When last we saw Aurora Christian, the Eagles were hoisting the first state championship trophy in Aurora history with their 34-7 victory over Mt. Carmel in the Class 3A state title game in Champaign last November.
Like the rest of the teams around the state, Aurora Christian opened official practice Wednesday. The Eagles did it, however, without their coach Don Beebe.
Beebe was in Los Angeles Wednesday filming a documentary with Leon Lett. This is the 20th anniversary of Beebe's famous hustle and strip of Lett just before the goal-line in Super Bowl XXVII that denied the Dallas defensive lineman a touchdown.
Beebe said they are using the documentary "to impact kids." He'll be back at Eagles practice Thursday.
Schedule changes: The changes to area team's schedules goes beyond new nonconference opponents this fall.
The Batavia-Geneva game, played in Week 6 last year in the middle of the conference season but before that normally scheduled for Week 9, has been bumped all the way up to Week 3 in the Upstate Eight Conference opener for both schools.
Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron said he prefers the game to be played late in the year but had no say in the schedule.
The St. Charles East-St. Charles North game also will be played in Week 3. Those two rivalry games always gave the programs a marquee matchup to anticipate. It could be a game that decided a conference title or playoff berth -- but even if one of the teams was struggling the game gave them a chance to knock off their rival.
Piron also had his hands full finding a second nonconference opponent after Marmion dropped the Bulldogs following a two-year series that saw the teams each win on their home field.
Batavia's success during a 12-1 season last year made it hard to find an opponent. Piron said 10 to 14 teams turned Batavia down. They almost had Providence scheduled but the Celtics decided to play Joliet Catholic instead to open its new field.
The Bulldogs wound up with Glenbard North, an 8A school from the DuPage Valley Conference. The Panthers have one of the best running backs in the state in junior Justin Jackson (already with offers from Illinois, Boston College, Purdue and Northwestern) who has three returning linemen to clear holes.
Batavia also will need to find a new nonconference opponent in 2013 after its contract with Plainfield East ends. Piron said possibilities include Kaneland -- the teams squared off in one memorable game after another for years until the Western Sun Conference disbanded after 2010 -- O'Fallon and Prairie Ridge among others.
Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said the Cadets also had trouble finding a new opponent. Benet, Elmwood Park, Evergreen Park, Glenbard South, Richmond-Burton and two Wisconsin schools all said no before Marmion and Jacobs agreed.
Odds and ends: Once again, Aurora Central got a jump on the area with its first practice at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
Players practiced until 2 a.m. and then slept at the school. Parents made breakfast -- 300 pancakes -- before the players headed back to the practice field.
Like the Chargers, West Aurora is coming off a 4-5 season looking for that one more victory and a spot in the playoffs. Blackhawks coach Nate Eimer said he "feels a little more relaxed" as he gets ready for his second season back at his alma mater.
Geneva coach Rob Wicinski might have the biggest adjustment as the Vikings move from the natural grass to turf at Burgess Field. Longtime foe Oswego returns to the schedule to christen the new field Aug. 24.
"Looks like we need to get faster -- 5 wide," Wicinski said.