By Steve Robinson | May 4, 2021 - 1:48 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – Normal Town Council members unanimously approved three ordinances and one resolution related to a request by Rivian Automotive to expand its facility located on the Town’s west side. The first item Council members approved by a unanimous vote was an ordinance reducing the levy of the 2020 property tax for electric automaker in accordance with the Town’s 2016 economic incentive agreement.

The abatement Normal provides the automaker was part of its development agreement with the company and has contributed over $300 million in investments by Rivian as well as 1,000 new full-time jobs, according to a memo provided Council members by Town Finance Director Andrew Huhn.

The abatement will result in the Town estimating a reduction in property tax revenue in the coming fiscal year of $103,150. Huhn’s report said that loss of funds will have an impact on two of its funds – its general fund by $72,500 and the library fund by $30,650.

Patrick Hoban, chief executive officer of Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, informed Council members Rivian submits to that Council information concerning information on investments the company has become involved in as well as the number of employees hired and proof of the wages it pays employees. Hoban said, to date, Rivian has exceeded the figures not just for the current fiscal year but for the upcoming fiscal year, as well.

Next, Council members unanimously voted to approve a resolution conditionally approving an amended site plan for the property located at 100 N. Rivian Motorway for a new access road to College Ave. The new entrance would align with the driveway to its property at 2601 W. College Ave. Council Member Stan Nord wondered if the cost of the new entryway which would be used exclusively by the company would be repaid back to the Town.

Town Engineer Ryan Otto told Nord the new entrance would allow Rivian to have direct access from its warehouse on the south side of College Ave. to its manufacturing plant. He said the company would have to submit a traffic analysis report to the Town before construction for the new entrance would be considered.

Council Member Kathleen Lorenz took issue, however, with the notion of the Town looking to recoup its money from the automaker in order to complete the road it wants to add for access to its plant. Calling the notion of looking to get money back “such a slap in the face” to Rivian, she said, “Our job as a municipality is to provide, you know, roads and access to businesses and residential neighborhoods. This is what we do.”

Council members then voted unanimously to approve an ordinance annexing 380 acres of land west of the auto plant for its use. The land is currently zoned as agriculture. The company sought it to be rezoned as M-2 General Manufacturing. Changing the zoning would permit the company to expand its industrial uses.

Council members voted unanimously to approve an ordinance rezoning property at 419 Rivian Motorway and 320 acres surrounding that property which is primarily agricultural. The vote reassigns the land from Agricultural to M-2 General Manufacturing. Normal Planning Commission members voted 6-0 to recommend rezoning of 320 acres to the east of the plant from Agricultural to the new classification. Reece said Rivian officials were seeking to add such property to the Town of Normal by seeking the rezoning. She said if approved, Rivian would be included into the Town’s corporate boundaries.

But Nord expressed concerns over costs incurred for extending sewer service. Reece reminded the Town was simply adding land to the Town by annexing it. She said no annexation agreement was necessary in this instance. She added any issues concerning extending sewer service to Rivian would be brought before the Council.

Reece said Rivian officials have not expressed how or when they will use the newly annexed land, that they were simply asking the Town to approve its annexation for future use.

Lorenz said she didn’t want Council members to lose sight of the fact “there is a business here in town that wants to grow. They aren’t doing this out of the kindness of their heart, but because they have plans to use it.” She added while the plans for the automaker might not be immediate, “they are looking out five or 10 years.”

Council Member Chemberly Cummings added all Rivian is seeking is Council approval to make the parcel of land they have to become part of the Town of Normal.

Greystone Fields Preliminary Subdivision Plan Approved: Council members voted unanimously to approve a resolution giving re-approval to the preliminary subdivision plan for Greystone Fields Subdivision located just east of Normal Community West High School. Greg Troemel, Director of Inspections for the Town told Council members a slowdown in residential construction related to economic conditions in recent years was the culprit for no recent construction of new homes on the property.

As a result, the preliminary subdivision plan expired due to no activity and require being renewed for construction to expand the housing in the subdivision to resume. Troemel explained there had been no construction activity on the property for the past three years. Council’s approval of the preliminary subdivision plan was necessary for construction activity to resume.

When the homes are finished, considering the time that has gone by since construction last took place, in response to a question from Council Member Karyn Smith, Troemel said he believes the homes would be marketed at prices around “the low $200,000s range.”

Council members then voted unanimously approving a related resolution which would conditionally approve the final plat for Greystone Fields Subdivision 2nd addition located on Parkside Rd.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of minutes of the Regular Meeting of April 19, 2021.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of April 28, 2021.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of April 28, 2021.

• A resolution authorizing execution of a lease agreement with Illinois House of Representatives, by its agent, Illinois State Representative 105th District, Dan Brady and with the U. S. House of Representatives by its agent, Rep. Rodney Davis.

• A resolution to accept bids and award a contract to Pontiac, Ill.-based H. J. Eppel & Co., Inc. for the 2021 general street resurfacing project in the amount of $1,119,265.70.

• A resolution waiving the bid requirements and authorizing the purchase of a Ford F-350 truck equipped with a Perkins 8-Y yard satellite refuse body from St. Louis-based Key Equipment & Supply Co.

• A resolution authorizing the filing of the Town of Normal’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Action Plan for program year 2021-2022.

By Steve Robinson | May 2, 2021 - 10:04 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

BLOOMINGTON – The aircraft flew as any other would – buzzing past Illinois State University’s quad and Uptown Normal, giving its passengers a bird’s eye view of Illinois Wesleyan University’s Tucci Stadium, and the Shoppes At College Hills, State Farm’s corporate headquarters, Eastland Mall, and assorted vehicles moving along Veteran’s Parkway. But it wasn’t a modern aircraft by today’s standards. For openers, in addition to no overhead compartments, it only sat 12 people.

While that doesn’t sound like an aircraft people would be accustomed to these days, flight enthusiasts received the chance to step back in time Friday at a hangar near the Prairie Aviation Museum near Central Illinois Regional Airport thanks to Oshkosh, Wis.-based Experimental Aviation Administration. EAA and the Museum arranged for a 12-seat 1928 Ford Tri-Motor airplane to come to town to give flight historians and others curious about such aircraft the chance to see and even take a short trip in the aircraft.

“It’s a beautiful plane, that’s for sure,” Bloomington resident Loren Leiseberg said. He added his curiosity of it and the beauty of the plane drew him to come out to see it. “I kind of like older things like that and antiques and art deco type things. This plane is just beautiful.”

On the inside, Leiseberg added, he admired its features which included an all-wood interior, art deco lamps, and the uphill slant passengers needed to adhere to getting to their seats once they climbed aboard. Powered by an original Pratt & Whitney Wasps 420 horsepower engine, and a cabin length of 18 feet 9 inches with a single seat on either side of the aisle, and small overhead lamps at each seat, it must have made those who took the trip nostalgic to think about grandparents taking such flights. The plane’s wingspan is 77 1/2 feet.

It wasn’t just older folks who had curiosity about the plane, either. Zachary Slater, 19, said he has been interested in planes since he was a child and came with his grandparents, Cole and Cherie Slater to check it out, too. “I’ve been interested since I was a little boy and I have seen this plane for what feels like half my life. I’m into old airplanes. They are my favorite planes of all because I love how they handle.”

Zachary wasn’t the only young person for whom there was a curiosity about the vintage aircraft. Hannah Holmes, a senior at Bloomington High School, joined her father, Tom Holmes for the trip, too.

“This Ford Tri-Motor, if you’re an enthusiast, is just a great plane to see,” Tom Holmes stated. “It’s a real piece of nostalgia that runs real well, and to be able to ride on that plane is something else, and I’m really looking forward to it.” He added he is an enthusiast who used to fly when he was younger, and once you have flown, he explained, “It gets in your blood.”

“Any enthusiast likes the earliest planes and the Ford Tri-Motor was a more luxurious plane for its time,” Holmes said. “What I like about it versus the modern era is it has big engines. Each engine is like 9 Harley Davison engines on one engine. And this has three engines, so that’s 27 Harleys, so you can feel the sound go right through you, and for a flight enthusiast, that’s a real exciting thing,” he said with a chuckle.

Hannah herself got a front row seat for the flight, boarding and walking the uphill aisle to the seat in the cockpit right next to the trip’s pilot and Chenoa resident Bill Thackery. When asked after the flight if she would like to be a pilot someday after sitting in a cockpit, she smiled and said, “Now I do, definitely.” She said the view of the area from that vantage point “was amazing.”

She will soon attend University of Wisconsin where she wants to major in biomedical engineering. She added if she leans toward the engineering angle of her degree once she graduates, she could be involved in how planes are built. The biomedical aspect of the degree has to do with things related to creating prosthetic devices, she explained.

When Thackery, who first flew a plane at age 16 isn’t piloting such trips in nostalgic aircraft on a volunteer basis for EAA, he said he’s a commercial pilot who will soon be retiring. His regular job has him in the cockpit at the controls of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner Wide-body twin-engine jet airliner.

He isn’t the only pilot in the family, either, as his wife, Janice, and their two children are also pilots.

Thackery said he is a member of EAA’s Air Tour Team which takes planes like the Ford Tri-Motor and others like World War II-era B-17s and B-25s around the country, letting folks see them for themselves.

He said his background includes a love of old airplanes which gave him a chance to fly aircraft like DC-3s when the Prairie Aviation Museum had one here. With previous experience with older aircraft, he said he learned to fly aircraft similar to the Ford Tri-Motor “without a lot of additional training.”

He added that once he retires from being a commercial pilot, that will give him more time to fly planes like the Ford Tri-Motor more, helping curious aircraft enthusiasts learn more about vintage aircraft.

Thackery said his love of aviation began as a child building airplane models and hanging them from his bedroom ceiling in his native Ohio. He said when he came of age in the 1970s, that decade saw people with an increased interest in people who wanted to learn to fly. “People don’t realize how many people learned to fly in that decade.” He said presently, though, a shortage of pilots is in progress.

Thackery said he considers himself “blessed” by the tools he gets to use in his vocation and his volunteer work. “I marvel at both of them,” he said. “I get to fly the latest, hottest, newest airplane that’s being produced right now, and I get to fly the first airplane that was produced to be an airliner. I’m pretty lucky and I think about that whenever I get into either one of these cockpits.”

NORMAL – Three newly-elected Board members for Normal-based Unit 5 School District were sworn in at the regularly-scheduled session for the governing body April 28 in Normal Community West High School’s cafeteria. Kentrica Coleman, Jeremy DeHaai, and Stan Gozur took the oath of office toward the end of the nearly two-hour session which began with tributes to three Board members they were about to succeed.

But before the new members were sworn in, the three outgoing Board members were sent off with tributes from fellow Board members and family members honoring them for the time they spent making decisions which would impact the district. Mike Trask, Meta Mickens-Baker, and Taunia Leffler made final statements about their time on the Board. Trask had been on the Board for 10 years over three terms, including a two-year stint. Mickens-Baker first was appointed in 2004 and ran for terms in 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017, and 2019. Leffler only had one term after being elected in 2017.

“It’s been a great four year term, and I’ve met some great people,” Leffler said. “Everyone who works in our district are a great group of people, so congratulations to the new Board members.” She added she has appreciated the friendships she has gotten from her experience on the Board, adding being on the Board means Board members put in long hours to accomplish what is needed to be done on behalf of the district.

“I just appreciate that we were always respectful of each other,” Leffler added. She said even with coming from different backgrounds, she felt it was important that Board members “were able to come together to make important decisions for the district.” Leffler came onto the Board with David W. Fortner and Joseph Cleary. New job opportunities prompted both Fortner and Cleary to step down from the Board, Fortner resigning in spring 2018 to pursue an opportunity in the Chicago area followed by Cleary in July that year for a job in California.

Board Member Barry Hitchins made note to Leffler about her being the one who remained when, as he explained, “It’s a challenge to be on the Board at times. You persevered, and your passion for the students is something I will always remember.”

Board Member Dr. Kelly Pyle said she wrote each of the three exiting members personal notes, adding, “I do want to thank all of you very sincerely for the service that you have provided Unit 5 families, not only through your many years of service on the school board, but as Barry noted, many of you have served in multiple capacities on PTOs, Citizen Advisory Council, Back-To-School Alliance, Promise Council, and continue to serve our students and our community to the greatest extend.”

A phrase Board Member Alan Kalitzky had heard sometime before the meeting summed up the trio’s efforts on the Board for him, he said. He told them, “You all have a servant’s heart in everything you do.”

Trask recalled the first meeting he attended and wearing a purple shirt whereupon Mickens-Baker gently chided Trask by reminding him he was wearing District 87 colors to a Unit 5 meeting. The memory produced laughter among Board members. He continued reminding he replaced Scott Lay on the Board. Scott Lay, and his father, Loren Lay, had both been Unit 5 Board members. Becoming emotional, Trask said, “I’m not sure if I filled their shoes all the way up, but I gave it my best shot.” Loren Lay was a Board member in the 1990s. Scott Lay exited the Board in 2011 after being on it for two terms.

Trask also said giving each of his two daughters their high school diplomas were “moments I will never forget.” He told his daughters, Hannah and Sydney, he considered himself “the luckiest and most blessed dad.” He also thanked his wife, Angela, for her support during his years on the Board. He said when he wants to become involved in something, he admits he doesn’t say no, but that Angela never tells him “Don’t do it.”

Mickens-Baker said she appreciated Trask’s passion concerning the district’s facilities. That meant he spent time working with Joe Adelman, the district’s operations director, and District Business Manager Marty Hickman to make sure Unit 5’s facilities were kept clean whether it was for daily classes or special events.

She said she recalled hearing students criticizing upkeep at schools in other districts for events but how clean Unit 5 kept their schools. Facilities “was something you stuck with throughout the time you were on the Board,” Mickens-Baker reminded Trask.

At the end of the April 6 election, ballot counts indicated Coleman received the most ballots, 6,261, or 21.1 percent of the vote followed by DeHaai who received 5,370 votes or 18.1 percent of the vote, and Gozur who received 5,089 votes or 17.1 percent of the vote.

Family Member, Friend Of Board Members Speak During Public Comments: Public comments were highlighted by members of outgoing Board members stepping up to the microphone before the Board and thanking their relative one final time publicly for the work they put in on the Board. Mickens-Baker’s husband, Keith Baker, led off that group, reminding his wife and Board members that her first Board meeting fell on her birthday, and for that occasion, he and their two sons brought in a cake and those in attendance sang “Happy Birthday” to her. As for her 17 years serving the Board, he added, “It’s been a great ride. We met a lot of great people, not just in Bloomington-Normal but throughout the State.” He reminded current Board members and informed new Board members that “School Board members are also the family because the family is involved in just listening, offering feedback, and supporting.”

Joined by a few members of the sorority she belonged to, Delta Sigma Theta, Renee Thompson saluted her sorority sister, Mickens-Baker next by said to her, “We want her to know how much we love her and appreciate her. Anyone who serves for 17 years in any capacity must have a servant’s heart.”

Michael Coleman, husband of Kentrica Coleman, thanked Mickens-Baker, and added, “I am here to say how proud the Coleman family is of Miss Kentrica Coleman and that she is going to do a fantastic job.”

District “Those Who Excel” Nominees Announced: Nominees from the district for the annual “Those Who Excel” Awards, presented by Illinois State Board of Education were announced to Board members by Dayna Brown, Director of Communications and Community Relations for the district. The nominees, the schools or office they work at, and the awards they were nominated for are: Kailey Geiselman, Normal Community West High School, Classroom Teacher; Marielena Gozur, Cedar Ridge Elementary School, Classroom Teacher; Hunter Watts, NCHS, Early Educator; Kirsten Freeze, Pepper Ridge Elementary, Early Educator; Natalie Schumaker, District Administration, Special Education Administrator; Stacie France, Kingsley Junior High School, Administrator; Margie Toca, NCHS, and Susan Naber, Brigham Elementary School, Educational Service Personnel; April Powell, Fox Creek Elementary School, and Emma Milliken, Northpoint Elementary School, Student Support Personnel; Unit 5 Nursing Team, and Normal Community West High School CARES Team, Team; Meta Mickens-Baker, District, and Miranda Davis, George L. Evans Junior High School, Volunteer.

By Steve Robinson | April 20, 2021 - 10:53 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Town Council, The Normalite

NORMAL – As a means to find itself in a position to be able to know about and apply for funding opportunities for capital projects in a post-COVID environment, Normal Town Council members voted 6-1 to approve a resolution with Chicago-based McGuireWoods Consulting, with Council Member Stan Nord casting the lone opposing vote. The firm would also assist the Town keeping it apprised on legislative matters. Nord told Council members he couldn’t vote in favor of the contract until he knew the scope of the work McGuireWoods Consulting would do on the Town’s behalf.

City Manager Pam Reece said McGuireWoods’ aid “would help us engage at the State level and hopefully secure dollars for a variety of projects” the Town is seeking to complete. Deputy City Manager Eric Hanson said there are “a number of infrastructure projects that are identified but not yet funded.” He said that would “provide a good road map” for McGuireWoods as they attempt to seek needed dollars for the Town for those projects.

The contract with McGuireWoods Consulting would run for 11 months beginning May 1 at a cost of $4,000 per month. Reece pointed out the Town had not had such representation working on the Town’s behalf since the contract with the previous consultant firm expired in November. Previously, the Town had a six-month consultant contract with Chicago-based Turing Strategies.

Council Renews Town’s Contract With Brokerage Service: Council members voted 6-1 with Nord casting the opposing vote to approve a resolution for the Town to enter into a professional services agreement with Orland Park, Ill.-based Horton Group for brokerage services. Horton Group was among five firms who responded to the Town’s request for proposals for the opportunity to work with the Town. The Town will pay $39,600 annually for consulting services for the next three years.

Council Approves Contract to H. J. Eppel & Co. for Route 66 Trail Project: Council members voted 6-1 with Nord voting in opposition to approve a resolution to accept bids award a contract to Pontiac, Ill.-based H. J. Eppel & Co. for a project which would link the existing Route 66 trail to nearby neighborhoods, allowing access to be granted for both pedestrians and bicyclists. The connection would provide access and trail head parking for users of the Route 66 trail as well as connect the Village of Towanda and future locations to the north. The Town will spend $471,357.55 from monies in its Capital Investment account, and has received partial funding from the State’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

Nord said this item had come before Council in 2018, it was estimated to come in at a cost of $314,000. At that time, Nord added, Town Staff recommended it not be approved because the project bid was $425,000. But now, Nord added, the Town needs to prioritize what projects it spends its transportation-related money on.

Council members heard a pair of public comments related to this item, beginning with Patrick Dullard who represents Friends of Constitution Trail. He told Council members he supports this item because he believes “it improves bicycle and pedestrian safety of Town residents and that alone justifies the investment.”

He said the project also “brings the trail closer to many more Normal citizens.” He said he understands the Route 66 bike route brings people from not just around the country but other countries as well to the area. “This is not just an economic project, but a quality of life project, as well.”

Former Town Council Candidate Ron Ulmer told Council members Constitution Trail receives funding from both the Town through its transportation budget, and the Town’s Parks and Recreation Department. He said does not consider the current level of transportation funding the Town has acceptable “considering the number of potholes and bumps my car hits.” He added he would like to know how much money the Town spends to maintain the streets.

Road Resurfacing Project Approved: Council members unanimously approved a resolution accepting bids and awarding a contract to Bloomington-based Rowe Construction for the 2021 Motor Fuel Tax Street Resurfacing Project in the amount of $1,951,965.50. Streets to be selected for repair were selected based on numerous factors including condition, traffic level, deterioration level, and cost.

Streets to be resurfaced as part of the proposed Motor Fuel Tax project were initially presented to Council on March 1 and are: W. Raab Rd. from Constitution Trail Collegiate Br. To Bradford Lane; Bradford Lane from Miles Lane to Raab Rd,; Gregory St. from Parkside Rd, to Cottage Ave.; Bowles St. from Main St. to University Ct.; N. Fell Ave. from Willow St. to Sycamore St.; and Normal Ave. from Locust St. to Gregory St.

Bid For New Well Construction Near Anderson Park Approved: Council unanimously approved a resolution awarding the bid and approving contracts for Well #21 Division A to Fenton, Mo.-based Brotcke Well and Pump for maintenance at a total cost of $142,163.

Council members unanimously approved a resolution to award the bid for rehabilitation of one of two clarifiers for water at the Town treatment plant. According to information provided in a memo to Reece, John Burkhart, Town Water Director explained clarifiers soften raw water during the treatment process.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of the minutes of the regular meeting of April 5, 2021.

• Report to receive and file Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of April 14, 2021.

• A resolution extending a license agreement with Peoria Charter Coach Company for access to Uptown Station as a transportation provider.

• An ordinance reserving volume cap in connection with private activity bond issues and related matters.

By Steve Robinson | April 18, 2021 - 10:57 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite, U-High

NORMAL – A trio of University High players – senior running backs Justin Johnson and Peter Deffenbaugh, and senior wide receiver Gavin Markert proved too much for visiting Champaign Central High School Friday night as the Pioneers defeated the Maroons, 63-12, in a non-conference contest at Hancock Stadium on Illinois State University’s campus. The Maroons were a hurried substitution for the team U-High was originally scheduled in this home contest, Decatur Eisenhower High School. That school bowed out due to issues related to COVID-19.

After the Maroons punted to end its initial set of downs from the kickoff and displayed poor execution getting rid of the ball on fourth down, U-High (2-3) began its first possession at Champaign’s 28. Five plays later, Deffenbaugh’s rushing play into the end zone put his team in front, 7-0, following sophomore Declan Duley’s successful extra point at 9:23 in the first quarter.

U-High’s next possession started courtesy of an interception by Johnson in his role as defensive back, picking off a pass from Maroons junior quarterback Cody Brown. That interrupted the Maroons’ drive which began at their own 25 but put the Pioneers starting at the Maroons’ 48. Two plays later, Deffenbaugh’s 10 yard rushing touchdown at 7:22 in the quarter followed by Duley’s extra point added to the Pioneers’ lead, 14-0.

The Pioneers’ defense got into the act of scoring, too, during this contest, thanks to an interception by senior defensive back Jack Dameron. With Champaign starting a drive at their own 21, Dameron picked off Brown’s third down pass running it in for a 33 yard score at the 5:03 mark followed by Duley’s extra point, increasing U-High’s lead, 21-0.

Big 12 Conference opponent Champaign Central (0-5) ended their ensuing possession with a turnover on downs giving U-High the ball at the Maroons’ 43. Five plays later, sophomore quarterback Colin Cunningham connected with Markert for a 31 yard touchdown with 1:41 left in the quarter followed by Duley’s extra point, upping the Pioneers’ advantage, 28-0, going into the second quarter.

The ensuing set of downs for Champaign Central (0-5) resulted in a punt which put the Pioneers starting at their own 33 as the final seconds of the first quarter ticked away. Four plays later, a 27 yard pass from Cunningham to Johnson, followed by Duley’s extra point, put the Pioneers up, 35-0, at the 10:46 mark.

Defensive lineman Elon Mondy recovered a Champaign fumble interrupting a drive which started at their own 26 but ended at U-High’s 47, giving possession back to the Pioneers. Six plays later, junior running back Neil Sundaram scored from four yards out. Duley’s extra point extended U-High’s lead, 42-0, with 2:44 until halftime.

Champaign Central scored with 48 second left on a 60 yard pass from Brown to freshman receiver Braylon Thompson, but the Maroons’ 2-point conversion try failed, allowing U-High to maintain a 42-6 lead with 4:48 left in the quarter.

Each team experienced a set of downs resulting in a punt after that, and when the Pioneers got the ball back following the Maroons’ punt, they started at Champaign’s 40. One play later, Cunningham connected with Johnson again, this time for a 40 yard touchdown strike, followed by another Duley extra point, giving the Pioneers a 49-6 lead going into halftime.

Once the second half began, game officials employed IHSA’s “Mercy Rule,” – as a result of the 40-point plus difference in the game score, using a continuously running clock, stopping it only for timeouts taken by a team or because of an injury. The running clock began as the third quarter opened. Three plays after U-High received the second half kickoff, Markert scored his second touchdown of the contest from 25 yards out from Cunningham’s pass at 9:49 in the quarter followed by Duley’s extra point, increasing the Pioneers’ lead, 56-6.

Champaign Central scored their last points of the night on a handoff from Brown to junior running back Davis Willis for a seven yard rushing touchdown at 3:59 in the third quarter followed by a failed 2-point conversion attempt, cutting U-High’s lead, 56-12.

Just as he had started the evening scoring, Deffenbaugh closed out the Pioneers’ scoring on the night with a 37 yard rushing score, capping a 6 play, 76 yard drive followed by Duley’s extra point.

“I thought it was going to be a dogfight to be honest with you,” University High head coach John Johnson said afterward. “We came out and got up by two touchdowns and I think that broke their will a little bit. We did pretty well as a team tonight. I am very proud of our kids.”

Johnson had praise for Cunningham saying, “I remember telling reporters I thought he was going to be a good quarterback and I think he showed it tonight. The line blocked well for him a lot of times, he executed our whole offense, but he studied hard on our offense and he executed.”

“This was a team win,” Johnson said, adding praise for receivers, saying. “Neil Sundaram came in and he’s been working hard in practice and it was his time tonight.”

Prior to this contest, the team had struggled internally. But after this victory, as for the team’s complete effort, Johnson said, “They pulled the rope in the same direction all night and that really made a big difference.”

Johnson said he knew nothing about Champaign Central prior to the contest, adding, “I thought we were going to have a donnybrook here, but we played them pretty well.”

“We are a young team, so my frustrations are that I like to see my players compete ‘til the end of the game,” explained Champaign Central head coach Tim Turner, adding he saw his players do that.” He added the team has a motto of “we’ll play anybody anytime anyplace,” so the change of coming here had no effect on his players.

He said he thought his troops moved the ball “pretty well, but when you have 4 or 5 turnovers, it’s going to be difficult to score.” Champaign Central had two interceptions, two fumbles, and turned the ball over on downs to U-High twice.

The Pioneers are slated to travel to Jacksonville for a Central State Eight Conference contest Friday night.