ST. JOSEPH (WCIA) — With his college recruitment in check, Ty Pence is returning to the football field. The St. Joseph-Ogden senior is back on the football team for the first time since his freshman year, just a few weeks after pledging to play basketball for Illinois State. Pence will play receiver for the Spartans, who are looking to make it past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2015. SJO is coming off three straight 5-5 seasons under head coach Shawn Skinner.

“We’ve had the experience of playing in the playoffs,” Skinner said. “We need to elevate it. We need to take that next step and get six or seven wins in the regular season. And these guys are aware that they need to win a playoff game, quite frankly. So that’s been something that has pushed them this summer.”

“Our standards are a lot higher than just 5-4 and a playoff,” St. Joseph-Ogden senior running back Tyler Burch said. “We want to make a deep run in it and go 6-3, 7-2, and then conference play as well.”

St. Joseph-Ogden opens the season visiting Illini Prairie conference rival Monticello next Friday night.