Friday Night Lights rewind: Mustangs make defensive stand, Cardinals keep rolling, Blue Devils crumble rival

The Unity-Payson football team made a defensive stand inside the 10-yard line to cement a 22-21 victory over Brown County last week. | Photo courtesy Sarah Donley photography

QUINCY — A defensive stand could be the difference between making the playoffs and putting the gear away early. That depends on how the Unity-Payson football team seizes the momentum of last week’s victory. Brown County drove to the Mustangs’ 6-yard line and faced third and four with two minutes remaining in regulation. A fumbled…

Read More

O captain, my captain: Muegge’s leadership will be critical in Mustangs’ pursuit of playoff berth

Unity-Payson defensive tackle Brady Muegge flatens a Beardstown ball carrier during a game last fall in Mendon, Ill. | Photo courtesy Sarah Vest Donley

MENDON, Ill. — Brady Muegge admits he was a little surprised as a junior last fall to be voted a captain for the Unity-Payson football team, an honor often reserved for seniors. His coach, Matt Woodworth, wasn’t. “He’s a leader on our team,” Woodworth said of the offense and defensive lineman who has started since…

Read More

Blue Bullets take kick out of Mustangs with stingy defensive effort in first half of playoff game

KNOXVILLE, Ill.  — As the Unity-Payson football team broke its final postgame huddle of the season, senior quarterback/defensive back Ryle Duke found coach Matt Woodworth. The two embraced, heads buried in each other’s shoulders for several moments, following the Mustangs’ 33-14 Class 2A first-round playoff loss Saturday afternoon at Knoxville. “In every year, you hate…

Read More

The rundown: QU volleyball team keeps rolling, Unity-Payson qualifies for playoffs, QU men’s soccer team’s losing skid reaches six

A mix of prep football, collegiate volleyball and collegiate soccer made Friday a busy day and night. Here’s a look at some of the highlights: • The Quincy University women’s volleyball team continued its dominance of NCAA Division II foes throughout the Midwest, winning a pair of matches in the Midwest Regional Crossover in Hammond,…

Read More

Schuckman: Old-school vibes, new-school touches make Friday nights at Unity-Payson feel like it’s where you belong

The moon dropping to the horizon behind the pressbox at the Unity-Payson football field in Mendon, Ill., is a perfect backdrop for Friday night high school football. | Matt Schuckman photo

MENDON, Ill. — When modern technology accents old-school charm, you wind up watching a prep football game in an environment artists pen songs about and screenwriters use as inspiration for movie scripts. Friday night, this Adams County village offered one of those backdrops. From the bonfire in the neighboring yard to a respected, celebrated old…

Read More

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…

Read More

JWCC Prairie State Profile: Muegge ready to help Unity-Payson pancake opponents

Unity-Payson junior lineman Brady Muegge made his own pancakes for the filming of the Mustangs' intro video. | Photo courtesy Brian Shoemaker

MENDON, Ill. — Spend enough time exploring YouTube, TikTok or any other video streaming service and you are bound to run across an entrance or hype video featuring an offensive lineman devouring something. With that in mind, Brady Muegge knew he needed to be different. Biting the cap off a bottle of syrup accomplished that.…

Read More

Hornets seize complete control in third quarter, knock Mustangs out of playoffs

NASHVILLE, Ill. — Riker Triplett’s 5-yard touchdown reception on the final play of the first half Saturday put the Unity-Payson football team in position to challenge sixth-seeded Nashville in the second half of Saturday’s Class 2A first-round playoff game. The Hornets quickly pushed the challenger aside. Leading 21-14 after Triplett’s TD, Nashville scored three touchdowns…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

Area Distributors Area Player of the Week: Unity-Payson’s Cecil Hunt

Unity-Payson senior running back Cecil Hunt poses with a couple of young fans following last Friday's 58-0 victory over North Greene. Photo courtesy Jessica Ross

Cecil Hunt carried the ball just six times last Friday night in the Unity-Payson football team’s 58-0 whitewashing of North Greene, but those were six carries to remember. The senior running back ripped off a 93-yard touchdown run with a little less than four minutes remaining in the first quarter. With 16 seconds remaining in…

Read More

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…

Read More

Hawks turn to McLaughlin to help launch sprint football program

Conner McLaughlin will be the first head coach of the Quincy University sprint football program. Photo courtesy QU Sports Information

QUINCY — In the brief amount of time Conner McLaughlin has been involved with the burgeoning Quincy University sprint football program, he’s answered a string of questions from those who have never heard of the sport. Is it 8-on-8? Is it 5-on-5? Is it flag football? Is it played in the spring? McLaughlin answers each…

Read More