I just looked at the calendar. Don’t get me wrong, I look at it every day, but it just dawned on me today that August is nearly here. Not only does that mean that my beloved Cubs have been out of the race for a good three months, but also that the high school fall sports season is right around the corner.
Sporting events are going to kick in soon, and not just the Bears in Bourbonnais. I am talking about actual, area high school sporting events. On Aug. 18, we have a Coal City boys golf match at Mendota on the schedule, as well as Seneca’s girls golf team traveling to Cedardell Golf Course to take on Westmont and host Plano. It is me, or do these seasons seem to start earlier every year?
Of course, when kids start heading back to school and the talk turns to sports, almost everyone’s first thought is about football. That’s with good reason, because football has been the most successful sport in the fall in this area for quite some time.
This season promises to start off with a bang on Aug. 29, with Morris visiting Minooka in the opening week. Coal City is in an annual neighborhood war at Reed-Custer in Week 1 as well, while Seneca plays host to Dwight. Week 2 promises to be just as interesting, as Morris plays host to perennial power Metamora and Minooka visits a consistently tough Providence Catholic. Coal City and Wilmington renew friendly hostilities in the Coalers’ home opener, while Seneca hosts the area’s lone Saturday afternoon game of the season, taking on Nokomis for a 2 p.m. start.
Look for more football prognostication in the Morris Daily Herald’s football preview edition, set to hit the newsstands on Wednesday, Aug. 27.
But, there are plenty of sports on the fall schedule nearly every night to keep us busy.
For boys, there is cross country, golf and soccer. There’s nothing like a leisurely stroll through a scenic golf course in the temperate weather during the fall in this area, and we do have a lot of gorgeous courses that our teams will play. In Morris, the Redskins play at the Morris Country Club, while Seneca utilizes Nettle Creek as its home course. Minooka hosts its meets at Heritage Bluffs in Channahon and Coal City golfs at Cinder Ridge. Each course is beautiful and different in its own way.
And, with the proliferation of youth soccer in the last decade or so, it stands to reason that there will be plenty of talented soccer players on the area’s fields.
The girls will be playing volleyball, cross country, tennis, golf and swimming. Not every school has all of those sports, but every school does have a girls volleyball team, and there are more than one night in which every team will be active. It’s been a while since this area has had a team advance to the state level, the last being Minooka in 1999. If I had to hazard a guess right now, I would have to say the best bet for a local team moving on to state would come from the Class 1A ranks, either Gardner-South Wilmington or Newark. Both have some talented players returning, and their routes may be a lot less littered with road blocks than the bigger schools.
Minooka’s cross country team finished sixth in the Class 3A state meet last season, and the Indians seem to keep getting better and better on that front. Keep an eye out in Peoria’s Detweiler Park. Minooka just might bring home some hardware.
Just for the record, here are the dates that the Illinois High School Association has designated as the official start dates for the sports, meaning when practices can begin.
Football practice starts Aug. 11, with the first game Aug. 29. All other boys sports begin practice on Aug. 13, with golf able to start competition on Aug. 18. Cross country and soccer can begin playing games on Aug. 25. In girls sports, all practices can begin on Aug. 13. Golf meets can start on Aug. 18, with cross country, swimming, tennis and volleyball matches allowed to begin on Aug. 25.
In the last couple of weeks, I had the good fortune to speak to both Morris graduate Zach Petrick and Minooka grad Tony Bucciferro, both of whom are pitching in professional baseball. I don’t know if there is any correlation, but the next time each one started, they had their best games of the year. Petrick threw a two-hit, seven-inning shutout for the Class AAA Memphis Redbirds in the Cardinals system, while Bucciferro was two outs away from a nine-inning no-hitter for the Class A Advanced WInston-Salem Dash (White Sox), and finished with a one-hitter. I have yet to speak to Minooka grad Mike Foltynewicz, but, with the way things went for the other two, the flame-throwing righty, currently toiling for Class AAA Oklahoma City in the Houston organization, might want to give me a buzz.