Mac on Sports

Graham Resigns at Central A&M
    Central A&M is looking for a new football head coach after Nate Graham resigned after two seasons there.
    I have left a message for Coach Graham to call me to discuss his recent resignation.  His teams went 1-17 in his two seasons there.
    We also have reached out to Principal Judy Fitzgerald for comment on whether or not Graham's position has been posted yet and when the application deadline closes.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.
Bombers to Induct 3rd Hall Class
    Argenta-Oreana will induct its third Hall of Fame class in ceremonies Friday night before the Bombers/Meridian game.
    Inductees include Dave Darnall, class of 1960; Alisa Collins, class of 1982; Amanda Garretson, class of 1995; and Angie Hawk, class of 2002.
    Athletics Director Dan Sheehan said about the class of student-athletes to be inducted, "We are very proud and honored to recognize four alumni from Argenta-Oreana that not only had success as a Bomber, but went on to excel in life following their graduation from AOHS." 
    They join the class of 2013 inductees Karen Bloch, Melissa Garretson, Jeffry Watson, Jeffory Dean Blackard and Gary Cook and the charter 2012 class of the father-son team of Tom and Michael Saunches, Bill Roberts, Tom Tucker and Karin Nicholls.
    I will have more on this story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Ellis Now LSA's All-Time Leading Scorer,
McHood 2nd Bombers Leading Scorer
    In updating my list of 1,000 point Decatur and Macon County boys prep scorers, I discovered that Bryce Ellis is now Decatur LSA's all-time leading scorer with 1,146 points scored through games played Saturday night, Dec. 13.
    Ellis has passed Jeremy Pezzelle, who previously was the Lions all-time leading scorer with 1,067.
    At Argenta-Oreana, Keegan McHood has moved into second place behind the Bombers all-time leading scorer, Michael Saunches, who holds the record of 2,118 and is Head Coach Tom Saunches' son.
    McHood now has 1,176 through games played Friday night, Dec. 12.  David Stewart is third with 1,086.
     LSA's Hunter York will join this exclusive club sometime soon, perhaps during the Lions play in the 11th annual Team Soy St. Teresa Christmas Holiday tournament.
    Turn to the print edition of the Decatur Tribune where you will find everything you need to know about Decatur and Macon County prep sports.

Warrensburg-Latham Wins County Title
    Macon--For the 24th time in school history and the 11th championship under head coach Vic Binkley, Warrensburg-Latham won the 88th annual Macon County tournament championship tonight (Friday) at Macon Meridian, defeating the host school, 64-55.
    The Cardinals led 29-24 at halftime and never looked back, once having a double digit lead, only to watch the Hawks continue battling to the end.
    The title game featured a matchup of Hall of Fame coaches, Jack Blickensderfer of the Hawks and Binkley of the Cardinals.
    In the third place game, St. Teresa turned back the Argenta-Oreana Bombers, 62-44.
    Binkley's Cardinals and Blickensderfer's Hawks have no time to rest as Warrensburg-Latham plays Auburn Saturday night and LSA entertains the Hawks as Shannon Houser, the Lions second year head coach, goes against his former boss, Blickensderfer.  Houser served as an assistant under the legendary and iconic coach for several years before he moved on to coach the junior high Hawks.

It's Cards vs. Hawks in Title Game
    Macon--Macon County coaches apparently knew what they were doing when they seeded this year's 88th annual tournament as the top-seeded Warrensburg-Latham Cardinals and the second-seeded Meridian Hawks will play Friday night at 7:30 for the championship.
    Vic Binkley is going for his record 11th county championship and his team is seeking their 24th in school history, the most ever by any school competing in one of downstate Illinois' longest-running county tournaments.
    Binkley's Cardinals defeated Tom Saunches' Bombers, 72-49, in one of tonight's semi-final games and then Jack Blickensderfer's Hawks outscored Tom Noonan's St. Teresa Bulldogs, nine-two in overtime for a 55-48 victory.
    The Bombers/Bulldogs game precedes the title game at six.
    I will be courtside for those games and bring all the tournament news in next week's print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Hawks, Bulldogs Advance
    Macon--Meridian and St. Teresa advanced to Thursday night's second semi-final game at 7 o'clock after defeating Cerro Gordo/Bement and Maroa-Forsyth, respectively, tonight (Tuesday) in the Hawks gym.
    Jack Blickensderfer's Hawks had not trouble with Scott Bacon's Broncos, defeating them 101-46 and Tom Noonan's Bulldogs held Chad Cluver's Trojans scoreless in the fourth quarter en route to a 45-33 victory.
    The first semi-final game Thursday night at 5:30 pits Warrensburg-Latham against Argenta-Oreana and the second game between the Bulldogs and host Hawks.  The third game that evening, scheduled for around 8:30, will match the two Wednesday night winners in the consolation championship game.
    Wednesday night's two games find Central A&M and Sangamon Valley meeting at 6 followed by the Maroa-Forsyth/Cerro Gordo/Bement game at 7:30.
    I will have more coverage from the 88th annual Macon County boys basketball tournament in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune, and contrary to what some are saying down here, I haven't been around for all tournament games that began in 1928.

Cardinals, Bombers Advance in County Tournament
    Macon--As expected, Warrensburg-Latham advanced to Thursday night's 5:30 semi-finals of the 88th annual Macon County boys basketball tournament with its impressive 68-37 win over an outmanned Central A&M squad.
    In tonight's (Monday) nightcap, Argenta-Oreana edged Sangamon Valley, 55-53, in an entertaining game.  The Storm's Miles Hutchins missed a game-winning three-pointer.  The Bombers now play the Cardinals in Thursday night's first semi-final game.
    That will be a rematch of last Friday night's game in which Warrensburg-Latham scored 33 points in the first quarter en route to a 66-33 victory.  Cardinals Head Coach Vic Binkley says in this week's Decatur Tribune that was the greatest quarter of basketball any of his previous teams has played.
    The Cardinals are playing for Binkley's 11th county tournament championship and 24th in school history which is the most by any team in county tournament history.
    I was courtside for these games and will have a complete analysis and coverage of the tournament in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Illinois to Heart of Dallas bowl
    Louisiana Tech, who beat Illinois several years 52-24, is Illinois' opponent for the Heart of Dallas bowl.
    Tim Beckman's Illini are headed to the heart of Texas to play there Dec. 26 in a noon kickoff.
    Beckman is scheduled to meet with the media to discuss the invitation at 7 o'clock tonight (Sunday) in the press box at Memorial Stadium.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Beckman to Return as Illini Coach
    Athletic Director Mike Thomas said Sunday afternoon that Tim Beckman will return as the Fighting Illini's football head coach. 
    Thomas' statement read, "It was important to see improvement in our football program this season.  Over the last month, we have won three of our last five games, including a pair of Big Ten wins over teams (Minnesota & Penn State), who are headed to the postseason.  Our student-athletes have played their best football of the season down the stretch of a tough schedule that included nine bowl-eligible opponents.  It’s my expectation that with the upcoming bowl and another off-season of development, that Tim’s continued leadership will keep Fighting Illini Football moving forward and even more competitive in the conference and nationally.”
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Generals in Team Soy Turkey Title Game;
Panthers in 3rd Place Tilt, Trojans Low
    It was a busy Friday for me as I was in Champaign-Urbana for the Maroa-Forsyth 41-12 loss to Eastland/Pearl City which was not the way the Trojans wanted to end their season with their third runnerup trophy since  2009 to go with their state championship hardware in 2012.
    A bad snap from center over quarterback Jack Hockaday's head with the Trojans driving and chewing up the clock in the first quarter resulted in a loss of 27 and negated the drive.
    Sitting in the press box I knew it was the turning point of the game.  Yes, they lost 41-12, but that stole the momentum away from the Trojans.
    After that game, I hustled back to Stephen Decatur Middle School for the semi-final games between our two Decatur public high schools--MacArthur and Eisenhower.
    Ron Ingram's Generals overcame a nine-point deficit to edge Harvey Thornton, 57-55, and advance to the title game for the first time since 1998.
    Rodney Walker's Eisenhower Panthers were also playing a spot opposite their inter-city rival for the first since since 1972, but fell nine points short of Bolingbrook as the Raiders advanced to face the Generals with their 65-56 victory.
    I will have more on these sports stories in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Karen Wooden Resigns as
Dawgs Volleyball Coach
    Karen Wooden, who has been St. Teresa's volleyball head coach for the past three years, has resigned, said principal and chief executive officer Dr. Ken Hendriksen
    Wooden succeeded Jay McAtee as the Bulldogs volleyball head coach after serving as an assistant with the volleyball program there since 2006-07 season.
    “We have certainly been fortunate to have had Karen leading our volleyball program. Her knowledge, energy and expertise for the sport of volleyball has been enjoyable to watch, said Dr. Hendriksen about Wooden's success with the program.”
    Letters of interest and résumés should be forwarded to: Dr. Kenneth C. Hendriksen, Principal/CEO, St. Teresa High School, 2710 N. Water Street, Decatur, IL 62526, phone 217-875-2431.  His email address is
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Scheduling Change Could be Coming
    Administrators of member schools throughout the Illinois High School Association will now decide whether or the governing organization starts scheduling all prep football games which would eliminate the need for football conferences.
    The IHSA Legislative Commission approved the proposal that would require the IHSA to schedule regular-season games for all football-playing schools after placing them into regions based on enrollment. The top four teams in each region, based on regular-season results, would qualify for the playoffs, which would remain at 32 teams per class.
    "The vote to advance the football proposal was a surprise," said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman.  "At the town meetings there seemed to be little support for a sweeping change like this.  But it speaks to the passionate feelings we've heard from both sides of this issue that the Commission thought it best to put the question to the membership."
    Member school administrators may begin voting on this proposal and others, Dec. 1, with balloting closing Dec. 30 and a decision announced Jan. 6.  Hickman said a majority vote is all that is required to pass the proposal which is outlined below, but doesn't address how the "success factor" will affect who plays in what classes. 
   Proposal 10 would revamp the football regular season and the football playoff system. The following major changes are specified:
   --Regular-season competition takes place in seven-, eight-, or nine-team regions that replace conferences.  The regions would be based on geography and enrollment.
   --The regions are valid for two years, with playing schedules determined by formula. Schools will have at least one inter-region game on their regular-season schedule.
   --Each of the eight-playoff classes is made up of eight regions. The top four teams from each region qualify for the playoffs.  Each playoff class has 32 teams.
   --In each class, four regions are placed in the north bracket and four in the south bracket. Within each bracket, the teams placing one, two, three, four in each regional are placed by formula so that they are in different quarters. Each quarter of the bracket includes a one, two, three, and four team, coming from 4 different regions.
    Matt Troha of the IHSA said 2016 would be earliest the changes would take place if members approved.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Hockaday Now State Record Holder
    With at least one game left in his career, Saturday afternoon's Class 2A semi-final game at Tuscola, Maroa-Forsyth's quarterback Jack Hockaday now is the Illinois High School Association career total offense leader.
    After last Saturday's win at Athens, Hockaday now has 10,888 yards total offense, breaking the previous mark of 10,632 yards total offense by Aurora Christian's Jordan Roberts, who did it from from 2005 to 2008.
    A Trojans win Saturday afternoon against the Warriors would give Hockaday the state championship game in which to add to his career record. 
    Incidentally, his brother, Luke, was ranked eighth before Jack surpassed Roberts which means Luke is now ninth on that all-time list with 7,836 yards.
    Total offense includes a player's rushing and passing yardage.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Big Blue Coach Etherton Makes Staff Changes
    Millikin football head coach Patrick Etherton confirmed this morning (Tuesday) that he is making some staff changes in light of the Big Blue's 1-6 College Conference of Illinois-Wisconsin and 3-7 overall record.
    In response to my question this morning, Etherton said,  "Offensive coordinator Tim Connell and Defense Line Coach Patrick Colligan are no longer part of the Millikin football staff. 
    "While I appreciate the hard work put in by Coach Connell and Coach Colligan, I felt a change was needed to help move the Millikin football program forward.  I wish Tim and Pat the best in the future and I am excited to start the process of finding two new coaches to help take us to the next level," said Coach Etherton.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

J. Thomas McNamara
Sports Editor
Decatur Tribune

Email Tom at

Check out McNamara's "Irish Stew" every week in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Columns Are Printed With The Most Recent Displayed First

            * * * *

Decatur Tribune Offices Are Located At:
132 South Water Street 
Suite 424
P. O. Box 1490
Decatur, Illinois 62523

      Mon.-Thurs. 9:00-4:30
Phone: 217/422-9702
     Fax: 217/422-7320
Website Builder