By Steve Robinson | October 7, 2017 - 10:53 pm
Posted in Category: NCHS, The Normalite

FootballNORMAL – It might not have been noticed until after the final gun, but Normal Community High School sped through its homecoming game against Champaign Centennial High School Friday at Ironmen Field. From the opening kickoff and including a 20-minute halftime, the entire contest lasted just an hour and 58 minutes, all of it dominated by the home team en route to a 47-0 Big 12 Conference victory.

Roughly 1,000 fans watched as each team had two possessions before NCHS (7-0, 5-0 Big 12) struck first on a 16 yard scoring run by senior running back Varshaun Dixon at 7:43 in the first quarter. But junior kicker Camron Hinman missed the extra point, leaving the Ironmen with a 6-0 start.

NCHS advanced its lead, 13-0, on a 38 yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Daylen Boddie to senior wide receiver Jalen Coleman at 3:34 in that same quarter, followed by Hinman’s first successful extra point on the night.

After the Chargers’ next possession ended in a punt, Boddie scored two plays later on a 36 yard run, followed by Hinman’s next extra point, capping a two play, 47 yard drive, putting NCHS up, 20-0, going into the second quarter.

A fumble recovery by senior defensive back Trey Heffner ended the next possession for Champaign Centennial (2-5 overall, 2-4 Big 12), and two plays later, Dixon had his second touchdown of the night, from 12 yards out, followed by Hinman’s next extra point, putting the Ironmen up, 27-0 at 11:23 in the second quarter.

The Chargers’ next possession ended in a punt, giving the Ironmen the ball on the visitors’ 40 yard line. Two plays later, Boddie dashed into the end zone for his team’s next score followed by Hinman’s extra point, giving NCHS a 34-0 lead with 7:34 until halftime.

NCHS FootballThe Chargers punted to end their next possession leading to NCHS starting its next drive at mid-field One play later, senior running back Nick Hesse ran for a 50 yard score followed by another Hinman extra point, putting NCHS up, 41-0 at the 5:50 mark. With the beginning of the second half, game officials employed Illinois High School Association’s “Mercy Rule” — as a result of the 40-point difference in the game score, game officials used a continuously running clock, stopping it only for team timeouts or injury timeouts.

NCHS opted to defer receiving the ball until the second half after winning the pregame coin flip, starting the second half quickly on a 31 yard touchdown run by junior running back Connor Lay to lead to the final score following Hinman’s missed extra point. Lay’s score topped a six play, 65 yard drive.

“Really, these guys did a tremendous job,” NCHS head coach Wes Temples said. “I thought they came out and handled themselves very well.” He added the scoring gave bench players a chance to see action – something that Temples said doesn’t happen very often. “We had our backups in before halftime, and that gave them a great opportunity.”

“We didn’t execute well,” said Champaign Centennial head coach Lekevie Johnson. “We had turnovers that didn’t help us. We didn’t tackle well. We thought we had some plays in the backfield. So, when you play this kind of team, that happens. We played well early but you have to play well for four quarters.”

By Steve Robinson | September 18, 2017 - 7:06 am
Posted in Category: NCHS, Normal West HS, The Normalite

FootballNORMAL – The heat of the day carried over as the sun set once this game got started, but no one player dominated the annual “Chili Bowl” game between Unit 5 rivals Normal Community High School and Normal Community West High School on Sept. 15 at Wildcat Field. In fact only one player – NCHS senior wide receiver Jalen Coleman – scored more than once in the contest. But NCHS pulled away early in the first half on the way to a 50-16 win before roughly 2,500 fans.

Senior running back Varshaun Dixon’s 25 yard pass reception for a touchdown from junior quarterback Daylen Boddie at 10:27 in the first quarter set the tone for the game’s pace for the Ironmen. The extra point by junior kicker Josue Nsukami put NCHS up, 7-0, giving the team a 3-0 record both overall and in Big 12 Conference play this season.

The opening possession from the starting kickoff ended in a punt for Normal West, and after what was Normal West’s second possession on the night from this point ended in a turnover on downs, Wildcat defenders made advancing the ball difficult on the Ironmen forcing Nsukami to kick a 31 yard field goal to increase their lead to 10-0 when the game went into the second quarter.

NCHS FootballA 35 yard touchdown dash by Boddie at 10:14 in the second quarter followed by a missed extra point try upped NCHS’ lead, 16-0. A nine yard touchdown pass from Boddie to Coleman followed by a botched extra point try increased NCHS’ lead, 22-0 at the 5:10 mark until halftime.

On their next possession, Normal West (3-1 overall, 2-1 Big 12) got on the scoreboard courtesy of senior running back Genesis Forrest as he dashed from 31 yards out into the end zone for his team’s first score, followed by junior kicker Eddie Miller’s extra point, cutting NCHS’ lead, 22-7 with 3:12 left in the half.

A Normal West fumble picked up by NCHS senior defensive end Alec Devecchi resulted in a 44 yard touchdown run followed by Nsukami’s next extra point, putting the Ironmen up, 29-7. The half closed on an 80 yard kickoff return by West’s junior return man Armani Forrest, followed by an extra point by Miller. That narrowed NCHS’ lead, 29-14.

Each team had an unsuccessful possession coming out of the halftime before NCHS scored thanks to an 18 yard touchdown pass from Boddie to Coleman for their second teaming on the night at 5:40 in the third quarter. Nsukami’s extra point would give the Ironmen a 36-14 lead.

Normal West FootballA Normal West fumble disrupted the Wildcats drive but helped turned into points when the defense hemmed NCHS close to their own end zone and Wildcats defenders tackled Dixon for a safety with 2:25 left in the third quarter. That cut NCHS’ lead, 36-16. But during the ensuing kickoff by the Ironmen, West turned the ball back over to the Ironmen, putting the ball at NCHS’ 45 yard line. Five plays later, Boddie connected with Dishon Hall II for a 13 yard touchdown, followed by Nsukami’s extra point, putting the Ironmen up, 43-16, with 15.6 seconds until the start of the fourth quarter.

A 50-yard scoring dash by senior wide receiver Nich Schaber at the 9:16 mark in the final stanza would end the scoring on the night, topped off by Nsukami’s extra point.

“I thought our kids played physical and our offense gave us a lot of opportunities,” said NCHS head coach Wes Temples following the contest. “Y’know, to put up 50 points on that team, that’s a darn good team….that’s a good defense, and a good football team,” referring to Normal West.

“Hat’s off to Normal Community,” said Normal West head coach Darren Hess. “We need to get back to work next week and fix some things. We had some adversity we hadn’t had in terms of being down scoring. I thought our kids competed really well throughout the game. But our kids. This game doesn’t define us as a program and we’re going to get back to work “

Both teams continue their Big 12 schedules next Friday as NCHS hosts Peoria Richwoods Richwoods while Normal West celebrates Homecoming by hosting Danville . Both games start at 7p.m.

By Steve Robinson | September 2, 2017 - 10:58 pm
Posted in Category: Bloomington HS, NCHS, The Normalite

FootballNORMAL – Prior to the start of Normal Community High School’s game against Bloomington High School at Ironmen Field Friday, both teams were notched on top of the Big 12 Conference standings having won their individual Week 1 games. But after their head-to head showdown, it was the Ironmen who remained undefeated, having thrilled a home crowd with a 54-30 victory. The win gave the Ironmen a 2-0 record overall, which included in the Big 12 Conference standings.

The first half was highlighted by three key NCHS drives for the scores. The first being junior quarterback Daylen Boddie’s dash for a 73 yard touchdown followed by an extra point try by junior kicker Josue Nsukami, giving the Ironmen a quick 7-0 lead. That was followed by a 45 yard scoring run by senior running back Varshaun Dixon after which Nsukami missed the extra point, upping the lead to 13-0.

NCHS FootballLater in the same quarter, Bloomington got on the scoreboard with an 85 yard kickoff return by junior wide receiver Drew Crooks, but missed the point after, cutting NCHS’ lead, 13-6. Boddie would counter with a 43 yard scoring dash to complete the Ironmen’s next possession, putting NCHS up, 20-6, after Nsukami’s next extra point. There would be one more score before another large scoring march took place courtesy of Dixon, dashing 53 yards for a touchdown, followed by another Nsukami kick, putting NCHS up, 34-6 at 8:48 in the second quarter.

Senior running back C. J. Chastain’s 94 yard interception return for a touchdown at 3:37 in the second quarter, followed up by a missed Nsukami extra point would give NCHS a 40-6 lead with 3:30 left until halftime.

A 10-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Colton Sandage to junior wide receiver Griffen Kolic cut NCHS’ lead, 40-12 by halftime, following a failed BHS 2-point scoring run try.

NCHS senior wide receiver Jalen Coleman’s 43 yard scoring dash four plays into the third quarter, followed by junior Camron Hinman’s extra point, pushed NCHS up, 47-12 with 11:31 left in the quarter. As a result of their being a 30-point difference in the score, game officials were required to employ a continuously running clock, stopping it only for team timeouts or injury timeouts.

BHS FootballAn interception halted the next drive for BHS (1-1 overall and Big 12 Conference), and placed the ball on the Purple Raiders’ 13 yard line. From there, Boddie ran for NCHS’ next score at 9:26 in the third quarter followed by Nuskami’s next extra point. That allowed NCHS’s lead to climb to 54-12.

But that turned out to be the final points the Ironmen would score in the game. The Purple Raiders would score once to close out the third quarter as Sandage scored from one yard out, 54-18, followed by a failed 2-point attempt at the 1:03 mark.

Sandage scored from 7 yards out at 4:35 in the fourth quarter, but a 2-point conversion failed, although it did slice NCHS’ lead to 54-24. The Purple Raiders’ last score of the night was a 47 yard touchdown pass from Sandage to senior wide receiver James Ellis in the closing minutes of the contest, followed by a failed 2-point try, resulting in the final score.

“There was a really good first half on both sides of the ball,” said NCHS head coach Wes Temples. “Our kids were locked in early and did well.”

“Our kids were excited for the opportunity,” Temples added. “I think our kids came to play with a different mindset than they had in a while, so it was fun to watch.”

“What hurts the most is the feeling you could have beat them,” lamented BHS head coach Joe Walters. He added interceptions Sandage threw early in the game may have rattled the 6 foot-2, 195 pound senior quarterback.

By Steve Robinson | December 3, 2016 - 10:14 pm
Posted in Category: NCHS, The Normalite

Steve RobinsonMike Clark is back in command of the athletic department at Normal Community High School. He had the post when NCHS’ current building opened in 2003, staying there for two years. At the time, Clark said, with two growing daughters at home, running that department with all its responsibilities didn’t always mesh with family activities or with his kids’ extracurricular schedules.

At the time, his two daughters were in 6th grade and in high school, which led to “my wife, Chris, and I wondering how much I was going to be out at the school and missing the kids’ events, potentially,” Clark explained. Those daughters are now out on their own in the world. Jaci lives in Maryland and Rachel lives in Michigan.

He said his family really enjoys this area and getting a position that would allow him to work in his chosen field while still having family time, at that point, might have meant leaving Normal and Unit 5. The Clarks had really begun to call Normal home and the prospect of having to leave was a definite possibility.

But then, as sometimes happens when you need it the most, an opportunity came, from within the district in the form of an assistant principal position at Parkside Junior High School. Clark applied for and got the job. It was a position he held for seven years before he returned to NCHS at the beginning of this school year. He succeeded Andy Turner, who took the A.D. job at Maine South High School in Park Ridge.

In his stint at PJHS, Clark said, “I took another step up the administrative ladder.” As an associate principal at the junior high, being A.D. was just one aspect of his job’s regular duties. He also was responsible for being in charge when the school’s principal was not present.

“As Associate Principal, you wear a lot of hats because you’re involved much more in the curriculum, you’re involved much more in teacher evaluation,” Clark said. “The principal is the building’s instructional leader.”

Clark said doing those other items he needed to do as associate principal meant “you just can’t devote the time to just being the middle school’s athletic director.”

“At the middle school level, when it comes to sports, it should be about skill development,” Clark said, adding that as a result, he said he would never talk to his coaches about wins and losses. “To me, the measuring stick was to find out how the kids were doing when they got to high school “because that’s what middle school should be preparing them for.”

Clark said he met with his team coaches when he arrived at NCHS and is also assessing some building needs. He said among the building needs is to find an area that can be dedicated for use by the Ironmen Wrestling team and to find a way to increase the size of the school’s weight room.

As part of that, Clark said, “I’m looking at ways to generate funds to meet some of those needs.”

The school does get support from boosters and families of students, something Clark is ever-mindful of. “We, first and foremost, appreciate the support we receive,” Clark said. “We are open to suggestions because, at the end of the day, we’re a public entity, so, if people have a question about something, we’d welcome their phone calls and emails.”

Clark is looking forward to receiving that input, because, from being at NCHS before, “I found NCHS to be a place of great support and a real positive group of people to be around.”

Mike Clark will, no doubt, will look forward to helping continue to foster that support during his tenure at NCHS. It will be interesting to see what develops there during his second time around.

By Steve Robinson | November 7, 2016 - 12:27 pm
Posted in Category: NCHS, The Normalite

FootballNORMAL – Normal Community High School head football coach Wes Temples said he knew his team being boosted one class up, to Class 7A by Illinois High School Association, would mean facing tougher competition when the playoffs began two weeks ago.

Saturday at Ironmen Field, the 6th seed Ironmen were able to hold their own against 11th seed Lisle, Ill.-based Benet Academy for just one quarter before the visiting Redwings pulled away to win the game, 38-14, to advance to the State quarterfinals. The Ironmen finished their season with a 9-2 mark.

After punting to close out their opening drive after the game’s kickoff, Ironmen defenders did their best to stall Benet’s first drive. But a 33 yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jack Sznajder to junior wide receiver Jack Eschenbach put the Redwings on the scoreboard first, 7-0, following junior kicker Victor Karam’s extra point at 7:57 in the first quarter.

NCHS FootballNCHS responded on the ensuing drive, as senior quarterback Grant Price connected with senior running back Dakota Cremeens on a 45 yard scoring strike, followed by senior kicker Cooper Zogg’s extra point, tying the game, 7-7, with seven minutes left in the opening quarter.

Benet Academy (9-2) pushed forward later in the quarter, first by returning an Ironmen punt back to NCHS’ 34 yard line and then scoring two plays later on an 11 yard rushing touchdown from senior wide receiver Marty Dosen with 24 seconds left in the quarter, followed by Karam’s extra point. That pushed the visitors up, 14-7.

NCHS responded quickly on the ensuing drive which was highlighted by a 60 yard touchdown pass from Price to senior running back J. D. Villefuerte followed by Zogg’s extra point. That tied the score at 14-14 with five seconds left.

But from Karam’s 21 yard field goal at 9:36 in the second quarter, Benet Academy took a 17-14 lead and never looked back, while the Ironmen struggled.

Part of that struggle included Price being sacked with 2:10 left in the third quarter by Benet Academy defenders forcing him to leave the game. Sophomore backup quarterback Daylen Boddie took command for the remainder of the contest. After the game, Temples told reporters Price was being checked for a concussion.

IHSA“First off, congratulations to Benet Academy,” Temples said after the game. “That’s a darn good football team and they’re well-coached. They did a lot of good things. We were beaten by a better team by a bigger margin than you want. But my hat’s off to them. They did a good job.”

“In 7A playoffs, we took some strides,” Temples added. “But today, Benet was just better. They didn’t make mistakes, they made plays. You have to do that at this level. We’ll use this game as motivation and we’ll get better in the years to come.”

Benet Academy head coach Pat New his defensive coaches gave credit to NCHS’ staff for the “great scheme of plays” that led to the Ironmen’s first quarter touchdowns. “They are so well coached,” New said of the Ironmen. “I’m so impressed with how these guys play. They play physical and they love playing, I can tell.

“NCHS hit our receivers and they had a great pass rush, so how physical they were is what I was most impressed with,” New concluded.