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TUSCOLA Black Friday will be adorned with some gold this year, at least for fans of Tuscola’s football team.

The day known in the retail world as the biggest one of the year for shoppers is the same one the local high school football team hopes to capture its second state title in four years. Class 1A game Friday at the UI’s Memorial Stadium, their cheering section will include workers from the retail world.

Lisa Wasiloski, the store manager at Coldwater Creek at Tuscola’s Tanger Outlet, will already have put in a full shift on the job. Since the Tanger stores are opening at midnight, she’ll be on duty during the overnight hours, but she will not be any less enthusiastic when she arrives in Champaign.

“I’ll cheer just as loud,” Wasiloski said.

She’ll pay attention to more than the game. When the halftime entertainment starts, her daughter Lexi will be on the field with Tuscola’s dance team.

Tuscola senior Alex Hollenbeck, who works at the Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, is excited about the game time.

“Usually I work on Friday nights,” Hollenbeck said.

Like Wasiloski, however, she’ll work the pre dawn hours on Friday and will be finished by sunrise, which will leave her ample time to make it to Memorial Stadium by kickoff.

“I like going to the football games,” she said.

Somebody has to stay in town and mind the store. At Reebok, one of those workers will be Mariska Neuner, a Tuscola graduate.

Though she will miss the football action, it won’t affect her feelings.

“This makes you proud,” Neuner said.

As Tuscola’s playoff streak in football has grown this is the school’s 16th consecutive year in the postseason and sixth year of advancing at least to the quarterfinals so, too, has the interest. Doug McCumber, who has served as the public address announcer at home games for 36 years, plans ahead for the possibility that the team will play for a state championship.

“I know it’s always a chance, so I schedule vacation for the day after Thanksgiving,” said McCumber, the president of First Federal Bank of Tuscola. “It’s an exciting time. This time of year is special.”

Tim Mooney, the owner of Mooney Ford, doesn’t sense any complacency for a program which has qualified for the title game three times in the past four years.

“There’s just as much excitement, if not more,” Mooney said. “It’s a different batch of kids and everyone is excited all over again.”

When the IHSA moved the championship games from Normal to the UI in 1999, Mooney jumped on board as a volunteer. Each of the 16 qualifying schools in the eight class event receive a tournament host who answers questions or provides assistance.

Mooney will have a personal interest in the school he’s assigned to host: Tuscola.

That could be good news for the Warriors.

“My teams have a winning record (at state),” Mooney said.

Christy Hoel is in her fourth year on the faculty at Tuscola. She teaches print and visual media classes as well as English.

When the football team plays a game, Hoel is an enthusiastic supporter.

“I’m a huge football fan,” she said. “I was one of the people on the field last week (after the semifinal victory against Jacksonville Routt) congratulating the kids.”

It has basically been business as usual in her classes this week.

“I didn’t change the lesson plan too much,” Hoel said.

“I gave a little less homework (Monday) than I planned,” she said.

Hoel doesn’t see much difference in her students’ attention spans whether they are athletes or non athletes.

“The football kids are not any harder or easier (to keep focused),” she said. “They’re like the others. We’re all excited.
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