Time to transition from football to basketball:
State champion cousins have Elk Grove ties: Quarterback Samson Evans and running back Zack Gulbransen are two members of a talented junior class that helped lead Prairie Ridge to a perfect title finish in Class 6A with a 48-17 victory over Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin.
Evans and Gulbransen are also cousins with a connection to one of the Mid-Suburban League's coaching legends at Elk Grove.
Evans' dad Matt and Gulbransen's dad Tom were all-MSL players in 1980 and 1983 respectively for the Grenadiers and Don Schnake, who led the program to a mythical state title in 1972 in the pre-playoff era.
Samson Evans, whose brother Shane is an offensive lineman at Northern Illinois, orchestrates the high-powered Prairie Ridge triple option. Samson Evans is also a Division I prospect who ran for 274 yards and 4 touchdowns in the title game to finish the season with 2,144 rushing yards and 42 TDs.
Zack Gulbransen ran for 100 yards and a touchdown in the title game. He finished with 581 yards and 7 TDs and will be the Wolves' top returning running back.
Thanks to former Elk Grove football and basketball player Tom VanBooven for the information on the championship connection.
Tough Scott: If you came out of your Thanksgiving food coma in time and didn't try to get too much of a head start on holiday shopping then you had a chance to watch a tremendous display of readiness and toughness from Indianapolis Colts quarterback Scott Tolzien.
The Fremd product only had three days to prepare for a surprise Thanksgiving night start and his first significant action since 2013 against the hard-hitting Pittsburgh Steelers. A concussion suffered by starter Andrew Luck put Tolzien in the national spotlight.
And Tolzien received solid reviews as he proved he was ready for prime time in a 28-7 defeat where the Colts had two possessions come up a yard short of the end zone. NBC-TV analyst and former Bengals receiver Cris Collinsworth praised Tolzien for how he performed in difficult circumstances and Colts coach Chuck Pagano and teammates were also impressed with his competitiveness.
Tolzien threw his second career touchdown pass and was 22-for-36 for 205 yards with 2 interceptions. He also absorbed his share of hard hits, which included one where his helmet was knocked off but he popped right up and immediately got back into the huddle to call the next play.
Luck is expected to return to action Monday against the Jets. Tolzien got two starts and played three games with the Packers in 2013, threw one pass for them last year and also had stints with the 49ers and Chargers.
Peoria Central points: How prolific was the Peoria Central offense that shattered the single-season state football scoring record in Saturday's 62-48 Class 5A title-game shootout victory over Vernon Hills?
The football champs scored more points than three of the perennial basketball power's four state champions in their title games. The 1977 Lions won the AA title 72-62, while it was 48-29 for the 1908 champs and 45-43 and 53-47 for the back-to-back 2003-04 champs led by future NBA champion and Golden State Warrior Shaun Livingston.
Barrington basketball product gets big shot at Rockford Boylan: Brett McAllister, a guard for Mike Obsuszt on Barrington's 2002 Class AA supersectional qualifier, is in his first year as head coach at perennial power Rockford Boylan. McAllister was promoted in May after seven years in the program when Mike Winters stepped down to spend more time with his family.
McAllister compiled a 133-28 record in one season with the Boylan freshmen and six with the sophomores. He was hired by Steve Goers, who led the program to three fourth-place Class AA finishes and won 881 career games at five schools.
McAllister's first team is 4-1 and is considered a threat to claim the program's first state trophy in 20 years. The Titans return NIC-10 MVP and Air Force recruit Zach Couper and two other starters from a team that went 31-3.
Boylan played in the Grant Thanksgiving Tournament and will look to defend its Jacobs Hinkle Holiday Classic title when the tournament starts Dec. 17 in Algonquin.
Rock Island hoops legend Reid passes: Duncan Reid, one of the state's legendary and more colorful coaches who won 643 games at Rock Island and downstate Lincoln, died in mid-November at 80 after a brief bout with pancreatic cancer.
Reid resurrected a downtrodden Rock Island program and won 469 games from 1980-2001. His 1995 team finished third in AA and his 1988 and 1989 teams took fourth.
All-state football honors: Palatine quarterback Zach Oles, Barrington linebacker Blake Holley and St. Viator tight end Cole Kmet made the 81st Champaign News-Gazette and the Illinois Football Coaches Association All-State Teams.
Oles and Holley made the 8A IFCA team and Kmet made the 6A team.