Memory Monday: 2007 football title run ends a step away

SJO fans fill the stands
St. Joseph fans fill the stands and every available spot along the fence line for the 2007 semifinal playoff game against Plano on November 10, 2007. Fifty-one weeks earlier the two teams clashed in a record-setting IHSA Class 3A title game, where the Reapers came out on top in a thriller, 47-42. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Tailgating at St Joseph-Ogden High School
Left: St. Joseph-Ogden fan Connie Bickers enjoys the SJO tailgate before the game. Right: Hundreds of family and fans tailgate in the parking lot before kickoff of St. Joseph-Ogden's home semi-final against the Plano Reapers. See more memorable moments captured from the game here: 2007 St. Joseph-Ogden vs Plano Football Playoff Game. Photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

The journey in 2007

Robinson, 41-0
Salt Fork Coop, 41-6
Momence, 46-14
Clifton Central, 42-20
Iroquois West, 49-12
St. Thomas More, 28-0
Watseka, 53-13
Tri-Point, 1-0
Paxton-Buckley-Loda, 68-0
Christian Life, 45-7
Wilmington, 26-7
Plano, 22-26
Members of the SJO Dance team preform before the start of the game. They also performed again during the halftime show during the postseason game. Click here to view more photos St. Joseph-Ogden's competitive dance team. PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

SJO concession stand
Longtime St. Joseph-Ogden resident and sports fan Dick Sumption places an order at the concession stand with Andi Morgan before the start of the game. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Spartan defenders Michael Bialeschki, Michael Cessna and Lukas Graves wrap up Plano's Luis Alvarado in first half action of their game. The trio, who suffered just two losses in the two consecutive seasons of SJO football, had an impressive varsity win-loss record of 25-2. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Tyler Johnson hands off the ball to Will Lindsey Lukas Graves makes a TD catch
Left: Tyler "Hollywood" Johnson hands off the ball to Will "The Flash" Lindsey. (Side bar: Covering the team and interviewing some of the players for ten plus weeks, I could help but to give these gifted athletes nicknames. Lindsey, the fastest runner on the team and track state-qualifier in the sprint events, earned his sobriquet obviously because of his explosive speed. Every post-game interview Johnson, a three-sport athlete, was like covering a Hollywood press conference. Cool, confident and a faster thinker on his feet with the sharpest curve ball questions, he never failed to deliver a great quote after a game.)

Right: Senior Lukas Graves make an over the shoulder catch on a pass from Tyler Johnson in first quarter action against the Reapers. In the 2006 title game against Plano, then a junior, he made nine catches for 211 yards. As of today, Graves is still tied for number one for the most number of catches and number of touchdowns (2) in an IHSA Class 3A championship game. His receiving yard total to this day, twelve years later, is still a 3A best. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Dick Duval
Head coach Dick Duval heads back to the field to start the second half against Plano. Though the Spartans would later come up heartrendingly short on the scoreboard, looking back from that day for the past four years, SJO under Duval's tutelege suffered just five losses in the 50 games the program played during that period. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Student fans cheer for their team Nick Rogiers heads to the line of scrimmage
Left: Student fans cheer for the Spartans during the second half of the game. Right: Nick Rogiers heads to the line of scrimmage in the second half for the next play. The defensive end was one of the hardest hitting tacklers on the field that season. Photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Jake Oltean reacts after the game
Game over. Season over. Manager Jake Oltean reacts in silence after his Spartan football falls 26-22 loss to the Reapers. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Cheerleaders shed tears
Two cheerleaders share a hug in solace after the emotional loss while players from both teams shake hands at the 50 yard line. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Eli Marlow
Eli Marlow hugs a fellow player after the Spartans season ending loss, just one touchdown away from playing in a second consecutive state football championship game. See more photos from this emotional game by clicking here. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Not quite yet, volleyball team misses op to beat STM

Setter Emily Bigger celebrates a point with teammates against St. Thomas More
Emily Bigger celebrates a point for the Spartans in their home match against St. Thomas More last Thursday. Bigger contributed 32 assists in the 2-1 conference loss. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

The atmosphere was electric in the main gym at St. Joseph-Ogden High School where the Spartan volleyball team faced conference rival St. Thomas More last Thursday. After an intense three-set battle, SJO fell in 2-1 decision to the visiting Sabers.

Leading by as many as five points near the mid point of the first set, The Spartans let St. Thomas clawed their way back into the contest to first an 18-all and again later at 21-all. The Spartans then won the next five points in a dominating fashion to take the set, 25-21.

"We knew what to expect because we have been watching film of them," said Lacey Kaiser. The senior contributed eight kills, seven digs and a pair of blocks over the course of the night. "We knew they would come out twice as hard in the second set after we won the first set."

After winning the first point in the second set, it would be the last time Kaiser and the Spartans, despite a monumental effort on their part, would see anything resembling a lead on the scoreboard for the remainder of the match.

"The second set, we really rallied back and fought," Kaiser said. "We haven't really shown that in past games we've played."

Kennedi Burnett, who echoed Kaiser on the team's strides to improved their mental toughness, led the Spartans with 13 kills. She was also credited with eight digs in the three-setter.

"We didn't let up," Burnett said, talking about how the team has been worked toward staying focused when things are not going their way on the court. "We have been working as a team to get back up."

Spartan head coach Abby McDonald said the team has shown growth since the season started, especially when the match momentum was against them in big games like this one against St. Thomas More.

"I didn't feel like we stayed in the match mentally," she said about her team's performance against the Sabers. There were some mental breakdowns that STM capitalized on. "We still have those moments, but it is much better (now). We keep saying it doesn't have to be our best yet."

SJO's Stephanie Trame slams the ball for a kill over the middle
Middle Stephanie Trame goes up to put the ball away against the Sabers. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

The Spartans used well-placed tips and scrappy play to stay within striking position to reverse the score. Up by one at 12-11, STM engineered a six point run to go up 18-11. Not willing to going down without a fight, SJO rallied back to a three-point deficit at 23-20 before St. Thomas More closed out the set at 25-20.

"Their offense got going and we really didn't have an answer for it," McDonald said in evaluating the difference in the way her team played in the first set as opposed to the second. Mostly it came down to STM getting the ball to sophomore Anna Mcclure to put away. "We didn't have an answer on defense."

By the third set, St. Thomas More hit their stride mentally and emotionally and never once let Burnett or teammate Katelyn Berry, who chipped ten kills of her own for the Spartans, bully their way past them.

St. Thomas More led by as many six points before Berry and Kaiser's perseverance at the net paid off and pulling SJO within two points of taking the lead in the final set at 21-20. Their momentum stalled and St. Thomas More took the final set, 25-20.

Overall, McDonald was happy with how the team performed.

"I think the kids did a nice job of trying to stay in it," McDonald said. "I feel like they (STM) had more weapons on offense."

Hazardous waste collection day set

Have bottles of unused, out-of-date or unneeded automotive fluids or other hazardous chemicals in your basement or garage? Online registration for the fall Illinois EPA-Sponsored One-Day Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event in Champaign County is now open so you can dispose of them safely at the end of October.

Preregistration online is required for drop-offs. As of the time of publishing this article, openings for 11:15am to 2:45pm appointments were available. The one-day event will be held at a designated Market Place Mall parking lot between 8am and 3pm on October 26.

Allowable chemicals and items include chemical cleaners, oil-based paints, thinners, antifreeze, motor oil, gasoline, kerosene, weed killers, insecticides and pesticides, old or outdated medication, lead-acid batteries, and similar hazardous household products. Fluorescent and other high-intensity discharge lamps will also be welcomed at the collection site.

Items that will not be accepted include latex paint, explosives, propane tanks, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, agricultural chemicals and business wastes. A complete list of household hazardous waste that will or will not be accepted is here:

For more information about the Champaign County collection day or register before it is too late, visit

Wow! 42% of the student body earned academic letters at SJO

While St. Joseph-Ogden High School may be known outside of the community for its competitive prowess in sports like softball, baseball and football, all which receive a healthy dose of media attention through out the year, the student population is equally impressive when it comes to their studies and classroom pursuit.

Friday morning, SJO held an awards ceremony to recognize current students and May graduates from the Class of 2019 for their academic performance during the 2018-19 school year.

SJO students cheer for the football team at Friday's homecoming game against Pontiac. Despite a rigorous academic standards and plenty of opportunities for extracurricular activities, nearly half of the student population at the high school enjoys a GPA of 3.6 or better. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

One hundred and ninety-one individuals from last year's student body of 452 earned an academic letter. When you do the math, that is a remarkable number statistically and even more so when you compare it to other public schools not only in the area, but around the state.

"(It) means 42% of our students earned at least a 3.6 GPA for the entire school year, had no D or F’s, and was enrolled in at least five academic classes," said Principal Gary Page, III, in his address to students, parents and family members in attendance at an all-school assembly. "To put that in perspective if a student takes six academic classes they need an A in four classes and at least a B in the other two to achieve a 3.6."

Noting that the majority of the students are involved in two or more extracurricular pursuits like the performing arts, FFA or are multi-sport athletes, the number of students receiving an academic letter is certainly impressive.

"When you combine that statistic with our high standards for classroom rigor it screams excellence," Page said, proud of the accomplishment made by not only the students who earned the awards, but also the teachers and staff who work hard to create an environment of high expectations. "There is no substitute for showing up and working hard when it comes to success."

Below is a list of this year's academic letter winners by class.

Class of 2019 • Graduates

Gage Atwood, Cassidy Bagby, Erin Beyers, Kaylee Blanchard, Joel Branson, Rebecca Campbell, Kayla Canas, Daniel Carlson, Sarah Chahine, Peyton Crowe, David Cummins, Emmy Daniels, Liam Davis, Abigail Dunham, Avery Edwards, Nathan Emmert, Emory Ericksen, Jasmine Febus, Michael Foreman, Emilie Fox, Cole Franzen, Adam Frerichs, Rachel Gherna, Mikayla Harshbarger, Kaitlyn Hess, Zach Hill, Kalli Ingram, Kenneth Lahners, Hannah Lewis, Nathan Logan, Erinn Miller, Caroline Moore, Eve Owens, Angela Palmer, Ben Reitmeier, Adam Rose, Madison Rubin, Abigail Schlueter, Elizabeth Schluter, Samantha Schmidt, Ben Setterdahl, Jacob Shaw, Kaitlin Shoviak, Grant Siegmund, Rylee Sjuts, Brianna Suits, Maclayne Taylor, and Nathan Walden.

Class of 2020 • Seniors

Lindsey Aden, Jenna Albrecht, Mallory Ames, Taylor Barnes, Katelyn Berry, Emily Bigger, Kaylee Blackburn, Erin Bridgewater, Ginny Bytnar, Payton Cain, Trevon Carr, Kristen Costa, Drew Coursey, Kathryn Cramer, Andrea Cunningham, Faith Dahman, Hannah Dukeman, Asjah Fonner, Jaiden Freeman, Robert Gebbink, Payton Grimsley, Lucas Grindley, Erica Guelfi, Emily Hardimon, Ethan Hinrichs, Chance Izard, Cody Johnston, Lacey Kaiser, Danielle Kelso, Nathan Maier, Ava Mills, Carson Mills, Alivia Norem, Nolan Peacock, Taddy Pettit, Eric Poe, Hannah Rajlich, Lexi Ribbe, Jenna Schaefer, Joshua Sexton, Rylee Stahl, Kenly Taylor, Stephanie Trame, Anna Tranel, Isabelle Vliet, Brayden Weaver, Sam Wesley, Zoey Witruk, and Jackson Wooten.

Class of 2021 • Juniors

Isabelle Brooks, Crayton Burnett, Josh Buttjer, David Bytnar, Taylor Campbell, Kylie Duckett, Hanna Eastin, Nadirah Edwards, Emily Fisher, Dakota Franzen, Alexandra Frerichs, Emily Froman, Atleigh Hamilton, Emmy Houston, Lukas Hutcherson, Logan Ingram, Cailer Kellenberger, Shelby Kofoot, Spencer Lahners, Ethan Lane, Aiden Livesay, Alyssa Maddock, Tyson Madsen, Sophia Martlage, Flannery McCorkle, Garren Meeker, Abigail Moberg, Samantha Naylor, Alec Painter, Erin Patton, Aidan Roberts, Indira Robinson, Mazie Ronk, Evan Schmitz, Max Shonkwiler, Tessa Smith, Payton Vallee, Nora Walden, Brayden Wendt, Rachel Wilson, and Logan Wolfersberger.

Class of 2022 • Sophomores

Addison Allen, Tyler Altenbaumer, Kailyn Anderson, Ella Armstrong, Madison Atwood, Abigail Behrens, Ella Besson, Andrew Beyers, Brandie Bowlin, Mara Burkhalter, Kennedi Burnett, Angela Chahine, Braden Clampitt, Anastasia Conerty, Deanna Cummins, Ben Cunningham, Sidney Davis, Zander Dressen, Ashley Eldridge, Jared Emmert, Hannah Fox, Zella Fuqua, Avian Gerdes, Brennan Haake, Liam Hamer, Lauren Harper, Claire Huffman, Payton Jacob, Alison Kearney, Ava Knap, Kelsey Martlage, Sophia McDade, Conrad Miller, Coby Miller, Elijah Mock, Jett Morris, Keaton Nolan, Jessica Palmer, Emma Parkinson, Hope Rajlich, JoLeena Reynolds, Kendra Riddle, Taryn Sexton, Alyssa Shoviak, Luke Stegall, Rebecca Steinbach, Mackenzie Trame, Ethan Vanliew, and Taylor Wells .

Homecoming success! Spartans shutout Indians

After the final horn sounded, the Spartan football team along with student fans and cheerleaders celebrated their homecoming victory reciting, with enthusiasm, the school song. St. Joseph-Ogden picked up win number four after beating the Pontiac Indians 19-0 on Friday.

The shutout was the first for SJO since joining the Illini Prairie Conference. The last time the Spartans recorded one was nearly three years ago in a 44-0 rout over Rantoul on September 30 back in 2016. It was also the first time since their conference alliance St. Joseph-Ogden walked away from one of their gridiron confrontation with the Indians, who by the way led the series 2-0 until this weekend, victorious.

Spartan running back Brayden Weaver is wrapped up by Pontiac's Kodi Davis and Payton Cramer during on of his three touches against the Indians. Weaver was limited to 12 yards on the ground and 1-yard catch on Friday. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

The St. Joseph-Ogden defense rained havoc on the Indians (1-4), who started three freshman on the offensive line due to early season injuries to veteran players. Offensively, the defensive unit held the visitors to just 145 yards on the ground and an even 100 in the air.

"I think our defense is really starting to figure it out," said head coach Shawn Skinner. "They play well together. They play hard. Coach (Bob) Glazier does a great job with them."

Heading into week six, St. Joseph-Ogden has the second best defense in the league allowing just 43 points. Unity remains number one with 24.

"We've kind of figured out what our identity is," Skinner said. "We are a pretty good defensive team and we have guys who can make plays on special teams. We've got to some how, some way, shore up our offense."

He added: "We've got to do a better job on the offensive side of paying attention to detail."

SJO's offensive effort started off with a bang.

He is an electric kid. He can make plays. You saw his speed."
~ Head coach Shawn Skinner

The Spartans lit their half the scoreboard the earliest they have all season when Crayton Burnett unloaded floater into the outstretched arms of Brady Buss for 62-yard touchdown pass. The PAT was good, giving SJO a 7-0 lead with the elapse of just a minute and 37 seconds off the play clock.

Other than a couple of flashes of greatness, the offense stuttered and sputtered the rest of the evening.

"We made that big play at the beginning of the game, (then) our passing game kind of slowed down a little bit," said Burnett, who connected on seven of his 18 pass attempts for 120 yards. "I just got to hit my open receivers when I can."

Friday night's offensive potency is stark contrast from the season opener with St. Thomas More and the following game against Rantoul where SJO posted 24 first downs against the Sabers and 20 on the road against the Eagles. For the second consecutive week, the Spartans was held to just eight first downs the entire game.

Not satisfied and confident that his team will work toward play at their potential, Burnett added: "Once we can get our offense to the level we want it to be, we can be really good."
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Racing past a pair of Pontiac defenders, Brady Buss makes a 68-yard touchdown run on a punt return electrifying Spartan fans and giving his team a 13-0 advantage.

St. Joseph-Ogden put another six on the board after forcing Pontiac to punt the ball away early in the second quarter. Brady Buss hauled the ball in and zipped down the visitor's sidelines for a 68-yard touchdown.

"He is an electric kid. He can make plays. You saw his speed," Skinner said. He praised his special teams coach for moving Buss into one of the two return slots. "Coach (Marshall) Schacht made that move two weeks ago. It was a great move by him. He is a threat for us."

The extra point attempt failed giving the Spartans a precarious 13-0 lead at halftime.

After a scoreless third quarter, the St. Joseph-Ogden offense marched the ball down the field in the fourth setting up a 4-yard touchdown courtesy of Jarrett Stevenson.

In his first game back after a two-week recover from an injury sustained against the Rantoul Eagles, Stevenson added 52 yards to bring his season rushing total to 324. He was happy to be back in pads and contributing.

"It's incredible stepping back on here with my brothers," he said. "It's great."

However, Stevenson was brutally honest about his performance in the first half.

"I played the worse first half of my life," he said. "I came back in the second half and enjoyed myself. I was able to run and get off that rust that I had."

Improving to 4-1, SJO needs just one more win to be playoff eligible for an at-large bid and another to guarantee themselves a spot in the IHSA postseason. Next Friday's road game at Prairie Central is critical in that regard and the coaching staff impressed upon the players the importance of practice in the week ahead.

The path to the playoff presents bigger obstacles on the Spartans' schedule after this Friday. IVC, undefeated at 5-0, and Monticello, last year's Class 3A state champions and in three-way tie for second in the conference with SJO and Unity, stand in the way.

But first, the team will enjoy the weekend homecoming gaiety.

"It's a good feeling. (I) definitely feel good about this win and will enjoy it," said senior lineman Conner Hodge. "Come Monday (we're) ready to work."

Cohen scores goal in loss to Bombers

Defender Cade Hausman, a junior, dribbles the ball down the field in the second half. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
After a 2-1 decision on Thursday, the St. Joseph-Ogden soccer team lost its 11th contest this season in a home brouhaha against Argenta-Oreana. Despite underwhelming crowd support undermining their home field advantage, the Spartans' effort was one of the best this season so far as a cohesive unit.

"It was the first night we tried a new formation," said head coach Dan Vogelsang happy with out the team performed. "We have enough games left before the postseason starts when we get this down, we're going to be good."

Other than a breakdown in front of the north goal with 3:15 to play in the first half when Argenta-Oreana's Landon Lawson chipped the ball past two SJO defenders and their keeper from 10 feet out into the goal, the Spartans were clearly in charge of the game's momentum.

After the intermission, Luke Cohen rallied the Spartans on a free kick to tie up the non-conference contest.

It was more of the same for the remainder of the second half as St. Joseph-Ogden player rotated in and out to familiarize themselves with field positioning.

Later in the period, Ethan Neufeld kicked at 20-footer into the south goal for the go-ahead and game-winning Bomber goal.
Raegan Crippen dribbles the ball down the field for SJO.
Raegan Crippen moves the ball down the field away from Argenta-Oreana defenders during first half action. Though 2-11-2, the Spartans are making improvements to prepare for a long postseason run. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks.

The new formation afforded Vogelsang's young squad more shots on their opponents goal. SJO took nine shots, three which were post bumpers, on the Argenta-Oreana's goal thanks to playing a more physical game.

In Thursday's game, players were not shoved of the ball and giving up possession as easily as they had in past games. The new formation opened up better passing lanes while simultaneously moving the ball down the field with support players in place.

"It was good to see teammates taking up for each other," Vogelsang added, hoping it will carry over for SJO into the IHSA playoffs where they will likely face the top seed in the first round. If their first opponent is focused on the Spartans' regular season record, he thinks his team could wreck havoc in their bracket. "I told the players there is no reason to worry about facing the number one seed if we get this down."

Brayden Grimsey
Spartan senior Brayden Grimsey keeps the ball away from Argenta-Oreana's Tyler Heldt during first half action of their non-conference game. SJO will host Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Westville in another non-conference match on Saturday morning starting at 9am. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks.

Residential electronics collection event set for October 12

The Village of St. Joseph has joined with Royal, Sadorus, Savoy, Sidney, Thomasboro, Tolono and other communities within the county in supporting this fall's countywide electronics recycling collection event. Residents from St. Joseph and Royal are eligible to register online for next month's event on October 12.

To register, go to this link for the Residential Electronics Collection Event. Simply click on an available time and complete the online form.

Expect to receive your postcard within two weeks after submitting the form. For those who did not receive their postcard before the event or leave it behind, you can show your confirmation email/text on your laptop, phone or tablet at the entry point.

Eligible individuals with postcards may dispose up to four televisions of any make or model. Organizers do not consider computer monitors a TV. Up to seven items per postcard can be left at the event. Small items can be bundled or put into a small box and counted as one item.

Items accepted for this year's event include TVs (all types), computers, monitors (all types), printers, electronic keyboards, fax machines, VCRs, DVD players/recorders, portable digital music players, video game consoles, electronic mice, scanners, digital converter boxes, cable receivers, satellite receivers, accessory computer/monitor speaker, small scale servers sold at retail, sound bar, ink & toner cartridges, loose wires (e.g., extension cords, surge protectors, cables, etc.), microwaves, holiday string lights, all phones & phone accessories, digital cameras/mini cams, digital projectors, credit card readers, telecom equipment, uninterrupted power supplies (e.g., battery backups, chargers), rechargeable batteries, networking equipment (e.g., switches, routers, hubs, modems), external drives, and circuit boards. (Small items can be bundled or put into a small box and counted as only 1 item.)

The following items will not be accepted at this fall's collection: Stereo speakers (wooden, metal, or plastic), liquid-containing items, freon-containing items (e.g., AC units, dehumidifiers), white goods (e.g., freezers, refrigerators, dishwashers), small appliances (e.g., blenders, coffee makers, toasters), exercise equipment (treadmills, etc.), lamps, vacuum cleaners, fans, cash registers, thermostats & thermometers, light bulbs, fluorescent bulbs or tubes, smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, loose alkaline batteries.

The event will proceed regardless of weather conditions that morning. Thunder and lightning, rain, hail or snow will not cancel the event. Drop off may times may increase slightly and as in past events experienced staff members will keep the lines moving as quickly as possible.

The collection point is located at Parkland College, 2400 W. Bradley Avenue in Champaign. Participants must use the Duncan Road entrance in to the Parkland campus and then follow the signs. Maps will be provided on the confirmation postcard.

Visit the official website at for more information.

Spartans of the Week: Bigger and Ketchum

Lady Spartan of the Week Emily Bigger

Week 4
Lady Spartan of the Week:
Emily Bigger

Emily Bigger booked 38 assists in the Spartans' last two volleyball victories. Thanks to her precision passing ability and quickness, SJO boasts an impressive 14-3 record heading into tonight's homecoming game against Illini Prairie Conference rival St. Thomas More.

Honorable Mentions: Jenna Albrecht (volleyball), Katelyn Berry (volleyball), Kennedi Burnett (volleyball), Hanna Eastin (cross country), Ally Monk (cross country), Jillian Plotner (cross country) and Stephanie Trame (volleyball).

Week 4 Spartan of the Week: Hunter Ketchum

Hunter Ketchum, Spartan of the Week

The freshman goal tender has logged 483 minutes of playing time in his rookie season with the Spartans. With 57 saves so far at the keeper position, he is becoming more fearless by the week. From the start of the season until the Monticello match at the Cornjerker Classic, Ketchum was averaging 6.3 saves per game. Look for Ketchum to be one of the area's best in the box over the next three seasons with the St. Joseph-Ogden soccer program.

Honorable Mentions: Crayton Burnett (football), Braden Clampitt (cross country), Zach Martinie (football), Brandon Mattsey (cross country), Eric Poe (cross country), Jarrett Stevenson (football), Brayden Wearver and Sam Wesley (football).

Previous Spartans of the Week

Week 1: Jarrett Stevenson / Katelyn Berry
Week 2: Emily Elsbernd / Jaden Weaver
Week 2: Drew Coursey / Hannah Rajlich

* * * * *

Attention high school coaches: Help us recognize our area prep athletes each week. Please send game scores and stats to us for freshman and junior varsity as well as varsity games. Send game, race and match results and weekly stats to

Wayback Wednesday: Walsh leads team to victory over Momence

Spartans' Connor Janes finds plenty of running room through the Redskin's defense during their Sangamon Valley Conference game on September 8 back in 2012. A year later, Janes and the Spartans would play in program's most recent state championship game appearance in a controversial Class 3A overtime thriller game against Stillman Valley. Want to see more? Follow this link to the gallery with 45 more photos.

Dalton Walsh rolls out while calmly looking for an open receiver.
Left: Spartans' Dalton Walsh rolls out while calmly looking for an open receiver. After giving up an early first quarter touchdown on Friday night, St. Joseph-Ogden rolled to a 34-6 win on Saturday. The game was postponed on Friday evening as lightning kept the game from restarting at a reasonable hour. Walsh threw two touchdown passes and tallied 201 yards in the air on 11 receptions. Right: Louis Acklin prepares to take a hit by Redskins' Austin Saindon after catching one of his four passes in the game.

St. Joseph-Ogden football fans on September 8
St. Joseph-Ogden football fans watch the first half of the game while enjoying perfect fall temperatures on Saturday afternoon. The home game against Momence, originally scheduled for Friday night, was postponed due to inclement and resumed less than 24 hours later. See more photos from this game here: St. Joseph-Ogden vs Momence.

Mattsey, Poe lead SJO cross country at invite

The SJO boys cross country squad finished 54th out of 63 teams at the Peoria Notre Dame Richard Spring Invitational on Saturday. This was a single division race with St. Joseph-Ogden competing against 2A and 3A large high school programs like St. Charles East, who won the meet, Loyola Academy, York and Carl Sandburg.

The Spartans were led to the finish line of the 3-mile race by Brandon Mattsey. The junior finished his run at Detweiller Park in 16 minutes and 42.7 seconds, just 18 seconds off his career best time of 16:42 and 12 seconds slower than his time a week earlier at the First to the Finish on the same course.

Senior Eric Poe, was the second SJO finisher crossing the circumventing the course four seconds behind Poe good for 198th place with a time of 16:46.

The next three scoring runners were Logan Wolfersburger (340th) at 17:56, Lukas Hutcherson (358th) at 18.05 and Taddy Pettit clocking in at 19:26, 409th out of the 446 runners on Saturday.

Meanwhile in the Freshman/Sophomore division, the young harriers turned a 27th place team finish. There were 53 teams made up of 359 runners.

The top five runners included Charlie Mabry and Elijah Mock, who ran sub-18 minute times, Braden Clampitt, Ethan Blackburn and Zach Dahman. Mabry, who finished at 17:10, nearly matched his career best to pace the underclassmen and Stegall concluded his effort at the 17:59 mark.

Down but not out, SJO stumbles against Unity

St Joseph-Ogden head coach Shawn Skinner
Spartan head coach Shawn Skinner talks to players after his team's 21-0 loss on the road at Unity.

"I thought our defense played stout. I thought that we had some plays that were designed to be good. We just had one breakdown here and there. Unity wasn't going to allow us any breakdowns."
Head coach Shawn Skinner

SJO fans wait for the game to start
On beautiful September evening, St. Joseph-Ogden fans fill the visiting team bleachers and wait for the week four game to start. A win victory would have kept the Spartans tied for first in the Illini Prairie Conference. The shutout drops SJO into a five-way tie with Unity, Monticello, Prairie Central and Olympia for second place.

Crayton Burnett throws a pass against the Unity Rockets

Keaton Nolan plays kick return for SJO

"We are going to learn from this. I'm a big believer you can learn as much from win as a loss. I don't think you got to lose to learn." ~ Coach Skinner

Above: Crayton Burnett makes a pass during first half action against the Rockets. Not having enough time in the pocket to throw the junior signal caller threw for 66 yards, completing 10 of 20 attempts.

Left: Keaton Nolan makes a catch while playing on kickoff return for the Spartans. Nolan was held to just 23 yards of rushing on offense after eight touches.

Below: Senior Jaden Miller blast his way past two Unity blockers while playing defense in the second quarter.

All photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Jaden Miller, senior, fights his way past Unity offensive linemen.

Fan takes a picture
A Spartan fan takes photos from the stands prior to the start of the football game against Unity. There will be a lot more photos of players next week as SJO hosts the Pontiac Indians (1-3) for their homecoming contest this Friday.

Brayden Weaver runs the ball
Sam Wesley yells instructions to teammates before the snap
"It was a hostile environment. We came out and gave our best effort. You can't fault us (for) that."

~ Sam Wesley, Senior, Linebacker

Above: Senior running back Brayden Weaver finds open turf in front of him during a carry in the first half. Weaver finished the game with just 13 all-purpose yards in the week four game against the Rockets.

Right: Sam Wesley shouts out instructions and adjustments to teammates before the Rockets snap the ball during second half action.

Below: Conner Hodge blocks nose to nose with a Unity lineman.

All photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

Plotner finishes first in dual against Sages, soccer takes another hit

Sports Book: September 17

SJO takes 9 of the top spots
In a dual meet with Monticello, the boys cross country team placed in nine of top 10 spots on Tuesday. Brandon Mattsey finished the 3-mile course in second place just under minute behind the Sages' number one runner, Josh Baysore.

Chasing Mattsey to the finish line were eight other St. Joseph-Ogden runners starting with Eric Poe, who was third with a time of 19:01, and Lukas Hutcherson, who rounded out the top four places in the non-team scored event crossing the finish line at 19:04. The trio were followed by Luke Stegall (5th, 19:07), Logan Wolfersberger (6th, 19:09), Braden Clampitt (7th,19:11), Elijah Mock (8th, 19:30), Ethan Blackburn (9th, 20:37) and Charlie Mabry in 10th place at 20:51.

Hunter Ketchum makes a great save
Hunter Ketchum bravely makes a save as he slides in front of the Spartans' goal in their home conference match against Monticello on Tuesday. Despite frosh keeper's best effort, SJO dropped a second consecutive match to the Sages, 5-0. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Soccer suffers another loss
The Spartan soccer fell 5-0 in league play to visiting Monticello for their first Illini Prairie Conference loss of the season.

Plotner leads SJO contingent
Jillian Plotner turned in a 21:15 to win the girls race in their dual meet against Monticello at Kickapoo. She finished 12th overall in a combined boys/girls race. Hannah Rajlich crossed the finish line in the silver medal position five seconds later at 21:20 and Ava Knap took third with a time of 21:27. The fourth female runner to finish, Ashlyn Lannert (21:53) came in 16th overall. Ally Monk was 5th in her division and 19th overall at 22:07.

Volleyball team declaw Panthers
Middle blocker Lacey Kaiser had nine kills. The Spartans collected and additional seven from Kennedi Burnett and the same number from Katelyn Berry to help SJO improved to 12-3. Read The Sentinel game story . . .

SJO picks up win #3 beating Central Catholic

Friday the 13th was not a lucky night to visit the SJO Sports Complex. Bloomington Central Catholic, with no wins and a pair of losses, came to St. Joseph in search of their first win of the season. Unfortunately, under the bright, glowing full moon rising in the darkened sky southeast of the city, St. Joseph-Ogden pick up their third win of their 2019 campaign after defeating the Saints, 18-7.

"I think defensively we had so many kids playing well, we just never felt stressed."

~ SJO head coach Shawn Skinner

The Spartan win was notably delivered on yet another strong defensive performance. They have allowed just three touchdowns, one in each of their first contests, for a total of 23 points this year. At this point in the 2018 season, SJO had already given up 36 points.

"I think our kids are playing hard on defense. They are doing their job," Skinner said praising the unit's performance. "They are executing the defense the way its meant to be. When you do that, we can do some good things."

Sam Wesley and Brayden Weaver each had a team-high eight tackles. The pair along with Jaden Miller, Ethan Vanliew, and Max Chatterton were credited with tackles-for-losses. Vanliew, whose game has stepped up in the last 14 days, finished the game with seven tackles.

Thanks to the defensive stops, St. Joseph-Ogden held the Saints to just five first downs per half and scoreless until there was just little over two and half minutes left in game.

"I think defensively we had so many kids playing well, we just never felt stressed," Skinner said.

Hitting him hard enough to lift him off his feet, SJO's Payton Cain hits Central Catholic quarterback Jake Baughman hard to stop him in his tracks. Behind Cain, the rest of the stingy Spartan defense swarm into position to assist. View more game photos here . . . (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Even after Central Catholic finally put up a score with 2:38 left in the game, there was not a sense of panic from the Spartans.

"If you play hard, its amazing how many good things will happen," Skinner added.

Brayden Weaver, who would finish the night with 104 yards, drew first blood for SJO on a 10-yard run with less than two minutes left in the first quarter. The following two-point conversion attempt failed.

On the next possession, Jordan Kelly picked off a pass giving the Spartans the ball to finish out the frame. Then, on the first play of the second quarter, SJO turned over the ball on an intercepted pass.

Nine minutes of gridiron tug-of-war later, senior Brodie Sullivan recovered a fumble on the 41 yard line setting up an eventual touchdown by Keaton Nolan.

Nolan finished the night with a team-high 140 yards. Thirty-three of those yards came on kick-off return.

St. Joseph-Ogden's final touchdown came on a beautiful run by quarterback Crayton Burnett.

Unable to find an open receiver in the east end zone as he rolled toward the SJO sideline eight yards out, the junior tucked the ball under his arm and cut back toward the end zone hurdling one BCC player to avoid a tackle. He was met at the 3-yard line by three Saints bent on keeping him out of the end zone. On contact, he dropped his should and spun counter clockwise evading all three defenders. Burnett then had to dive over another Central Catholic player the last two yards into the end zone.

"We still haven't peaked yet. Not even close," Burnett said after the game. Happy about how the team played and pocketing the third win of the season, he doesn't believe the team has reached their full potential quite yet. "We have a lot to improve on."

The Spartans head into Week 4 in a two-way tie with Illinois Valley Central at the top of the Illini Prairie Conference. SJO takes on Unity (2-1) tomorrow at Hicks Field in a contest featuring the two best defensive units in the conference.

Rajlich, Coursey Spartans of the Week

Week 3 Lady Spartan of the Week: Hannah Rajlich

Lady Spartan of the Week Hannah Rajlich

Back in July, Hannah Rajlich ran to a second place finish with a time of 19:48.00 in the Female 14 to 18 division at the 2019 SJO 5K. Last Saturday in Peoria she nearly matched that time.

(Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Senior Hannah Rajlich ran a season-best time of 19:48.5 at the First to the Finish cross country meet at Detweiller Park on Saturday. She finished 45th overall running against runners from 2A schools from around the state. Last year she ran the same course at the IHSA State Cross Country Finals turning in a time of 19:20.79, which helped the St. Joseph-Ogden to a fifth place team finish. Her prep career best time in the three mile race is 18:35.0.

Honorable Mentions: Lindsey Aden (volleyball), Ava Knap (cross country), Ashlyn Lannert (cross country), Sophia Martlage (soccer), Allison Monk (cross country), Rylee Stahl (volleyball) and Payton Vallee (volleyball).

Week 3 Spartan of the Week: Drew Coursey

Spartan of the Week Drew Coursey Having never played a down of varsity football until this season, outside linebackerDrew Coursey has made a significant contribution to St. Joseph-Ogden's early 3-0 record. With his help, the Spartans look to extend their current win streak to four games and move one step closer to playoff eligibility tomorrow night at Unity. Coursey, who is not only growing more comfortable playing in the trenches physically, is building his football IQ exponentially.

"There's a kid who is getting more comfortable on Friday nights. His preparation is really good," said head coach Shawn Skinner. "He watches a lot of film and he is a smart kid."

Honorable Mentions: Kolton Batty (soccer), Mason Behrens (soccer), Crayton Burnett (football), Brady Buss (football), Blake Dable (football), Conner Hodge (football), Hunter Ketchum (soccer), Brandon Mattsey (cross country), Eric Poe (cross country).

Previous Spartans of the Week

Week 1: Jarrett Stevenson / Katelyn Berry
Week 2: Emily Elsbernd / Jaden Weaver

* * * * *

Attention high school coaches: Help us recognize our area prep athletes each week. Please send game scores and stats to us for freshman and junior varsity as well as varsity games. Send game, race and match results and weekly stats to

SJO wins home volleyball match, faces in the crowd

The Maroon Platoon
SJO's Maroon Platoon making themselves known to the waiting Panthers at the start of the game.

A spectator closely watches set one action of the Spartans' home volleyball match against PBL.

Players talk after the game Fans have photos taken
On the left, SJO volleyball players engage in an interesting conversation. On the right, two fans pose for pictures on the gym floor after the Spartans beat visiting Paxton-Buckley-Loda in straight sets, 2-0. (All photos: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

SJO wins
Student fans and SJO volleyball players celebrate the team's 12 victory of the season, a 2-0 win over PBL, after the game near the student section.

PBL volleyball fans watching the game at SJO
Paxton-Buckley-Loda fans display a look of concern for their team as the Spartans pound the ball into the mid-court. See more match photos here . . .

Spartan fans after the game Spartan fans talk after the game
Spectators talk after the Spartans match. SJO home matches are always a great place to meet up with friends, family and other fans. Click here to see more than 300 photos of St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball coverage by PhotoNews Media.

group photo
More postgame photos with friends and athletes. Nothing better than a home win to put a smile on everyone's face.

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