State Stories


2015 Football - Destination DeKalb

Bookmark and Share

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football State Championships return to DeKalb in 2015, as Northern Illinois University and Huskie Stadium host for the second time. The eight title games will unfold on Friday and Saturday, November 27-28, marking the 42nd annual edition of the state finals.

Once again, the games will be broadcast in full High Definition (HD) by Comcast SportsNet Chicago and streamed on See links on righthand sidebar for channel information.


After sitting in the shadow of neighboring power Tuscola (located just eight miles down the road) for many years, Arcola head coach Zach Zehr has manufactured a quick turnaround that has his program on the brink of its third state title and first since 1988. The Purple Riders were 3-6 in Zehr’s first season in 2013, before winning 10 games a year ago. The Purple Riders have posted their 13-0 mark in dominant fashion, winning 12 games this season by running clock, including a 42-0 semifinal win over LeRoy. The senior-dominated squad’s prolific offense is powered by running back Wyatt Fishel (141 car., 1,929 yards, 33 TD) and dual-threat quarterback Clayton Strader (1,270 rushing yards, 991 passing yards, 35 total TD). Fellow senior Kollin Seaman is threat in the passing game (9 TD) from his tight end position as well.
Stark County’s fifth state final trip was worth the wait. The Rebels and semifinal foe Ottawa Marquette tried to wait out Saturday’s snow storm, but mounting accumulation forced what is believed to be the first Sunday semifinal playoff game in IHSA history. Playing at Dunlap High School, the Rebels took a 10-7 lead before halftime on a 46-yard field goal from Karl Wallander and both defenses pitched second half shutouts to make it stand up. Senior Keith Ehnle is a big part of that Rebel defense, having recorded over 100 tackles from his linebacker position. Meanwhile all-state seniors McCauley Johnston and Chase Johnston (no relation) team-up to fuel the offense. Center McCauley opens up holes from his center positon, while Chase has found those seams all year long to the tune of 2,209 yards and 29 touchdowns.


Tri-Valley kicked off IHSA state final football at Huskie Stadium when it played in the Class 1A title game in 2013, the first appearance in school history. Head coach Josh Roop’s team made it a memorable start for the wrong reasons, as the Vikings had two fumbles returned for touchdowns on their first three possessions. The squad rallied, but eventually fell to Lena-Winslow 28-21. Three starters return from that squad, including the head coach’s son, quarterback Peyton Roop. Peyton has evolved from a game-manager as a sophomore to a gamebreaker as a senior, achieving All-State status after running for 15 touchdowns and throwing for 12 more this season. Roop is protected by fellow all-stater Matt Sorensen, a 6-2, 260-pound tackle whose presence has helped Hayden Long turn into a 1,000-yard running back (1,424 yards, 19 TD).
After over 230 career wins, 22 playoff appearances and five previous semifinal trips, Hall of Fame coach Dave Bates finally breaks through in 2015 to lead the Trojans to the state championship game in his 29th season at the helm. This result didn’t appear to be in the cards early in the season, as the squad started 1-3, but Auburn has rattled off nine straight wins since, outscoring its four playoff opponents by a combined total of 129-48. The Trojans are guided by strong quarterback play from senior Drew Chance (164-296, 2,224 yards, 22 TD), who has an All-State wide receiver as a target in senior Drew Points (95 rec., 1,485 yards, 16 TD) and can also turn and hand the ball off to standout junior running back Ryan Mclaughlin (257 car., 1,492 yards, 23 TD).


Bishop McNamara returns to the state finals for the first time since 1998, as legendary coach Rich Zinanni tries to win his fifth state championship in his 41st year leading the program. Playing in the rugged Chicago Catholic League leaves the Fightin’ Irish battled-tested for the playoffs, as they have averaged over 44 points per game in the postseason, while the team’s lone loss this season came against Class 5A semifinalist St Laurence. Central Michigan commit Jonathan Ward is a special running back, having eclipsed 2,000 yards (32 TD) in his senior season. All-State senior linebacker Jerrico Johnson is equally impactful, having registered almost 200 tackles on the season, while also chipping in 709 yards as runner. Kobe Shutter (1,335 yards) makes sure that the Bishop Mac offense isn’t one-dimensional, as the senior quarterback has thrown 20 touchdown passes this year.
Few coaches in the state are as good at preparing their squad for the postseason as Unity’s Scott Hamilton. Under his leadership, The Rockets have now reached the state championship game on five different occasions since 2000, and hope that 2015 will be the program’s first state championship. Hamilton’s coaching prowess was on display in the semifinals, as the Rockets downed St. Joseph-Ogden 30-8 five weeks after losing to the same squad 34-14. Part of the resurgence is thanks in part to the continuing maturation of sophomore Steven Migut (1,757 passing yards, 1,049 rushing yards, 38 total TD). The Rockets have speed to burn, as several players were a part of Unity’s track & field squad that won the IHSA Class 1A title last spring, including senior running back Chandler Cousins (1,356 yards, 24 TD). Senior Zach Gadbury, an IHSFCA All-State selection, has been the anchor of both the offensive and defensive lines.


It may seem like an error to not see the name Rochester in the 4A title game, but Althoff Catholic is the reason that the five-time defending champs are not back this year, as Ken Turner’s group outlasted the Rockets 46-42 in a quarterfinal shootout. High school basketball fans in Illinois will recognize plenty of names on this squad, as last year’s Class 3A state basketball runner-up features four starters from that team at the wide receiver positions, including CJ Coldon (65 rec., 1,281 yards, 12 TD) and Keenen Young (72 rec., 1,049 yards, 16 TD). Senior Jordan Augustine (219-302, 3,509 yards) has taken advantage of that athleticism, throwing 40 touchdowns in 2015. Althoff’s explosiveness was highlighted during a 27-second span in the third quarter of its semifinal win over Mater Dei, as three different players scored touchdowns to turn a 21-6 halftime lead into an insurmountable advantage and state final berth.
Wendell Phillips Academy ended the Chicago Public Schools football state final drought a year ago, as they became the second CPS team to reach a state championship game, following Robeson in 1982. After falling short to aforementioned Rochester last year, the goal now becomes being the first CPS school to win a state championship. Junior running back Kamari Mosby (213 car., 2,246 yards, 18 TD) is enjoying a prolific junior season, and is joined in the backfield by senior Quayvon Skanes (1,317 rushing yards, 39 total TD), who made the move to quarterback this year after playing wide receiver last season. University of Iowa bound linebacker Amani Jones has been lost with an injury, but the defense has stepped up to the tune of five shutouts and allowing less than nine point per game in the postseason, highlighted by junior defensive tackle Chris Elmore’s 11 sacks and 100+ tackles.

Due to time constraints the Class 5A-8A previews were unable to be posted.

42nd annual State Series
15th year of 8-Class series
2nd year at NIU


Northern Illinois University
Brigham Field at Huskie Stadium
DeKalb, Illinois

Fan Spirit Zone at NIU



More info on state games...


Friday, November 27
Class 1A - 10:00 a.m.
Stark County vs. Arcola

Class 2A - 1:00 p.m.

Tri-Valley vs. Auburn

Class 3A - 4:00 p.m.

Bishop McNamara vs. Tolono Unity

Class 4A - 7:00 p.m.

Phillips vs. Althoff Catholic

Saturday, November 28
Class 5A - 10:00 a.m.
Nazareth vs. Lincoln-Way West

Class 6A - 1:00 p.m.

Montini Catholic vs. Crete-Monee

Class 7A - 4:00 p.m.

Glenbard West vs. Libertyville

Class 8A - 7:00 p.m.

Loyola Academy vs. Marist

$10 per day (no re-entry)


Comcast Sports Net Chicago & the IHSA TV Network will broadcast the games in HD

Channel Listings  (free)

WKEI 104.3 FM (Kewanee)
Stark County call
Internet Broadcast

WWGO 92.1 FM (Mattoon) Arcola call
Internet Broadcast


WFMB 1450 AM (Springfield)
Auburn call
Internet Broadcast

WJBC (Bloomington)
Tri-Valley call
Internet Broadcast Only

WYKT/WXNU 105.5/106.5 FM (Kankakee)
Bishop McNamara call
Internet Broadcast

Internet Broadcast Only


WJOL-1340 AM (Joliet)
Lincoln-Way West call
Internet Broadcast

Internet Broadcast Only

WRLR 98.3 FM (Round Lake)
Libertyville call
Internet Broadcast
Internet Broadcast Only

Internet Broadcast Only

IHSA Football Homepage

Play Smart. Play Hard.

Take the PSPH pledge...

#IHSA on Twitter
Twitter - @IHSAstate

Instagram - @IHSA_IL

Classic IHSA YouTube Video

2015 Playoffs

Record Book & Past Champions