By John Ring
Published August 11, 2022 in The Burg
The Knox College Prairie Fire football team will be prepping for the 2022 season shortly and, as always, the annual game against Monmouth will be the 133 rd time the two teams have met on
What used to be a fierce rivalry—and a very balanced one—has turned one sided the last two decades. The Fighting Scots have won 22 straight games to build a 72-50-10 bulge in the annual Turkey Bowl. Last season, Monmouth won by the convincing score of 38-7.
As the score indicated, the game was not close. Knox went three and out on their first offensive possession and Monmouth took the ball in for a score. The Prairie Fire didn’t hit paydirt until there were less than two minutes left in the game. Worse, Knox hasn’t scored more than 10 points against Monmouth since the 2012 season.
2021 was the first season for Knox Coach Aaron Willits and the Fire put together a record of 3-6. On offense, Knox (using the triple option) averaged 26 points per game and allowed 29 per game on defense.
Prairie Fire 2021 Results
Ripon L 14-20
Lake Forest L 10-41
Chicago L 10-45
Beloit W 42-0
Grinnell W 49-28
Illinois College L 20-27
Lawrence W 56-28
Cornell L 34-35
Monmouth L 7-38
Coach Willits got his first victory against Beloit last season in a 42-0 shutout win. It improved Knox’s record to 1-3 and sparked a four-game offensive surge in which they scored 172 points (43 points per game). The Prairie Fire won three of those four games.
It’s no secret that Knox has struggled as a football program. It has coincided with the
consecutive loss-drought to Monmouth. Knox hasn’t had a winning record since the 2002
season when they were 6-4 and the last time they finished at the .500 mark was in 2017.
Coach Willits, a Knox graduate, had to battle a lot of elements to start off. Covid was still a factor after he was hired and the entire 2020 season was cancelled. It also affected recruiting, practices and a ton of other football-related tasks.
Under solid footing now and a year under the belt for Coach Willits and his staff, the Fire are hoping for a better 2022 season.
Prairie Fire 2022 Schedule
August 27 Eureka
September 3 Westminster
September 10 at Ripon
October 17 at Lake Forest
October 1 University of Chicago
October 8 at Beloit
October 15 Grinnell
October 22 Illinois College
October 29 at Lawrence
November 5 at Cornell
November 12 Monmouth