The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football State Championships return to DeKalb in 2019, as Northern Illinois University's Huskie Stadium plays host to the culminating games for the fourth time. The eight title games will unfold on Friday and Saturday, November 29-30, with kickoffs each day slated for 10:00 AM, 1:00 PM, 4:00 PM, and 7:00 PM.
The City of DeKalb, the DeKalb County Convention & Visitors Bureau and NIU have created a special website, Destination DeKalb to enhance the experience for fans coming to the games.
Fans from competing schools will once again have team tents in the Spirit Zone adjacent to Huskie Stadium as well. See the tent map below.
The games will be broadcast on Quincy Media Inc.'s IHSA TV Network and streamed live on the NFHS Network. Click here to find local stations carrying the games.
A brief preview on each team competing in the 2019 IHSA Football State Finals is available below:
LENA-WINSLOW (13-0) vs. CENTRAL A&M (13-0)
Lena Winslow returns to the state championship for the fourth time in 10 seasons with three titles (2010, 2013, 2017) already in hand. Coach Ric Arand (203-63, 23 years) has a stout defense – giving up 11.3 points per game, while scoring at a 47.5 per game clip. Senior RB Sean Ormiston (1,767 rushing yards, 23 TDs), senior TE Isaiah Bruce (1,018 rushing yards, 16 TDs) and Marey Roby (709 rushing yards, nine TDs) lead a three-headed rushing monster, while sophomore QB Luke Benson (919 passing yards, 16 TDs) controls the passing attack. Bruce and junior offensive lineman Gennings Dunker are both University of Iowa recruits.
Central A & M coach Brent Weakly (33-20, five years) leads the Raiders to their first title game appearance since a 2001 Class 2A runner-up finish. A&M has scored 35 points or more in 12 of its 13 games, putting up 45.9 points a game. Senior QB Connor Heaton (2,488 passing yards, 33 TDs; 837 rushing yards, 20 TDs), senior WR Connor Hutchins (601 rushing yards, 14 TDs) and sophomore WR/DB Jacob Paradee (1,274 receiving yards, 19 TDs; 111 tackles, six INTs) pace the Raiders. The Raiders were third in Class 1A Boys Basketball last March, and with a win this weekend, could set their sights on matching Carlyle, who won state football and basketball in 1988-89.
STERLING NEWMAN CENTRAL CATHOLIC (12-1) vs. NASHVILLE (12-1)
The state championship game is no stranger to Newman, which makes its third appearance – titles in 2010 and 2013 - in the last 10 years. First-year coach Brandon Kreczmer directs a stout defense, having allowed eight points or less in nine games this season. Watch for junior RB/LB Andrew Velasquez (936 rushing yards, 7 TDs; 111 tackles), junior QB Jake Ackman (913 passing yards, 10 TDs) and senior TE Andrew Wilson (382 receiving yards, six TDs).
Nashville makes just its second state title game appearance since a 1998 Class 3A runner-up finish. The Hornets, under second-year coach Stephen Kozuszek (24-8), are scoring 45.2 points a game, including nine games scoring 41 points or more. Key players for Nashville include senior RB Julian Metcalf (1,007 rushing yards, 28 TDs), junior QB Cole Malawy (2,863 passing yards, 33 TDs) and senior LB Justin Aulds (140 tackles, 2.5 sacks).
BYRON (12-1) vs. WILLIAMSVILLE (13-0)
Byron is back in the state championship game, looking to avenge last season’s state title defeat (24-20 to Monticello). Coach Jeff Boyer (73-22, eight years) heads a strong offensive unit – 41.3 points a game – as well as an equally tough defense – allowing 9.7 points per game. The Tigers’ ground attack is led by senior RB Isaac Stickler (1,237 rushing yards, 15 TDs) and senior RB Drake Snodgrass (1,037 rushing yards, 8 TDs) along with senior RB Dayne Snodgrass (701 rushing yards, 10 TDs) and senior RB Ian Palzkill (582 rushing yards, 10 TDs). Two-way All-State linemen Tyler Elsbury is slated to play for the Hawkeyes in Iowa City next fall.
Offense has been no problem for the Bullets in 2019, averaging 47.8 points a game under coach Aaron Kunz (145-45, 17 years). Williamsville last played for the state title in 2014, when they fell to Wilmington on a field goal as time expired. The balanced offense is headed by senior RB Grant Ripperda (1,449 rushing yards, 26 TDs; 313 receiving yards, 5 TDs), junior QB Conor McCormick (2,039 passing yards, 29 TDs; 834 rushing yards, 14 TDs) and junior RB Stephen Gleason (473 receiving yards, 9 TDs). Williamsville rallied from a 23-8 deficit against Quincy Notre Dame en route to a 28-23 semifinal victory.
RICHMOND-BURTON (13-0) vs. MURPHYSBORO (11-2)
The Rockets are nine years removed from their last state title game appearance, ending as 2011 4A runner-up against Rochester. R-B’s strength is in its defense, allowing just 6.2 points a game with six shutouts led by Hall of Fame coach Mike Noll, who is in his second year at R-B (24-2). The offense is no slouch either with senior FB Dalton Wood (1,600 rushing yards, 32 TDs), senior WR Logan Hutson (473 receiving yards, 8 TDs) and junior QB Jacob Huber (1,020 passing yards, 16 TDs).
This is the first state championship game appearance for the Red Devils, who have allowed only 10.2 points a game all season. Coach Gary Carter (53-37, nine years) has seen his team lose just one game on the field with a forfeit loss due to a teacher’s strike. Murphysboro’s offensive firepower comes in the form of senior RB Dezmond Clark (1,110 rushing yards, 16 TDs; 279 receiving yards, two TDs), senior QB Jamarr McZeke (830 passing yards, 10 TDs) and senior RB Jake Hoppenstedt (549 rushing yards, nine TDs).
CHICAGO ST. RITA (10-3) vs. ROCHESTER (12-1)
Todd Kuska (190-85, 22 years) makes his second state title game appearance as the Mustangs coach, winning the Class 7A title in 2006. His St. Rita defense is the team's bread & butter, allowing opponents to just 14.9 points a game. Sophomore RB Kaleb Brown (1,947 rushing yards, 35 TDs; 291 receiving yards, three TDs) is a budding star with multiple Big Ten scholarship offers, while junior QB Brian Johnson (759 passing yards, four TDs) sets the tone. Junior LB Michael Gaughan (151 tackles, eight sacks, three INTs) leads the talented defense.
Death, taxes and Rochester playing on the final day of the season for a state title feel like constants, as the Rockets have won seven Class 4A crowns since 2010. Undaunted by the move up to 5A, Coach Derek Leonard (155-31, 15 years) boasts an impressive offense, putting up 52.7 points a game. These Rockets rely on junior FB Jacob DuRocher (1,789 rushing yards, 26 TDs), senior QB Clay Bruno (3,327 passing yards, 42 TDs) and sophomore WR Hank Beatty (1,739 receiving yards, 5 TDs).
PRAIRIE RIDGE (12-1) vs. EAST ST. LOUIS (13-0)
Prairie Ridge is looking to secure its third state championship in the last four seasons and fourth since 2011. All those titles have come under coach Chris Schremp (154-55, 18 years), who utilizes an explosive option offense – 48 points a game and very solid defense – allowing 10.2 points a game. Senior QB Connor Lydon (942 passing yards, 18 TDs) and junior RB Taidhgin Trost (523 receiving yards, 13 TDs) are catalysts on the offense. Leading rusher Carter Evans has been lost to injury, but fellow fullback Kyle Koelblinger filled in with 244 yards and four TDs in a semifinal win over Deerfield.
East St. Louis makes its first state final appearance in Class 6A following two titles in Class 7A – 2016 and 2008. The Flyers have eight total state titles in program history. Coach Darren Sunkett (212-68, 24 years) has maybe his most dynamic offense yet – scoring 52.7 points a game including nine games with 50 points or more. That offense scores in bunches thanks to junior QB Tyler Macon (3,937 passing yards, 36 TDs; 723 rushing yards, 16 TDs), senior RB Da’Monte Witherspoon (1,649 rushing yards, 33 TDs) and junior WR Dominic Lovett (1,423 receiving yards, 14 TDs).
MT. CARMEL (13-0) vs. NAZARETH ACADEMY (13-0)
The historic Caravan program (12 state titles) makes its way back to the championship game after having last won state in 2013 (7A). Jordan Lynch (24-2) is in his second year as head coach at his alma mater, and guides his team to Huskie Stadium, where he starred at NIU en route to being a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2013. The Caravan defense is a point of emphasis, holding its opposition to 10.6 points per game. Junior RB Kenenna Odeluga (1,074 rushing yards, 11 TDs) and senior WR Tony Livermore (590 receiving yards, 4 TDs) give Mt. Carmel quite the potent offense. Lynch's younger brother Justin Lynch (1,740 passing yards, 17 TDs; 693 rushing yards, 11 TDs) stars at QB.
Nazareth has succeeded in the 'drive for five'. This is the Roadrunners fifth state championship game appearance in the last six seasons, having won titles in 2014 (Class 6A), 2015 (Class 5A), and last season (Class 7A). Coach Tim Racki (123-48) lets his offense run through senior RB Derrick Strongs (837 rushing yards, 10 TDs) and sophomore WR Tyler Morris (1,237 receiving yards, 17 TDs). Getting them the ball is junior QB JJ McCarthy (2,704 passing yards, 33 TDs), a University of Michigan commit.
GURNEE WARREN (13-0) vs. LINCOLN-WAY EAST (13-0)
Warren makes its first state championship game appearance under coach Bryan McNulty (47-19, six years). A historically good defense is the Blue Devils' calling card, allowing just 40 points all season - 3.1 points a game average with six shutouts. Senior LB Juan DelaCruz (80 tackles, seven sacks) leads that defense, while senior WR Christian Phillips (722 receiving yards, 12 TDs; 531 rushing yards, nine TDs) and senior RB Derrick McLaughlin (1,616 rushing yards, 21 TDs) handle the offense.
Lincoln-Way East looks for its second title in third seasons, having won the 2017 Class 8A state title. Coach Rob Zvonar (190-39, 19 years) also has defense not giving up much - allowing 6.7 points a game and not giving up more 14 points all season. The Griffins look to utilize their run game with junior RB Jamal Johnson (637 rushing yards, four TDs), senior RB Devon Williams (607 rushing yards, 6 TDs), while Michigan commit WR/RB AJ Henning (523 rushing yards, 14 TDs; 748 receiving yards, 13 TDs) is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. He had 63- and 42-yard TD runs in the 2017 title game.
46th annual State Playoffs
4th year at NIU
Northern Illinois University
Directions - Parking
Spirit Zone, Gameday and Visitor Information
-Northern Illinois University
-City of DeKalb
-DeKalb County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Friday, November 29
Class 1A - 10:00 a.m.
Lena-Winslow vs. Central A&M
Class 2A - 1:00 p.m.
Newman Central Catholic vs. Nashville
Class 3A - 4:00 p.m.
Byron vs. Williamsville
Class 4A - 7:00 p.m.
Richmond-Burton vs. Murphysboro Coop
Saturday, November 30
Class 5A - 10:00 a.m.
St. Rita vs. Rochester
Class 6A - 1:00 p.m.
Prairie Ridge vs. East St. Louis
Class 7A - 4:00 p.m.
Mt. Carmel vs. Nazareth
Class 8A - 7:00 p.m.
Warren vs. Lincoln-Way East
$12 per day (no re-entry)
Buy Friday Tickets
Buy Saturday Tickets
TV: Quincy Media Inc. Statewide TV Network
Stream: NFHS Network
WDZ 1050 AM/WSOY 1340 AM & 103.3 FM (Decatur)
Central A&M home call
WQLF 102.1 FM (Freeport)
Lena-Winslow home call
WRAN 97.3 FM (Taylorville)
Central A&M home call
WXFM 99.3 FM/WDKR 107.3 FM (Mt. Zion)
Central A&M home call
WNSV 104.7 FM (Nashville)
Nashville home call
WFMB 104.5 FM (Springfield)
Williamsville home call
WNTA 1330 AM (Rockford)
Byron home call
WRHL 102.3 FM (Rochelle)
Byron home call
WDBX 91.1 FM (Carbondale)
Murphysboro home call
WFMB 104.5 FM (Springfield)
Rochester home call
WJOL 1340 AM (Joliet)
Lincoln-Way East home call
WRLR 98.3 FM (Round Lake Beach)
Warren home call
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