History on the horizon: Week 8 Central State Eight football power rankings

Sacred Heart-Griffin head football coach Ken Leonard lets out a smile as the Cyclones score a touchdown against Springfield in the second half at Memorial Stadium in Springfield, Ill., Friday, April 23, 2021. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]
Ryan Mahan
State Journal-Register

Longevity alone in Illinois high school football isn’t enough to climb the ranks of coaching winners. With just nine games in each season, success in the playoffs provides the real boost to a coach’s win total.

And Sacred Heart-Griffin football coach Ken Leonard has done just that and now sits one win shy of becoming the first coach in Illinois to reach the 400-win mark. That historic win could come as early as Friday against Normal U-High. The game will be played on the Ken Leonard Field at 7 p.m. 

Leonard is a five-time state championship winner. He led the Cyclones to titles in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2013 and 2014 with runner-up finishes in 1995, 2003 and 2016.  

SHG (6-1) beat Decatur MacArthur 34-13 on Friday to give Leonard win No. 399. Quarterback Ty Lott was 10 of 14 for 244 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the victory. U-High (3-4) beat Decatur Eisenhower 41-0 in Week 7 and has won three of its last five games.  

Now it’s time to get to this week’s Central State Eight Conference weekly rankings: 

Who did we pick in the CS8? Predicting all Illinois high school football game in the Springfield area for Week 8

No. 1 Rochester (6-1)  

The Rockets passed the last big test of the regular season with a 49-28 win at Chatham Glenwood on Friday. With a pair of sub-.500 teams remaining (Southeast and Normal U-High, both 3-4), it’s generally assumed the top team in The Associated Press’ Class 5A poll will end the season on a seven-game win streak. Quarterback Hank Beatty went over the 1,000-yard passing mark last week and remains the last QB in the CS8 without an interception. He’s also 37 yards shy of the top rushing mark in the league. UP NEXT: At Rocket Booster Stadium against Southeast (3-4) at 7 p.m. Friday 

No. 2 Sacred Heart-Griffin (6-1) 

It took first-year starting quarterback Ty Lott, a junior, seven games to throw his first interception and he’s second in the CS8 with 1,343 passing yards with 21 touchdown passes. The Cyclones are going to be a handful if they remain in Class 4A for the postseason, where they remain No. 2 in the AP’s 4A poll. Will it be a historic night as coach Ken Leonard tries to become just the 20th active coach in the country with 400 wins. UP NEXT: At Ken Leonard Field against Normal U-High (3-4) at 7 p.m. Friday.  

No. 3 Chatham Glenwood (5-2) 

Despite a 49-28 loss to Rochester last week, we’re keeping the Titans right where they were. It wasn’t that long ago that the conference’s other 5-2 team, Springfield High, was beaten 63-20 by the same Rockets. And the Week 1 game when Springfield High won 39-36 turned when the Senators twice intercepted QB Jack Knudson in the fourth quarter of his first career start. UP NEXT: At Memorial Stadium against Lanphier (0-7) at 7 p.m. Friday.  

Who's on top? Illinois high school football standings for Central State Eight, Sangamo, South Central

No. 4 Springfield High (5-2) 

The Senators fought off a valiant Jacksonville team with a 31-20 win on Friday to win their second straight game after a pair of running clock losses to the league’s two best teams. Quarterback Rashad Rochelle is 7 yards shy of passing for 1,000 yards for a fourth year in a row. UP NEXT: At Memorial Stadium against Decatur MacArthur (3-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday.  

No. 5 Decatur MacArthur (3-4) 

Dropped a 34-13 decision to SHG on Friday after winning two straight. The Generals want to close out the season with a pair of wins to qualify for the postseason and to forget about the Week 3 forfeit loss to Southeast. UP NEXT: At Lanphier Park’s Memorial Stadium against Springfield High (5-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday. 

No. 6 Jacksonville (3-4) 

Dropped a spot in the rankings, but the Crimsons have a chance to pull back to .500 with a game against winless Decatur Eisenhower this week. Running back Cam’ron Mitchell and QB Elijah Owens are fourth and fifth, respectively, among the CS8 rushing leaders and have 1,107 yards and 14 touchdowns combined. UP NEXT: At Alexander Field against Eisenhower (0-7) at 7 p.m. Friday.  

Lineman, drum major and tennis player? Meet Jacksonville High's renaissance man

No. 7 Southeast (3-4) 

Almost everything went right for the Spartans in their 48-6 win over Lanphier. It was Southeast’s largest margin of victory this millennium. UP NEXT: At Rocket Booster Stadium against Rochester (6-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.  

No. 8 Normal U-High (3-4) 

First-year Pioneers’ coach Brody Walworth is looking to get the program to at least four wins for the first time since 2017 — U-High's first year in the CS8. It will be a tough ask though, with SHG and Rochester to finish the season. UP NEXT: At Ken Leonard Field against SHG (6-1) at 7 p.m. Friday.  

No. 9 Lanphier (0-7) 

Turnovers early put the Lions in too big of a hole at Southeast. UP NEXT: At Memorial Stadium against Glenwood (5-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.  

No. 10 Decatur Eisenhower (0-7) 

Lost 41-0 to the No. 8 team in the rankings last week. UP NEXT: At home against Jacksonville (3-4) at 7 p.m. Friday.  

Contact Ryan Mahan: 857-246-9756, ryan.mahan@sj-r.com, Twitter.com/RyanMahanSJR.