So, fall is about football. Right?
Well, yes and no. We spend a lot of our time and energy talking football here at SVM, but pigskin battles are not the only prep sports action to watch.
Over the next couple weeks, we'll start previewing the other fall sports that make this season so fun.
Here a few things to watch in the Sauk Valley.
Set and spike
Last year, the volleyball season seemed to rotate around the Rock Falls and Sterling axis.
While the Golden Warriors ruled during the regular season, it was the Rockets who thrived in the postseason.
Rock Falls ended up in a 3A supersectional after knocking off the Warriors in the regional final.
Both the Warriors and Rockets were hit hard by graduation. Each side of the river has developed good enough programs that there should not be too much of a drop off.
But, the long runs in volleyball could come out of Erie and Oregon.
In Erie, the bulk of a sectional qualifier return. If Peyton Rus and company can take the next step, then the Cardinals could be a contender in 1A.
Oregon ran into Dakota last year in the 2A sectional finals. The Indians will be waiting again, most likely, but the Hawks should be a year better.
The Hawks lost a key player in Devyn Absher, but many of the other important role players are back. First-year coach Faith Watson should have Oregon running smoothly by then.
Kickin' it new school
Sterling soccer has been on a roll the last 4 years. Last season, a promising regular season was spoiled by an upset loss to Rochelle in the regional round.
Coach Chris Interone has left the team to pursue other career opportunities. New coach Brian Cebula, who has coached the girls team the last couple of seasons, will inherit a program on the rise.
If it can maintain that momentum, the soccer team could be the most successful on Roscoe Eades' turf this fall.
Going the distance
Dixon's Simon Thorpe has been a pacesetter in cross country since he was freshman. Heck, his name started popping up way back in his Reagan Middle School days.
Now, the son of coach Evan Thorpe is a senior, and there's little doubt he has big plans to go out with a bang.
Thorpe won't be the only local runner paced for Detweiler Park in Peoria. The Rock Falls program usually has boys and girls with grand designs, and I doubt that will be any different this year.
Bureau Valley has Regan Weidner, who finished second in 1A a year ago. She was only sophomore then. If she stays healthy, she'll be a favorite to bring home gold in 2013.
About every swimmer in the area over the last 15 years has done so in the wake of one Wike or another.
The latest to go through the Sterling swim program, Charli Wike, will end another chapter in that legacy this fall.
She qualified for state in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke a year ago. She placed 21st in the breaststroke.
She only needs to jump up nine spots and cut less than a second to be in contention for a medal this year.
That's not it
As I said, we'll be previewing all these sports more extensively in the coming weeks, so don't worry if I didn't mention your favorite sport, team or athlete.
The best part of all is that most of the best stories, we don't even know about yet.
I know you can't wait to see them, and we can't wait to tell them.