2004 Season "The Big Game" Preview
The start of the 2004 Illinois high school football season is finally here and teams across the state are gearing up for their first match up of the year.
IHSFW.com has prepared a break down of the season's schedule to show when & where some of the most important games are going to be played this season. Everything from conference titles that may hang in the balance to yearly grudge matches between schools. IHSFW.com's 2004 preview has gone through the entire season schedule so you don't have to. Letting you know what days you need to circle on your teams calendar & the Fridays you should ask you boss to leave early so you can drive across the state to see the titans of Illinois high school football clash.
Where else can you start but at the first games of the season? All the preseason hype in the world can't make up for a unexpected loss in week 1, but it happens every year. A top ranked team falls to an underdog who was over looked. While picking which games may be a possible surprise is close to impossible (that's why they're called surprises) this list below is of all the games in week one, we think will help define a teams season.
Beardstown(8-3) @Carthage(13-1) Fri 7pm
The West Central has been dominated by the Blue Boys of Carthage for the past few years, along withSciota (West
Prairie). But Beardstown has been making some noise of it's own over the last couple of seasons the same way that W.P. & Carthage have. With a high scoring offense and a punishing defense.
(C.-White County)(11-1) Fri 7pm
Carterville had 2 losses last year. Their first game and their last game. Both were to Carmi. Look for this Black DiamondConference match up to possibly determine the title champ in week one.
While the two games above are part of the few Conference games going on in the first week. The games thousands of Illinois fans look forward to are the cross conference games across the state & some out side of the state. Here's a list of games worth checking out.
Non- Conference Games;
Aurora (East Aurora)(1-8) @Aurora (West Aurora)(1-8)
With both teams fighting for what could be their only win of the season, This match up is the second oldest in the state. Since 1893 the west & east sides of Aurora have been battling it out. Only theChicago
(Englewood)which started in 1889 is older, but since the two school no longer play each other on a regular basis Aurora is the oldest current rivalry in the state.
(Maine South)Sat 1pm
Maine South's Sean Price is one of the top QB's in the state and the 8A Runner up Hawks are one of the top teams in the state this year. And while Bolingbrook will play in 7A come playoff time, no team may be more pivotal in determining where the two best teams in 8A stand as "The Brook" plays host to 2003 8A State champs Lockport (Twp.) in week 2. Chances are you'll see more than one Porters jersey in the stands in Park Ridge on Saturday.
Last years 3A Champs Stillman will be looking to settle a score
with the team that gave them their only loss in 2003. Byron & S.V. meet up in a great week 1 cross division game for the Big Northern Conference. Great game for small school fans who want to see to teams that will be playing for a championship not just making the playoffs.
Canton(10-1) @Chatham (Glenwood)(8-4) Fri 7:30
Canton took down Glenwood to start of the 2003 season but Glenwood would have it's revenge in the second round of the 5A playoffs as the Titans gave the Little Giants their only loss of the season.
(Morgan Park) (10-2) vs.Chicago (Mt. Carmel)(6-6) Fri 7pm @ Gateley
Once again the pressure to become the first Chicago Public League team to win a State Title is on the shoulders of Morgan Park. Before the Mustangs can think of becoming the best in the state, they'll have to concentrate on becoming the best in the city. While a 6-6 record at most schools isn't taken lightly, the Mt. Carmel hasn't finished 500 or under since 1979. With a lot of starters returning for M.C. this looks to be a great litmus test for both teams.
Island (Alleman)(10-2) @Addison
(Driscoll)(14-0) Fri 7:30pm
A great cross state private school match up between 5A Quarter finalist Alleman& three time 4A State Champs Driscoll.
(South)vs. Detroit (Central Catholic), MI. @ The Pontiac Silver Dome
The only other time you'll see an Illinois high school team on NFL turf this season is at the Chicago Prep-Bowl.
Pontiac (6-4) @Fairbury
(Prairie Central) (13-1 ) Fri 9/3 7:45pm
Pontiac's domination of the Corn Belt since 1997 ended last year as P.C. took the title of conference champs. A bubble team on the edge of 4 & 5A Pontiac faltered last season after reaching the 5A Title game in 2002. Look for both of these teams to be strong contenders for the Conference title if not the 4A Title.
Libertyville (13-1) @ McHenry (10-2) Fri 9/3 7:30pm
Last year this week 2 non conference game went into double overtime before Libertyville pulled ahead as the winner. The Cats & the Warriors would meet up again in the quarterfinals on Libertyville's way to becoming the runner-up in 7A in 2003. Both teams are playoff contenders each year.
Island (H.S.)(8-3) @ Minooka (10-3 )Fri 9/3 7:30pm
Minooka has been on the rise as a emerging powerhouse over the last couple of seasons. With last year's run at the 6A title that ended with a semi final loss to the eventual ChampionsMundelein
(Carmel), Minooka is looking to carry last season momentum over to 2004. While the Cubs were busing choking last season the Rocks pulled up lame with a cough, a case of the whooping cough that is. The possibility of getting others sick, ment the Rocks had to forfeit a very winnable game versusEast Moline (United)
. With a 7-2 mark and a lower seed in the playoffs, R.I. was eliminated by the 6A Runner-upBloomington (HS)in the second round. While QB Jacob Markum might have lost his 3 man running attack, don't think veteran coach Vic Boblett won't have a new group whipped into shape by week 2.
Lockport (Twp.) (12-2) @Bolingbrook(9-2) Fri 9/3 7pm
The 2003 8A State Champs & Preseason #1 Porters are set for a cross SICA Conference match up that has plenty of implications towards who is top in the running for the 8A State Title even though Bolingbrook is a 7A team. While the odds are that the Raiders will be looking for their first win when they host Lockport at their new campus and state of the art field. As the Raiders' week one opponent is 8A runner upPark Ridge
(Maine South), who happen to appear on many 8A top 10's as the #2 team to beat. "The Brook" though is no pushover & head coach John Ivlow (a former NFLer) has some returning talent including speedy junior QB Javon Stewart.
(Community)(10-2) @ Mattoon (10-3) Fri 9/10 7pm
While we aren't giving the Big 12 Title toBloomington (HS)quite yet, we do think the Purple Raiders are in position to protect their 2003 title. Having won the conference titles since 2000 in the Big 12 West, the real question this year is which team will have a chance at taking the title away from BHS. That's where this 3rd week match up comes in. Matton & NCHS have both proven that they can go deep into the playoffs, but winning this game will come before a chance to beat Bloomington and remain undefeated in the hunt for the Conference title.
Dakota (6-4) @Galena(11-3) Fri 9/10 7:30pm
You've got to wonder about who was laughing after this one last year as Dakota beat Galena 21-13. While Dakota went on to become the co-champs at 5-1 in theNorthwest Upstate Illini
(North)Conference and Galena finished 3-3 at 4th in the Conference, but would become the 1A State Champs while Dakota would bow out in the first round of the 2A playoffs.
(A.-Oreana)(10-3) @Decatur (St. Teresa)
(11-1) Fri 9/10 7pm
@ Morris Fri 9/10 7:30pm
One of the best non-confernce match up over the last few seasons.
Chicago (Hubbard) vs.Chicago
(Morgan Park) Fri 9/17 7pm@ Gateley
TheChicago Public, Illini (Prairie
State)Conference has been arguably the best public conference in the City of Chicago over the last 5 years. Watch as all eyes will be on the winner of this game to see who will have the hopes of a CPL state title placed on their shoulder pads.
Island (Alleman)@ Augustana College Fri 9/17 7pm
A game with cross town rivals, private vs. public, talented players & coaches and a Conference title on the line. How many more reasons do you need to go see this game?
(H.S.)Fri 9/24 7pm
Most likely the winner of this game will be holding the Apollo conference title come season end.
DuQuoin (11-2) @Anna
(A.-Jonesboro)(10-3) Fri 9/24 7pm
Two very good teams who both made it to the semi finals last year. They'll be fighting for the Southern Illinois River-to-River
(Mississippi)title this night.
Morris (9-3) @ Minooka (10-3) Fri 9/24 7:30pm
Great match up between the old guard & the new powerhouse on the block. Minooka will have to win this game to establish themselves as more than just a flash in the pan after their 2003 semi final run. Both teams will have to battle with 7A State ChampsOswego (HS), who they wound up in a 3 way tie with for the Suburban Prairie (South) Title. And did we mention that it's just a short cornfield that separates these two teams.
(Newman Central Catholic)Fri 10/1 7:30pm
Since the Mississippi & Illinois divisions of the Big Rivers Conference will combine to become just the Big River, one must give a little clout to the game between the 2003 champions of each division. AlthoughAmboywho tied for first in the Mississippi division could also be a contender, this is our pick for the best confernce matchup.
Chicago (Mt. Carmel)@Chicago (St. Rita)Fri 10/1 7:30pm
This is it. Circled on many alumni's calendars as the game to go to during the season. Since 1924 these two Chicago south side Catholic schools have been butting heads and while Mt. Carmel holds a 52-25-2 record against St. Rita. The Mustangs beat Mt.Carmel for the first time in a decade last season. Look for revenge to fuel the Caravan while the returning Rita players will have a fresh memory of the fact that they can beat Mt. Carmel.
Central @ North Central College Fri 10/1 7:30pm
What happens when you take two of the biggest schools in Illinois, put them in a college stadium & have the local press hype it up. You get as close to a Texas size crowd as you'll see this side of the Mason Dixon line. When both teams are ranked this game has the potential to bring in close to 20,000 fans. While Central may be out of the Preseason Big 30 this year, you can still bet on huge numbers at this game.
(Hall) @ Rochelle Fri 10/1 Fri 7pm
While the Hall Devils have been on the losing end of this game the last couple of seasons, both teams are always in the hunt for a state title in 4A (Hall) & 5A (Rochelle) as well as the NCIC (Southwest) title.
New Lenox (Lincoln
(Lincoln-Way East) Fri 10/1 7pm
While watching someone beating up on their younger brother may not be the most interesting thing to watch, it can be quite exciting if that little brother grows up to be a little taller & stronger than big brother. While many in the Lincoln Way area worried that splitting up into two schools a couple of years ago would weaken their football teams, they got a nice surprise when both the Knights & Griffins wound up being amoung the best in their class. Due to a great youth sports program in the area, this match up is a must see for SICA (Blue) fans.
Other week 6 Conference game s that matter;
(Thornton Fractional South)Fri 10/1 7pm
Roxana @CarlinvilleFri 10/1 7pm
St. Louis (Sr.)Fri 10/1 7pm
Minooka @Oswego (HS)Fri 10/1 7pm
(Niles West) @Park Ridge
(Maine South)Sat 10/9 1pm
The Central Suburban (South) title most likely will be on the line as two of the state's top ranked players will meet on Wilson Field in Park Ridge when Maine South's QB Sean Price & Niles West's RB Rashard Mendenhall.
Chatham (Glenwood)@ Springfield (S.H.G.) Fri 10/8 7pm
The Cyclones should be on a whirlwind repeat tour with plenty of returning talent this season. Glenwood may be theCentral State Eightteam with the best chance to dethrone the 2003 Conference champs as they are poised to be in Champaign Thanksgiving weekend.
(Stark County)Fri 10/8 7pm
Lincoln Trail (East) champs, Stark County, will battle it out as the two divisions combine for 2004. Annawan may be the team with the best chance to beat S.C. as Warren no longer is in the conference.
Other week 7 conference games that matter;
Suburban Prairie (South)
Oswego (HS)@ Morris Fri 10/8 7:30pm
South Central (East)
Litchfield @ Hillsboro Fri 7pm
(Deer Creek-M.)(10-1) Fri 10/15 7pm
Both teams made deep strides into the playoffs in '03. Look for a good battle for the Mid-State Conference Title.
(Central) Fri 10/15 7pm
TheSangamon Valley (Blue)got a few new teams for 2004. Two of those teams happened to be the Conference champs in the White & Red divisions of the Sangamon Conference in '03.There can be only on champ in '04 though and all bets point to this game.
Prairie)@CarthageFri 10/15 7pm
Both teams are in the top 10 for defense & offense each year. Where ever you are it's worth the trip to far western Illinois to see a game in Carthage as the Blue Boys work on defending the West Central Conference Title.
Other conference games that matter;
Highland @ Jerseyville (Jersey) Fri 10/15 7pm
(L.-Peru)Fri 10/15 7pm
(Carmel)@Joliet (Catholic)Fri 10/22 7:30pm
While high school football fans across the state where sad to see Joliet Catholic give up it's non-confernce games for a stable schedule, at least they still have this season ending gem. You can't ask for a better match up than the previous season's 5A & 6A Champs going head to head for a title shot. Even if it's just the Conference title for the East Suburban Catholic .
(Boylan)@ Freeport (H.S.) Fri 10/22 7:30pm
The Northern Illinois (NIC-9) has been saving the best for last for a while now. Leaving the Pretzels & the Titans to do battle for the title to end the season. Both schools are usually undefeated through week 8. This game has seen really close game including overtime in the last three years.
City@WilmingtonFri 10/22 7:30pm
We will almost guarantee that the Interstate Eight Title will be on the line here.
by Vincent Johnson