CHAMPAIGN — Extra incentive is on the line for Champaign Central football come Friday night.
Not only can the Maroons improve to .500 with a win at Urbana, but second-year coach Tim Turner’s team can win both the Wright Street Trophy (given to the winner of the Central-Urbana game) and the Twin City Trophy (given to the team that finishes with the best record among games played between Central, Centennial and Urbana).
“We need a win pretty bad,” Turner said after his Maroons lost 63-47 to Peoria Notre Dame at Tommy Stewart Field last Friday night. “The kids are rearing to go to try and get that bad taste out of their mouth. Winning the Twin City title was certainly something that was one of our goals before the season.”
Central (1-2) has won its last six games in the series against Urbana (0-3), with the Tigers’ last victory against the Maroons happening in 2012, also the last year Urbana reached the playoffs.
“It’s just a sense of pride because we haven’t won this game in a while,” third-year Urbana coach Ordell Walker said. “The guys are always motivated for this game, and for our seniors and our juniors to be able to break through and win one for the school and the community, it’s just what guys who grew up in Urbana dream of doing.”
A chance for the Maroons to get back in the playoffs for the second consecutive season could hinge on the outcome of Friday night’s game at McKinley Field. Win and Central is only three victories away from the five-win mark needed to become playoff-eligible. Lose and the Maroons would have to finish their season with at least a 4-1 record against Big 12 foes to have a shot at the postseason.
“There’s always great competition throughout the conference,” Turner said. “Once you play in the regular season in the Big 12, you’re just about ready for everything.”
Urbana needs to win out if it would want to guarantee a spot in the postseason after opening with lopsided losses to Wheaton Academy (42-6), Danville (53-22) and Normal Community (40-0).
“Even though we haven’t won a game, our guys are staying confident,” Walker said. “They believe that they can break through.”
Urbana will need to contain Central running backs Correyante Boyd (498 rushing yards, five touchdowns) and Tarell Evans (390 rushing yards, two TDs) as the two seniors are capable of long gains any time they take a handoff.
“Tarell had a big run in our last game, and if you look at the film, you would have thought Correyante had scored with the type of energy and enthusiasm that he had,” Turner said. “Correyante is a huge sparkplug for us with what he does on the field, but more for what he brings in his attitude.”
Urbana junior Patrick Jordan (151 rushing yards) and senior La’Voye Young (135 rushing yards) are the Tigers’ top two running threats, with Walker hoping Urbana’s offense finds its stride early against the Maroons.
“We continue to see improvement each week, and I really love the physicality of our offense line,” Walker said. “We know we’ve gotten better compared to a year ago, but we just have to eliminate our mistakes.”