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Local

Still plenty to get excited about

Dixon receiver Brayden Forrest and Rock Falls defender Keyon Wolber both break on a pass during last year’s game at A.C. Bowers Field. Shaw Media is introducing a new football-oriented website called Friday Night Drive, which will feature stories about teams from all across the company’s coverage area.
Dixon receiver Brayden Forrest and Rock Falls defender Keyon Wolber both break on a pass during last year’s game at A.C. Bowers Field. Shaw Media is introducing a new football-oriented website called Friday Night Drive, which will feature stories about teams from all across the company’s coverage area.

As the spring sports season has come to an end, the fun still doesn’t stop for us here in the SVM sports department. With the day-to-day grind, well, grinding to a halt, there are a few other things we’re looking forward to in the next 10 days.

First up is the second annual Shaw Media Most Valuable Athlete Awards banquet tonight at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb. After former Bears star Charles “Peanut” Tillman gave an inspiring speech in the inaugural event a year ago, this year’s awards show should be just as special: current Bear Akiem Hicks and former Bear Zach Miller will participate in a Q&A moderated by Pro Football Weekly guru Hub Arkush.

And the best athletes from all over the Shaw Media umbrella – from the Chicago suburbs to the Mississippi River down to Interstate 80 – will be in the running for the MVA awards for each IHSA sport, with the finalists announced by Arkush and the winners receiving a plaque commemorating their accomplishments.

If you’re interested in attending the event, you can buy tickets at https://shawmediaevents.com/e/shawmva2019.

The other big news that’s been on our radar for the past couple of months is an exciting new opportunity for football fans far and wide to get even more in-depth coverage of the high school gridiron scene.

The new website is called Friday Night Drive, and it will feature everything high school football in the Shaw Media footprint. There will be team analysis, player profiles, season previews, breaking news, and every type of story you could dream of about high school football, both in our local area and across the state.

Our goals for Friday Night Drive are simple: to deliver quality coverage of high school football with timely news, in-depth analysis and more, while creating an online community for fans.

We feel this is a great way to scratch that football itch at all times of the year, and we’ll be providing more content than ever throughout the summer and preseason as we lead up to the 2019 season next August.

But here’s the best part: Are you already a Sauk Valley Media print or digital subscriber? We have great news: you get free access to FridayNightDrive.com. Just sign in with your current digital credentials and you’ll get unlimited access.

If you’re a print subscriber to our newspaper and need to activate your digital account, go to our website and click “login” to get started.

Not a current subscriber?
You can sign up for Friday Night Drive for a limited-time subscription rate of only $2.49 a month (billed annually), a 40% savings.

Our quality coverage already has started, with my look at the Newman football program as it adjusts to the first season in four decades without Hall of Fame head coach Mike Papoccia at the helm. Northwest Herald sports editor Kyle Nabors took a deep dive into the history of the IHSA’s mapping program. Shaw Suburban sports editor Josh Welge discovered Nazareth quarterback J.J. McCarthy’s favorite play in his terrific profile on the Michigan commit. Ottawa Times sports editor J.T. Pedelty showed us how declining participation numbers is giving rise to 8-man football in Illinois. And Joliet Herald-News sports editor and prep football expert Steve Soucie and Nabors discussed their thoughts on the IHSA’s district mock in their first podcast.

So while you’ll still get the same strong local football coverage in the Telegraph and Daily Gazette, you can also check out the statewide scene. And when the season starts up, in addition to the usual game stories, previews and features from our area, you can also check out the same stories about every team in the Shaw Media coverage area.

This is something that has been in the works for a while, and we can’t wait to show you how we can tackle high school football (see what I did there?) in a way that we’re incredibly excited about.

I encourage everyone to visit the new site; you won’t be disappointed. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can’t get your high school football fix.

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