November 23, 2015

Ssshhh! Big Picture Sneak Peak

Regardless if you were at Saturday's semifinal football game between St. Joseph-Ogden and Unity or not, you will want to check out this commemorative Big Picture special edition. With more than 40 high-quality sports photographs from the game between the two storied high school football programs, this upcoming magazine issue features Rocket fans and their team punching their ticket to the Illinois High School Association's Class 3A title game at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

The Big Picture is exactly what sounds like; a magazine loaded front to back with B-I-G photographs, some so big they take up two full pages. Featuring our favorite pictures from the game, we even went all nostalgic and what not creating eight retro look photos that look pretty darn awesome, too.   

Excited about Friday's release of the Unity Rocket issue, below is a sneak peak at the cover and two of the pages. A second version featuring players from St. Joseph-Ogden will follow a few days later.

Check back this Friday for information view the entire issue online or to order your copy.

November 17, 2015

Spartans Eject Saints From Postseason

St. Joseph-Ogden's defense proved once again they are a force not to be overlooked. Holding a very athletic and larger Bloomington Central Catholic football squad, who entered the game with 10 consecutive wins, to just 112 net rushing yards and 162 yards in the air, the Spartans seized the game after Central quarterback Jake Baughman's pass was picked off in the red zone late in the contest by Wesley Kibler.

The 4th quarter interception on the 9-yard line set up the Spartans final score of the IHSA quarterfinal game on a 56-yard gallop by senior running back Ty Brown. After the failed extra point attempt, SJO enjoyed a 26-14 lead.

Getting the ball down the field quickly, the Saints found the end zone with an 8-yard keeper by Baughman with barely five minutes left in the game. Closing the scoring gap after the PAT, BCC trailed 26-21 with plenty of time to rally back to eliminate the #1 ranked Class 3A team from the playoffs.

Retiring head coach Dick Duval put the Spartan offensive in clock control mode after receiving the kick allowing generous portions of time, crucial to any Central Catholic comeback attempt, to tick off the clock.

The Saints once regain control of the ball with 1:55 left in the game and the Spartan defense kicked their play up another notch. Using their superior speed off the snap, the SJO defensive line buoyed by senior Shane Skinner, stuffed one rush and disrupted three pass attempts to seal the 26-21 victory at Bill Hundman Field.

Duval (pictured below) earned his 251st win and 11th victory of St. Joseph-Ogden's undefeated season. Below are 12 of our favorite photos from the game. See more than 200 game photos here.

Casey Reveal

November 14, 2015 - Bloomington, IL - Spartans' Casey Reveal celebrates as he runs to the sidelines after his team breaks up a 4th and long pass play by the Saints trying to extend their last drive of their Class 3A quarterfinal game on Saturday. St. Joseph-Ogden ended Bloomington Central Catholic's season thanks to 26-21 victory.

Brett Segobiano carries the ball

Saints' Brett Segobiano carries the ball in their Class 3A quarterfinal game against the Spartans.

SJO's Wesley Kibler celebrate his interception

Wesley Kibler celebrate his game-changing interception during St. Joseph-Ogden's playoff game against Central Catholic.

SJO's Eli Oltean punts

St. Joseph-Ogden's Eli Oltean punts the ball against Central Catholic. The signal caller completed 15 of 23 passes for one touchdown and 171 yards to help SJO advance to a semifinal showdown verses the Unity Rockets.

St. Joseph-Ogden student fan Emilee Sorensen roots for her team against Central Catholic along with more than 400 fellow spectators.

SJO football fan

St. Joseph-Ogden football fan Katie Kurtz waves to fellow spectators before the start of the Spartans road playoff game against Central Catholic. Check out a dozen and a half more game photos here in our fan gallery.

Fans from St. Joseph-Ogden cheer for their team during SJO's road game against Central Catholic. Fans will have another week to cheer when the team faces long time rival Unity next Saturday.

Jake Pence makes a catch for SJO

Jake Pence makes a catch for St. Joseph-Ogden in the first quarter against Central Catholic. Pence made four catches for 53 yards and scored on an 11-yard play to help power the Spartans to the next round of the IHSA playoffs.

Grant Harper blocking for SJO

Spartan junior Grant Harper blocks Saints lineman Matthew Blaney during their Class 3A quarterfinal game.

Austin Luebchow wraps up Ryan Zitkus

Spartans' Austin Luebchow wraps up Saints' Ryan Zitkus during second half action.

After tallying his 251th win of his career, St. Joseph-Ogden head coach Dick Duval talks to his team after the Spartans' quarterfinal football game against Central Catholic. Duval, who will retire at the end of the season, strategically coached his team to victory improving to 12-0 and punched the Spartans ticket to the semifinal round against long time rival Tolono Unity.

November 7, 2015

Keller makes it a 3-peat, Unity wins team title

With almost a 30 second lead on her nearest competitor, Anna Sophia Keller crossed the finish line 16 minutes and 21 seconds after her start at the Illinois High School Association State Cross Country Finals on Saturday. The St. Anthony's junior harrier cemented her three-peat performance six seconds faster than her winning time 12 months earlier.

Anna Sophia Keller runs well ahead of the competition during the first lap of her race around Detweiller Park at the IHSA State Cross-Country Finals on Saturday. Keller, who finished her race at 16:21, earn her third consecutive individual champion title. Click here to see more photos from the Class 1A title race.

Meanwhile in the team competition Unity, Urbana University High School and St. Joseph-Ogden, all located within a 12 mile radius of each other, brought back heavy hardware to East Central Illinois.

In the individual competition Keller was in full command within the first 400 yards of her race. Before completing the first loop around the course she was more than 30 yards ahead of her nearest threat to winning a third consecutive IHSA title.

Behind her, trying to keep the gap as narrow as possible, Gardner-South Wilmington's Daly Galloway refused fall back with the rest of the pack chasing her another 30 seconds in distance from her heels.  Galloway, who is also junior and finished second to Keller in their previous state final showdown, improved her time by two seconds clocking in at 16:50.

Trying to catch the runner ahead of her, Daly Galloway, from Gardner-South Wilmington, runs to a second place finish at the IHSA State Cross-Country Finals on Saturday. Galloway, a junior, finished the race at 16:50. See 200 more photos from this year's title races. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Leading the rest of the field over the finish line Arielle Summitt ran a solid race to finish third out of the 208 finishers. The Urbana University High sophomore standout helped the Illineks finished second in the team competition behind the Unity Rockets, winners of this year's state title.

It was a day of sweet revenge for the U-High program. After standing in second place on podium to St. Joseph-Ogden in 2014, Summitt along with Annemarie Michael, who combined for 6 points, celebrated a 1-point victory over the Spartans scoring 157 to their 158.

Unity's Jordan Harmon runs her race during the IHSA State Cross-Country Finals. Harmon, a freshman, finished 8th in the team standings helping the Rockets win this year's Class 1A state title. Harmon finished 13th overall out of 208 runners with a time of 17:58. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)