/seasons/2011/contrib/201107306w4o3x

Norwich looks to build on strong foundation in 2011

More news about: Norwich

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – When Mark Murnyack became Norwich University's 29th head football coach last winter, he knew he wouldn't have to make many changes.

"(Former coach Shawn) McIntyre has a good system in place," he said. "Norwich football is a strong tradition. Our staff just wants to continue to move forward with it … to resume the success."

Murnyack has a bonus of familiarity with the Cadets. He's served the program in various assistant roles off and on since 1997 with a return to his alma mater of Juniata College in Pennsylvania added in.

Due to that, his philosophy rings true with previous Norwich teams. "We'll be looking to run first on offense and stop the run and create turnovers on defense," Murnyack said. "If we can do those things and have some ball security, we'll be in a situation to win games."

Running the controls of an offense that was a leader in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference and among the top 10 in NCAA Division III a year ago is junior quarterback Kris Sabourin. A former ECFC co-Rookie and Offensive Player of the Year, Murnyack and his staff have expectations after he averaged 96.2 yards per game rushing and 102.5 yards per game passing in 2010.

"Kris is 16-4 as a starter," Murnyack noted. "He has been through this before and understands where the program wants to be. It'll be great having his experience and leadership on offense."

Behind him, in the Maroon and Gold backfield, is more depth. Senior Andrew Fulford and junior Danny Triplett each earned all-ECFC honors with Fulford gaining first team honors and Triplett selected to the second team. Fulford went for over 1,000 yards a year ago, while Triplett was just shy of 500.

"With those three in the backfield, we have many options in the running game," Murnyack said. "We will have to do some work up front, but I like what we have coming into camp."

The front crew is anchored by senior co-captain and returning second team all-ECFC honoree Rob Sturgis at center, senior Jay Brooks at one of the tackle slots and junior Shawn Southworth at a guard position. "We will have five sophomores vying for the remaining openings on the line," Murnyack said. "When you graduate seven senior offensive linemen, you know you will have some youth the following season. I think each of those sophomores and possibly some new faces are capable of stepping in."

In regards to Sabourin's possible targets in the passing game, Murnyack pointed to seniors Adrian Dantzler and Jason Hill, sophomores Brandon Rudd and Zach Kelleher and freshman Derek Pitts as early candidates at the wide outs. "Adrian has plenty of game experience, while Jason has been on the field off and on as well," he said. "Brendan has plenty of upside due to his speed which we will also use in the return game, while Zach could easily move in at a slot, and Derek looked very strong in spring ball when he came to campus late last year." At the tight end position, as similar to the offensive line, two new faces will be involved in junior Dennis Pritchard and sophomore Zach Maysonet, as the Cadets graduated six seniors at the spot last year.

Defensively, a large share of the unit that led the ECFC in rushing (105.55 yards per game) and scoring (18.36 points per game) for a second straight year in 2010 is back.

"We will have to address an opening at one of the inside linebacker spots, but otherwise, every other position has someone back," Murnyack said.

Up front, junior nose guard Matt Simonelli heads the list. He'll be joined by seniors Brandon Fowler and Joe Munno at the ends. "All three played a lot last year and during their careers," Murnyack mentioned. "Matt has a great motor and good size at 240, while Brandon and Joe complement him well. Joe really did a big service a year ago stepping in when (graduated senior) Chris Roberto got hurt."

Norwich's four linebacker slots fall to senior co-captain Joe Gumberwicz, a former ECFC defensive player of the year, senior Jason Springer, junior Lou Delgado and a new face. Gumberwicz led the "D" with 55.5 tackles, 13 tackles for losses and six sacks. Springer has a strong pedigree as well having been an Empire 8 Rookie of Year when Norwich played in that league during his freshman campaign. Delgado is a two-time letterman on special teams that is ready to step in.

"We've got a strong group here," Murnyack said. "I like our young guys, too. You could see sophomores Brandon Carroll, John Toronto and Kerry Gaspard included as well as Steven Gilmore, Jimmy LaBell and Andy Mangin with some possible freshmen coming in from time to time."

The defensive backfield is just as stout. Despite the loss to unit leader Charles Stiles due to graduation, Murnyack and his staff are looking to senior Sean Stone to lead the way as defensive signal caller. "Stoney had a huge junior year (46.5 tackles and four interceptions)," the head coach said. "He did a great job replacing former two-year team MVP and former ECFC and ECAC all-league honoree Donovan Brown, one of the best in the program, last year."

Stone is joined by senior Colby LeClerc at safety, while four options at cornerback include sophomore Nael Pierre-Louis, senior Jeremy Little, sophomore Darius Silas and sophomore Danny Gogan. "There is a lot of on-field experience and speed there," Murnyack said.

"Overall, I think the defense is in a good situation, but we do need to develop depth," he added. "Some of the young guys will be called upon to step in."

Along special teams' lines, Murnyack has the foot of senior returning ECFC Special Teams Player of the Year Long Ding to rely on. Ding will be the early leader in place-kicking and punting. "Special teams are shaping up, but we also need to find some depth there," Murnyack said.

NOTES – The Cadets' 118th year on the gridiron opens Saturday, Sept. 3, with a 1 p.m. kickoff at Western New England College. The following weekend, Sabine Field's slate begins with 2010 NCAA Division III playoff representative St. Lawrence visiting for another 1 p.m. start. … Norwich has reeled off back-to-back eight-win campaigns, going 8-3 in both 2009 and 2010.

Oct. 13: All times Eastern
Final
Bridgewater State 24, at Mass-Dartmouth 22
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at UW-Whitewater 21, UW-La Crosse 14
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Oct. 14: All times Eastern
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Salve Regina 45, at Nichols 10
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Mount Ida 14, at Dean 7
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at Thomas More 59, Waynesburg 7
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at Maine Maritime 34, Coast Guard 16
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at Finlandia 27, Trinity Bible 21
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Hamilton 28, at Bowdoin 7
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at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
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at Olivet 47, Albion 26
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at Wesleyan 41, Bates 23
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Union 27, at Rochester 0
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Amherst 40, at Colby 7
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at Western New England 41, Endicott 14
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at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
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at Plymouth State 16, Framingham State 13
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at RPI 27, Ithaca 14
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Hobart 49, at Hartwick 27
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at Ferrum 34, LaGrange 20
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at Carnegie Mellon 42, Geneva 27
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Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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DePauw 26, at Denison 17
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at Trine 42, Kalamazoo 7
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at Washington and Lee 47, Guilford 26
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at Husson 49, Castleton 0
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Gallaudet 35, at Alfred State 19
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at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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Brevard 41, at Methodist 17
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at Lebanon Valley 31, Stevenson 24
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Buffalo State 24, at St. Lawrence 21
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at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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at Randolph-Macon 52, Emory and Henry 29
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at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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at Hampden-Sydney 58, Apprentice 28
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Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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at N.C. Wesleyan 45, Greensboro 0
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at Westminster (Pa.) 49, Grove City 27
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Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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at Westminster (Mo.) 56, Crown 15
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 29, Iowa Wesleyan 7
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at Knox 56, Grinnell 14
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at Widener 31, Lycoming 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 23, at Tufts 16
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at Mount St. Joseph 66, Earlham 7
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Ohio Northern 27, at John Carroll 20
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Baldwin Wallace 23, at Muskingum 20
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at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Rose-Hulman 44, at Manchester 13
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at Hanover 31, Bluffton 28
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Defiance 45, at Anderson 0
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at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Hiram 62, at Kenyon 56
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Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Williams 27, at Middlebury 26
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at Westfield State 33, Fitchburg State 21
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Marietta 43, at Wilmington 33
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at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Curry 40, at Becker 0
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TCNJ 20, at Rowan 14
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at SUNY-Maritime 51, Anna Maria 15
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Salisbury 28, at Montclair State 10
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at Huntingdon 28, Maryville (Tenn.) 16
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at Austin 33, Millsaps 19
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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at Washington U. 55, Buena Vista 20
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Alma 27, at Aurora 19
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at Rockford 29, Concordia-Chicago 14
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Wisconsin Lutheran 22, at Concordia (Wis.) 19
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at Lakeland 57, Benedictine 21
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at St. Norbert 10, Chicago 0
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Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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St. Olaf 22, at Augsburg 20
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Bethel 24, at Gustavus Adolphus 3
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St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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at Eureka 30, Greenville 19
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Centre 27, at Trinity (Texas) 21
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Dubuque 42, at Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Central 30, at Coe 19
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Lake Forest 56, at Cornell 28
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at Carthage 31, Elmhurst 8
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at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Millikin 28, at Augustana 27
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Ripon 52, at Beloit 28
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MacMurray 49, at Minnesota-Morris 13
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Macalester 21, at Lawrence 18
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at Monmouth 59, Illinois College 14
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at UW-Stevens Point 26, UW-Eau Claire 3
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Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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at Wooster 38, Oberlin 28
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Texas Lutheran 41, at East Texas Baptist 34
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at UW-Stout 21, UW-River Falls 16
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UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Sewanee 34, at Birmingham-Southern 13
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at Hope 22, Adrian 3
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Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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Cancelled
La Verne at Occidental
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Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
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at Cal Lutheran 42, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20
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at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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at Pacific 35, Puget Sound 27
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Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
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at Western Connecticut 28, Massachusetts Maritime 21
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Final
at St. Scholastica 56, Martin Luther 21
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Final - 5OT
at St. John Fisher 39, Utica 36
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Final - OT
at Heidelberg 48, Otterbein 45
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at Shenandoah 38, Bridgewater 20
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Southwestern 60, at Belhaven 31
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Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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at Louisiana College 52, McMurry 34
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at Simpson 38, Luther 17
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at Chapman 45, Redlands 26
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Oct. 16: All times Eastern
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
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Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
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Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
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Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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Oct. 16: All times Eastern
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
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