The schedules for the 2019 season are out, with the IHSA releasing them on Wednesday afternoon. Preps coordinator COLIN LIKAS picks one game each week he’s eagerly anticipating before he offers full breakdowns on all 37 area schedules
Arcola at Argenta-Oreana. Last year’s top two programs in the now-broken Little Okaw Valley Conference should be in line for a doozy to kick off a fresh season, with the Purple Riders returning most of their 2018 roster and the Bombers coming off a Class 1A final four appearance.
Centennial at Champaign Central. This currently is scheduled under the Friday night lights, as opposed to last year’s 8 a.m. Saturday kickoff. The Maroons keep many key pieces from a surprising previous team, while the Chargers could look different under new coach Kyle Jackson.
St. Thomas More at Monticello. It’ll be the Sages’ first game at home since winning the Class 3A state championship last November. The Sabers no doubt remember the sting of Monticello rolling in Champaign last year, so STM will be looking to spoil its foe’s party.
Judah Christian at Schlarman. This marks the return of football to Schlarman (outside a co-op) after five years away, as well as a chance to see some 8-man action. The Tribe will be looking to improve upon its one-win inaugural campaign, both in 8-man and football in general.
Fisher at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. The final outcome for this matchup’s 2018 version didn’t meet the hype, as the Falcons stormed by the Bunnies in Fisher. GCMS hasn’t lost a game since 2016, but the Bunnies retain big pieces — especially on offense — and plenty of confidence.
Paxton-Buckley-Loda at Salt Fork. Both squads boast new coaches after long tenures for their previous ones, and the Panthers blitzed what was a high-flying Storm opponent when these nonconference opponents met in 2018. Expect a knockdown, drag-out fight.
Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin at Oakwood. The Vermilion Valley Conference should be a battle to finish atop of this year, and these two programs will have a say. The Comets won an offensive slugfest last season, and these kids maintain a very real rivalry.
Rantoul at Unity. This one might slide under the radar a bit, but it was an eight-point Illini Prairie Conference affair last year (in favor of the Rockets), and it offers fans one last guaranteed chance to visit a revamped Hicks Field in Tolono, which will debut turf for the 2019 season.
Georgetown-Ridge Farm at Westville. Can’t miss the Coal Bucket Game, right? The Buffaloes appear to be on the rise, and the Tigers have nowhere to go but up after going 0-9 in 2018. If this rivalry game has postseason implications, it makes it even better.