Friday night sights: Prepare for these HS football games
Two months from now, area high school football fans can soak in and digest what transpired during Week 1 action.
But we know you can’t wait that long to plan your Friday nights this fall. Staff writer Matt Daniels breaks down what games to watch out for each week during the 2014 season.
Week 1 (Aug. 29)
Show up early for ... Marion at Central. Maroons kick off second year of Nate Albaugh era looking to make strides from 3-6 season in 2013. Good early test against Wildcats, who qualified for Class 5A playoffs last year.
Backup plan ... Unity at St. Teresa. No, this isn’t an Okaw Valley Conference game. Rockets are still in Okaw, but St. Teresa is in new Central Illinois Conference. Regardless, expect an entertaining and close game throughout.
Week 2 (Sept. 5)
Show up early for ... Danville at Lemont. B.J. Luke’s Vikings aren’t afraid to play anybody, including one of top programs in Chicago suburbs. Vikings, 4-5 last season, will have to slow down Lemont wideout Flynn Nagel, a Duke commit.
Backup plan ... Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman at Tuscola. Intriguing small-school game between two programs that always seem to find a way into the postseason. And which are then capable of making a deep run.
Week 3 (Sept. 12)
Show up early for ... Danville at Centennial. A win here could do wonders for a Centennial team that was agonizingly close to becoming playoff-eligible last season. Another tough road game for Vikings in Big 12 opener.
Backup plan ... Milford/Cissna Park at Salt Fork. The Storm is a Vermilion Valley contender based on how Brian Plotner has continually produced a strong program. Bearcats might have the pieces in place, though, to pull off a surprise.
Week 4 (Sept. 19)
Show up early for ... Central against Centennial. The two Unit 4 schools will meet at Tommy Stewart Field, and the Chargers will aim for their third consecutive win in rivalry against Maroons.
Backup plan ... Unity at Monticello. Can’t go wrong with either of these games. Rockets and Sages have had some epic games here recently, and this one should live up to the hype in Okaw opener for both teams.
Week 5 (Sept. 26)
Show up early for ... Monticello at St. Joseph-Ogden. Spartans dropped the hammer on Sages during Class 3A second-round playoff game last fall. SJ-O RB Orion Ciota and Monticello QB Brandon Wildman could put on a show.
Backup plan ... Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley at Paxton-Buckley-Loda. Two Ford County schools meet again in what has become a fiercely contested game. Falcons were back in playoffs last year, while Panthers narrowly missed out.
Week 6 (Oct. 3)
Show up early for ... Centennial at Urbana. You can bet Tim Beckman will be excited. The Illinois coach gets to watch his son, Alex, try to quarterback the Tigers past Centennial QB and Illini commit Jimmy Fitzgerald.
Backup plan ... Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond at Cerro Gordo/DeLand-Weldon/Bement. Broncos will miss do-everything RB Steve Isbell, and they’ll have to keep Knights QB Tyler Schuring contained the best they can in Little Okaw Northeast tilt.
Week 7 (Oct. 10)
Show up early for ... Mahomet-Seymour at Normal U-High. Likely plenty of seats available because the Pioneers play home games at Illinois State’s Hancock Stadium, but this game always has huge implications on Corn Belt race.
Backup plan ... Crystal Lake Central at Centennial. Not every year a consistent playoff team (six straight trips for the Tigers) from the northwest suburbs of Chicago ventures down to Champaign County for a regular season game.
Week 8 (Oct. 17)
Show up early for ... St. Joseph-Ogden at Unity. Quite the way to cap off the Spartans’ first season in revamped Okaw. Both proud programs will likely have clinched playoff spot already, but this game could be for conference title.
Backup plan ... Maroa-Forsyth at St. Thomas More. Sabers will have their hands full against one of state’s top teams. Maroa-Forsyth QB Jack Hockaday, an Iowa commit who will play defense for the Hawkeyes, can flummox opponents.
Week 9 (Oct. 24)
Show up early for ... Westville at Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman. No love lost between two neighboring schools along Route 1 in Vermilion County. Buffaloes won 33-13 last year in 50th meeting between both programs to clinch playoff berth.
Backup plan ... Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley at Fisher. Final night of regular season and rivalries are out in full force. The atmosphere should be raucous at the Bunnies’ home field, and both teams should find themselves in playoff hunt.