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J. Thomas McNamara

       If you are driving north late Sunday night or early Monday morning on U.S. 51 at Maroa-Forsyth high school, you’ll see the lights on at Walter Boyd field for good reason.
       The Trojans are taking advantage of the Illinois High School Association’s rule that allows prep football practices to begin at midnight Monday, Aug. 9.
      At the stroke of midnight, Trojans head coach Josh Jostes will have his team practicing on the Boyd turf.
      Neighbors won’t have to worry as it’s a one time thing.
     Jostes says this is going to be a challenging year for his Trojans, who graduated one of their most athletic teams that missed their fall 2020 season because of COVID-19.
     Maroa-Forsyth opens against Auburn, who will be led by a new coach.
     Ryan Gardner takes over at Auburn after several seasons under Dave Bates, who led the Trojans for 35 seasons.  He was previously the defensive coordinator.
      A reminder Central A&M finished 2019 as the Class 1A runnerup which was the last year the IHSA held football state championships because of the COVID pandemic.
     The Decatur Tribune will be covering 12 schools football this fall with its weekly coaches small and large school reviews/previews.
      They are, in alphabetical order, Argenta-Oreana, Central A&M, Cerro Gordo/Bement, Decatur Eisenhower, Decatur LSA, Decatur MacArthur, Decatur St. Teresa,  Maroa-Forsyth, Macon Meridian, Mount Zion, Sangamon Valley and Warrensburg-Latham.
      Argenta-Oreana is coached by Conner Haltom, Central A&M by Brent Weakly, Cerro Gordo/Bement by Nick Walker, Decatur Eisenhower by Moe Dampeer, Decatur LSA by Jordan Hopman, Decatur MacArthur by Derek Spates,
      Decatur St. Teresa Mark Ramsey, Maroa-Forsyth by Josh Jostes, Macon Meridian by Micah Sheppard, Mount Zion by Patrick Etherton, Sangamon Valley by Michael Lee and Warrensburg-Latham by Aaron Fricke are the coaches.
       Haltom and Dampeer are in their first years.
       The Central State 8 and Sangamo conferences are closed leagues which means they have 10 members and play each other for their regular season nine games.
        The Apollo, the Central Illinois and Lincoln Prairie leagues are open conferences which means they have to play teams from outside their leagues to come up with their nine games.
      The dozen schools will be playing to win at least five games that qualify them for consideration to play in week 10 which is the first week of the playoffs.
         Six wins guarantee schools berths in the playoffs.
          Conference champions are also guaranteed post-season berths.
          There are 544 schools playing 11-man football in hopes of making the 32-team fields in the eight classes for a total of 256.  Each of the eight class fields consist of 32 teams each.
     And the regular nine-week season kicks off the weekend of Aug. 27-28.
     The Decatur Tribune will publish its annual prep football preview special edition Wednesday, Nov. 24.
     “Monday at 9,” is how LSA’s head coach Jordan Hopman responded after coaches received the Decatur Tribune’s question about when they’ll start practices.
       Mount Zion‘s Patrick Etherton said he’s practicing his Braves “every day from 4 to 7.”
       I will have more on Decatur and Macon County football in each and every edition of the Decatur Tribune. So turn each week to the Decatur Tribune when you want to know what’s up, what’s happening and what’s right with Decatur and Macon County football and other sports as well.

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