There is no easy trip through a Big Northern Conference football
The BNC sent six teams to the postseason last year, with Byron reaching the Class 3A semifinals, and with no nonconference games for the 10-team league, there is no week to either get things up to speed or take any sort of break since everything from Week 1 through Week 9 plays a part in the conference title race.
“It will be no different than any other season,” Rock Falls athletic director Rich Montgomery said. “It’ll be an uphill battle. We have perennial powers like Byron who will be very, very good again. Genoa-Kingston will be solid. Oregon is improving. Stillman is probably right on the verge of another potential trophy team.”
“All you can do is make sure we’re in shape and know our system and do what we can do,” Dixon coach Dave Smith said. “You start out with Stillman, which is a top team in Illinois, and finish with Byron.”
Dixon has three of its first four games on the road, with trips to face Stillman Valley, Rock Falls and North Boone wrapped around the Week 3 home opener against Oregon.
Stillman Valley beat the Dukes 42-13 in Week 1 last year in Dixon as the Cardinals launched what turned out to be a 7-4 campaign.
“The way we prepare is we worry about what we do,” Smith said. “We’re not going to worry about home or away, we’re not going to get too emotional. We’re going to play Dixon football.”
The Dukes and Rockets meet up at Hinders Field in Rock Falls in a Week 2 rematch of a game the Dukes won 65-14 last year at A.C. Bowers Field, the Dukes’ sixth win in a row in the series.
“Their sophomore team was outstanding last year,” Montgomery said. “Coach Smith does an awesome job there. I don’t see them taking much of a back step. I think they’ll be a pretty solid team.”
Dixon closes its regular season with home games four of the last 5 weeks, hosting Mendota and Rockford Lutheran before an October 11 trip to Genoa-Kingston, then back home to face Winnebago and Byron.
The buses at Rock Falls will also put a lot of miles on early in the season, with road trips to Genoa-Kingston in Week 1, Byron in Week 3 and Stillman Valley in Week 4. The Rockets also host four of their last five games, with Winnebago and Oregon at Hinders Field before a trip to North Boone, followed by home games against Mendota and Rockford Lutheran.
The Oregon Hawks open the second season of the Nick Schneiderman era with a home game against Rockford Lutheran, a rematch of a 27-21 Oregon win in Rockford last fall in a game that was decided by a Dalton Hermes 10-yard touchdown run in the second overtime.
After road games against Genoa-Kingston and Dixon, the Hawks will return to Landers-Loomis Field in Week 4 to host Byron, with another home game the following week against Stillman Valley. Oregon will go on the road to face Rock Falls and Winnebago, then host North Boone in Week 8, then visit Mendota in Week 9.