Sterling intends to tarnish the Pekin football team’s home opener Friday.

The Dragons want to knock off the No. 6-ranked team in Class 5A, a team that has lost only one game in each of the last three seasons, and a team that has won with a running clock in 15 of its last 25 games.

Sterling mauled Marengo 46-8 last week in its season opener. Pekin beat Oak Forest 30-7 in its season opener behind four touchdown passes from Nathan Righi to Sebastian Hill.

Hill fell one shy of the single-game Pekin school record of five TDP’s set by Bob Innis vs. Springfield in 1987.

Kickoff on Friday will be about 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. See you there.

BACK ON TRACK: The Pekin boys golf team was a wee bit miffed after losing last week to Morton. 

The Dragons took out their frustration on Canton on Tuesday, beating the host Little Giants 154-162 at Wee-Ma-Tuk.

Three Pekin golfers shot in the 30’s as the Dragons improved to 2-1 in the Mid-Illini Conference. 

Medalist Mason Minkel had a 1-under-par 35, Justin Taphorn was at par 36 and Cooper Theleritis shot 39. 

Brady Hilst (44) and Ethan Sullivan (44) rounded out the Dragons’ scorers and Jack Kuethe had 47.

“The guys were disappointed with how the Morton match went,” said Pekin coach Jeremy Crouch. “They were disciplined during practice and focused on being ready to bounce back.”

Garrett Brant shot 38 for Canton. Jackson Gray (40), Cade Bugos (42) and Aden Emery (42) also scored.

MIXED MESSAGES: The Pekin girls golf team shot a season-low 231 at Lick Creek on Tuesday in defeating Canton 231-273 in a Mid-Illini Conference match.

“We’re still three-putting way too much, but we kept it on the short grass more (Tuesday) and hit higher quality shots to the green,” said Pekin coach Chris Neville.

“After a decent putting day Saturday (at Prairie Vista in Bloomington), coming back to Lick Creek and its more sloped greens caused us problems.”

Medalist Summer Dick (52), Madison Raines (58), Jaden Rogers (59) and Sarah Butler (62) scored for Pekin (3-2, 2-1) against Canton (1-3, 0-3). Taylor McKluski (62), Sloan Shawgo (68), Sadie Eveland (71) and Elizabeth Rosich (72) scored for Canton.

Pekin will play Friday in the inaugural Richwoods Scramble, an event in which teams will be made up of four players and the team’s coach. 

The scramble will be played on the nine-hole executive course at Kellogg in Peoria.

POTTERS ON RISE: The expectations for Morton volleyball are high, which second-year coach Kristen Spangler has addressed with her team.

“A big (goal) is just focusing on ourselves by picking on each other’s strengths; like best how to use your strength with my strength,” she said. “What’s going to set us apart to be different? Everybody can serve, everybody can hit big balls. We’re in the Mid-Illini Conference and 3A class (so) everybody can do it. I think what can set us apart is figuring out what our strengths are and how to best use them together to set us apart from them.”

Sitting at 4-2 entering league play on Thursday against Washington, the Potters are leaning on an experienced junior class with Brianna Tanner being the lone senior.

“I think for us it’s just always important that we have veteran athletes that know what we want done, know our expectations, set the tone and just kind of leading our entire program,” Spangler said.

Spangler, formerly Friedrich, had an eventful offseason that included getting married and her team winning the Illinois Central College summer league. But the Potters’ time off the court was cherished even more.

“I think it was helpful having a summer where we had pretty good numbers. Like usually everyone’s lifeguarding or babysitting,” she said. 

“We had a lot of time together where we could play but we had a ton of time together where we were hanging out, where we were on the road, we went to (University of Illinois) and it was just a very different summer than we’ve had in a long time and I think it was very beneficial just spending some time getting to know each other off the court and that’s just helping our communication on the court as we move along here.” (GMI)

EAGLES SOARING: The new-look Dunlap girls cross country team, which lost a decorated senior class and Journal Star Girls Runner of the Year Campbell Petersen from a 2A state title team, returned to invitational action Aug. 25 with a second-place finish at the Normal West Invitational.

The Eagles, ranked No. 8 in 2A, managed the second -- to 3A ninth-ranked Minooka -- without three-time all-starter Abby Johnson, who is nursing a back injury.

Sophomore Macy Priess, the team’s No. 7 runner a year ago, grabbed the No. 1 spot for the Eagles with a fifth-place individual finish and Dunlap put four runners in the top 19.

“I liked what I saw,” Dunlap coach Chris Friedman said. “Macy ran a nice, aggressive race. We learned a lot about racing and what she can do now and what we need to work on. And we had a nice little pack behind her. We add Abby into that group and we’ll be a solid team again.”

The Mid-Illini showed its strength as Washington was third and Morton, led by individual runner-up Aspen Gordon, fifth.

“I’ve always said one of the reasons we’re as successful as we are is because the competition we see week in and week out from our own conference,” Friedman said. “You throw Notre Dame in there, those are as good a teams as you can get.” (GMI)

REDBIRD SIDELINED: A top Illinois State men’s basketball newcomer will not be eligible to play for the Redbirds this season.

Abdou Ndiaye, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward from Senegal, has been declared an academic redshirt by the NCAA, according to the Bloomington Pantagraph.

Ndiaye will be allowed to practice with the Redbirds, but won’t be able to play in games or travel with the team this season. He will have four years of eligibility beginning in the fall 2019.

“Abdou is a wonderful kid. We’re not surprised at the outcome. We kind of knew that was the case going in, and he knew it,” ISU coach Dan Muller told the newspaper. “He’s very intelligent, but it gets very complicated when you go to a few schools in Senegal and whether they count (courses toward eligibility).”

Ndiaye played part of last season at The Nation Christian Academy in Saint Lucie, Fla., averaging 27.2 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks per game.

Muller also said Jaycee Hillsman, a 6-6 guard who transferred from San Jose State and is sitting out this season because of transfer rules, has undergone hip surgery and will be sidelined from four to six months. (GMI)

MAKING HIS PITCH: Chillicothe native and former professional player Chris Razo has been named pitching coach at Heartland Community College.

Razo was a standout pitcher at Heartland in 2010 and 2011, posting a 19-5 record. The right-hander continued his career at Illinois State and was named the 2013 Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year.

A 24th-round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers, Razo posted a 9-2 minor-league record at the Rookie and Class A levels in 2013 and 2014.

“I am very excited to have Chris as a part of our coaching staff,” Heartland coach Jimmy Frankos said of the IVC graduate.

In the 11-year history of the Heartland baseball program, the Hawks have a 499-134 record and three NJCAA Division II World Series appearances. (GMI)

YOU: Have some news or photos for the Notebook? Please send them to stevestein21@yahoo.com.

Steve Stein can be reached at stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve. GateHouse Media Illinois contributed to this report.