By Kyle Daubs
Teutopolis will join the Apollo Conference for the 2020-2021 season on a one-year basis after playing independent since leaving the National Trail Conference at the end of the 2012 school year.
Teutopolis will compete in baseball, boys and girls basketball, cross country, boys and girls tennis, boys soccer, softball, boys golf, and track and field.
Teutopolis does not have a football team and will compete against current members Charleston, Effingham, Lincoln, Mahomet-Seymour, Mattoon, Mount Zion, and Taylorville.
In some aspects, this could be one of the most competitive conferences in the state.
Teutopolis is known historically for its success in baseball (eight state trophies in the last 19 seasons, including four state titles) and basketball, which includes 1,890 wins in their 96-year history, as well as 1,040 wins on the girls side in 42 seasons.
However, other sports have been on the rise as well. Tennis, on both the boys and girls, are a regular Sectional title contender. The volleyball team just won its first Regional Championship, the girls cross country team qualified for state, and Teutopolis’s softball team played in the state title game in 2014.
“Just throw the name T-Town into any conference and that automatically makes them better,” said Charleston girls basketball coach Jeff Miller.
When you watch Teutopolis over the years, you know the name T-Town has an extra feeling to it.
Take Mattoon High School tennis coach Dwight Perry, who has been involved inzz several sports for 40 years. Over a 20-year span, girls tennis alone won over 200 dual meets and six Sectional titles.
Flashback to when Perry was coaching Mattoon Lady Wave basketball to the state tournament. At the time, the girls basketball team in T-Town won a Regional title in its second year before embarking on a legendary 25-year run that included winning five state titles in nine championship appearances.
“For many years, T-Town is one of the best opponents around,” said Perry. “Look at their programs. Baseball, basketball, and tennis. Everything they do, they do a pretty doggone good job at it.”
Excitement In The Air
No coach is ever going to back down from a challenge. That’s certainly the case in Coles County. Even in a shortened season for spring sports, the Apollo could be one of the best conferences in the state in terms of baseball and softball.
In softball, Teutopolis is on a 15-year run of winning at least 20 games or more. Since taking over Charleston softball in 2013, head coach Blain Mayhall has seen plenty of T-Town teams. Over a seven-year span, the Trojans have defeated the Wooden Shoes on multiple occasions en route to winning four Regional titles and a state title game.
“I’m excited to have them join us,” said Charleston softball coach Blain Mayhall. “Even if it’s just for one season.”
Teutopolis baseball coach Justin Fleener had led the Wooden Shoes to a record of 517-119-4, 17 Regional Championships, 10 straight Sectional Championships, and three straight appearances in the state championship game.
“Teutopolis will definitely compete for a conference title,” said Mattoon baseball coach Jarod Kiger.
The Apollo features several excellent baseball programs. Effingham won a Sectional title in 2019, Charleston just won a Regional and Mattoon pitched its way to a conference title a year ago.
“With my competitive nature, I just want to play the best game,” said Kiger. “I don’t know what other coaches’ opinions are in the conference. It’s going to be a battle and not an easy game to win. It’s going to be a real competitive game, especially with a shortened season.”
“I’ll play the Cardinals or the Cubs this year if it means we get to play,” said Charleston coach Derrick Landrus. “We play them every year anyways. It might be kinda nice having our top two pitchers. I can never throw our top pitchers against them. They are the right fit for our conference. It’s as good as it gets south of Chicago.”
T-Town already plays most conference teams in multiple sports.
“For me as a coach, it really doesn’t matter,” said Perry. “We tried to get them to join the conference a few years ago. They didn’t have football, so it didn’t work out. We play them every year anyways in tennis. I think it’s a good fit. I have no negative feelings. We just want to play.”
Perry’s tennis team is one of four fall sports that are allowed to compete this fall, along with cross country, swimming and golf.
“They are going to bring in quality runners and we welcome them into the conference,” said Mattoon cross country and girls track coach Troy Haacke. “Both sides, boys and girls, are going to have quality runners. They have had some pretty good girls in the past. It should be fun.”
Hacked also serves as assistant girls basketball coach. The conference is highly competitive. Teutopolis made a state basketball title game in 2019 for Class 2A. But Mattoon returns most of its starters from a squad that went 27-6 and reached the Class 3A sectional. And Charleston features a talented young team that will feature a healthy All-State guard, Shae Littleford. Effingham, Mount Zion, and Taylorville are always competitive.
“We look forward to playing them,” said Miller. “Name the place and let’s go. Teutopolis is such a great program. The girls love a challenge and the conference game will give an extra feel to it. This is all positive to me. We just want to play basketball.”