GILMAN (WCIA) — Friday will mark the start of the high school football season for most teams around Central Illinois, but some, like Iroquois West and Hoopeston Area, will get started Thursday night.

It will be the first chance for the Raiders to get back on the field after breaking a 15 season playoff drought last season. They won eight games, as many as they had between 2015-2020 combined. With three graduating seniors on each side of the ball, there is still a lot of experience back in Gilman.

“Every single day, those guys were in here grinding and they were just itching to get back out here,” head coach Jason Thiele said. “It wasn’t back to the fundamentals, it was picking up where we left off. And those guys, were full steam ahead.”

“It definitely gives us something to strive for, something that we know is achievable and really gives the confidence boost to younger kids to step up and do their part,” running back John Ahldean said.