By Steve Robinson | August 31, 2008 - 10:25 pm
Posted in Category: NCHS, The Normalite

FootballNORMAL – Normal Community High School opened the Wes Temples coaching era in a big way on Friday, Aug. 29, with a 56-14 win over Big 12 Conference foe Urbana at Ironmen Field.

Ironmen junior running back Travis Mullen scored four touchdowns on the night, including NCHS’ first two scores, on runs of 28 and 25 yards, respectfully, in the first quarter, helping the Ironmen jump out to a 14-0 lead, each score having been followed by a successful point-after by junior kicker Conner Necessary.

Mullen’s first two scores came at 10:21 and 4:36, respectfully, in the first quarter.

Junior running back Marcus Harris scored on a 13-yard run with 2:25 left in the first quarter, putting NCHS (1-0) up, 21-0, after Necessary’s point-after.

Ironmen senior quarterback Zachery Johnson’s biggest pass of the night was a 49-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Chris Majercin at 1:13 in the first quarter, putting NCHS up 28-0 after Necessary’s point-after.

Mullen had back-to-back scoring runs in the second quarter, helping increase the Ironmen’s lead. First, at 10:09, Mullen’s 30-yard dash for a score, giving NCHS its 35-0 halftime advantage, after Necessary’s next point after.

NCHS FootballMullen then opened the third quarter with a 32-yard touchdown run at the 8:57 mark, increasing NCHS’ lead to 42-0 after another extra point by Necessary.

Following that touchdown, officials employed the “Mercy” Rule, implemented by the Illinois High School Association. The “Mercy” Rule mandates use of a continuously running clock once one team has a lead of 40 points on an opponent. Under the Mercy Rule, the clock is only stopped for team timeouts or injuries.

Urbana (0-1) got their first score on a 3-yard run by senior running back Cedric Grant with 2:29 left in the third quarter, cutting NCHS’ lead to 42-6, following a failed two-point conversion attempt.

The Ironmen scored on the very next possession on junior running back Jared Mungo’s 33 yard run, capping a 4-play, 80-yard drive. Necessary’s extra point gave NCHS a 49-6 lead.

Urbana’s last score came from senior running back Teven White on a 2-yard run, completing a 9-play, 80-yard march with 5:49 left in the game. A successful two-point conversion play cut NCHS’ lead, 49-14, but NCHS would get a last score to round out the night.

That last score would come on a 55 yard run by Ironmen junior running back Anthony Tucker, followed by another extra point from Necessary.

Mullen led all rushers with 151 yards on 10 carries.

Urbana Tigers FootballTemples, who previously served as defensive coordinator under former head coach Hud Venerable, was pleased with the outcome.

“It was exciting,” Temples said of the season’s first victory for his Ironmen. “I think you could see that. The kids were fired up to play. A lot of new kids got to play tonight and did a good job. I’m glad the first one is behind us now.”

NCHS will take on Bloomington High in the Intercity Doubleheader at Hancock Stadium on Friday, Sept. 5, starting with an 8 p. m.kickoff.

University High will take on Bloomington Central Catholic in the first game of the doubleheader, starting with a 4p. m. kickoff.

By Steve Robinson | August 20, 2008 - 3:52 pm
Posted in Category: Pekin Daily Times, Washington HS

FootballWASHINGTON – For the last four years, and the last 8 out of 9 seasons, Metamora High has had a lock on the Mid-Illini Conference, winning it outright those years.

Last season, the Washington Community High Panthers, under current fourth season head coach Darrell Crouch, ended 2007 with a 7-4 record, getting into the IHSA playoffs, closing out their season by losing to the eventual Class 5A champion Redbirds in the second round.

It may have been the Panthers first appearance, but with the momentum Crouch said he feels his team has, as the 2008 season opens, it surely, won’t be their last.

Position-By-Position: When camp opened up, quarterback had been a two-man battle between juniors Marshall Escue and Drew Schlink.

Escue and Schlink were making Crouch’s decision “a close call” as to whom to start in the Panthers’ Aug. 29 non-conference season opener against Springfield Lamphier.

Crouch said incoming freshman quarterback Isaac Fisher, younger brother of former WCHS passer Austin Fisher who graduated last year, is seeking consideration at that position as well. But Crouch said the younger Fisher “is pushing into the competition between Escue and Schlink.

But the younger Fisher will have to wait, it appears, Crouch said. “It’s just tough to put a freshman into a varsity game,” he said.

Should Escue get the quarterback nod, Fisher will transfer to the Panthers’ receiving corps, Crouch said.

Washington Panthers footballRegarding receivers, Crouch was complimentary of senior Chase Catton. “He makes things happen on special teams,” Crouch said. “He can play defensive back. He’s a returning starter.”

Joining Catton at receiver will be juniors Dylan Newbury and Andrew Watson, senior tailback Nick Brunk, sophomore Connor Underwood, and junior Justin Riley, Crouch said.

Colton Underwood, a junior, finds himself as a leading fullback for Panthers this season, Crouch said.

Sophomore Cameron Johnson and Tony Ramadoni will duel for the kicker/punter position, Crouch said. Ramadoni has been vacationing and has missed some practices, Crouch said, which will cause Ramadoni to try to catch up in time for the Panthers’ second game of the season Sept. 5 at Metamora.

Crouch said Catton, Riley, and Brunk can be counted on as return specialists this season. Catton proved himself with two returns for scores and tied a school record with an 88-yard score, tying a school record.

Defensively, three of four starters return including senior Andrew Gundy at tackle and Connor Underwood being inserted at defensive end.

The Panthers will be loaded with veterans at linebacker this season, Crouch said. He said senior Brett Cook and junior Mitchell Brown are among the players in the mix for linebacker spots, with Brown making a comeback from an injury that sidelined him most of last season.

Springfield Times Two: Lamphier will be the second school from Springfield the Panthers will see this season. Springfield High will visit for another non-conference battle to round out the regular season on Oct. 24.

Squib Kicks: Washington’s freshman team will play Springfield Lamphier in a game right before the varsity squads, with kickoff set for 5p.m. The Sophomore teams from these schools will meet in Washington on Monday, Sept. 1, starting at 6p.m……Washington had 16 seniors on the squad last year and 18 this year.

By Steve Robinson | August 19, 2008 - 2:54 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

Town of NormalNORMAL – At Aug. 18’s Normal Town Council meeting, it was announced that three new faces will show up at the meetings of two local committees, as a result of unanimous Council approval.

Paul Unsbee will serve on the Bloomington-Normal Asahikawa Sister Cities Committee, filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Neil Dellinger.

Unsbee is an Illinois State University employee whose prior experience includes having been a member of the Sister Cities program while a resident of Springfield. Springfield’s sister city is Ashikaga, Japan.

Unsbee’s term on the Sister Cities Committee expires in March 2011.

The Council also unanimously approved two new members of the Human Relations Commission, as well – Tim Harshbarger and Mandava Rao.

Harshbarger will be serving a four-year term on the Commission. His term will expire Sept. 1, 2012.

Rao, a State Farm employee, has served as president of McLean County India Association. He was also a founding member of the Minority & Police Partnership. He has served as director of the Central Illinois Cricket Association and Chair of the Telugu Association of Bloomington-Normal.

Rao is filling a vacancy on the Commission and his term will expire on March 31, 2010.

Fairgrounds Property Annexation Approved: Council members unanimously approved annexation of property adjacent to the McLean County Fairgrounds into the Town of Normal. That property was the Interchange City West Subdivision, on the North side of the fairgrounds.

In May, Bloomington City Council members approved an ordinance de-annexing the property on the condition that the de-annexing not occur until Normal Town Council members approved annexation.

Council members then unanimously passed an ordinance rezoning three tracts of land northwest of the intersection of Wylie Dr. and Enterprise Dr. As a result of the rezoning, three land lots were rezoned from business to residential. Five other lots were rezoned for general business, and one lot was rezoned for Public Lands and Institutions.

Council members passed a resolution approving a preliminary subdivision plan for the second additional Interchange City West Subdivision, located on the northwest corner of Wylie Dr. and Enterprise Dr.

The last resolution Council members passed unanimously was to conditionally and partially approve a final plat of the Second Addition Interchange City West subdivision. Bloomington-Normal Public Transit System is looking at using part of this land to relocate its terminal and administrative offices.

Omnibus Agenda Approved: Council members unanimously approved the following items on the Council’s omnibus agenda:

• Approval of the minutes of the Council’s regular meeting on Aug. 4, 2008.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of Aug. 13, 2008.

• A motion to waive the formal bidding process and authorize the purchase of Toughbook computers for Normal Police squad cars from the State Joint Purchasing Contract and approval of the necessary budget adjustment. The computers are being purchased from Peoria-based CDS Office Technologies.

• A motion to accept a bid from Bloomington-based Rowe Construction Co and award a contract in the amount of $207,628.48 for the 2008 Brick Street Rehabilitation Project.

• A resolution to allow service credits for Military service as it pertains to the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).

• A resolution to waive the formal bid process and award a contract to Fort Payne, Ala.-based Gametime, Inc. for the purchase of a modular playground under the U. S. Communities Purchasing Program for One Normal Plaza in the amount of $34,610.99

• A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement with Bloomington-based Felmley-Dickerson Co. for the design and construction of a new restroom facility at Underwood Park for an amount not to exceed $150,000.

• A resolution waiving the formal bidding process and authorizing execution of an agreement with New York-based National Development Council for preparation of a HUD Section 108 Loan Program.

• A resolution accepting Kerrick Road Right Of Way from Illinois Wesleyan University.

• A resolution authorizing staff to enter into an agreement with One Main Development for repairs to the East Façade of 111 W. North St in the amount of $12,430 and approval of an associated budget adjustment of $2,430.

• A resolution authorizing a supplemental agreement with Bloomington-based The Farnsworth Group in an amount not exceed $18,000 for work associated with Alley “B” in Uptown Normal and the approval of an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution authorizing execution of an Intergovernmental Agreement with Illinois State University pertaining to fire protection service.

• A conditional resolution partially approving the final plat of the Vineyards III subdivision.

By Steve Robinson | August 16, 2008 - 1:53 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

Unit 5NORMAL – If the Unit 5 School Board approves it later this year, staggered bus schedules could be coming to the district when the 2009-2010 school year starts next August.

District Superintendent Gary Niehaus introduced a proposal to Unit 5 Board members at the group’s regular meeting on Aug. 13.

Niehaus introduced the idea of a three-tier transportation plan to get students to and from school each day. Under the plan, there would be staggered start times for elementary, middle, and high school students. As a result of the plan, each of the buses used by the district would be running two or three routes each morning and afternoon.

Niehaus said going to the three-tier system would create “a significant cost savings for the district,” and help improve the district’s chances to keep current drivers as well as recruit others.

Joe Adelman, Director of Operations for Unit 5, said the proposed three-tier system would cut down on driver turnover. He said the district loses roughly 40 percent of drivers hired, and that it costs Unit 5 $1,500 per person to train a driver.

With approximately 150 drivers, Niehaus said the proposed plan would have an annual savings in training costs of $90,000.

Under the proposed three-tier system, the elementary school day would run from 8:15a.m. until 3p.m. (6 hours, 45 minutes); the middle school day, when construction on two new middle schools is completed, would last seven hours; and the high school day would last from 9 a. m.-4:15p.m. (7 hours, 15 minutes).

On another matter related to transportation, Niehaus announced to Board members that all Global Positioning System hardware has been installed in all of the district’s 150 buses.

Adelman said district staff did the installation and that the cost of GPS hardware for all the buses was $4,960.

“This plan save us some drivers, saves us some training, and saves us some buses,” Niehaus told Board members.

He said the Board would have to look at other travel matters such as bus use on field trips.

Unit 5 mapDistrict’s “Good News”: Charlie Crabtree, a bus driver for Unit 5, was honored in a “good news” item presented to the Board. Niehaus presented Board members with information concerning some of the activities Crabtree has been involved in when away for his district job.

Those activities included driving 55 volunteers to the town of Hull, Ill., to help prevent flooding in areas along the Mississippi River. The volunteers Crabtree drove filled sandbags to keep rising waters from overcoming the small Pike County town.

Crabtree is also active with a local group which collects school supplies, which are then loaded onto and then distributed to needy students,- directly from his bus.

New Names For New Elementary Schools: A name has been given to one of the two new elementary schools being built as a result of the $96.7 million referendum voters approved Feb. 5. The new elementary schools will open their doors to students in 2010.

One of the two schools under construction as a result of the referendum will be known as Benjamin School, according to Board Member Gail Ann Briggs. Briggs said the school, which is located in the Grove On The Kickapoo subdivision, received its name as part of an agreement between Unit 5 and the developers of the subdivision.

The Benjamin family donated the property.

The second new elementary school, to be located in the Cedar Ridge subdivision, as well as the name of the new middle school being constructed, will gets their names from a committee of community volunteers at a future date.

New elementary schools means reworking where students will go to school in the future. To assist with that, the district approved hiring Columbus, Ohio-based Cropper GIS and McKibben Demographic Research, based in Rock Hill, S. C., for collection of demographic information on students.

If the results of Cropper GIS and McKibben’s results are satisfactory to the board, the next step would be a Board discussion on keeping both firms to help with the actual redistricting.

Next Board Meeting At Glenn School: The Board’s next regular meeting, scheduled for Aug. 27, will be held at Glenn Elementary School. The starting time will be announced by the district office.

By Steve Robinson | August 15, 2008 - 5:45 pm
Posted in Category: Illinois Wesleyan, Pekin Daily Times

FootballBLOOMINGTON – As a new football season dawns, things continue to look up for Illinois Wesleyan under their veteran head coach, Norm Eash.

To begin with, the 2008 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin preseason coaches’ poll has the Titans finishing third this season.

Last year, IWU finished 7-3 overall and earned a share of the CCIW championship for the first time since 2001, providing the Titans with their 13th league title.

“We’re very excited about this season after being co-champions in 2007,” Eash told reporters gathered on the field at Wesleyan Stadium on Media Day Friday. “We want to build upon that.

“The pre-season poll ranked us third, but I know our kids have much higher expectations, so that’s a little motivation for them,” said Eash, who will be coaching his 22nd season at IWU this year. “They’re going to respond to that, so, the burden of proof is on our shoulders.”

Eash’s Titans will begin its 2008 campaign with two non-conference contests. First, in Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 6 against Hope College. They will have their first home game at Wesleyan Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13 when another non-conference opponent, Michigan-based Alma College, visits for a 1 p. m. game. On Saturday, Sept. 20, IWU visits Aurora for their first CCIW contest.

Illinois Wesleyan FootballIWU finished their 2007 campaign at 7-3 – a welcome improvement following three consecutive seasons, beginning in 2004, where the Titans ended with 3-7 records in each of those years.

North Central placed first in the coaches poll, receiving six first place votes, followed by Wheaton College. In order, Augustana, Carthage, Elmhurst, Millikin and North Park follow behind IWU in the coaches poll.

Respect And Confidence: Eash said his players have respect for all the players of the seven other teams of the Collegiate Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW), the league IWU belongs to.

“(Our players) also have a lot of confidence in the fact that we have talent,” Eash said. “The kids also learned a lesson that attitude means a great deal, and is probably, the most important component in winning a championship is what you believe.

“I know that their belief in themselves, both offense and defense, is tremendous,” Eash said. “I think you’re going to see them pick up right where they left off (from last season), and see us be a program and team that everyone is going to have to reckon with the whole year.”

Eash billed returning players like junior starting quarterback Kraig Ladd, senior receiver Martin Ceisel, along with four of five offensive front line players returning, as IWU’s “strong suit.”

CCIWDefensively, Eash believes fans will look at his team and assume IWU is “rebuilding” on that side of the ball. Eash, himself however, does not see it that way.

Younger players got playing time last year, and this year, those same young defensive players will be stepping up again this season, Eash said.

“Our defense is going to be tremendously quick, and they’re going to be getting to the football,” Eash said. “I think people are going to be surprised (by) us defensively, and that’s good because it’s going to be a very good compliment to a very veteran offense.”

Tremont Alum VanRheeden On IWU Roster: Titans freshman defensive back J. D. VanRheeden has only been on IWU’s campus a couple of days, but Eash was complimentary of one his newest recruits.

Eash said VanRheeden joined the football team after changing his mind about, initially, coming to IWU to play baseball.