A taste of Champaign - Carlinville Hometown Proud of Cavies

A taste of Champaign – Carlinville Hometown Proud

Nov. 24, 2016

One team had one dream and that dream is one game away from reality for the Carlinville Cavaliers. The team’s 27-21 Nov. 19 win over North Mac in the IHSA Class 3A football semi-finals has qualified them for the championship game against Elmurst Immaculate Conception at 4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 25, at Memorial Stadium, Champaign.

The game will be the first time since 1993, and only the second time in the team’s history, the Cavaliers have advanced to the state finals.

“Numb,” was the reaction of Head Coach Chad Easterday immediately following Saturday’s win. “It’s really numb right now. To be very honest with you, we did not want to sound arrogant to start the season, but our goal was to play 14 weeks and here we are, playing 14 weeks.”

Mayor Deanna Demuzio, who announced Monday that Friday, Nov. 25, will be officially declared Carlinville Cavalier Day, wasted no time in reaching out to Easterday. “We’re very excited here. I’ve talked to Coach Easterday and I told him everywhere I go, they’re talking about the Cavies. I have a grandson who plays for Sacred Heart-Griffin, and even up there, people are talking about the Cavies. We’re planning a big homecoming for them when they get back on Friday.”

Senior running back Jacob Dixon reiterated the team’s goal set long before the start of the season. “This means everything. All of our goals have been achieved and it ‘s really great to see that the community as a whole can come together and give the support that we have been receiving this postseason. Set a goal this summer to go 14 games and it’s crazy to see it happening right before our eyes. This is something you dream of as a kid and I hope that we can inspire other kids to strive to get where we are and to believe that anything is possible.”

“It’s crazy. We had this goal set at the beginning of the year and we finally achieved it,” said senior tight/defensive end Brady Egelhoff.

Center Jake Hannig’s reaction to Saturday’s win was pure excitement. “Oh, my gosh. It’s unbelievable; I can’t even describe my feelings right now. They’re a really good team. I was really scared because they are very good in the second half, but I just thought our defense was really strong,” he said, adding, “I couldn’t have been more scared in my life. When Jacob [Dixon] intercepted that ball, it was like, oh, my gosh.”

“We are very happy for the players, coaches, student body and faculty,” said CHS Principal Patrick Drew. “It’s a very exciting time for the community and for those of us here at CHS.”

Superintendent Mike Kelly noted what a huge accomplishment this is for the team. “Very excited for the Cavaliers and the whole school. It’s been a wonderful year. We’re excited this great group of young people have been able to achieve at this high level. We’re very excited to get a chance to watch them in the state tournament in Champaign. The outcome, which we hope is a victory, isn’t nearly as important as the achievement to get there. Nothing can diminish what they’ve done.”

Athletic Director Darrin DeNeve expressed his pride for the team. “This is a win, not only for our football players and coaches, but, really, the entire town. I’m so proud of the work that everyone has done to get us this far, and it’s truly a wonderful thing that has brought our community together.”

Super fan and team statistician Tim Tarter said, “I’m very proud of this team.  They set their goals high before the season.  They were not satisfied with making the playoffs and winning a second round game.  They wanted to get to State.  They worked their tails off this past summer to get better and prepare for this season and are reaping the rewards.  Congratulations!”

The win was just as exciting for the fans. “I was at the game that got them to state and I say good luck men, you earned it. Now, go kick some butt,” said Cavie fan Joshua Edwards.

Sara Way is another excited fan. “Nothing short of amazing! You can sense the excitement throughout our entire community. Love the energy. This team is rising to the challenge. I have faith in them. Bring home that trophy boys!”

“Another great moment in Carlinville football. Let’s do better than 78 and 93. Claim that crown,” said Terry Weatherford, a fan who remembers the championship losses in 1978 and 1993.

The late Andy Easton Sr., who passed away in 2012, was the head coach who took the Cavaliers to the state finals in 1978, when the Cavies fell to Stockton 9-0, and in 1993, when the Cavies lost to Coal City 20-6.

His son, Andy Easton Jr., helped his father with the 1978 team and was a volunteer assistant coach in 1993. “My father would be very excited. He loved Carlinville High School and he would be very proud they made it to the finals. They’re the first 3A team in school history to make it. The previous teams were 2A.”

Easton was moved that the team bus made a trip by the home of Ben “Doc” Strode before leaving town on their way to Virden on Saturday. “One of the things I think he would have been excited about is the parade went by Doc Strode’s house. My dad had four assistant coaches and he took one of those spots and made Doc Strode the full-time trainer. Doc Strode has been a part of Carlinville athletics forever. He volunteered in other sports, but he was the full assistant for my dad when he was head coach.”

“It’s exciting for the whole county and the people of the town. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, a whole generation of fans get to go along with it. At least three players whose fathers he coached are playing in this game; dad would have been excited about that. I hope they play every down like it’s the last down they play,” said Easton.

Macoupin County Sheriff Shawn Kahl was a full back/linebacker on the 1993 team. “When I played 23 years ago, it was the best time of my life and I have some really great memories of it. I remember a lot of the plays and of what went on. It was an awesome experience that taught me a lot. Without teamwork, coming together and playing as a team, you’ll never make it to that championship game.”

When asked what advice he has for the players, Kahl said, “Play like you’ll never play again. You need to go up there and leave it all on the field. This whole thing is bringing back tons of memories for me. I wish them the best of luck and I hope they can go up there and bring home a championship.”