Friday night football is back in the public eye on Aug. 30. Here’s a look at 10 local Week 1 games that should wow their respective crowds:
1. ARCOLA AT ARGENTA-OREANA, 7 p.m. — Last year’s two top teams in the Little Okaw Valley Conference’s Northwest Division engaged in a competitive 2018 battle during Week 7. The Bombers came away with a 22-9 victory, matching the lowest offensive output for their entire 12-1 campaign. The Purple Riders return a majority of their roster from a squad that cracked the Class 1A postseason’s second round.
2. ST. THOMAS MORE AT ST. JOSEPH-OGDEN, 7 p.m. — Illini Prairie Conference action never sleeps in the football realm, and these regular rivals will kick things off once again. Last year’s Week 1 bout went in favor of the Spartans, 30-9, but the game was tight until a late SJ-O push. The Sabers will be adjusting to life without do-it-all athlete Bryson Lee, and the typically-rowdy St. Joe atmosphere should be a test.
3. PAXTON-BUCKLEY-LODA AT GIBSON CITY-MELVIN-SIBLEY, 7 p.m. — The Falcon faithful no doubt will be fired up with their team coming off a second consecutive undefeated season and state championship. GCMS didn’t get to celebrate the 2018 accomplishment at home until Week 3. The Panthers are coming in with something to prove under first-year coach Josh Pritchard.
4. OAKWOOD AT WATSEKA, 7 p.m. — When these nonconference foes met in Week 1 last season, they wound up playing one of the better local games. The Warriors came away with a 20-14 win, setting in motion the Comets’ eventual rise from an 0-3 start to a postseason slot.
5. VILLA GROVE/HERITAGE AT TUSCOLA, 7 p.m. — The Warriors cruised past the Blue Devils in last year’s Week 1 game between these nonconference opponents. VG/H would love to return the favor on the road.
6. RANTOUL AT PRAIRIE CENTRAL, 7 p.m. — The Hawks hung 52 points on the Eagles last year, so Rantoul should come in fired up.
7. PEORIA AT CENTENNIAL, 7 p.m. — It’ll be the head coaching debut for longtime Champaign football assistant Kyle Jackson.
8. CHAMPAIGN CENTRAL AT METAMORA, 7 p.m. — The Maroons will seek to avenge the Redbirds’ ruining of Tim Turner’s head coaching debut in the 2018 season opener.
9. CHILLICOTHE IVC AT UNITY, 7 p.m. — The Rockets will get to show off their revamped digs at Hicks Field in Tolono, including turf and a new scoreboard.
10. LAKE FOREST ACADEMY AT MILFORD/CISSNA PARK, 7 p.m. — M/CP, the first-ever 8-Man Football Association champs, are aiming to prove they weren’t a one-hit wonder.