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Local

High School Football: Sterling will face big Whitney Young in home opener

Sterling's Sterling Thornton cuts through the Dixon defensive Friday night.
Sterling's Sterling Thornton cuts through the Dixon defensive Friday night.

It wasn't until a few months ago – early March – that Sterling had completed its football schedule for the upcoming 2014-15 season.

Johnsburg informed Sterling during the fall of last year that its plans to move from the Fox Valley Conference to the Big Northern Conference had been finalized.

The switch meant that the two would no longer be able to play their already scheduled matchup during the second week of the 2014 season because of scheduling conflicts that arose from the change in conferences.

"They broke our 2-year contract, so we had to act fast and try and find something for that week," said Greg King, Sterling's athletic director. "They were helping us search as well, so they would be able to get out and move on to their new conference.

"If we wouldn't have been able to find someone, [Johnsburg] would have been stuck."

With an open week still to schedule and time running out, King searched for other schools in a similar predicament with open weeks still to schedule, and found Whitney Young, a Chicago-area private school with an enrollment of 1,957.

Usually King has finished scheduling by the spring, but under these circumstances, he was able to find a Week 2 opponent, even though the school is much larger than Sterling's normal opponents

Since Whitney Young is a private school, it is subject to the multiplier rule. Its adjusted enrollment of 3,229 is much larger than Sterling's 1,010. Whitney Young finished last season at 9-1, and lost in the first round of the playoffs in Class 7A, and will travel to Sterling in Week 2.

Sterling missed the playoffs last season with a 5-4 record and would have likely been placed in Class 5A.

"It's going to be a great challenge," Golden Warriors football coach Jon Schlemmer said of Whitney Young. "They are obviously a good team that went [9-1] last season, and we expect them to be tough again.

"The kids are already putting in their work, and we just have to make sure to have a great effort. We just go out there and compete."

Sterling will face a familiar opponent during its first game, as it will open the 2014-15 football season on the road against Metamora on August 29. Sterling beat the Redbirds 42-28 at home in the first game of the season last year

"This year we get to go down there," Schlemmer said. "I'm sure they have this one circled on their calendars to try and get us back."

After opening their season on the road, the Golden Warriors will play three consecutive home games against Whitney Young, Rich South and Morris.

Sterling's NIB-12 West games will include home games against Ottawa and Rochelle, and away games against LaSalle-Peru and Geneseo. Its two NIB-12 crossover games are home against Morris and at Sycamore.

"There are good teams throughout the schedule," Schlemmer said. "We know that there isn't an easy one out there."

When taking a glance at the schedule, however, it seems as if an important game is missing. 

Since the upcoming 2014-15 school year will be the first year of Dixon competing in the Big Northern after cutting ties with the NIB-12 at the end of this past season, the two schools, which have built up a fun two-town rivalry over the years, won't face each other this season.

"Those are two pretty good rivalries," Schlemmer said. "And being so short and close in distance, it will be kind of a shame. We thought they were on the up, and doing a nice job of turning things around."

Said King, "It is really is sad not facing [Dixon]. The two towns had so much history."

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