Sports Highlights for Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Eastland-Pearl City's Brayden Smargiassi looks to throw a pass while Forreston's Sam Barkalow tries to tackle Smargiassi during their game last year in Lanark.
Eastland-Pearl City's Brayden Smargiassi looks to throw a pass while Forreston's Sam Barkalow tries to tackle Smargiassi during their game last year in Lanark.

Varsity Volleyball Previews

Sterling Newman Central Catholic Lady Comets

Head coach Debbi Kelly and assistants Michelle Kreczmer, Jen Ferris and Sarah Egan lead a Lady Comet team that finished last season with a 20-12-2 record, 10-2 in the Three Rivers conference. Key returning players and their positions include Hannah Wilson (MH), Cassidy Wilson (OH), Lauren Wilson (H/S), and Madison Craft (S). Key newcomers are: Aidan Brown (OH), Hailey Frank (OH), Hannah McCarty (MH), and Savannah Skinner (DS).

Team strengths? Teamwork, blocking and depth on the bench.

Weaknesses? Consistency.

Who will be the other area teams to beat this season? In the area: Sterling, and in the Three River conference: Kewanee and Princeton. “We are looking to keep improving and defend our conference title and make a good postseason run,” Kelly said .

Sterling Golden Warriors

Head coach Dale Dykeman and assistants Barb Wolf, Crystal Rodriguez, and Laura Miller lead a Sterling team that finished 2016 with a 32-6 record, 8-0 in conference. Key returning players include: Josi Borum (setter), senior Gretchen Gould, Kaitlyn Smoot (defensive specialist), and Cara Alexander (defensive specialist). Key newcomers are: Maci Good, Gabbi Schilling, Alexis Rodriguez, Brooklyn Borum, and Bree Borum.

Strengths? “Our strength this season will be our ability to have dominant pin hitters in all six rotations,” Dykeman said. “This will allow us to stretch a lot of defenses we play. In addition to this, we strengthen an already great returning defense with new players (both front row and back row). This combination should allow us to run a very fast paced and diverse offensive system.”

And, weaknesses? “We will be young this year. We graduated five starters last year and return three starters from last year’s team. Replacing those players and growing as a group will be something that we will work hard at the beginning of the season.”

The other area teams to beat this season? “Rock Falls, Sterling Newman, and Dixon always put high-level teams on the floor year after year,” Dykeman said, “I expect that to continue this season.”

“It should be a great season for the Sauk Valley area to watch volleyball. There will be several teams and a multitude of athletes that have worked hard in the offseason and it will show in many great matches throughout the Sauk Valley this year.”

Varsity Football Previews

EPC Wildcatz

The ‘Catz will again be led this season by head coach Randy Asche and assistants Sean Downey, Kevin Koning, Tony Dunlap, Tony Dunlap III, Riley Asche, Brock Musser, Brian Bull and Aaron Dinderman. They finished last season with a record of 8-2 overall, and 7-1 in the conference. Key returning players and their positions are: Jayden Kempel (RB/DB), Jarod Kempel (RB/DB), Peyton Asche (OL/DL), Drake Musser (OL/LB), Nate Strong (OL), Brodie Kaney (DB), Zach Lieb (TE/LB), Brian Brenner (TE/DL), Wyatt Hammer (OL/DL), Eli Dertz (OL/LB), Travis Sprong (TE/LB), Brock Smargiassi (WR/DB), Collyn Kuberski (KR/DB/WR), and Addison Keltner (DL). Key newcomers include: Seth Palmer (DB/WR), Andrew Lorig (RB/LB), Davin Sweitzer (OL/DL), Braden Smargiassi (QB), Collin Colehour (RB/DB), Braden Heeren (RB/LB), Lucas Peterson (WR/TE), Trevor Tipp (OL/DL), Jake Thede (ST/RB/LB), Bryson Sturtevant (OL/DL), and Jaxon Dobish (TE/LB).

Team strengths? Finally getting some older guys, experience, work ethic, and community support.

Weaknesses? Smaller in size, and there are some excellent area teams with tons of experience.

Other area teams to beat? Forreston, Le-Win, West Carroll, Freeport Aquin, Durand/Pecatonica, and Amboy.

West Carroll Thunder

Head coach Matt Leitzen leads the Thunder again this season after finishing the 2016 campaign with a record of 4-5 and an NUIC Northwest Division record of 3-5. Returning players include: senior quarterback Kody Plattenberger, senior wide receiver/defensive back Kaleb Plattenberger; senior offensive lineman/linebacker Devon Murray, senior running back/linebacker Kaleb Hartman, senior wide receiver/defensive back Jake Dunk, senior wide receiver/linebacker Dawson Wurster, senior offensive and defensive lineman Karson Metz, and senior tight end/linebacker Cory Simpson. Key newcomers include: senior wide receiver/linebacker Matt Eacker, junior offensive and defensive lineman Kody Scheider, and junior offensive and defensive lineman Keelin Sisler.

Team strengths? “Senior leadership and depth at key positions will allow us to be very flexible on both sides of the ball,” Leitzen said.

Weaknesses? “The juniors will need to adjust to varsity football while providing much needed competition at various spots on our roster.”

Keys for success? “We will need to play physical and limit mental mistakes on both sides of the football,” Leitzen said. “We will be looking for our seniors to provide the leadership associated with winning football. Our success will rely heavily on the adjustment period our junior class has with playing varsity football.”

The top teams in the conference? Forreston and Le-Win.

Expectations for the upcoming season? “Our expectations are to compete, night in and night out, in one of the toughest conferences in the state. As a program, we are looking to have carry over from week to week that is necessary in playing winning football.”

Freeport Pretzels

Head coach Aaron Wichman and assistants Dan Blackbourn, Broc Kundert, Lucas Duerst, Jake Dalton, Tyson Grahn, Maurice Sellers, Warren Pearson, and Aaron Sterchi lead a Freeport team that finished last year with a 1-8 record. Key returning players and their positions are: Deion McShane (WR/S), Terrell Castle (RB/LB), Ramon Fleming (OL/DL), DeJuan Shird (LB), Major Dedmond (QB/S), KiJuan Burns (WR/DB), Isaac Catalani (OL/LB), and Julies Winston (OL/DL).

Strengths? Overall team speed and a strong junior class.

Weaknesses? A lack of varsity experience.

Other area teams to beat? Rockford Boylan, Rockford Auburn, Rockton Hononegah and Machesney Park Harlem.

“These two classes mesh well together and are very coachable,” Wichman said. “If our strong junior class can adapt to varsity level football in the NIC 10 early, we have a great chance at success.”

Northwest Upstate Illini Football Schedules

Northwest Division

EPC Wildcatz

Head Coach: Randy Asche

2016 Record: 8-2

2017 Classification Enrollment: 323

Aug. 25 – at East Dubuque

Sept. 1 – vs. Amboy in Lanark

Sept. 8 – at Pecatonica

Sept. 15 – vs. Forreston in Lanark

Sept. 22 – vs. Le-Win in Pearl City

Sept. 29 – at Galena

Oct. 6 – vs. West Carroll in Pearl City

Oct. 13 – at Dakota

Oct. 20 – at Polo

West Carroll Thunder

Head Coach: Matt Leitzen

2016 Record: 4-5

2017 Classification Enrollment: 341

Aug. 25 – at Le-Win

Sept. 1 – vs. Pecatonica

Sept. 8 – at Amboy

Sept. 15 – at Stockton

Sept. 22 – vs. Galena

Sept. 29 – at Dakota

Oct. 6 – vs. EPC in Pearl City

Oct. 13 – vs. Forreston

Oct. 20 – vs. East Dubuque

Forreston Cardinals

Head Coach: Denny Diduch

2016 Record: 14-0

2017 Classification Enrollment: 268

Aug. 25 – at Pecatonica

Sept. 1 – vs. Le-Win

Sept. 8 – vs. Dakota

Sept. 15 – vs. EPC in Lanark

Sept. 22 – vs. Freeport Aquin

Sept. 29 – vs. East Dubuque

Oct. 6 – at Galena

Oct. 13 – at West Carroll

Oct. 20 – vs. Amboy

Le-Win Panthers

Head Coach: Ric Arand

2016 Record: 9-3

2017 Classification Enrollment: 226

Aug. 25 – vs. West Carroll

Sept. 1 – at Forreston

Sept. 8 – vs. East Dubuque

Sept. 15 – at Galena

Sept. 22 – vs. EPC in Pearl City

Sept. 29 – vs. Amboy

Oct. 6 – vs. Warren

Oct. 13 – at Pecatonica

Oct. 20 – vs. Dakota

Amboy Clippers

Head Coach: Gary Jones

2016 Record: 3-6

2017 Classification Enrollment: 308

Aug. 25 – vs. Milledgeville

Sept. 1 – vs. EPC in Lanark

Sept. 8 – vs. West Carroll

Sept. 15 – vs. Pecatonica

Sept. 22 – at East Dubuque

Sept. 29 – at Le-Win

Oct. 6 – vs. Dakota

Oct. 13 – vs. Galena

Oct. 20 – at Forreston

Dakota Indians

Head Coach: Joe Free

2016 Record: 7-4

2017 Classification Enrollment: 246

Aug. 25 – vs. Galena

Sept. 1 – at AFC

Sept. 8 – at Forreston

Sept. 15 – vs. East Dubuque

Sept. 22 – at Pecatonica

Sept. 29 – vs. West Carroll

Oct. 6 – at Amboy

Oct. 13 – vs. EPC

Oct. 20 – at Le-Win

East Dubuque Warriors

Head Coach: Terry Breitbach

2016 Record: 4-5

2017 Classification Enrollment: 203

Aug. 25 – vs. EPC

Sept. 1 – vs. Galena

Sept. 8 – at Le-Win

Sept. 15 – at Dakota

Sept. 22 – vs. Amboy

Sept. 29 – at Forreston

Oct. 6 – vs. Pecatonica

Oct. 13 – at Orangeville

Oct. 20 – at West Carroll

Galena Pirates

Head Coach: Ed Freed

2016 Record: 2-7

2017 Classification Enrollment: 239

Aug. 25 – at Dakota

Sept. 1 – at East Dubuque

Sept. 8 – vs. River Ridge

Sept. 15 – vs. Le-Win

Sept. 22 – at West Carroll

Sept. 29 – vs. EPC

Oct. 6 – vs. Forreston

Oct. 13 – at Amboy

Oct. 20 – vs. Pecatonica

Pecatonica Indians

Head Coach: Tyler Hoffman

2016 Record: 0-9

2017 Classification Enrollment: 396

Aug. 25 – vs. Forreston

Sept. 1 – at West Carroll

Sept. 8 – vs. EPC

Sept. 15 – at Amboy

Sept. 22 – vs. Dakota

Sept. 30 – at Madison

Oct. 6 – at East Dubuque

Oct. 13 – vs. Le-Win

Oct. 20 – at Galena

Next Week: NUIC Upstate Division schedules

Carroll County Youth Summer League Tourney Final Scores

Tiny Miss

Savanna defeated Eastland 1

Stockton defeated Savanna

Stockton defeated Milledgeville (Championship game)

Little Miss

Pearl City 2 defeated Stockton

Pearl City 1 defeated Savanna 2

Pearl City 2 defeated Pearl City 1 (Championship game)

Junior Miss

Savanna defeated Mt. Carroll (Championship game)

PeeWee Boys

Savanna 1 defeated Eastland 1

Eastland 3 defeated Eastland 2

Pearl City 1 defeated Savanna 1

Eastland 3 defeated Mt. Carroll 2

Pearl City 2 defeated Savanna 2

Pearl City 1 defeated Milledgeville

Pearl City 2 defeated Eastland 3

Pearl City 2 defeated Pearl City 1 (Championship game)

Carroll County Youth Summer League Final Standings

Tiny Miss

Stockton: 10-0; Milledgeville: 7-3; Pearl City: 5-4; Savanna: 4-4; Eastland 1: 4-5; Eastland 2: 2-7; Mt. Carroll: 0-9

Little Miss

Stockton: 9-0; Savanna 2: 8-1; Pearl City 1: 7-2; Pearl City 2: 5-4; Milledgeville Orange: 5-4; Milledgeville Black: 4-5; Eastland 1: 3-6; Savanna 1: 3-6; Thomson: 1-8; Eastland 2: 0-9

Junior Girls

Savanna: 10-0; Mt. Carroll: 9-1; Milledgeville: 7-3; River Ridge: 5-5; Stockton 1: 4-6; Pearl City: 3-6; Eastland 1: 2-6; Eastland 2: 1-7; Stockton 2: 1-8

Senior Girls

Pearl City: 9-0; Eastland: 6-4; Savanna: 5-4; Milledgeville: 3-4; Stockton: 3-4; Mt. Carroll: 0-10

PeeWee Boys

Pearl City 1: 10-0; Mt. Carroll 2: 7-3; Pearl City 2: 6-3; Milledgeville: 6-4; Savanna 2: 5-5; Mt. Carroll 1: 5-5; Eastland 2: 4-6; Eastland 1: 4-6; Savanna 1: 2-8; Eastland 3: 0-9

Small Fry Boys

Milledgeville 2: 8-2; Eastland 1: 8-2; Pearl City 2: 5-4; Savanna 2: 4-5; Pearl City 1: 4-6; Eastland 2: 3-6; Savanna 1: 3-6; Milledgeville 1: 3-7

Junior Boys

Pearl City 1: 8-0; Eastland 1: 7-3; Milledgeville 2: 7-3; Milledgeville 1: 7-3; Pearl City 2: 3-5; Mt. Carroll: 3-6; Eastland 2: 2-8; Savanna: 0-9

Senior Boys

Shannon: 8-2; Milledgeville 1: 8-2; Pearl City 1: 7-3; Milledgeville 2: 3-6; Pearl City 2: 3-6; Savanna: 0-10

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