Sterling fans got a look at the future on Friday night.
The Golden Warriors and Alleman met in football for the fourth year in a row, but this time it is with the knowledge that this is the last time they will meet in a non-conference game. When they face off in 2019, both will be in the Western Big 6.
Sterling’s move to a different conference, precipitated by the disintegration of the NIB-12, means a new slate of league rivals in Alleman, Moline, Rock Island, United Township, Galesburg and Quincy for Warriors fans to come to know.
Sterling lineman Aidan Munoz-Ripley said he is excited to get a chance to introduce at least one future conference foe to Warriors football “just to show them how physical we are as a team and to show that we’re coming here to play.”
The two new members – Geneseo is also jumping to the Western Big 6 – have been able to use this one final year in the NIB-12 to schedule a slew of nonconference games with soon-to-be rivals. Geneseo opened its football season with games against Moline and Galesburg. Sterling’s volleyball team has faced Rock Island and United Township (and not dropped a set). There’s also a Sterling-UT matchup slated for early in the girls basketball season. The Golden Warriors baseball team, once it completes its final commitments to the NIB-12 with a May 9 game against Rochelle, will offer fans a sneak preview of the Western Big 6 by welcoming UT and Moline to Gartner Park the following week.
Sterling’s football and volleyball teams are making rude introductions to the league, with the volleyball sweeps and the football team’s 42-7 win on Friday, but what better use of Sterling’s string of success accross multiple sports in recent years than to make an introduction to a new set of rivals.
That is, unless the IHSA wants to go with districts instead of conferences in football next fall, and then Team 115 will have a completely different set of teams to introduce itself to.