Eight Illinois State Football Titles to be Determined Friday and Saturday

On November 29 and 30, 16 teams from the Land of Lincoln will converge on Northern Illinois University’s Huskie Stadium to vie for Illinois High School Association (IHSA) state football championships.

When that two-day post-Thanksgiving smorgasbord of prep gridiron action in DeKalb ends, eight teams will emerge as 2013 IHSA state football titlists.

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Like the Phoenix, Tornado-Stricken Illinois Community Rises from the Ashes

From exultation to despair.

That time-honored phrase was probably never so appropriate than when used to describe the paradoxical events that occurred last weekend in Washington, Illinois.

The heights of joy were perhaps never greater than when the Washington Community High School (WCHS) football team soundly defeated Normal University High School, 41-7, on Saturday, November 16 to advance to an Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Class 5A semifinal game with top-seeded Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin.

It had been 28 years since the 12-0 Panthers had last advanced to that playoff round – long before the players were even born. As such, the cause for their great celebration was more than understandable.

However, that joyous feeling went abjectly sour less than 24 hours later when a massive EF-4 tornado with winds of 170 to 190 miles per hour ripped through Washington, leveling everything in its path. More than 400 homes were damaged or destroyed, including the homes of seven WCHS football players, coaches and teachers. In addition to mere physical damage to buildings, the human element was also was tragically scathed, as 120 people were injured and one person died from the horrific tornado.

While it probably would be easiest to simply throw in the towel and feel sorry for themselves, several members of the WCHS football coaching staff and players instead did a very remarkable and selfless thing.

Those individuals banded together, lifted themselves up by the bootstraps, and did everything they could to clean up the community that 15,410 tight-knit denizens have long called “home.”

Under the direction of WCHS head football coach Darrell Kroch, on Monday, November 18, that steadfast group dug the community out of the debris, piled up the resulting tons of garbage, and generally cleaned up everything in sight.

Making the story even more remarkable is the fact that members of both the team that WCHS defeated (University) and the team that it will now play in the upcoming semifinals (Sacred Heart-Griffin) have joined in the effort to assist the devastated Washington community.

Taking into consideration the fact that many of the Washington vehicles are either destroyed or inaccessible, Sacred Heart-Griffin will provide two charter buses to transport Washington fans to the November 23 semifinal game in Springfield. In addition, Sacred Heart-Griffin will feed both the WCHS team and the fans, and has organized other fundraisers and drives associated with the game to help their opponent.

And responding to the fact that WCHS’ home field is no longer practice-worthy, the University High School football program invited the Panthers to Normal, providing them full access to top-flight athletic facilities at Illinois State University. In addition, they gave them some new clothes, and provided them a lunch at ISU’s Horton Field House that not only nourished their bodies, but their souls as well.

Under the leadership of Executive Director Marty Hickman, the IHSA has also become involved, as it will donate $1.00 for each ticket sold at the Washington-Sacred Heart-Griffin game to the American Red Cross’ relief effort for this disaster.

While sports are indeed an integral part of the high school experience and friendly rivalries are a component of that dynamic, through their many acts of humanity, these three schools, the IHSA and many others have selflessly helped their fellow man by lifting the Washington, Illinois community out of the ashes of despair. And as a result, everyone is clearly the better for it.

The contest, scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on November 23 at Sacred Heart Griffin’s campus in Springfield, will be aired live by Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Springfield’s WCIX and WAOE & WYZZ in Peoria.  Click here to watch the game on the NFHS Network.  Viewers are encouraged to use the hashtag  #TeamIL  in social media to help raise awareness.  

School of the Week: Spartan TV at Sycamore High School

This week’s School of the Week is Sycamore High School from Illinois. Spartan TV joined the NFHS Network School Broadcast Program this past spring. In that short amount of time, they have streamed senior night, graduation and numerous sporting events. David Olson, co-advisor to Spartan TV with Ralph Helm, shared a little bit about the program and his students with me: 

stv-black-holes%20no%20backgroundSycamore High School joined the SBP in April of 2013. During the remaining portion of that school year, we used it as testing for various events. We streamed most softball and baseball games during that time, and many concerts. We also streamed our Senior Awards Night and Graduation Ceremony. During the summer we worked to improve our program and market it as SpartanTV. Our workload has increased with the start of this year. During the fall season, we streamed all of our varsity and sophomore volleyball games, as well as all home sophomore and varsity football games. Our football team has advanced to the semi-finals of our state championship. During this time, we traveled to their away playoff games. We have had many people in our community who just love the service we provide. They love being able to cheer on our [teams] from the comfort of their living rooms. We also streamed soccer games when the schedule allowed and all of our concert series in our auditorium. With the start of the winter season, we will be streaming all varsity level basketball games (both boys and girls) and as many sophomore level games. Next week alone we will be hosting a basketball tournament where we will be producing 16 events! We also will be streaming all home wrestling meets.

SpartanTV is an extra-curricular activity that is ran by our schools Technical Entertainment Crew. We have about 30 students in that organization and they all volunteer for SpartanTV positions. This group is open to any of our 1,300 students. We have found as the year goes on, we are having more student interested in joining our team.

Our students have benefited greatly from the SBP, they basically are running a production themselves. Myself and our co-advisor, Ralph Helm, are there to answer questions. The student take pride in their work, and are always working to do a better job on the next production.

photoWe recently started using Social Media a lot to promote our events. We have Twitter and Instagram accounts and we encourage people to interact with us throughout events. We use both @spartvn and #spartantv on both of them. This really has allowed our students to realize that people are actually watching their work. We also have started off with the single camera and are now looking at expanding to multiple HD cameras. This will allow for us to have more students involved in every production. Myself and fellow students also look at other SBP schools to see what they are doing and how we can improve. One in particular we constantly are watching is CHS Live in Cleveland, TN.

Six Teams to Vie for Wisconsin State Football Championships

On November 22, six teams will vie for Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) state football championships in historic Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

When the smoke clears, three teams will emerge with Badger State gridiron crowns. Interestingly, all three matchups are between teams with identical records.

This football tripleheader will begin at 10:00 a.m. with the WIAA Division 3 state title game between Greendale (13-0) and Monona Grove (13-0).

The Division 2 state championship will be decided in a 1:00 p.m. game between Oshgosh North (13-0) and Kimberly (13-0).

At 4:00 p.m., 12-1 Arrowhead will tangle with 12-1 Franklin in the Division 1 state championship game.

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Twenty-Four Teams to Compete in Virginia Girls Volleyball Semifinals

On November 20 and 21, 24 teams in six enrollment classifications will compete in the Virginia High School League (VHSL) girls volleyball semifinals, all hoping to punch their tickets to the November 23rd state championships.

Those Old Dominion State matchups will be held in the Stuart C. Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.  Click here to view the complete VHSL Volleyball Championship schedule and watch all of the matches live. 

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