It's an even sweeter season for Arcola after winning the 1A state championship -- the historic rivalry with Tuscola will resume in 2018.

The "Cola Wars" are coming back.

The Tuscola and Arcola football teams announced on Tuesday that they will resume their rivalry series during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Barring any playoff meetings during the next two years, the next "Cola Wars" will be the 105th of the series which Tuscola leads 54-44-6.

"This fills a void the people of both communities, and the area as a whole, have been missing since Tuscola left the Little Okaw Valley Conference and joined the Okaw Valley Conference in 2007," Tuscola coach Andy Romine said. "The players and fans both deserve to see this game played by two of the most tradition-rich programs in the state."

The rivals' last meeting came in 2011, in the quarterfinals of the Class 1A playoffs. Tuscola won 42-7 and eventually finished state runner-up.

Many envisioned something similar when the 1A brackets came out last season. Had both teams run the table, they would've met in the semifinals. Arcola held up its end, eventually winning the state championship, but Tuscola was upset by LeRoy, Arcola's semifinal opponent.

"Historic rivalries bring a level of unmatched excitement to the field," Tuscola principal Brad Allen said in a press release. "The Cola Wars will re-connect a century of games with the present."

The first renewal will be Aug. 31, 2018 with Tuscola hosting. On Sept. 6, 2019, Arcola will host. The agreement also includes junior varsity games.

"I was honored to play and coach several Cola Wars," Tuscola athletic director Ryan Hornaday said. "Couldn't be more pleased to renew the tradition."

Hatchets chopping away

Few programs have played as well as Windsor/Stewardson-Strasburg so far.

The tandem of the Hatchets' spring sports are 16-3 -- the baseball team is 6-3 and the softball team is 10-0.

The softball team, like the volleyball team, has benefited from its freshmen class. That starts with Calla Roney, who is leading the Hatchets from the mound and the plate.

Roney's batting .568 with 4 home runs, 8 doubles and 29 RBI. She's driven almost as many runs as W/SS has allowed as a whole -- 31. Roney pitched just as well, as she has a 3.00 ERA through 42 innings while striking out 53 batters.

Go down the batting leaders and it's full of freshmen. Megan Schlechte, Carson Cole and Mackenzi Tabbert are right behind Roney.  

Eller gives Generals stability

Much of the group that brought MacArthur's softball back to relevance returned this season. But there were several seniors who left, including catcher Kayla Stutzman.

Kylie Eller jumped in and took the position over, leaving MacArthur coach Jack Haskell impressed.

"Right now, Kylie has really stepped up and made a difference behind the plate," Haskell said. "My starting catcher graduated and we kinda struggled for a little while trying to figure out who we could put behind there."

Eller's one of five seniors that has helped turn around the MacArthur program.

"Our senior class, they've had to play everywhere becuase of injuries and whatnot," Haskell said. "They've all played on varsity since their freshmen year. Great group of athletes."

Allen sets record

Tuscola senior softball player Karli Allen is the new home run champion of the program, hitting the 24th blast of her career on Tuesday.

It was her fourth home run of the season, matching the team-high. Abbey Walsh also has hit four. Morgan Day has hit three.

Sam Ledbetter was Tuscola's previous record holder.

AOC players honored

Arthur Okaw Christian freshman Amanda Franklin and senior Gus Henningsen were selected as all-americans by the National Association of Christian Athletes, which released its list on Friday.

Broken down by division, Franklin made the six-player team for Division IV and V. Henningsen was picked for the Division V and VI boys team.

Franklin was also awarded the Illinois Christian Schools freshman of the year and first-team all state. Henningsen was second team all-state.

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Franklin averaged 18.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 steals this season. 

Henningsen averaged 14 points and 5.1 rebounds.

Also as part of the Illinois Christian Schools awards, Lily Messmore was named the most improved player, edging Alexa Franklin. Joining Alexa Franklin on the second-team all state was Jessica Franklin. Messmore made third team.

Alexa and Amanda were part of the All-Newcomer team. Jessica and Amanda were on the All-Defensive team.

On the boys side of those awards, Kendall Yoder was the Unsung Hero Award winner, given to a player with the program for three years or more.

Henningsen was given an award of distinction and second team honors. Jack Messmore also made second team.

Taylorville duo commits

Tyler Gist, a 1,000-yard rusher for Taylorville in the fall, committed to play football at Monmouth College on Friday.

Gist finished his senior season with exactly 1,000 yards rushing (5.4 yards per carry) and 12 touchdowns for the Tornadoes.

Kailey Talley, who moved to catcher this season out of necessity for the Tornadoes' softball team, signed to continue her career at Illinois College.

The senior was one of the top all-around hitters in 2015 and is one of the area's best outfielders when she plays there.

Nokomis names football coach

Paul Watson's schedule just got a little busier.

Nokomis High School tabbed Watson its next football coach last week. That will be in addition to his teaching and athletic director duties at his alma mater.

Watson was previously an assistant football coach for 16 years under Dan Easterday and Gabe Cesaretti. In 2008, he was the head coach at South Fork.

Nokomis finished last season 4-5 overall and 4-3 in the Prairie State Conference.

The Redskins had qualified for the playoffs in the prior four consecutive years, and with eight starters returning, he believes they can get back to the postseason.

"We've got a lot of guys returning," Watson said. "We're not going to change too much offensively and defensively -- just take care of the little things."

Renfro to MacMurray

Meridian senior Judah Renfro will sign on to play for the MacMurray College basketball program on Friday.

Renfro was the area's leading rebounder by average (9.9) during his senior season. He grabbed 217 rebounds, despite missing some games at the beginning of the year with an injury.

The Highlanders finished 15-11 this season. They're a Division III basketball program and play in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletics Conference.

Mennig takes Urbana job

Chris Mennig, who was fired shortly after his Champaign St. Thomas More girls basketball team won state in 2014, has accepted an offer to coach the girls team at Urbana.

The hire is still subject to board approval.

Mennig, a former University of Illinois assistant coach, had a 197-51 record in eight seasons at St. Thomas More before an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service led to his dismissal.

Mennig has said the case is no longer active. 

He spent the past season as co-head coach with the Lawrenceville girls.

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