Top games to watch the in Springfield, Illinois area
The high school football season starts off with a couple of key openers in the Springfield area.
The Central State Eight Conference race will kick off Friday with Springfield High School at Chatham Glenwood, while the South Central Conference will feature Vandalia at Pana.
Here’s a glance at those games and other key matchups this fall from the CS8, Sangamo and SCC. Games are all on Friday night of each week and begin at 7 p.m.
Springfield High at Chatham Glenwood
This season-opener will loom large in the Central State Eight Conference title race. During the spring season, the Titans held off SHS 42-35 in April and ultimately tied for third place in the CS8 standings with Jacksonville while the Senators went 3-3.
Vandalia at Pana
The Panthers tied for the South Central Conference title at 4-1 with Carlinville and Piasa Southwestern, suffering its only loss to Vandalia 24-13. The Vandals, who went 4-2, would have tied for the SCC title if not for a season-ending 28-22 loss to Gillespie. Vandalia won the previous SCC title in 2019 with a 9-0 conference record.
Williamsville at Athens
The Bullets dismantled Athens 61-8 with a senior-laden class in the spring season-finale at Paul Jenkins Field. The Warriors, who have made 10 consecutive playoff appearances prior to the shortened 2021 spring season, will look to get even at home.
Carlinville at Vandalia
Both teams will meet for the first time since Sept. 6, 2019. The Vandals trounced Carlinville 48-7 on their way to the SCC title that season.
Sacred Heart-Griffin at Rochester
Leonard Bowl XII is always a marquee contest in all of Illinois. The Cyclones won the previous meeting 52-33 in the spring, a contest that unofficially doubled as a state championship game. SHG leads the Leonard Bowl series 8-3, including Rochester’s 2013 forfeit. But Rochester swept SHG in the 2019 season. The Rockets beat SHG 56-21 in the regular season and 49-35 in the Class 5A quarterfinals. Both teams have 13 state titles combined.
Gillespie at Pana
Gillespie is coming off a promising 3-3 spring season and return quarterback Zach Reiniesch, who was voted All-SCC First Team with 685 passing yards and 349 rushing yards.
Springfield High at Sacred Heart-Griffin
SHG gets to follow up the Leonard Bowl series with the Senators. The Cyclones throttled SHS 83-12 in the last meeting in April and lead the all-time series 23-5. But SHS, led by Rutgers University commit and QB Rashard Rochelle, had won the previous two meetings in 2019 (54-42) and 2018 (49-41).
Carlinville at Gillespie
Part of a tough three-game stretch for Gillespie, which then plays at Vandalia in Week 5. It will certainly determine if Gillespie can stay in the SCC race.
North Mac at New Berlin
The Pretzels are coming off a 3-3 spring season and return starting quarterback Joey Meisemen, who went 41-for-79 for 809 yards and seven TDs. North Mac, who went 4-2 with losses to Williamsville and Maroa, will feature new QB Kaden Brown, who makes the switch from receiver.
Springfield High at Rochester
Rochester won the spring shootout against the Senators, 68-34. This fall will likely be another one with Rochester QB and Illini commit Hank Beatty and SHS’ Rochelle, the two most highly recruited players in the area.
Maroa-Forsyth at Williamsville
The Bullets have won four of the last five meetings and defeated the Trojans 59-28 over the spring, with both ranked No. 1 by The Associated Press (Williamsville in Class 3A and Maroa in Class 2A). The last four meetings have decided the outright Sangamo champion. Both teams — as well as North Mac — shared the league title in Maroa’s Sangamo debut in 2016.
Piasa Southwestern at Pana
Both teams tied for the SCC title with a 4-1 conference record and last met in 2019, a 41-6 Pana victory.
Williamsville at North Mac
Williamsville returns to Virden for a third consecutive season after avoiding the upset and defeating the Panthers 42-35 with a late TD drive. Williamsville also won the 2019 visit 55-22.
Carlinville at Piasa Southwestern
Carlinville manhandled the Piasa Birds 39-13 during the spring, the latter’s only loss of the season.
Rochester at Chatham Glenwood
Rochester leads the all-time series 9-2 and trounced the Titans 60-14 over the spring. Glenwood previously defeated the Rockets 56-26 in 2019 and 35-25 in 2011.
Athens at Maroa-Forsyth
Maroa thumped Athens 56-12 over the spring, but the previous two contests were close battles. That includes Maroa wins in 2019 (21-7) and 2018 (21-20)
Pana at Nokomis
A nonconference matchup, Nokomis returns one of the top players in the area in running back Landon Engelman. NHS went undefeated in the spring, at 6-0.
Sacred Heart-Griffin at Chatham Glenwood
The Cyclones lead the all-time series 23-5 and crushed the Titans 61-14 in April. But Glenwood won the previous meetings in 2019 (34-10) and 2018 (27-23).
North Mac at Athens
North Mac’s Kaden Brown, who will start at QB this fall, scored the game-winning TD in their last meeting to lift the Panthers to a 21-18 win.
Pana at Carlinville
It could be a showdown for the outright SCC title and the Panthers edged Carlinville 19-15 in the spring. Pana running back Austin Henschen, who had 314 rushing yards and five TDs in five games, is back after being named all-SCC first team, while the Cavs return starting QB Ayden Tiburzi, who threw for 787 yards and five TDs.
Contact Bill Welt: [email protected], Twitter.com/BillWelt