Bill Behrends watches two of his younger players putt at Mattoon Country Club.

By Kyle Daubs

In a time where fellow Mattoon High teachers are rushing to prepare for the unknown created by COVID, Bill Behrends can relax about at least one topic moving forward. 

His golf team. 

“I feel like we have a chance to be the top team in the conference based on our returning players and performance from last year,” Behrends said. “I think you will see several names from Mattoon as your leaders in the conference this season.”

Behrends was an assistant to former head coach Bob Lockart before leaving to teach at Champaign Centennial. He’s now back at MHS.

Lockart decided to step away from the head coaching position after accumulating a dual record of 159-34, guiding the team to three regional championships, one sectional title, and three appearances at the state tournament. 

“I can never be Coach Lockart,” said Behrends. “He is truly one of a kind, and he has made a tremendous impact on the lives of countless players and colleagues over the years.  I am just lucky that he has left the program in such a good place, and I am glad that I got to spend nine years helping him build it.”

Mattoon figures to be one of the top teams in the conference. Charleston graduated two of its core players from a four-year stretch that featured four straight Apollo Conference titles and two state championships. 

Lincoln, which finished second in the conference last year, returns seniors Meade Johnson, James Shamdin, and Romine, along with two talented returning sophomores in Blaine Powers and Stewart Druin.

“We have five players returning from a team that reached the state finals last year, so I am hopeful that we can continue to build on that success this year,” said Behrends. “Colton Romine, Meade Johnson, and James Shamdin are returning seniors that should provide great leadership, and Blaine Powers and Stewart Druin are rising sophomores who should make an impact at every event this season.”

One major disappointment from the season is that the 77-team Mattoon Invitational is likely not going to happen. The Craig Dixon Invite is one of the most well-known golf events in the state. 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the likelihood of major invites is unlikely. The postseason is still scheduled to go on, but as everyone knows, nothing is set in stone. 

“COVID has already taught me to value my time with other people, so I am hopeful that we can all appreciate the time we have together on the golf course even if it is not quite what we were hoping for,” Behrends said. “We have worked diligently with other coaches to help build the best schedule we can, so I hope it can be a fun ride regardless of the circumstances.”

If everything can go as planned, the Green Wave could qualify for state the ninth time in school history. 

Mattoon tied Charleston for second place at the Charleston Sectional last year, a roaring comeback for the Green Wave after falling to Charleston by double-digit strokes at the Apollo Conference tournament. Mattoon tied Charleston at the regional, but lost the tiebreaker.

While returning to state is certainly a goal, Behrends is hopeful that everyone can enjoy themselves. Golf was one of four sports approved for the fall season, so, at this point, fun is something he hopes everyone can have in a time of uncertainty.

“My goal is for this season to be a positive experience for every player,” said Behrends. “ We face a great deal of uncertainty, and I hope that the seniors can have a fun and enjoyable end to their high school careers.  I also hope that our 14 underclassmen can learn, grow, bond, and have fun to help build for the future.”

SCHEDULE

DateTimeEventLocation
8/201 pmRailer ScrambleSpringfield Lincoln Elks CC
8/254 pmCharlestonCharleston CC
9/34 pmParis, Urbana, CHSCharleston CC
9/41 pmDanville InviteTurtle Run GC
9/164 pmChampaign Central, RantoulU of I — Blue course
9/181 pmMt Zion InviteRed Tail Run GC
9/198:30 amParis InviteEagle Ridge GC
9/224 pmLawrenceville, CaseyMattoon CC
9/251 pmCharleston High InviteCharleston CC
9/288:30 amApollo ConferenceLincoln HS
9/304 pmTri-meetMattoon CC
10/6TBAIHSA RegionalsTBA
10/10TBAIHSA SectionalsTBA
10/16TBAIHSA StateIllinois State