Saturday, November 23, 2019

Oyster stuffing for Thanksgiving, it's not too popular around here

Stuffing, infused with turkey drippings and a healthy dose of butter, is one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

My grams would make two batches for our family dinner, one batched baked inside the turkey and the other on one of the burners of her gas stove. Ripping up pieces of toasted bread and leaving out overnight, even as she aged, was her preferred method of preparation. If it was in a box, can or package, it wasn't good enough for my grandmother and especially so for the family's Thanksgiving meals.

Occasionally observing the holiday at the homes of others many years ago, a few families made their dressing/stuffing with oysters.

Curious as to how popular this variation was with our readers, I created a poll a little more than a week ago asking, "Do you put oysters in your stuffing?"

Six days and 171 votes later, we learned that 86% of those who responded said "no" to adding chunks of the shellfish when they make their version of the holiday dish.

The majority of the stuffing I've tried - my grandmother's included - were made with traditional ingredients such as onions, celery, spices, butter, broth, and bread. For the record, I'm not a fan of oyster stuffing/dressing or recipes that use mushrooms. However, the thought of using dried fruit and nuts, cranberries or bits of bacon does sound delicious.

Do you have a unique, delicious recipe you would like to share? We would love to hear it and share it with our readers. Email us at and we may feature it in The Sentinel next week.

Spartans Tipoff champs after OT win over PBL

They did it. For the third consecutive year, the St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team has brought home the Lady Falcon/Bunnies Tipoff Classic title.

They did it after defeating Paxton-Buckley-Loda 45-43 in their first overtime game of the season.

They did it with scoring contributions from eight different members of the team, not one reaching double-digits on Friday.

Senior Katie Cramer led the Spartans' offense with nine points. Alyssa Hamilton totaled two threes and a bucket in overtime to finish with eight points. Taylor Barnes, who sank six of her ten free throw attempts, and Ashlyn Lannert chipped in six points apiece.

Tied at the end of regulation time at 38-all, Lannert, Hamilton and Payton Vallee scored two points each in the final period. Barnes hit one of her two free throws during the OT session to help the Spartans outscore the Panthers seven to five.

Lannert, a sophomore, and Cramer also received all-tournament team recognition.

Mackenzie Bruns led the PBL (2-2) scoring effort with a game-high 17 points and was 7-for7 from the free throw line. Brooke Walder helped out with eight points.

Mirroring last year's state final run, SJO's record improved to 4-0 on the season. The Spartans will host their first home game of the season on Tuesday evening with a non-conference match against Paris.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 9 13 9 7 7 - 45
Paxton-Buckley-Loda 10 10 10 8 5 - 43

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 6, Payton Jacob 7, Taylor Wells 5, Katie Cramer 9, Abby Behrens 2, Taylor Barnes 6, Alyssa Hamilton 8 and Payton Vallee 2.

Paxton-Buckley-Loda: Brooke Walder 8, Baylee Cosgrove 3, Lorena Arnett 5, Mackenzie Bruns 17, Kirra Lantz 3 and Makenna Ecker 7.

Friday, November 22, 2019

SJO girls advance to Lady Falcon/Bunnies Tipoff Classic title game

Tonight, St. Joseph-Ogden girls basketball team will play for their first tournament championship trophy of the season.

The shot at the Lady Falcon/Bunnies Tipoff Classic title comes on the heels of a fourth quarter surge by the Spartans. Clawing past Villa Grove/Heritage's offensive duo of Aliya Holloman (20 points) and Kyleigh Block (17 points), SJO secured their third win of the season, 46-43.

On the wrong end of a 19-15 score at the half, the Spartans dug in and drained five three-pointers in the third quarter. The Blue Devils countered with 16 points of their own, eight courtesy of Block, six from Holloman and a bucket from Samantha Campbell.

Holding VG-H to just eight points in final quarter, SJO matched that number and then added a few more.

Katie Cramer, still hot from three-point range, hit two more shots and drilled a pair of free throws. The senior finished the night with 14 points and was 2-for-2 from the line.

With the help of a clutch free throw from Payton Vallee, Taylor Barnes' third three-pointer of the game and a bucket from Payton Jacob, the Spartans prevailed improving to 3-0 on the season.

In all, St. Joseph-Ogden tallied a total of ten three-point shots from Jacob (1), Barnes (3), Cramer (4) and sophomore Abby Behrens with two.

You will want to saddle up early to help pack the gym tonight for what will surely be a barnburner at Fisher. The championship game, scheduled to start at 7pm, pits the Spartans against Paxton-Buckley-Loda, who knocked off tournament co-hosts GCMS 56-38 to reach the final.

A three-peat in the making, the Spartans have won the tournament the title past two seasons. The Panthers have the offense to keep that from happening tonight.

PBL had three players with double-digit scoring against the Lady Falcons. Mackenzie Bruns delivered 13 points, Hannah Schwarz added 12 and Baylee Cosgrove's hit 10 to lead the Panthers' offensive scoring.

Box Score
Team 1 5 10 15 16 - 46
Team 2 2 17 16 8 - 43

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 3, Payton Jacob 7, Katie Cramer 14, Abby Behrens 6, Taylor Barnes 13 and Payton Vallee 3.

Villa Grove-Heritage: Kyleigh Block 17, Samantha Campbell 2, Aliya Holloman 20 and Jordyn Ray 4.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

30 players receive SJO varsity football letters

Nineteen seniors earned varsity football letters this fall. Six juniors, four sophomores and one freshmen player were also recognized for their contributions during the 2019 season.

Brayden Weaver received this year's Most-Valuable-Player award.

Weaver appeared in varsity games during his football career with the Spartans. During that time he carried the ball 94 times for 540 yards. His longest run was a 52 yard jaunt in SJO's 38-14 win over Unity.

Brayden Weaver carries the football in the Spartans' home game against Central Catholic
Brayden carries the ball for the Spartans during their home game against Bloomington Central Catholic. This year's MVP, the senior ran for 104 yards against the Saints. On defense he was credited with three tackles in the 18-7 conference win. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Suffering a season-ending injury in the eight game of the season, his offensive stats boast 266 yards on 49 carries and four touchdowns.

A two-way player, Weaver was credited with 76 tackles, 49 of which were solo, at middle linebacker this season. He was also awarded the program's Defensive Award.

Drew Coursey and Jordan Kelly shared the team's Most-Improved-Player award.

Wearing #2 this season, Kelly, a 5-foot-10 wide receiver and strong safety, finished his only season of varsity football with 18 tackles and one interception.

Jordan Kelly
Jordan Kelly, one of this year's two Most-Improved-Players, runs a pass route against visiting St. Thomas More. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Coursey, who earned his stripes in his first season of varsity football this year, led SJO in sacks with three. The outside linebacker had 26 stops, including four solo tackles and seven total in the Spartans' 33-13 road loss to the Hawks of Prairie Central.

The Special Teams Award went to senior Payton Cain. Like Coursey and Kelly, this was his first and only varsity football season. The senior returned 16 kickoffs. Averaging 31.1 yards per return, he amassed 498 yards this season.

In SJO's home game against Pontiac on September 27, he ran one of his two punt returns back 66 yards - a career best - and another one for 19 yards.

Towering 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Blake Dable bagged the SJO Lineman Award.

In the five games he played on defense, Dable was credited with 15 tackles and two sacks, one against Unity and the other against Rantoul in week 2. On offense, Dable was key to opening up holes for the backfield and a solid wall protecting quarterback Crayton Burnett this season.

Sophomore Hayden Brazelton received the Scout Team Award.

Senior varsity lettermen: Ross Booker, Payton Cain, Trevon Carr, Max Chatterton, Brendan Cooperider, Drew Coursey, Blake Dable, Tristan Fuqua, Conner Hodge, Chance Izard, Jordan Kelly, Chayce Livingston, Jaden Miller, Blake Primmer, Luke Renfrew, Jarrett Stevenson, Brodie Sullivan, Brayden Weaver, and Sam Wesley.

Junior varsity lettermen: Crayton Burnett, Brady Buss, John Michael Ehmen, Zach Martinie, Xander Rieches and Max Shonkwiler.

Sophomore varsity lettermen: Coby Miller, Jett Morris, Keaton Nolan, and Ethan Vanliew.

Freshman varsity lettermen: Ty Pence

Throwback Thursday: Spartans place at 2012 Unity Invitational

St. Joseph-Ogden's Austin Upton wrestles Joliet Catholic's Michael Gruben
St. Joseph-Ogden's Austin Upton attempts to pin Joliet Catholic's Michael Gruben during their 170-pound championship bracket semifinal at the Unity Invitational on December 15, 2012. Upton won the match by fall at 3:03 and went on to win the title for his weight class. Two months later, the senior finished the 2012-13 season with a record of 45 wins and three losses and well-deserved fourth-place state medal. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

SJO Jacob Bowman wrestles STM's Alex Griffin.

St. Joseph-Ogden's Jacob Bowman sticks St. Thomas More's Alexandro Griffin during their 220-pound match. Bowman defeated Griffin in the first period by fall at 1:51. See more photos of Bowman and from other matches at the annual small school tournament here: 2012 Unity Invite. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Spartan wrestler David Trewyn at the Unity Invite

St. Thomas More's Collin Kelley tries to escape a hold by St. Joseph-Ogden's David Trewyn during their 126-pound match action at the 43rd installment of the Unity Invitational. Later Terwyn, who finished in 6th place, prevailed with a 15-8 victory. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Wesley Kibler

Freshman grappler Wesley Kibler (left) tries to fight off a single-leg takedown by Peotone's Tom Ruffino during their 195-pound match. Ruffino defeated Kibler 9-5 in their semifinal bout on Saturday afternoon. Despite missing the cut for the 2013 state finals, when his prep career ended in 2016, Kibler was the proud owner of one IHSA state title (2015), a runner-up silver medal (2016) and a fourth-place state medal from his efforts his sophomore season in 2014. He finished the 2012 Unity Invite in third place. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

SJO's Jacob Bowman shoots in on Rochester's Nick Siciliano during their 220-pound consolation quarterfinal match. Bowman, finished 6th after pinning Siciliano in the first period at 1:05. See 140 more photos from the 2012 Unity Invite here . . . (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wolfersberger, Sarnecki earn cross country Most-Improved recognition

Twenty-eight St. Joseph-Ogden High School student-athletes earned varsity letters in cross country this fall. With the leadership of this year's six seniors, both the girls and boys programs competed at this year's Illinois High School Association state finals in Peoria.

Eric Poe heads to the finish line at state cross country
Senior Eric Poe races to the finish line at the 2019 IHSA state cross country meet at Detweiller Park on November 9. In addition to a varsityl letter, Poe was honored with the Rick Walden Most Consistent Award. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
The boys squad finished in 18th place with a score of 421 points. The top five scoring runners were Brandon Mattsey, Eric Poe, Charlie Mabry, Elijah Mock and Luke Stegall.

Earlier in the day at the state finals on November 9, senior Jillian Plotner led the SJO girls' to the program's fifth consecutive top ten team performance since 2014.

Nine members of both running programs received special team recognition at the end of the season.

Brandon Mattsey and Hannah Rajlich earned Most-Valuable-Player for their respective squads. Logan Wolfersberger was named the boys' Most-Improved Player and Malorie Sarnecki earned the same recognition for her efforts on the girls' squad.

Charlie Mabry received the Tim Mies Effort Award. Addie Allen won the Ashley Wright Effort Award. Eric Poe was the recipient of the Rick Walden Most Consistent Award and the Chelsea Blaase Most Consistent Award was given to sophomores Ava Knap & Ashlyn Lannert.

This year's varsity letter winners are seniors Ally Monk, Taddy Pettit, Jillian Plotner, Eric Poe, Hannah Rajlich and Josh Sexton.

Juniors: Hanna Eastin, Lukas Hutcherson, Brandon Mattsey, and Logan Wolfersberger.

Sophomores: Addie Allen, Braden Clampitt, Sidney Davis, Kailyn Ingram, Ava Knap, Ashlyn Lannert, Charlie Mabry, Elijah Mock, Hope Rajlich, Kendra Riddle, Malorie, Sarnecki, Taryn Sexton and Luke Stegall.

Freshmen: Kaytlyn Baker, Ethan Blackburn, Mary Hinrichs, Teagan Miller and Izzy Sexton.

Spartans pick up second win at GCMS-Fisher Tipoff

Katie Cramer looks for an open teammate while playing in the Spartans' third-place game during the Class 2A state finals back in February. Then a junior, she contributed 5 points and had three rebounds in SJO's 68-53 win over Hillsboro. Last night, the senior scored a pair of three-point shots in the open quarter Tuesday against Iroquois West at the GCMS-Fisher Tipoff to help St. Joseph-Ogden improve to 2-0 on the season. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)
St. Joseph-Ogden picked up their second win of the season after beating Iroquois West 49-16 in last night's pool play at the GCMS-Fisher Tipoff in Fisher.

Ashlyn Lannert came off the bench to score a game-high 15 points for the Spartans. She also made three of her four free throw attempts.

Senior Katie Cramer hit a pair of threes in the opening frame and Payton Vallee added two buckets to give SJO at 10-2 lead at the start of the second period.

SJO held the Raiders to just five points in the first half. Despite making three of their five shots from the charity stripe, the Raiders (0-2) did not hit a shot from the field in the second period. Their scoring struggled continued into the third period with only four points from junior Shelby Johnson.

Meanwhile, Taylor Barnes matched Cramer's effort and nailed two treys to help the Spartans stretched their halftime lead over the Raiders to 19 points.

Iroquois West's offensive effort was led by Johnson with 10 points. Three of her teammates Emma Lopez, McKinley Tilstra and Abby Kochker contributed two points apiece in the loss.

The Lady Spartans, who won last year's title, are one win away from once again reaching the tournament's championship game. Thursday at 5:30pm, SJO will square off against Villa Grove-Heritage in their final pool contest.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 10 16 12 11 - 49
Iroquois West 2 3 4 7 - 16

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 15, Nora Walden 2, Payton Jacob 2, Katie Cramer 6, Abby Behrens 2, Taylor Barnes 6, Alyssa Hamilton 9 and Payton Vallee 5.

Iroquois West: Emma Lopez 2, Shelby Johnson 10, McKinley Tilstra 2 and Abby Kochker 2.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Hamilton leads Spartans in first win of the season

Alyssa Hamilton led the St. Joseph-Ogden basketball squad with a team-high nine points in their season opener Monday night at the Fisher-GCMS Tipoff Classic. The Spartans, who finished their last season with a third-place state finish in February, held Fisher to just a pair of free throws in the third quarter, rolled past the Bunnies, 39-22.

Payton Jacob had eight points and junior Payton Vallee, back in action after a quick turnaround from the third-place state volleyball team, helped balance the offense contributing seven more points in the non-conference tournament game. In all, six SJO players scored in the season opener.

The Spartans, who finished their last season at 28-5, continues their pool play at the early season tournament tonight facing Iroquois West at 5:30pm.

Box Score
St. Joseph-Ogden 5 14 12 8 39
Fisher 6 8 2 6 22

St. Joseph-Ogden: Ashlyn Lannert 6, Payton Jacob 8, Katie Cramer 3, Taylor Barnes 6, Alyssa Hamilton 9 and Payton Vallee 7.

Fisher: Kylee Bishop 8, Sidney Hood 9, Elyssa Clanton 2, M. Sommer 1, and Leah McCoy 2.