Monday, February 13, 2006

Great American Mascot Hunt: Illinois

In an effort to educate and enlighten our readership and kill some time during this torturous pre-spring-practices offseason, The House Rock Built is loading up the Winnebago and going on a coast-to-coast mascot-hunting expedition. With each pit stop, we'll scour the cityscapes and desolate farmland for the most amusingly-bemonikered football teams and hopefully blow past the border before the cops get us. The rules are pretty simple: any organized football team is eligible, provided they have a zany, off-beat, or (preferably) dirty nickname. The schools can come from the college ranks, the high school level, or even any of the numerous semi-pro and big-league squads.

If any of you readers happen to hail from any of the towns mentioned or, better yet, are a proud alumnus, please shoot an e-mail to HRB and share any stories or wisdom about the mascot, and feel free to drop a line in the comments as well. Also, if you have suggestions for schools to add to the national tour, send them on over.

Today we salute Illinois, a proud and genteel state situated in America's Heartland. Illinois is a land of great diversity: a jaunt across this state could start in The House Rock Built's chief editorial suite in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago, where the constant flow of alcohol into yuppies and tourists is periodically interrupted by the deafening ruminations of prostitutes assailing their respective pimps and the overpowering stench of a seemingly endless river of bum urine. But take the Wagon Queen Family Truckster an hour or two down the interstate and you'll find sprawling corn fields dotted with whitebread, shotgun-wielding rednecks and their overdeveloped jailbait farmgirl daughters.

A state of such diversity has an appropriately diverse catalog of obscure football mascots, although many of them seem to revolve around Illinoisians' contentious relationship with livestock and produce. Our first stop is in the sleepy hamlet of Hoopeston, located conveniently between nowhere and butt-lovin' Egypt.

Hoopeston Area High School Corn Jerkers
Hoopeston, IL
  • Nickname: Corn Jerkers.
  • Probably Refers To: A common ritual among rural Illinois teens to stave off those lonely summer nights. The corn industry is the heart and soul of the Illinois economy, so it's only right to periodically return the favor.
  • Bonus Points For: MS Paint logo, adding a new insult to my vocabulary, anthropomorphic vegetation.
  • Team's 2005 Record: No info on website for '05, but the team went a dismal 0-8 in the '04 campaign. Perhaps they folded the program.

Cobden High School Appleknockers
Cobden, IL
  • Nickname: Appleknockers.
  • Probably Refers To: Another school that celebrates senseless man-on-vegetation violence. Either that, or a reference to the sudden blossoming of those corn-fed Cobden cheerleaders.
  • Bonus Points For: MS Paint logo, dirty double entendre.
  • Team's 2005 Record: No information available.

Blackburn College Battlin' Beavers
Carlinville, IL
  • Nickname: Battlin' Beavers.
  • Probably Refers To: Your choice: a fuzzy woodland creature in full battle armor (for you Chronicles of Narnia lovers out there), or the name of that video that I accidentally left in the VCR, resulting in an embarassing situation during my movie date.
  • Bonus Points For: Quadruple Alliteration.
  • Team's 2005 Record: A disappointing 2-8 season in the brutal Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. They need to get whipped into shape or else they'll get licked every time.

Well, you've been good to us, Illinois. But those sirens in the rear-view are telling us it's high time to find a new state to spread our madness. Tips and suggestions are welcome for our next stop. Who knows, it could be your home town! And if it is, we might need to crash on your couch until the heat dies down.