By Steve Robinson | October 31, 2011 - 10:12 pm
Posted in Category: Normal West HS, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Community West High School’s Wildcats football squad, seeded second in Class 6A, did not take lightly the challenge seventh seed Rock Island presented for them in the opening round of the Illinois High School Association playoffs.

Normal West (10-0) opened the contest quickly, scoring on their first drive of the game on a 4 yard pass from junior quarterback Alex Jefferson to senior wide receiver Michael Beasley-Hart at 10:16 in the first quarter. The point-after by sophomore kicker Zach Breen gave the Wildcats a quick 7-0 lead.

The Wildcats went up, 14-0 at 4:53 in the first on a five yard touchdown pass from Jefferson to senior receiver Austin Stewart, followed by another successful Breen point-after.

On their next series of downs, Rock Island (5-5) marched 58 yards on eight plays, ending in junior running back Markel Richardson’s 14 yard dash into the end zone with 44.5 seconds left in the quarter. The extra point try by senior kicker and quarterback Lucas Rusk was good, cutting West’s lead, 14-7.

West pushed their lead to 20-7 as Jefferson connected with Stewart again, this time on an 80 yard passing touchdown with 37.9 seconds left in the first quarter. But Breen’s extra point try was broken up by Rock Island defenders.

Rock Island cut the Wildcats’ lead to 20-13 when sophomore running back Brandon Richardson dashed past Wildcats defenders during a 63 yard touchdown run. West’s defense blocked the Rocks’ point-after, allowing West to hold onto a 20-13 advantage.

Jefferson connected for a second time with Beasley-Hart for the Wildcats’ next score, this time on a 40-yard completion, sending the crowd into a frenzy as Beasley-Hart crossed the goal line with 6:40 in the second quarter. Breen’s extra point gave West a two-score advantage, 27-13.

West’s defense halted any forward movement during the Rocks’ next series of downs, but Rock Island opted to try a fake punt, but West saw through the rouse and wound up with the ball on the Rocks’ 41 yard line. Two plays later, Jefferson and Beasley-Hart connected for the third time on the night, on a 28-yard touchdown pass with 4:51 until halftime. Breen’s successful point-after gave West a 34-13 lead.

West’s defense got in on the act of scoring as the night went on as well. Rock Island’s very next series was interrupted when Richardson fumbled at his own 49 yard line after being hit by West’s Beasley-Hart. Wildcats defensive back Johnathon Maebane alertly scooped up the loose ball and dodged Rock Island players as he went into the end zone. That defensive maneuver, followed by another Breen extra point increased West’s lead, 41-13, a margin they would hold going into halftime.

Rock Island scored quickly soon after the second half started, as Richardson took the ball into the end zone from one yard out, capping a 4 play, 76 yard march. Richardson attempted to add a two-point conversion to that, but was met at the goal line by Wildcats defenders. But West’s lead was shaved to 41-21.

Rock Island gambled on using the onside kick to try to gain the ball back quickly after that score. It worked on the ensuing kickoff, forcing West to stay on defense. Richardson scored from four yards out at 6:32 in the third quarter, capping a 7 play, 46 yard drive, followed by a successful extra point by their senior quarterback and kicker, Lucas Rusk. That cut West’s lead further at 41-28, the score the game kept going into the fourth quarter.

Jefferson helped West put some additional distance between his team and Rock Island with 9:43 left in the game when he ran 75 yards for another Wildcats touchdown. Breen followed up with another extra point, increasing West’s lead, 48-28.

Sophomore running back Dominique Stevenson scored the last points of the game for West late in the fourth quarter, but the extra point try was no good, leading to the final score.

“This game was everything and more,” said Jefferson after the contest. “It was a great experience. We tried to treat it like just another game. We couldn’t afford to get ahead of ourselves.

“They threw a little bit extra at us,” Jefferson added. “But that’s what happens in the playoffs. You don’t know what exactly you’re going to see. You just have to keep trying to make adjustments.

“Rock Island tried to get into a position to defend the pass a little more,” Jefferson said of Rock Island’s stance in the first half. “So we had to go to our run game a little bit more.”

Of his receivers, Jefferson said, “They came out tonight and made plays and got it done when we needed it.”

“We did not bend and we didn’t break, and we came up some turnovers when we needed them,” said West head coach Darren Hess. “I thought our offense did a great job tonight. It was another great effort on special teams, and we need to shore up our PATs.

“But, you know, to get that first round win against a great football team is a big step for our program,” Hess said.

“You always practice for onside kicks,” Hess added. “You knew because of the score that they might be running that. Sometimes, it’s tough to get that ball. It’s wet and slippery out here, but we definitely knew that that might be happening.”

The game against West was the last game for Rock Island head coach Vic Boblett after 36 years in coaching, 21 of those as head coach of the Rocks. “I’m very proud of this group,” he said. “No one gave us a chance of being in the playoffs at the start of the season. We put a little bit of a scare in Normal West at times during the game.

“I’m very proud of their effort,” Boblett said. “Normal West is such an explosive offensive team. We knew, coming in, this would probably be one of those games where we were going to score just about every time we had the ball.

“Offensively, Normal West just has so many weapons,” Boblett said. “Beasley-Hart made some unbelievable catches, and Jefferson is so quick and fast. They just make you defend the entire field.”

West will host a Class 6A second round playoff game against Danville on Saturday, starting at 7p.m. at Wildcat Stadium.

My folks are probably still stunned at the clothes I have held on to over the years. I have old T-shirts that go back to my teens. Shirts from radio stations and businesses long gone like The Honey Tree natural foods store and the old Farmer City Music Hall.

The one thing, I think, that saved me from having to hear from my folks about old jerseys hanging in my closet was the fact I never played organized sports. At the first playoff game Normal Community West High School played on Oct. 28 against Rock Island High, I found a guy in the press box who was showing pride in his team (and wearing it very well, to boot!).

Shane Hill is the psychology teacher at NCWHS, and he is also the public address announcer at Wildcats football games, a position he has had for six seasons now. But when I looked over from my spot in the press box three seats over from Hill, I found he was wearing a Wildcats jersey.

But not just any jersey but a jersey from the Wildcats’ first team in the school’s first year of existence in 1995-96.

Back then, Hill was ol’ number 52, playing center on both sides of the ball, under West’s first head coach, Jim Baker.

Hill said he “thanks his stars” he gets to teach at NCWHS. “Being a part of the school is the way I would put it,” Hill said. “It was my teachers who kind of helped me through my high school years, and so, I feel good about helping the next generation.

“That’s more of what it’s about is being back home and helping kids,” Hill said.

According to Hill, the school has changed “a lot” from when Unit 5 added it as its second high school. “In terms of diversity, the school has changed a lot,” Hill said. “We were farm kids when the building opened, with a small amount of diversity, and now, we’re an urban school with lots of diversity.”

As for how the Wildcats are doing on the gridiron, “I appreciate everything that they are doing,” Hill said of the work head coach Darren Hess and his staff are doing with their troops this season. “It’s been fun to watch and see a program get built,” Hill said.

As for the Wildcats being unbeaten through the regular season and their first playoff game, Hill said he is not surprised by their success. “They have as many athletes as anybody in town, and I am not surprised by their success,” Hill said. “It was just a matter of them coming together at one time and putting together a season. So, I am not surprised by how they’re doing at all.”

Being around Wildcats players and fans, you get the feeling it was no surprise to them that their team is where they are after the first weekend of the playoffs. Here’s hoping week two of the playoffs goes just as well.

Recapping the weekend, In Class 6A, Normal West beat Rock Island, 54-28. They will advance to round two to host Big 12 Conference foe Danville. Kickoff is slated for Saturday at 7p.m. at Wildcat Stadium.

University High School, seeded sixth in Class 5A beat Centralia, 48-20. They will advance to round two to host Chatham Glenwood on Saturday at 3p.m. at Wesleyan Stadium in Bloomington.

Normal Community High School, seeded fourth in Class 6A, lost to Peoria Richwoods High School Saturday, 45-10.

Central Catholic High School, seeded third in Class 4A, lost to Kankakee Bishop MacNamara, 40-14.

Bloomington High School, seeded eighth in Class 6A, lost to Crete-Monee, 63-14.

It promises to be another wild weekend for our local teams who remain in the playoffs.

On a related subject, when it looked like Normal West had matters well in hand against Rock Island with about seven minutes left in the contest, someone in the press box remarked about how suddenly quiet the crowd became. I don’t mean from the Rock Island side of the field, but from the Wildcats’ side of it. It seemed strange to not hear an awful lot of what, I would think would be, evitable cheering from the home crowd, even when they knew the outcome. I am not offering a criticism here. It just seemed strange at the time.

On another subject, and away from the gridiron, NCHS’ theatre department is staging a comedy for the next two weekends, beginning Nov. 5. “Figments,” by Billy St. John, is a modern-day farce about a young playwright trying to overcome writer’s block while, at the same time, trying to contend with his meddling Jewish mother and his secret desire for a lovely neighbor. Adding complications to the situation are figments of his imagination who show up alongside their real-life counterparts.

“Figments” will have a two-weekend run on Nov. 5, 11 and 12. All performances are at 7p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students.

Back to sports-related items, IHSA State Volleyball will be held at Redbird Arena on Nov. 11 and 12. Here is hoping we see some area and regional teams make State for an exciting weekend of Volleyball action.

By Steve Robinson | October 30, 2011 - 10:58 pm
Posted in Category: Morton HS, The Normalite

NORMAL – A total of six turnovers committed by Normal Community High School upended their opportunity to advance in the IHSA Class 6A Playoffs, as Peoria Richwoods took advantage of NCHS’ errors, defeating the Ironmen, 45-10 in the first round contest played at Ironmen Field.

Junior running back Kendrick Foster put the first points on the board for Peoria Richwoods (7-3), on a five yard run just one minute and 15 seconds into the contest. His score was followed by an extra point by sophomore kicker Justin Cole, giving the Knights a fast 7-0 lead.

An interception thrown by Ironmen senior quarterback Nick Burlingmair led to the Knights getting their next points on a four play, 34 yard drive, topped off with an 11-yard pass from senior quarterback Wes McCormack to junior tight end Brandon Roberts at 8:09 in the first quarter. Cole’s next extra point increased Richwoods’ lead to 14-0, a lead they carried into the second quarter.

NCHS (7-3) had their first drive of the second quarter open on Richwoods’ 40 yard line, but a stingy Knights defense forced the Ironmen into settling for a field goal to get on the scoreboard. Senior Spencer Smith’s 23 yard field goal at 5:08 in the second quarter cut Richwoods’ lead, 14-3.

Richwoods went on a 21-3 lead on an 81 yard run by senior wide receiver Clayton Glasper with 4:19 left in the second quarter, followed by a successful extra point by senior kicker Daniel Sinclair. Glasper’s score was the first of three straight unanswered scores by the Knights before the half came to a close. Going into halftime, Peoria Richwoods owned a 31-3 lead.

McCormack scored from five yards out with 2:13 left in the third quarter to give Richwoods a 38-3 lead, following another Sinclair extra point.

Foster scored from 1 yard out with 32.5 seconds left in the third quarter, followed by another extra point by Cole to give Richwoods a 45-3 lead. Because that touchdown gave Richwoods a 40-point margin over their opponents, game officials employed the use of the IHSA Mercy Rule, using a continuously running clock, stopping it only for team timeouts or injury timeouts.

Ironmen senior running back Luke Halverson scored the only touchdown for the Ironmen on a three yard run with 2:16 left in the contest. Smith kicked his final extra point as an Ironmen player to achieve the final score.

During their traditional post-game huddle, NCHS head coach Wes Temples could be heard speaking in low conciliatory tones to his players after the loss.

“Richwoods is a darn good football team and you can’t take away anything from what they did,” Temples told reporters afterward. “I feel bad for our seniors. You know, those guys have worked so hard to go out the way we did. We didn’t play well and that’s obvious. We made some mistakes we haven’t made.

“You have to tip your hat to Richwoods,” Temples said. “They put us in that position to make those mistakes.

“We didn’t handle the pass real well and that just adds to the problems we had,” Temples said. He said once the Knights got on a roll and his team started having problems, it became difficult for his team to reverse their situation.

“It’s unfortunate how we went out,” Temples said. “It doesn’t matter how many turnovers you have, once you do that, you’re going to get beat.”

“Our guys probably get sick of hearing me say it, but, your team is always defined by your seniors,” Temples said. “That group of young men that have just left the field have, in my four years, been the best group that I have ever worked with. They’ve done everything year-round and that’s why this is so hard. You feel for those guys. They left a footprint of how successful you have to be in this league.”

Temples concluded his thoughts on his team by saying, “Today was not a definition of what kind of kids these are and what kind of football team we are.”

“We came out and we made some things happen,” Richwoods head coach Roland Brown said. “We took advantage of some opportunities. They had some turnovers and we capitalized on them.”

By Steve Robinson | October 27, 2011 - 10:03 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, Unit 5

NORMAL –Normal-based Unit 5 School District Board members voted unanimously at thegroup’s Oct. 26 meeting to employ 40 emergency substitute drivers for up to a90-day period in an attempt to cut down on the number of routes that have not had drivers due to highemployee absences. Board members learned there have been absences of anywherebetween 20-24 drivers in the last two weeks.

The Board agreed to hold the costfor the temporary hires at $500,000 There have been regular delays of 30-40minutes because the district has been racing to get drivers tocover numerous routes.

“We are going to have to worktogether to find solutions to the issues that we have in transportation,”District Superintendent Gary Niehaus told Board members as about two dozendistrict bus drivers sat in the audience of the meeting, listening. “I look atthis Board and I look at this community, and I say this needs to be fixed, andit needs to be fixed now.”

“Fixing it now,” Niehaus said, was the keymessage he said he took away from what he has heard about this issue, both fromBoard members and from the community.

“More importantly, it just need tobe fixed now, but it needs to be fixed permanently,” he added. “It’s one ofthose things where we can change the situation. We’ve got a lot of drivers intraining. We have drivers who will come back to work, and others coming backfrom sick leave.”

The busing matter is a serious one,Niehaus said.

Illinois Central School Bus Co.,based in Channahon, Ill., already has a relationship with the Twin Cities,driving Bloomington District 87 students, and would use local drivers startingon Oct. 31, using nine drivers to start, working their way up to 25 driverswhile the District needed them.

First Student Bus Company, based inCincinnati, Ohio, would provide 25 drivers currently, but those drivers arrivefrom Chicago and Springfield, most likely, and are asking Unit 5 to providelodging expenses, per diem, and a supervisor.

Niehaus told the current drivers seated in theaudience at the meeting that, by hiring the temporary drivers, Unit 5 “was notlooking to take anything away from the drivers and monitors that are currentlyemployed or in place.

“You have routes and you have openroutes. There is availability,” Niehaus told the drivers. “There is nothingthat keeps you from doing what you need to do. It just is that we don’t haveenough drivers right now.”

Addressing the $500,000 budgeted forthis purpose, Niehaus told Board members, “I hope we don’t spend anywhere closeto that amount of money.”

Unit 5 anticipates paying eachemergency driver about $300 a day.

Tax Levy Hearing Set For Dec. 14: Erik Bush, the district’s business manager, announced to theBoard that a hearing on the tax levy for the district will be held as part ofthe Board’s Dec. 14 meeting at district headquarters.

“Good News” About PrattMusic Scholars: Board members were introduced to fivestudents attending Unit 5 schools who are the winners of the 2011-12scholarships given by the Pratt Music Foundation. A total of 20 scholarshipswere awarded to students from throughout the Bloomington-Normal community.

The Unit 5 students who received the scholarships(and their music specialties, and scholarship awarded) are: Shelby Bays (violin), a sophomore at Normal CommunityWest High School (Hurst StringsScholar); Kaylin Richards (piano)is a 3rd grader at Fox Creek Elementary (Shirk Family Music Scholar); JaKiahJolly (cello), a seventh grader atEvans Junior High School (Elterich FamilyMusic Scholar); Myung Wan Suh(violin) is an eighth grader at Kingsley Junior High School (Dr. Mildred Pratt Classical Music Scholar);and J.D. Martin (piano),a seventh grader at Chiddix JHS.

Pepper Ridge Elementary’s “Good News”: Sarah Edwards, principal of Pepper Ridge ElementarySchool, shared a piece of good news concerning her school’s student population’sefforts to make improvements academically. She indicated Pepper RidgeElementary staff participated attended a week long training in Lisle, learningabout the benefits of the Partnership for Comprehensive Literacy Model.

In a letter shesent to the Board, Edwards explained her school’s “staff that attended thisweek long training during the summer did so voluntarily and without compensation.They only wanted to learn about educational tools and techniques that wouldhelp their students strengthen their literacy skills.

Edwards continued, explaining, “the staff pulled together and began writing a literacyplan for our first year. While it is not always easy to get everyone in a groupor staff to buy into a new idea, this staff did soeagerly. They set a goal and were bound to succeed on behalf of the students. They attendedtrainings, worked long hours, read professional books, observed colleagues, asked questions, andtried new things.

“Everyone in the building took part in the positive message being spread at Pepper Ridge,”Edwards said.” The front office staff created a welcoming environment, thecustodial staff cleaned and shined the building to increase pride in ourschool, and the kitchen staff assisted in making the cafeteria a positive placeto enjoy a healthy lunch.

Members of the communitylent a helping hand. With guidance fromState Farm employee Tom Laxton, who has consulted with Unit 5 in the past, thePepper Ridge Promise Council was created. This group provided tutors, mentors,food, clothing, hygiene items, and support to the school’sfamilies, Edwards said. The Council has also worked with Kim Page, the school’ssocial worker, who assisted in removing barriers to allow our students to focuson education.

“As changesstarted to become apparent, one other important group continued the great work theyhad always done at Pepper Ridge,” Edwards said. “That group is the Pepper RidgeParent Organization, who supported our students’ efforts by providing healthysnacks, reinforcers to keep up the good work, and new literacy materials. Theyorganized family events such as Game Night and the Carnival to bring the schoolcommunity together.”

Edwards said that, as a result ofthe efforts being put forth by the school’s parents, staff and volunteers,Pepper Ridge Elementary’s students “have a safe and clean place to learn. They have a healthy start to each dayas their emotional and physical needs are being met. They receive an effective education ineach and every classroom. They also have opportunities to help othersthrough grade level service projects.”

“Good News” About Unit 5 Staffers: District Superintendent Dr. GaryNiehaus recognized six teachers and one former Board member who received honorsat the 37th Annual “Those Who Excel/Teacher of the Year” event, held at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott on Oct. 22. Among those from the districtand the honors they were recognized for were: Nancy Wojtanowski,Parkside Elementary (Classroom Teacher and Teacher of the Year nominee); KimberlyPage, a social worker at Pepper Ridge Elementary School (Excellence Award);former Unit 5 Board member Scott Lay (Merit Award); Steve Mintus, assistantprincipal at Normal Community West High School (Merit Award); Carl Steggall, ateacher at Carlock Elementary School (Merit Award); John Burton, custodian atPrairieland Elementary School (Recognition Award); and the team of art teachersat Normal Community West High School (Merit Award).

By Steve Robinson | October 24, 2011 - 10:54 pm
Posted in Category: Sports, The Normalite

It probably isn’ttough to figure out what weekends will be like around here for, hopefully, thenext month now that the post-season for high school football teams has arrived.

This, for folkswho only casually look at the sports section, is one of those times when fansbecome enthralled just a bit more than usual now that they know their favoritehigh school team is playing for a championship in one of the eight classes ofcompetition set up by the Illinois High School Association.

It is also acrazy period for sportswriters and columnists, too. We clear our calendars asmuch as possible week-to-week, in anticipation of upcoming games. It is crazyfor coaches and players with practices and film sessions. Whole schoolpopulations are into the fact that their teams are in the playoffs. It makesfor a crazy time.

Congratulationsto all three of Normal’s high schools on giving fans such great regularseasons. First, congratulations to Normal Community West High School, underhead coach Darren Hess, for going undefeated for the season, 9-0, giving theWildcats their best season since the school opened. That record put West at thetop of the Big 12 Conference standings, followed by second place Danville. TheWildcats, seeded second in Class 6A, willhost seventh seed Rock Island High School on Friday at 7p.m. at WildcatStadium.

Normal Community High School, under head coach Wes Temples, alsodeserves congratulations for their season which finished 7-2, and finishing inthird place in the Big 12 Conference. Another great job by the Ironmen. TheIronmen, seeded fourth, will play hostto fifth seed Peoria Richwoods High School on Saturday, starting with the 3p.m.kickoff.

Under head coach Dusty Burk, the Pioneers of University High arealso heading for the postseason, having finished their season with a 7-2 mark,the best gridiron record since 1997. The Pioneers, seeded sixth in Class 5A, willvisit third seeded Centralia HighSchool on Saturday for a 1p.m. kickoff.

The Bloomington high schools will also be anxious for thepostseason. Bloomington Central Catholic under head coach Bobby Moews is seededthird in Class 4A, and will try to add to its 8-1 record in the postseason. TheSaints, seeded third will host sixthseed 7-2 Kankakee Bishop MacNamara High School on Saturday, starting at 1p.m.

A win overDecatur Eisenhower High in week nine made Bloomington High School, under headcoach Rigo Schmelzer, a playoff eligible team. The eighth seeded Purple Raiderswill visit top seed Crete-Monee HighSchool on Saturday for a Class 6A showdown.

Anybody whofollows postseason play in any sport knows this, but it bears repeating: Thisis the second season. All previous games, records, wins, or losses are erased,and teams will concentrate on the opponent ahead, whether they have faced thembefore in the regular season or not. Fans ought to have that same mindset, too.Here is to a successful postseason for our area teams.

On another subject, with the Intercity Football game in September,I went back on the high school beat for another season of covering what isgoing on in our local schools.

At that time, Ifelt the first order of business before those games at Hancock Stadium startedshould have been a memo to Mother Nature about not cranking up the furnace inearly September. As we all saw back then, the heat unleashed havoc with gamestart and ending times. An assistant coach with NCHS, who also coaches theIronmen’s sophomore team, told me his players had an 8:30a.m. game to play onSept. 3. Of course, he told me this after I had gotten my post-game interviewsfrom the NCHS-BHS game at 11:40p.m. that Friday night.

I met three newUniversity High freshmen football team players while on my way to the press boxas that hot night was starting. Sam Arvik, Brady Murray, and Neil Harris areall on the Pioneers freshmen squad, and were ready to show what they could do,but also preparing, at that time, to learn the game in a different way fromwhen they played at the Bloomington-Normal Youth Football League.

Arvik admitsthings haven’t changed about being a freshman in high school from when I or myelders were there. “Coming into high school from junior high is a big step up,”he said.

Murray, who came to U-High from being a junior high student atHoly Trinity, said that, at the athletic level, the kids discovered they weredealing with “bigger competition, bigger schools, and everyone is always afteryou. You have to play with a chip on your shoulder.”

Murray said his U-High freshmen coaches stress to the boys theyare no longer playing local Youth Football League ball. “They stress that athousand times,” added Arvik, who came to U-High after being a student atParkside Junior High School.

According to Murray, his coaches spend time telling their newplayers, “’this is high school football, this is when games actually count, andYFL has been preparing you for this’. The coaches always tell us this is whengames impact a lot more people.”

Another change from YFL, Arvik admits is, “the competition isharder and the kids are bigger.”

Harris agrees with Arvik and Murray about the change coaches wantto see in the players – from thinking like a YFL player to thinking like a highschool player. For Harris, he thinks he got the message after the Pioneers freshmenteam won their first game over Morton High School in week one.

The U-High freshmen beat Morton, and after that victory, Harrissaid he noted the change in his thinking that he and his teammates had steppedup and matured on the field. He and his friends had matured to understand thatwin-loss records matter for them from here on out.

Harris said the biggest thing off the field that gets drilled intothem by their coaches is that “conditioning plays a huge factor.”

“We’ve run and run and run,” Harris said about what theconditioning has been like. I saw the boys again a few weeks ago as I exited afunction at ISU’s Bone Student Center and the boys and their dates werearriving for U-High Homecoming. By Homecoming, the guys said they had alladjusted to the training regimen.

Conditioning was followed by learning your position and yourassignment at that position – over and over and over again.

An example of that conditioning and learning: As Harris explainsit, he and his teammates are being taught “if you’re a lineman, you can’t tryto play running back just to get the glory. You have to know your spot, knowyour role, and execute it.”

It has paid off, Harris said, because “we had more endurance thanMorton did.” U-High’s 35-14 final score of their first game of the season managedto prove that. What’s more, it has helped U-High’s freshman team finish theirfirst season of football with a 6-3record.

Not bad for Murray, Arvik, and Harris and the Pioneers’ Class of2015, I’d say.

It will be interesting to see how this class helps the Pioneersthrough the years on the gridiron. From the way things look now, even in theearly stages, and now that they have a full football season under their belts,things look pretty positive.

Here is to a successful post-season to our local teams. If anybodyneeds me for the next few weekends, I will be watching our local teams as theymarch toward a chance to play at Memorial Stadium in Champaign Thanksgivingweekend.