Five Easy Pieces: Matchups that catch our eye

Each week, sports editor Zack Carpenter will provide a top-five list in different categories of sports, movies or music. This week, he takes a look at five matchups this fall to keep an eye on across the three team sports.

Rantoul vs. Fisher/GCMS Soccer

Sept. 12

Unfortunately, we won’t be able to fit an anticipated Eagles vs. Bunnies matchup into this week’s paper, as results were not available at press time. But both squads were primed for a fun showdown, just as last season’s 2-0 Fisher/Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley victory as a scintillating game between a pair of hot teams. The Bunnies are gunning for big things in 2017, off to a 6-2-2 start, while Rantoul is hoping to bounce back from a 2-5 record in which it believes it gave a couple games away.

Fisher vs. Leroy Football

Oct. 20

We have been hyping it up all year, and in this space it is no different. If the Bunnies hope to end their playoff drought, it will most likely come down to the Week 9 matchup against the Panthers. Fisher must first bounce back from a Week 3 loss to Fieldcrest and rattle off wins over Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland, Heyworth and Tremont to set itself up for some fireworks in a regular season finale at Kellar Field. Fisher’s other two games are against Deer Creek-Mackinaw and Tri-Valley, a pair of squads gunning for the Heart of Illinois Conference Large title.

Rantoul vs. Armstrong-Potomac volleyball

Sept. 16

At the Paxton-Buckley-Loda Classic in 2016, the two programs met in an intense straight-sets victory for Rantoul (won 25-16, 25-20). It was the first of two exclamation marks the Eagles would have on the day, as it was their sixth victory in a row following a 2-11 start — they would lose their next match vs. PBL before taking third place in a win over Iroquois West. The Trojans, meanwhile, used the loss as a springboard to win the tourney’s consolation championship on the way to a regional title game appearance. Saturday should provide some more fireworks as fifth-year A-P head coach Candy Franzen takes on the program she coached for seven years.

Rantoul @ STM, @IVC

Sept. 22, 29

We are going to cheat a bit here, but these are the two matchups on the schedule in which the Eagles have a good chance of going on the road for a victory. St. Thomas More is struggling with low participation numbers this year, and its lone win was a 14-0 victory over Rantoul victim Olympia. Illinois Valley Central, meanwhile, is still 0-3 and has reportedly looked uncompetitive across the first three weeks. Going into the season, one win for a struggling Eagles program would have been seen as successful. Now they have a great chance to add to it with one or two more.

Fisher @ Bloomington Cornerstone Soccer

Sept. 30

No game on the schedule will better dictate and show the Bunnies’ improvement from last year to this year (and the beginning of the year to the end) more than their matchup against Cornerstone. It was the Cyclones that ended the Bunnies’ season with a 5-2 regional victory on the way to a fourth-place finish in Class 1A. But Fisher/GCMS is back and better than last year’s squad with nine starters, each of whom have improved. Caleb Bleich, Alec Johnson and Tyler Ricks on the offensive attack are backed by Matthias Dean, Jeremy Steidinger, Andrew Ferguson, Graham Voelker, Alexis Hallden and Ethan Kasper, a sophomore who has pitched five shutouts from his goalkeeper spot this year.

Contact Zack Carpenter at zcarpenter@rantoulpress.com and on Twitter @ZCarp11.

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