The Watch List: Local sports stories to follow for the coming week


The Mascoutah Indians (33-7) will make their first state volleyball tournament appearance Friday against Woodstock Marian Central (37-3) in the Class 3A semifinals. The match is set for 4:30 p.m. at Illinois State University's Redbird Arena in Normal. The winner plays for the state title at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and the loser is in the third-place match at 4 p.m. Guided by former Southern Illinois University Edwardsville coach Todd Gober, the Indians feature Murray State recruit Megan Lindsay, Southern Indiana recruit Amanda Jung and sophomore outside hitter Tieghan Morio along with Katirah Johnson.


This state football quarterfinal game pairs two Illinois Class 4A titans in one of the biggest games played in Belleville in years. Both teams bring plenty of history — Althoff has won three state championships, while Rochester is working on its sixth consecutive 4A title under coach Derek Leonard. At 10-1, Rochester is seeded No. 4, but has been winning in typical Rocket fashion, posting more than 56 points per game. They've scored 99 points total in their first- and second-round wins. The Crusaders score big too -- the top seed averages 45.2 points per game and has posted 120 total points through two playoff games. The game will be played at Lindenwood Stadium Saturday. The last time the two teams met was in the 2013 quarterfinals. Rochester knocked off the Crusaders 50-21 and went on to the state championship.


From the 10th seed, the Mater Dei Knights have advanced to the Class 4A football quarterfinal date with No. 3-seeded and undefeated Taylorville. The Knights advanced Saturday with a dominating upset win over No. 2 and also previously unbeaten Columbia. Head coach Jim Striebel will tell you his team has been building for this game since a Week 3 losses to Althoff. But for a hiccup in Week 9 loss to Waterloo, the Knights have gotten progressively better under junior quarterback Colin Schuetz, who led his offense to more than 40 points per game. But at just 10.3 points per game allowed, Taylorville will bring one of the stingiest defenses in the 4A bracket to Breese this weekend.


The Nashville football team has continued to advance through an upside-down bracket in Illinois Class 2A. The Hornets, 8-3 and seeded No. 11, have averages 38 points through two rounds of its playoff march, dispathing No. 6 New Berlin and No. 3 Sangamon Valley. They now face Athens Co-Op in the state quarterfinal round this weekend. Athens, No. 15, has run a similar gauntlet, first receiving an at-large playoff bid with a 5-4 record, then defeating No. 2 Eldorado and No. 7 Moroa-Forsythe, each game with a touchdown's margin. The game will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday in Nashville, where the Hornets have lost just once all year.


The Jon Harris era of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville basketball officially begins Monday night at Vadalabene Center with an exhibition game against Fontbonne. The regular season gets underway, also at home, against Arkansas State. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Midwest. Harris, the second head coach since the Cougars made the jump to NCAA Division I, brings deep local ties to the job. He's an Edwarsdville native, scored 1,269 points for coach Mike Waldo at Edwardsville High School, and has been mentored in his coaching career by East St. Louis native Quonzo Martin, most recently at California-Berkley. Harris has his work cut out for him at SIUE — the Cougars are picked by league coaches to finish fifth in the six team OVC West Division. McKendree also is at home Tuesday against St. Louis Christian College and Lindenwood-Belleville is on the road against Missouri Valley Friday.


A task force established by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has laid out its plans to keep the NFL in St. Louis. It involves a billion dollar plan to build a new open-air stadium as the centerpiece of a broader redevelopment of the north riverfront area and retro-fit of the Edward Jones Dome for use as a convention venue. Task force leaders Dave Peacock and Bob Blitz get their chance to formally present those plans to NFL special committees for finance, stadium development and Los Angeles relocation. Other groups from Oakland and San Diego also will make presentations. What comes of these meetings may not immediately be known — the local task force says it will communicate after its presentation with a single written statement only. But Wednesday’s presentation represents an important step in showing NFL owners how far the new stadium project has come and sell them on the vibrancy of the St. Louis football market.