2022 Year in Review: Muddy River Sports’s top 10 stories

The end of the season saga surrounding Palmyra football coach Kevin Miles led to Muddy River Sports readers clicking on those stories more than any other in 2022. | Submitted photo

QUINCY — A tumultuous and resignation of a high school football coach. A magical run to a state championship game appearance. A bicycle ride from one coast to the other. A shot for the ages. Those were the moments our readers wanted to know about. Here are the most viewed stories on Muddy River Sports…

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Bulldogged effort in Class 1A state title tilt by Central, but momentum, mojo never shift in its direction

Camp Point Central senior lineman Cole Pracht carries the Class 1A second-place trophy in the direction of the Central crowd following a 30-8 loss to Lena-Winslow on Friday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. | Photo courtesy Clark Brooks, PhotoNews Media

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Every comeback starts at a tipping point, the moment where momentum and mojo shift dramatically. Everything lined up for a Lena-Winslow punt to be just that. Having forced the defending Class 1A state champion to punt from its own 23-yard line with 7 minutes, 53 seconds remaining in the third quarter Friday…

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Schuckman: Memories become unforgettable, and Central football team’s legacy is equally undeniable

Flanked by Isaac Genenbacher, left, and Ross Riley, right, Central lineman Cole Pracht carries the Class 1A state runner-up trophy off the field Friday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. | Photo courtesy Clark Brooks, PhotoNews Media

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — As they worked their way past the long line of Decatur St. Teresa faithful waiting to enter Memorial Stadium, a group of Camp Point Central football fans were abruptly stopped by some curious Bulldogs fans. “Did you get it done?” one asked. The disappointment echoed in the tone of the response. “It…

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Photo gallery: Central football team finishes as Class 1A state runner-up

Central senior Ross Riley reacts to a play during Friday's Class 1A state championship game against Lena-Winslow at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill. | Photo courtesy Clark Brooks, PhotoNews Media

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The Central football team’s magical postseason run ended Friday with a 30-8 loss to top-ranked Lena-Winslow in the Class 1A state championship game at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium. Central finished its season with a 13-1 record and the single-season program record for victories. Here is a gallery of images from…

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Schuck on a Truck: Central football team’s offensive line

Muddy River Sports Editor Matt Schuckman chats with the Central football team's offensive linemen for the latest episode of "Schuck on a Truck." | Muddy River Sports photo

CAMP POINT, Ill. — Come Friday, the Camp Point Central football team will walk into Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus for the Class 1A state championship game to square off with Lena-Winslow, the reigning state champion who has won five state championships since 2010. Leading the way with be an experienced, stout…

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Taste of Champaign: Panthers leave no doubt they belong in state title game after dismantling Mustangs

Central all-stater Isaac Genenbacher, center, and his teammates celebrate their 44-8 victory over Colfax Ridgeview-Lexington on Saturday in the Class 1A state semifinals in Colfax, Ill. | Photo courtesy Andrew Eyler

COLFAX, Ill. — Ross Riley’s explanation for the Camp Point Central football team’s Class 1A semifinal win over Ridgeview-Lexington was a simple one. That was fitting because the Panthers’ 44-8 victory was simple domination. “We were just going, and I was just running. I don’t know what else to say,” exclaimed a jubilant Riley. “It’s…

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Schuck on a Truck: Central football coach Brad Dixon discusses program success heading into state semifinals

Central football coach Brad Dixon, left, and Muddy River Sports Editor Matt Schuckman discuss playoff football for this episode of "Schuck on a Truck." | Muddy River Sports photo

CAMP POINT, Ill. — The Central football players have traded cut-off t-shirts and shorts for stocking caps and sweatshirts. When that takes place, something more significant has, too. In this case, the Panthers have reached the Class 1A state semifinals for the fourth time in program history. Central (12-0) travels for the first time this…

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Rally for the ages: Central’s 24-point second half vaults Panthers into Class 1A state semifinals

Central's Carter Eyler, left, and Isaac Genenbacher, right, run toward teammate Drew Paben, center, to celebrate his touchdown that punctuated Saturday's 24-12 victory over Greenfield-Northwestern in the Class 1A state quarterfinals. | Photo courtesy Mike Pritchard

CAMP POINT, Ill. — Central quarterback Nick Moore’s post-game assessment was rather poignant. And precise. “The first half was kind of rough,” Moore said in matter-of-fact fashion. Yep, pretty much much nailed it, Nick. Fortunately, there are two halves in a high school football game. The margin of Central’s 24-12 Class 1A quarterfinal playoff victory…

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Photo gallery: Central football team rallies to advance to Class 1A state semifinals

Central football coach Brad Dixon addresses his team following the Panthers' 24-12 victory over Greenfield-Northwestern in Saturday's Class 1A state quarterfinal matchup in Camp Point, Ill. | Photo courtesy Mike Pritchard

CAMP POINT, Ill. — Shut out in the first half and trailing by two scores, the Central football team showed why it has been one of the area’s most successful programs for the past decade. The Panthers simply refuse to lose. They rallied for a 24-12 victory over Greenfield-Northwestern in the Class 1A state quarterfinals…

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Central’s answer to Unity-Payson’s strong start keeps good times rolling for state-ranked Panthers

Central wingback Isaac Genenbacher lines up and waits for the snap during the first quarter of Friday night's 30-8 victory over Unity-Payson in Camp Point, Ill. | Photo courtesy Mike Pritchard

CAMP POINT, Ill. — There is an entertaining tradition on Friday nights at Central’s home football games. In between the third and fourth quarters, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” can be heard booming from the loudspeaker. And it’s as if fans and players alike begin to anticipate the arrival of the sing-a-long portion of the soft-rock…

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Central’s Williams, Brown County’s Henry earn Class 1A all-state honors

Central running back Garret Williams, left, and Brown County lineman Mason Henry, right, were named to the Class 1A all-state team by the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association. Photos courtesy Mike Pritchard and Brown County football

QUINCY — Five area players earned mention on the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association all-state teams, which were released Tuesday. They will be honored during the state championship games played November 26-27 In Class 1A, Central running back/defensive back Garret Williams and Brown County offensive and defensive lineman Mason Henry were first-team selections. Three…

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Panthers’ offense stuck in neutral as Raiders gain revenge in second round of playoffs

MOWEAQUA, Ill. — With an ample amount of time to prepare its defense, the Moweaqua Central A&M football team didn’t allow Camp Point Central to run wild. It means the Raiders are rolling on. The Panthers were limited to 220 yards of total offense in Saturday’s Class 1A second-round playoff game and couldn’t overcome a…

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Air attack helps Panthers soar to first-round victory, get rematch with Raiders

Central senior Garret Williams hauls in a pass that he turns into a 73-yard touchdown for the first score in Saturday's Class 1A playoff victory over Villa Grove. Photo courtesy Mike Pritchard

CAMP POINT, Ill. — Nick Moore and Garret Williams both carried the same why-fix-it-if-it-ain’t-broken look on their faces. Moore, the talented sophomore quarterback for the Central Panthers, had teamed up with Williams, a senior wingback, for three first-half touchdown passes during Saturday’s 48-14 dismantling of Villa Grove in a Class 1A first-round playoff game. “(Williams)…

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Liquor Booth Shot of the Game: Central’s Dickhut returns INT for touchdown

Keaton Dickhut lived out every defensive lineman’s dream. With the Central football team leading Calhoun 30-14 after scoring on their first two possessions of the second half last Friday night, Dickhut intercepted what appeared to be a screen pass from Warriors quarterback Miles Lorton and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown. It was the…

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IHSA football playoff pairings: Central earns No. 1 seed in Class 1A, QND receives home game to open Class 4A bracket

The Central football team is the No. 1 seed in its half of the Class 1A playoff bracket for the first time in program history. Photo courtesy Scott Bemis

QUINCY — Dylan Dickhut’s historical research uncovered a unique fact about the Central football program. The Panthers have never been a No. 1 seed in a playoff bracket, not even when finishing the regular season undefeated. Saturday night, history changed. Central drew the No. 1 seed in the Class 1A south bracket according to the…

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Illinois prep football rankings: Central sits fourth in Class 1A

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters: CLASS 8A School W-L Pts Prv 1. Wilmette Loyola (10) (8-0) 100 1 2. Naperville Neuqua Valley (8-0) 89 2 3. Maine South (7-1) 75 3 4. Gurnee Warren (7-1) 71 4 5.…

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Schedule change pits Panthers against playoff-caliber foe in Saturday contest

Central quarterback Nick Moore and the Panthers will get a taste of the playoffs this week by adding Moweaqua Central A&M to the schedule. The Raiders visit Camp Point at 1 p.m. Saturday. Photo courtesy Scott Bemis

CAMP POINT, Ill. — The Central football team is prepping for the postseason with a playoff-like showdown thanks to a late-in-the-week schedule change. North Greene will not field a varsity team this week due to “the large amount of injuries and players under team discipline,” according to a statement from the Spartans athletic department which…

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Illinois prep football rankings: Central is only area team in top 10

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters: Class 8A School W-L Pts Prv 1. Loyola (7) (7-0) 70 1 2. Naperville Neuqua Valley (7-0) 62 2 3. Maine South (6-1) 52 4 4. Gurnee Warren (6-1) 51 3 5. Lockport…

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Area Distributors Area Player of the Week: Central running back Garret Williams

Central running back Garret Williams, left, rushed for 192 yards and four touchdowns in last Friday's 60-28 victory over Beardstown. Photo courtesy Mike Pritchard

The Central football team wrapped up the Western Illinois Valley Conference North Division championship with last Friday’s 60-28 victory over Beardstown as Garret Williams powered the Panthers’ offense with a series of big runs. Williams scored on 39- and 27-yard runs to give the Panthers the edge, and his 8-yard scoring run with 44.5 seconds…

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Illinois prep football rankings: QND falls out of Class 4A top 10, Class 1A stays strong

Here are the state rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class heading into Week 7, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters. They were released on Oct. 5, 2021. Class 8A School W-L Pts Prv 1. Wilmette Loyola (11) (6-0) 110 1 2. Naperville Neuqua Valley (6-0) 96 2 3. Gurnee…

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Illinois prep football rankings: Hornets firmly at No. 2 in Class 1A, Raiders remain No. 5 in Class 4A

The Brown County football team is ranked No. 2 in Class 1A, while Central is tied for fifth following the Hornets' 22-20 victory over the Panthers last Friday night. Photo courtesy Scott Bemis

Here are the state rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class heading into Week 5, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters: Class 8A School W-L Pts Prv 1. Loyola (9) (4-0) 90 1 2. Naperville Central (3-1) 69 3 3. Naperville Neuqua Valley (4-0) 62 5 4. Chicago Marist (3-1)…

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Saturday Rewind: Hornets bring out coach’s raw emotion after resilient victory over Panthers

Brown County football coach Tom Little talks to his players during Friday's game against Central in Camp Point, Ill. Photo courtesy Scott Bemis

MOUNT STERLING, Ill. — Tom Little couldn’t hide his emotion. In the wake of a 22-20 victory over Central in Friday night’s battle of state-ranked teams, the Brown County football coach gathered the Hornets and delivered a simple message. “We told them we loved them,” Little said. That’s when the tears softly fell. “Win or…

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Illinois prep football rankings: Brown County, Central both rise in Class 1A

After beating Triopia 14-9 last Friday, Cole Behymer, left, and the Brown County football team moved up to a tie for No. 2 in the Class 1A state rankings. Photo courtesy Scott Bemis

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters: Class 8A School W-L Pts Prv 1. Maine South (8) (3-0) 107 2 2. Chicago (Marist) (1) (3-0) 96 3 3. Naperville Central (2) (2-1) 74 1 4. Gurnee Warren (2-1) 73 4…

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Saturday Rewind: Panthers rely on instincts, smart plays to fend off Mustangs

Central's Garrett Williams, left, takes the handoff from Sterling Stotts on a kickoff return during the second half Friday night against Unity-Payson in Mendon, Ill. Photo courtesy Mike Pritchard

CAMP POINT, Ill. — The instinctive and smart plays Central football coach Brad Dixon continues to see from some of his youthful playmakers is as encouraging as anything else three games into the season. Sophomore quarterback Nick Moore delivered one of those plays to help the Panthers build an insurmountable lead Friday night. Facing third…

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Illinois prep football state rankings: QND, Brown County, Central fit in top 10

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters: Class 8A School                                     W-L Pts  Prv 1. Naperville Central (3)          …

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State football rankings: QND, Brown County move up, Central cracks top 10

The Quincy Notre Dame football team moved up to No. 4 in the Class 4A state football poll this week. Matt Schuckman photo

Here are the Illinois high school football state rankings, as voted on by a panel of sportswriters and compiled by the Associated Press. The rankings were released Tuesday afternoon: Class 8A School W-L Pts Prv 1. Gurnee Warren (7) (1-0) 79 1 2. Lincoln-Way East (1) (1-0) 72 2 3. Chicago (Marist) (1-0) 62 3…

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Liquor Booth Shot of the Game: Central’s Genenbacher rips off 61-yard TD run

A fourth-quarter rally cannot become epic unless there is an exclamation point. Friday night in Camp Point, Isaac Genenbacher punctuated the Central football team’s 22-point fourth quarter with a game-winning dash to the end zone. Panthers sophomore safety Gavin Blewett forced a fourth-quarter fumble and Genenbacher scored on a 61-yard run on the next play,…

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Saturday football rewind: Mustangs run wild, Panthers show resolve and Pirates knock off defending state champ

MENDON, Ill. — Matt Woodworth found it easy to pinpoint what he enjoyed most about his head coaching debut. “The aggression we played with,” the Unity-Payson football coach said. The Mustangs made Woodworth’s first game memorable, holding North Greene to minus-33 yards rushing in a 58-0 whitewashing Friday night. The Mustangs outgained the Spartans 484-119…

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Countdown to kickoff: Panthers welcome bevy of options in offensive backfield

CAMP POINT, Ill. — The luxury of having an all-state running back to hand the ball to in tough situations is gone. For now. Central football coach Brad Dixon believes his stable of capable backs — the Panthers may employ six or seven guys to run the ball in a given game — will create…

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Prep football rankings: QND, Brown County in preseason top 10, Central receiving votes

Here are the preseason state rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters: Class 8A School, points 1. Gurnee Warren (6) 78 2. Lincoln-Way East (2) 73 3. Chicago Marist 54 4. Maine South 50 5. Hinsdale Central 47 6. Naperville Neuqua Valley 30 7.…

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