Casey-Westfield Warriors

COACH: Jim Sullivan (2nd year, 11-1)

LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 11-1, 5-0 Little Illini Eastern

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Nicco Stepina, Sr., QB/DB; Zack Murphy, Sr., WR/RB/DB; Austin Glidewell, Sr., RB/LB; Jordan Brandenburg, Sr., OL/DL

OUR TAKE: Casey lost a lot of the pieces that took the program to a ninth straight double digit winning season. But, as usual in Warriors land, it doesn’t look as if there will be any step back. Stepina, who Sullivan calls “one of the best athletes in 1A/2A football” is ready to be the man on offense. He will find ways to use Murphy, who Sullivan said is “one of the most versatile players in the conference and probably the state.” Youth who have won at every level will fill in the rest.

 

Schedule

Aug. 30 — at Olney East Richland

Sep. 6 — vs. Newton

Sep. 13 — vs. Palestine-Hutsonville

Sep. 20 — at Albion Edwards County

Sep. 27 — at Cumberland

Oct. 4 — vs. Oblong

Oct. 11 — at Bridgeport Red Hill

Oct. 18 — vs. Robinson

Oct. 25 — at Marshall

 

Cumberland Pirates

COACH: Kevin Maynard (First year)

LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 6-4, 4-1 Little Illini Eastern

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Monte Wolke, Jr., QB/LB; Alex Carter, Sr., OL/DL; Ethan Kemper, Sr., WR/LB; Holden Elwood, Sr., RB/DB

OUR TAKE: The team and coach will have a learning curve together as Maynard takes over a Pirates program that will be without six first-team all-conference picks from last year’s playoff team. The offensive backfield won’t be all new as Elwood (407 yards) and Wolke (336 yards) got some carries. Elwood will also be among the leaders for a defensive unit that was the stingiest in the division a year ago.

 

Schedule

Aug. 30 — at Paris

Sep. 6 — at Marshall

Sep. 13 — vs. Oblong

Sep. 20 — at Palestine-Hutsonville

Sep. 27 — vs. Casey-Westfield

Oct. 4 — vs. Bridgeport Red Hill

Oct. 11 — at Albion Edwards County

Oct. 18 — at Flora

Oct. 25 — vs. Olney East Richland

 

 

Oblong Panthers

COACH: Travis Reider, (4th year at Oblong, 9-10)

LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 6-4, 3-2 Little Illini Eastern

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kurtis Fleek, Sr., WR/LB; Ian Sablone OL/LB; Brody Allen, Jr., WR/S; Kyler Fear, Sr., WR/CB;

OUR TAKE: Reider has done a great job turning the Panthers around, but it would be foolish to think QB Anthony Johnson wasn’t a big part of that, too. Still, Reider has established an unprecedented mark for the Panthers to reflect on — its first playoff appearance last year. Kurtis Fleek will be back for a defense that quietly had a good year last year. Oblong may get off to a slower start but the latter half of the schedule is full of winnable games.

 

Schedule

Aug. 31 — at Mount Olive, 6 p.m.

Sep. 6 — vs. Lawrenceville

Sep. 13 — at Cumberland

Sep. 20 — vs. Bridgeport Red Hill

Sep. 27 — vs. Albion Edwards County

Oct. 4 — at Casey-Westfield

Oct. 11 — at Palestine-Hutsonville

Oct. 18 — vs. Marshall

Oct. 25 — vs. Flora

 

 

Flora Wolves

COACH: Scott Warren (2nd year)

LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 1-8, 0-5 Little Illini Egyptian

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Ethan Lieb, Sr., QB; Trey Thompson, RB; Logan Dulaney, G; Blake McWilliams, T; Trenton Pearce, DE

OUR TAKE: Flora will need better offensive firepower to reverse the 2012 campaign, but it’s hard to crack the upper echelon of the standings on the Egyptian side. There are some easier matchups in the first half of the schedule, but this may another year where Flora regroups and builds toward the future.

 

Schedule

Aug. 30 — vs. Bridgeport Red Hill

Sep. 6 — at Palestine-Hutsonville

Sep. 13 — at Newton

Sep. 20 — vs. Olney East Richland

Sep. 27 — at Lawrenceville

Oct. 4 — at Marshall

Oct. 11 — vs. Robinson

Oct. 18 — vs. Cumberland

Oct. 25 — at Oblong

 

 

Newton Eagles

COACH: Jason Fulton (7th year, 21-34 record)

LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 4-5, 2-3 Little Illini Egyptian

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Luke Huston, Sr.; Tanner Shull, Sr.; Austin Angel, Sr.; Mike Smith, Sr.

OUR TAKE: The Eagles are trying to break five-year playoff drought after being a perennial qualifier and could again be right there in contention despite getting socked by graduation. That includes the loss of QB Dylan Johnson, who accounted for most of the offense. But Brandon Tolliver-Goode and Zack Lewis saw some time at running back. They will run behind a group with plenty of beef, led by Smith (6-2, 250).

 

Schedule

Aug. 30 — at Bethalto Civic Memorial

Sep. 6 — at Casey-Westfield

Sep. 13 — vs. Flora

Sep. 21 — at Lawrenceville

Sep. 27 — vs. Marshall

Oct. 4 — at Robinson

Oct. 11 — vs. Olney East Richland

Oct. 18 — vs. Albion Edwards County

Oct. 25 — at Paris

 

 

Olney Tigers

COACH: Matt Music (3rd year, 10-10)

LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 9-2, 5-0 Little Illini Egyptian

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Nolan Shan, Sr., QB; Gus Lathrop, Jr., RB/DB; Tony Kuhlig, Sr., RB/LB; Carson Waggoner, Sr., WR/DB; Ian Miller, Sr., LB

OUR TAKE: If Shan — who’s moving over from the wideout spot — can muster some of the magic departed quarterback Justin Bailey had, Olney could make the playoffs for the second straight year. Having Waggoner to throw to should make things easier as well. But Music said he would like balance on offense, and that means some unproven running backs will have to make their mark for the Tigers.

 

Schedule

Aug. 30 — vs. Casey-Westfield

Sep. 6 — at Albion Edwards County

Sep. 13 — vs. Marshall

Sep. 20 — at Flora

Sep. 28 — at Robinson, 1 p.m.

Oct. 4 — vs. Lawrenceville

Oct. 11 — at Newton

Oct. 18 — vs. Bridgeport Red Hill

Oct. 25 — at Cumberland

 

 

Robinson Maroons

COACH: Tim Nolen (36 years, 5 at Robinson with 21-27 record)

LAST YEAR’S RECORD: 6-4, 4-1 Little Illini Egyptian

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Aaron Rankin, Sr., LB; Michael Elliott, Sr., CB; Bucky Stevens, Jr., QB; Jason Richart, Jr., RB; Nick Berty, Sr., LB

OUR TAKE: Nolen got Robinson back to the playoffs while going with a sophomore backfield. Now he’s hoping that year of experience can get the Maroons past the first round of the postseason. Crucial will be the progress of a young defense but Robinson should be able to move the ball. Richart (632 yards, 8.0 yards per carry) has breakaway abilities while Stevens showed flashes of big-time ability.

 

Schedule

Aug. 30 — at Watseka

Sep. 6 — vs. Bridgeport Red Hill

Sep. 13 — vs. Lawrenceville

Sep. 20 — at Marshall

Sep. 28 — vs. Olney East Richland

Oct. 4 — vs. Newton

Oct. 11 — at Flora

Oct. 18 — at Casey-Westfield

Oct. 25 — at Albion Edwards County

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