By Steve Robinson | October 25, 2015 - 10:24 pm
Posted in Category: Sports, The Normalite

Steve RobinsonI hope you readers will pardon me if this column is a little brief. Not as brief as, say, the ones produced by the ol’ editor, Mr. Pyne, mind you. But brief. You see, I need to catch my breath. I need to recover from the 2015 high school regular season just concluded, and prepare myself for the upcoming playoffs.

Just as the players and coaches try to do, writers, reporters, and photographers need to roll with the punches and prepare for the sport’s “second season” – the primary reason high schools participate in sports the first place (or so it seems at times). Just before I began writing this piece, I finished my game story on the Normal West game at Bloomington. I took a brief 30 second break to refresh myself. It wasn’t enough. We all know what we’re in for.

Mind you, this isn’t really a complaint. Having done this kind of thing for as long as I have, it has become something of an occupational routine by this time of year. But for those of us who don’t have kids, we have a tendency to forget the second season means parents and grandparents and other players’ family members are continuing to watch schedules to see if some part of their weekend, if not all of it, will be spent on the road, or maybe completely at home in preparation for the next game.

I, like the players, coaches, and parents, spent Saturday night watching the Illinois High School Association Football Post-Season Show waiting to see which teams in town would play in town (meaning I would be on my way again to a press box near you) to cover our local athletes as they vie for a championship. Congratulations to LeRoy (6-3), seeded 9th in Class 1A. The Panthers, who I started this season by covering, will be on the road to take on 8th seed Greenfield Northwestern Co-Op (6-3). That game kicks off Saturday at 1:30p.m.

In Class 2A, El Paso Gridley, at 6-3, is seeded 12th and will travel to 5th seed 7-2 Mendon Unity Coop, beginning with Saturday’s 2p.m. kickoff. In Class 3A, Bloomington Central Catholic, at 8-1, is seeded fifth, and will host 12th seed DuQuoin Saturday at 2p.m. We skip to Class 5A, where University High (6-3) is seeded 14th and will travel to take on third seed Peoria High, who finished the year at 8-1. That game will be played Friday night at 7p.m. In Class 6A, Normal Community West High School, who finished the season 6-3, is seeded 10th and will get a rematch again 7th seed Peoria Notre Dame, which is 8-1. The two sides met earlier this month with PND coming away with a 56-52 victory. Their rematch is set for Saturday at 2:30p.m.

In Class 7A and 8A, the seeding is a little deeper. That could be a problem for most schools, in this case, namely 27th seed Schaumburg (5-4), who will visit Normal Community High School, seeded 6th in Class 7A.

One more thing parents, grandparents, family, and friends will have to throw into the mix concerns if you have a high school family member who plays volleyball. The teams around here get as hot as the football players. We will have to see how that shakes out by the middle of next month, too.

On another football note, during the post-game interview I did after Normal West High’s 52-34 win over Bloomington High on Oct. 23, Wildcats head coach Darren Hess explained BHS’ players “left the game on the field” after the final horn sounded at what was BHS head coach Rigo Schmelzer’s final game before retirement.

That behavior on the part of BHS’ players “is a tribute to Rigo and how much he has done for that football program,” Hess said. “He’s been like a mentor to me. This game was a very sad way to end that career, but I’m very humbled I got to coach against him.” Many of Schmelzer’s former players were invited to attend a reception following the game in the school.

But before he came off the field one last time, Schmelzer told reporters he still had some last little chores to do before he could say his job was done, including collecting uniforms and equipment, and still having meetings with players on end-of-season matters. Before he can finally exit as coach, ”My time now, is, unfortunately, dealing now with wrapping up the end of a season that we felt is, unfortunately, too short,” Schmelzer explained. The realization for him that the season is, indeed, really over, may not come for another two or three weeks, he said.

His last thought to reporters that he expressed before he left Fred Carlton Field for the last time: “The kids gave. They did everything we asked of them. We couldn’t get the stops we needed in this game, and we’ll all live tomorrow.”

You get the feeling part of that quote could have been speaking of just about anything, not just about coaching and playing high school football.

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