The names are familiar, but the places will be different for the football opponents of Dixon, Oregon, and Rock Falls this coming season.
Dixon and Rock Falls of the Big Northern Conference, each have the same schedule as last year — the same opponents on the same weeks.
However, games that were at home last year are now on the road, and vice-versa.
The Oregon Hawks are not as familiar with their opening week matchup. Harvard, a former Big Northern foe now in the Kishwaukee River Conference, comes to Landers-Loomis Field for Week 1.
Oregon has won six of the past 12 meetings with the Hornets. They last faced each other in 2013 in crossover play, and were briefly divisional foes in the conference’s former Red Division in 2003-04.
Harvard replaces Monmouth-Roseville, who is joining the Three Rivers – a conference that mandates divisional crossover games during bye weeks.
At this point, first-year coach Nick Schneiderman doesn’t know a whole lot about the recent version of the Hornets, but remembers how tough Harvard was under veteran coach Tim Haak from 1985 to 2013. However, the Hornets have gone 7-29 in the past 4 seasons.
“When coach Haak was there, Harvard was one of the most physical teams in their area, year-in and year-out,” Schneiderman said. “I don’t know anything else other than that coach Haak is retired, but I’m assuming they’re still going to be a physical team.
“We’re going to be prepared to go against a traditional Harvard team, and smash mouth, hard-nosed, physical kids.”
Dixon and Rock Falls see no changes to their set of weekly opponents from last year. The Rockets, however, will be playing at Hinders Field for their first 2 weeks, opening with Rockford Christian and then hosting Mendota.
Rock Falls started last season 2-0, their best start since 2003. Having that same success in front of their home crowd would be a long time coming for the Rockets, who haven’t won at home in 19 games. The last win came on Week 2 in 2013, a 22-21 win over Marengo.
“That would probably be something we wouldn’t know what to do with,” Rock Falls coach Rich Montgomery said. “We haven’t seen a W at home in a long time.”
The preparations remain the same for the Rockets, who lost key players on a much-improved 3-6 season, compared to recent years.
“You always prepare the same for the first-week game,” Montgomery said. “You just got to have everything in when it comes time. It might be a little more exciting for the kids because they open up at home, but prep-wise, it doesn’t change.”
Both Dixon and Rock Falls have mandatory crossovers with the Kishwaukee River Conference, an arrangement expiring this year. Dixon will travel to Woodstock in Week 5, and Rock Falls will host Woodstock North in Week 9.
Rockford Christian will leave the BNC after this coming school year, which will reduce the conference’s membership to 10 schools.
The 10-school arrangement means that every BNC school will face one another in 2018.
The Dukes will then face Byron and Winnebago, and the Rockets will then face North Boone and Rockford Lutheran. Oregon will then face Genoa-Kingston and Mendota.