This past weekend was the first without football for Aurora Christian seniors Chad Beebe, Joel Bouagnon and Brandon Mayes since just before two-a-days opened in August.
Could have fooled them.
Charting the whirlwind surrounding the trio’s future school, Northern Illinois, kept any Huskies recruit busy. Within 48 hours, NIU defeated Kent State in double overtime for the Mid-American Conference championship, learned coach Dave Doeren was leaving the program for North Carolina State, hired Rod Carey as Doeren’s replacement, and ascended the BCS rankings enough to land a spot in the Jan. 1 Orange Bowl.
“My head’s not spinning,” Mayes said, “but it definitely is an exciting time while also sad to see coach Doeren leave.”
The Eagles still are winding down from winning their second successive IHSA Class 3A state title in Champaign on Nov. 23, but the euphoria hasn’t been so great as to cloud players from what’s happening in DeKalb.
To be sure, Doeren’s departure after two seasons is the most pressing issue. While Beebe could not immediately be reached for comment, Bouagnon and Mayes – both linebacker/running back hybrids in 2012 – stood by their college commitments.
“I’m not really changing around anything. I’m pretty comfortable at NIU still,” said Bouagnon, a Burlington Central transfer now living in Batavia. “I think they’re still solid enough, and I’m not going to change my mind on them.”
Added Mayes: “Their recruiting coach has called, and we’ve been in touch about the whole thing. They’ve talked about just moving past it and keep moving on. As far as what they have to do, I’m not concerned about it because they’re a great staff that really knows what to do and has a plan.”
NIU enters the Orange Bowl against Florida State with 12 straight victories after losing its season opener to Iowa by one point. Oregon and Northern Illinois are the only programs in the country with at least 11 victories in each of the past three seasons.
Former Cadets reconnect in NCAA FCS: Seven years after both schools moved up to NCAA Division I, North Dakota State and South Dakota State met in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivison playoffs for the first time Saturday.
The game featured a pair of longtime friends, St. Charles residents and former Marmion standouts on opposing sidelines. Nick Scoliere and North Dakota State topped T.J. Lally and South Dakota State, 28-3, to advance to a national quarterfinal against Wofford.
A redshirt freshman linebacker, Scoliere has five tackles – one for a loss – in four games this season.
“Nick and I were texting at the beginning of the week a lot about the game,” Lally said. “The games are always massive. The first one [a 20-17 NDSU win in November] was for the conference championship, and the second game was the playoffs.
“This rivalry, it’s some bad blood up here, but it’s always real good to see him.”
Lally, a redshirt freshman linebacker and one of 10 Jackrabbits to earn all-Missouri Valley Football Conference recognition, registered 11 tackles Saturday. He finished second on the team with 107 tackles while sharing the lead with six sacks and two forced fumbles.
“This was a really special year for us,” Lally said. “There’s a lot we can build on here. We’re happy with how it went and are looking forward to the future.”
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.