August 30, 2014

Tuscola Knocks Off Westville With Ease

In their season opener, former Okaw Valley Conference member Tuscola hosted Westville for their first win as members of the Central Illinois Conference. The Warriors went on to shutout the Tigers from the Vermilion Valley Conference, 34-0. Photographer Douglas Cottle was there to record the rout. Click the image below to check out his gallery of images.

August 28, 2014

Slammin' Volleyball #TBT

One of the best memories from the 2008 season was following the Unity volleyball team from the start until the end of their season at the IHSA state tournament. Back then, some thought that the Rockets’ incredible run started at the beginning of the season in August of 2008, when in actuality the nucleus started form as long as six years ago when many of the girls started playing volleyball together. Long before the first day of double sessions, the majority of the team cemented a bond that will last forever in the history of the school's volleyball program.

It was a great year covering the talented teams from St. Joseph-Ogden and St. Thomas More, too. This Throwback Thursday post features a few of our favorite photos from the season. Click here to see our online collection of volleyball photos from the 2008.

Susie Jean and Jenna Einck
September 20, 2008 - Paxton, IL - St. Thomas More's Susie Jean shouts words of encouragement to teammate Jenna Einck on a dig during their semi-final game against Ridgeview. The Sabers defeated the Mustangs in two games, 25-15 in both, to face St. Joseph-Ogden in the PBL Classic Volleyball title game. See ten more photos from the match here.

Shelby Geers
Spartans' Shelby Geers connects during warm-ups before the start of the PBL Volleyball Classic title match on September 20, 2008. St. Joseph-Ogden (13-4) beat highly-rated St. Thomas More (16-5) 25-20, 26-24 to win the Paxton-Buckley-Loda Volleyball Invitational Saturday evening. After her prep career ended and two years as a member of the Parkland College program, Gears went on to play college volleyball for the University of Illinois Springfield's Prairie Stars.

Kasie Woodworth celebrates
Maroa, IL - Unity's Kasie Woodworth celebrates a point on November 4th with the rest of the squad on their way to winning their semifinal contest 25-19, 25-16 over St. Teresa. The Rockets, who eventually finished second in the IHSA state tournament this year, went on to play for the sectional title the following knocking the Bulldogs out of the tournament.

Andrea Northen
September 10, 2008 - Oakwood, IL - Spartans' Andrea Northen serves during their non-conference game against Oakwood High School. St. Joseph-Ogden improved to 3-0 on the season after defeating Oakwood on the road 25-12, 25-10.

Bethany Billman and Ana Deters
November 15, 2008 - Normal, IL - Unity seniors Bethany Billman [left] and Ana Deters hold their teams Class 2A second-place trophy. The Rockets fell 25-16 in both sets of their Class 2A state volleyball title game to Freeburg.

Throwback Thursday: Soccer 2005

It was a great time to cover Champaign-Urbana soccer back in the fall of 2005. The twin cities boasted a ton of talent from the players on the Urbana Tiger's state-qualifying squad to the fast and physical footballers from the Centennial Chargers. That was the year C-U soccer followers would hear names like Aaron Vega, Kenny Kranz, Nick Leigh and Corey Kallembach. This week's Throwback Thursday feature on is our coverage from almost nine and half years ago which includes 15 photo galleries of some of our best photos of season. To see the more photos from the selection below of our favorite players and images, click here to read, see and share your favorites.

Tigers' David Silvis and Chargers' Stefan Wingo
September 28, 2005 - Urbana, IL - Little did Urbana and Champaign Centennial know that their rainy September tie would lead to sharing the Big 12 conference title. The two teams would later meet in the sectional title match ending with a narrow one point Tiger victory. Here under heavy rain conditions Tigers' David Silvis slides in for a tackle to take the ball away from Chargers' Stefan Wingo.

Kranz and Tolly battle for the ball
September 6, 2005 - Champaign, IL - Chargers' Kenny Kranz settles the ball despite pressure from Braves' Justin Tolly. Centennial beat visiting Mt. Zion 4-0 moving to 7--1 on the season. See 12 more photos from this game.

Urbana soccer player Tyler Walden
November 4, 2005 - Naperville, IL - Tigers' Tyler Walden goes down after he is tripped up by Vikings' Michael Ballschmiede during second half action. Fremd High School beat Urbana 2-1 in Friday's quarterfinal playoff game. The Vikings, who eliminated Urbana from title contention, went on to a fourth-place finish. Here are more photos from Urbana High School's first trip in school history to the IHSA state tournament.

Urbana vs Matton in Big 12 action.
September 8, 2005 - Champaign, IL - Green Wave's Jase Boyer collides with Maroons' Daniel Jesser while going up for a header in their Big 12 conference match Thursday afternoon. Champaign Central beat visiting Mattoon, 6-1. Jesser contributed a goal in the Maroon's rout.

Sean Baird and Joshua Stanner.
September 10, 2005 - Champaign, IL - Sean Baird and Joshua Stanner figure two legs are better than one while trying to get the ball downfield as time winds down in the Maroons' match against the visiting Wildcats. Normal West beat Champaign Central 2-1 in their Big 12 soccer match Saturday afternoon. See 31 additional photos from the match here.

Urbana Devin Scheidemantel
November 4, 2005 - Naperville, IL - Tiger goalkeeper Devin Scheidemantel buries his head into his hands after UHS's heartbreaking loss to the Vikings in the IHSA Class AA state soccer opener. Fremd High School defeated Urbana 2-1 in Friday's quarterfinal playoff game. Fremd went on to a fourth-place finish at this year's tournament.

 Mitch Kresca
October 3, 2005 - Champaign, IL - Maroons' goalkeeper Mitch Kresca soars for a save against the Chargers. Kresca and Champaign Central avoided a loss against crosstown rival Centennial playing to a heated, hard-fought 2-2 tie. See 19 more awesome photos from the rivalry game.

heartbreaking loss
October 27, 2005 - Mahomet, IL - Senior Craig Raymond reacts to the sound of the final buzzer after the Chargers' hard-fought game against the Tigers at the Class AA Mahomet Sectional Championship Thursday evening. Champaign Centennial lost 1-0 to allow Urbana to advance to Monday's super-sectional match against Duncan in Morton. The two co-Big 12 Champions played to a tie in their regular season match in October.

Click more photos from this year's incredible soccer season.

August 25, 2014

State Farm Holiday Classic Announces 5K Run

Rockets vs Bulldogs, Five Favorite Playoff Photos From 2013

After back-to-back home games against the Bulldogs in 2013, the Unity Rockets will open their 2014 campaign and march to this year's state title game in Memorial Stadium against St. Teresa on the road in Decatur on Friday. Here is a look back at some of our favorite photos from their last meeting on the gridiron from their Class 3A first found playoff game last November. After losing their regular season Okaw Valley Conference game 31-21 to St. Teresa, the Rockets advanced in the playoffs extracting revenge with 27-13 victory. Click here to see all the photos from this game.

St. Teresa's Joey Brinkoetter and Unity's Elijah Miller
St. Teresa's Joey Brinkoetter is takes a hard hit by Unity's Elijah Miller. Having met earlier during the season, the Bulldogs were unable to dog the Rockets into submission in their rematch. Unity won the IHSA Class 3A game, 27-13. Unity and St. Teresa will play their season opener in Decatur on Friday, August 29, at 7pm.

Ian O'Brien blocks a St. Teresa defender
Unity's Ian O'Brien blocks a St. Teresa defender during their Class 3A first round playoff game.

Bailey Reifsteck leads student section
Bailey Reifsteck, a two-sport athlete who played volleyball and standout pole vaulter, along with other members of the Unity Rocket student fan section cheer for the team during the Class 3A playoff game against visiting St. Teresa. The senior later went on to make her second consecutive appearance in the IHSA state track and field meet in pole vaulting.

Justin Deters heads for a first down
Having met earlier during the season, the Bulldogs were unable to dog the Rockets into submission in their rematch. Justin Deters bounces off a tackler as heads for a first down against St. Teresa. Share your favorites on Facebook, Tumblr & twitter 24/7. See the entire gallery here.

Tyler Lindsey
Unity's Tyler Lindsey celebrates a big play against St. Teresa during their Class 3A first round playoff game.

August 15, 2014

The Best Photos Of Unity's Micah Johnson

Over on Facebook today, former Unity High School ball carrier Micah Johnson changed his profile photo to the one shown below. Attending the University of Findley, he helped lead his football team to the 2012 IHSA state title game against Aurora Christian. Despite the 42-12 loss, he and his teammates earned the Rocket program their fourth state runner-up trophy.

Normally, when we see a sports photo of an athlete we covered show up on Facebook, it is not a big deal. In this case, however, we have a 26 photos we think are much better documenting MJ's signature running style and his successful career wearing the Rocket uniform that we think you should see. Below, are just a couple of our favorite images from our archive of more than a million photos of our coverage of high school sports in central Illinois. Click here to see our photo collection of Johnson here.

Micah Johnson running the ball for the Unity Rockets in 2012
August 24, 2012 - Tolono, IL - Unity's Micah Johnson runs the ball during his team's season opener against Meridian. The Rockets won their conference crossover season opener, 59-6. Johnson scored one touchdown on a 68-yard strike from quarterback Justin Deters for the first TD of the season.

Micah Johnson avoids a tackle
September 17, 2010 - Tuscola, IL - Rockets' Micah Johnson avoids a tackle attempt by Warriors' Philip Meyer during first quarter action. It was an edge-of-your-seat wild ride as Tuscola prevailed 23-21 after several momentum changes over conference rival Tolono Unity in their Okaw Valley Conference regular season game. Both teams played in state title games less the 10 months earlier. Unity, in 3A, lost their bid for their first state trophy to Stillman Valley while Class 1A Tuscola won the program's second state title after defeating Lexington, 14-7.

Micah Johnson and Unity's Conner Grace celebrate
August 24, 2012 - Tolono, IL - Micah Johnson and Unity's Conner Grace celebrate Grace's touchdown against Meridian. The Rockets defeated the Hawks, 59-6. Johnson also scored during the contest on a 68-yard pass play. Click here to see more photos of Johnson here.

Dan Sheehan Recognized As Athletic Director of the Year

August 12, 2014

SJO 5K Photo Galley Started

Here are just a small sample of the more than 250 photos now in our web gallery for runners, friends and family to share from the 2014 SJO 5K Run/Walk. We have more on the way! Check out the gallery the rest of the week for the latest update and more photos of runners from at this annual race.

Dan Vogelsang and April Ogle holding hands
August 9, 2014 - St. Joseph, IL - Dan Vogelsang and April Ogle hold hands as they approach the finish line at 2014 SJO 5K. Ogle finished seventh in the Women's 40 - 44 division at 33:02.8. Vogelsang finished at 33:02.9 and in 11th place in the Men's 40 - 44 division. See more photos from the SJO 5K here.

Gina Bird flying to the finish line.
Gina Bird runs to an eighth place finish in the Women's 35 - 39 division at the 2014 SJO 5K. Bird finished the course with a time of 30:15.3. Over 300 area runners competed in the seventh installment of the annual race. See 200 more photos from the SJO 5K here.

Karlos Dorsey runs to 8th
Karlos Dorsey runs to an eighth place finish in the Men's 40 - 44 division at the 2014 SJO 5K. Dorsey finished the course with a time of 28:24.5. Over 300 area runners competed in the seventh installment of the annual race. See 200 more photos from the SJO 5K here.

Chris Conerty runs to 11th place
Chris Conerty runs to a 11th place finish in the Men's 45 - 49 division at the 2014 SJO 5K. Conerty finished the course with a time of 31:27.4. Over 300 area runners competed in the seventh installment of the annual race.

Bruce Hawkins and Tatum Hawkins running
Bruce Hawkins and Tatum Hawkins [left] run side by side at the seventh installment of the SJO 5K. Tatum clocked in at 13th place in the Women's 25 - 29 division at 40:47.7. Bruce crossed the finish line ninth in the Men's 50 - 54 division with a time of 40:46.9.