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updated: 11/23/2016 4:00 PM

Vernon Hills Cougars to make history Saturday in state title game

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  • Video: Vernon Hills pep rally

  • Vernon Hills High School football captains Mac Vincent, left, Andrew Smith, Kyle Hull and Jeffrey Rosenstock try to pump up the crowd during a pep rally Wednesday. The team will play for the Class 5A state football championship Saturday.

      Vernon Hills High School football captains Mac Vincent, left, Andrew Smith, Kyle Hull and Jeffrey Rosenstock try to pump up the crowd during a pep rally Wednesday. The team will play for the Class 5A state football championship Saturday.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills High School football players sing the school song during a pep rally Wednesday in advance of Saturday's Class 5A state title game in Champaign.

      Vernon Hills High School football players sing the school song during a pep rally Wednesday in advance of Saturday's Class 5A state title game in Champaign.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

 
 

Win or lose, the Vernon Hills High School Cougars will make history Saturday when they play for the Class 5A state football title.

The matchup against the Peoria High Lions is the first state title game for the Cougars in the school's 17-year history -- and Principal Jon Guillaume is understandably proud.

"The goal was to make it downstate," Guillaume said. "Winning downstate is icing on the cake."

Guillaume joined hundreds of Vernon Hills students, staffers and parents Wednesday for a rally in the school gym.

Kickoff is at 10 a.m. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Memorial Stadium.

When the Vernon Hills school opened in 1999, it was a freshman campus for sister school Libertyville High. It didn't take on its own identity -- academically or athletically -- until 2000.

Vernon Hills Mayor Roger Byrne had a front-row seat for Wednesday's rally, and he'll be at the big game Saturday.

"I'm just happy for all the parents and kids who had the opportunity to go to school here," Byrne said. "The high school has given the town a true identity."

Vernon Hills middle linebacker Andrew Smith tried to pump up the crowd during the rally, taking the microphone for some brief comments.

His message was simple.

"Let's go baby -- let's win our first state championship," the senior said.

Wednesday's rally also celebrated the third-place statewide finishes by the girls cross-country and boys golf teams.

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