubt that our kids have started to play pretty good football,” first-year coach Nate Albaugh said. “One of the biggest differences has been that our defense has rarely been caught out of position, which is helping us to keep opposing offenses at least under control.
Offensively, we have been able to cut down on a lot of the mistakes.” The Maroons have used three different quarterbacks. At Bloomington, sophomore Joe Aeilts got the call, which Albaugh said “allowed us to move (previous starter) Jamal Stovall to wide receiver. The two have started to show that they could be a good passing-receiving duo.”
When Aeilts was injured, senior Nick Glenn took over last week and Albaugh said “did a great job leading the offense against MacArthur, where ball control was our No. 1 priority.” Central’s homecoming Friday is against Chicago Heights Marian (2-3) from the East Suburban Catholic League.
Titans’ schedule stays tough
Tri-County’s early-season schedule included Cerro Gordo/DeLand-Weldon/Bement (5-0) and Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman (4-1), but that’s not all bad, according to coach Adam Clapp.
“We have played some quality teams to start the season, but I think that has prepared us for the home stretch,” Clapp said. “Obviously, sitting with two wins going into Week 6 was not where we wanted to be, but we have improved every week and we are executing better from week to week, and that is all we can ask for.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier Friday, when the Titans face Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond (4-1) in their homecoming game at Oakland. “Arthur is very talented, and they have good athletes at all of the skill positions,” Clapp said. “They are able to pass and run effectively and will be the most balanced team we have played all year.”
Tri-County’s tackling leader is defensive end Luke Nash, whom Clapp said “has been playing extremely well on both sides of the ball. He is a kid that has a motor that never stops.” Offensively, Clapp said the combination of “Drake Kirchner and Luke Armstrong have allowed us to throw a little bit more than we are used to.”
Chicago Heights Marian Catholic at Champaign Central (HC)
Clifton Central at Paxton-Buckley-Loda (HC)
Villa Grove/Heritage at Cerro Gordo/DeLand-Weldon/Bement (Bement HC)
Flanagan at Fisher (HC)
Salt Fork at Hoopeston Area (HC)
Sullivan/Okaw Valley at Monticello (HC)
Bismarck-Henning at Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac (HC)
St. Joseph-Ogden at St. Thomas More (HC)
Arthur at Tri-County (HC)
Argenta-Oreana at Maroa-Forsyth
Centennial at Bloomington
Danville at Decatur MacArthur
Milford/Cissna Park at Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman
Mahomet-Seymour at Olympia
Tuscola at Central A&M
Urbana at Normal West
Rantoul at Bloomington Central Catholic
Clinton at Shelbyville
Eureka at Prairie Central
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley at Heyworth
St. Teresa at Unity
Iroquois West/Tri-Point at Momence
Watseka at Ridgeview
Fieldcrest at Deer Creek-Mackinaw
Decatur Eisenhower at Normal Community
Tremont at El Paso-Gridley
Lexington at Tri-Valley
Martinsville at Williamsville, Wis.
Meridian at Warrensburg-Latham
Pontiac at Normal University High
Hamilton at Arcola, 1 p.m. (HC)
LeRoy at Durand, 1:30 p.m.