CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — There is an extra buzz at Central football practice this week. The Maroons say they’re getting ready like it’s any other game, but there’s even more at stake this year between the two Champaign high schools. At 4-4, Centennial has to win to qualify for the postseason. Already out of the playoff picture at 2-6, Central would love nothing more than to keep their rivals at home next week.
“It’s definitely on our minds that we want to stop them from going to the playoffs,” Central senior lineman Lavontae Pelmore said.
“It’d be great to spoil it for those guys,” Central head coach Tim Turner said. “We all know, they know, the kids know, it’s no secret they need this game to get into the playoffs. We’d love to be the reason they don’t get into the playoffs.”
Central is also looking for revenge after Centennial won their first inter-city rivalry game since 2016 in the spring. The Maroons lost running back Miles Wood to a torn MCL, ACL, and meniscus against the Chargers.
The senior has been out since, but he’ll be on the sidelines cheering his teammates on.
“Obviously this is one I want them to win,” Wood said. “I want that trophy back, it would mean a lot.”
The Maroons have been hurt by injuries, with only seven healthy seniors suiting up in the Friday Football Fever Spotlight Game of the Week. Turner is trying to keep a positive outlook for what could be in the future.
“To be able to get some games under their belt so they can see the pace of the game, so they can see the strength and power of the game, it’s huge,” Turner said about his underclassmen getting experience. “I think it’s going to be something that for the next few years in our program it’s going to be something that helps us along.”