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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Pork & Pigskins Championship returning to crown best concession stand pork chop

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A-Train Concession Stand

The A-Train Concession Stand serves food at Normal Community High School football games.

NORMAL — The IHSA and Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA) Pork & Pigskins Championship is returning after Normal Community won the inaugural contest last season.

The contest awards the state’s best concession stand pork chop sandwich.

“Tradition, community and amazing food are the ingredients that make up the Pork & Pigskins Championship,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “The folks behind these grills volunteer their time and talent to support our high school students and their schools. We appreciate the Illinois Pork Producers Association helping bring their stories to light and providing recognition to these worthy individuals who serve their communities and also cook a mean pork chop sandwich.”

Kindred: Remembering Adam Denzer, the man behind the state champion pork chop sandwich

A year ago, Normal Community’s A-Train concession group had both the heart and the flavor to capture the inaugural state title. The A-Train honors Adam Denzer, a pork producer who worked for the Normal school district after high school but passed away tragically in a farming accident in 2008. The A-Train trailer the group cooks with at NCHS football games was purchased by Denzer’s widow Marie.

Flick: A state title for the NCHS Iron(grill)men?

“We are pleased to be able to partner with the IHSA on this competition again and recognize the volunteers in our communities who work the concession stands and help us to encourage more people to consume these great pork products across the state while supporting our producers,” Illinois Pork Producers Board President Thomas Titus said.

The 2022 competition will follow a similar recipe as a year ago, with a mix of online fan voting and special guest judges. The Savory 16 will be determined via online voting, at which point guest judges will flock to games around the state to sample the fare. The state champion will be announced on Saturday, Oct. 22, and then recognized at the IHSA Football State Championships on Friday, Nov. 26 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

The state champ will receive a prize package from the IPPA that includes a $500 reimbursement on their pork purchase for next season, a state championship banner, and the coveted Golden Spatula.

This year's edition of Pork & Pigskins also features an exciting new initiative for pork chop sandwich connoisseurs — the IHSA is seeking guest judges. If you have a hunger for IHSA football (and pork chop sandwiches) and frequent area high school contests, please let us know why you'd be a great guest judge here.

Any IHSA schools interested in entering their BBQ boss in the Pork & Pigskins Championship can do so at IHSA.org beginning on Monday, Aug. 15.

Fans are once again encouraged to post photos and video of their top pork chop sandwich contenders on social media with the hashtag #PorkandPigskins

A timeline on the 2022 Pork & Pigskins Championship:

• August 4: Guest Judge Entry Opens

• August 15: School Entry Opens

• September 13: School Entry and Guest Judge Entry Closes

• September 14 & 15: Online Voting to determine the Savory 16

• September 16 – October 21: Savory 16 judged in-person by guest judges

• October 22: State Champion Announced on IHSA Playoff Pairing Preview Show

• November 26: 2022 Champion receives prizes at 2022 IHSA Football State Championships

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