76
      Sunday
      94 / 74
      Monday
      88 / 73
      Tuesday
      84 / 68

      Battleborn (Duerrisms for September 12th)

      Greetings all and welcome to this "under the gun" edition of Duerrisms for the Week of September 13th. Took a rare Monday off to take my daughter on her first official college visit and now I am scrambling to get this column delivered to you on deadline. On the plus side, I did get a chance to run into a handful of Tri State Sports alums on campus at Mizzou on Monday (Brock Bondurant, Leighton McCabe, and Jake Wyatt at the Dining Hall) so that was nice side benefit of the trip. And any time spent in the paradise that is Columbia, Missouri is a good time indeed. So I will grind my way through a sleepless Wednesday Night to get this thing written with no regrets.

      And lest I forget: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM.

      As always, we are brought to you here by the fine people at GAMEMASTERS, whose patronage makes these type of special "extra" projects possible. Be sure to thank Don and the Gang out at Gamemasters with both your words and your business. They've got everything you could possibly need out there for any sporting endeavor you can imagine.

      As the calendar creeps towards October, that means it's almost time again to begin the KHQA STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE WEEK feature anew. We will be sending off nominations forms to every Athletic Director in the Tri States this week. We are looking for the best senior leaders in the Tri States to show all of our viewers out there just how special these kids are in our communities. If you know of a deserving Senior athlete (minimum 3.5 GPA) worthy of nomination, be sure to bring it to the attention of your high school athletic director. Every year, we award two scholarships (one male, one female) to our overall Scholars of the Year at our Honors Banquet. This is your chance to spotlight a deserving nominee. Our first vote will take place on the 1st, so act quickly. And we have already received our first nominees in the mail this week. Again, our thanks to CELL TECH, SUBWAY, and PETERS HEATING AND AIR for their support of local athletics and academics.

      A reminder to all you social media users out there: you can follow me on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/ChrisDuerr ) for instant feedback, scores as the happen, and stories as they break in real time on Twitter. And if you are up late on Friday Night after the games, the Pigskin Party continues for KHQA on our Facebook site ( http://www.facebook.com/KHQAChrisDuerr ) We are there until Midnight delivering opinions and sharing your observations and comments on the night's action. Plus it's your chance to vote on our Star of the Week Poll, the winner of which is unveiled below every week in this column.

      It's been a great start to the Fall and we here at KHQA are honored to be a part of bringing it to you. Every week we do our best to show you the entire spectrum of the Autumn Sports Scene. Football obviously, but Soccer, Volleyball, Softball, and Cross Country as well. We try to go the extra mile so that every one is included in the process. We had highlights from ten different local sporting events on Saturday on OVERTIME including trips to St Charles for Hannibal Volleyball action, Soccer Highlights from Quincy High and the Hannibal Tournament, highlights from four high school football games and three college gridiron contests. If you are a local sports fan, it's thirty minutes you just can't miss. And while we may not have that kind of time allotment every night, you will find Ross and I out in the field every night bringing you the highlights from the softball, soccer, and spikes scenes during the 10pm news or creating unique features to highlight someone like Macomb Cross Country sensation Karyn Paisley, or the rise of the Illini West Volleyball program, or the unsung benefits of being a high school official for story telling time at six. All local. All the time. With the goal of nothing short of putting the camera on every deserving kid in every corner of the Tri States. And in that spirit, we thank you for our patronage.

      ------------------------

      FOOTBALL 2012

      THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN-WEEK TWO

      7) AUSTIN EGLEY, QB, Clark County (tie)

      16 Carries, 187 Yards, 3 TD; 11 Yard TD Pass vs Highland

      ??

      ??

      7) CONNOR STREMLAU, QB, Routt (tie)

      5 of 7 Passing, 136 Yards, 3 TD vs ISD

      ??

      ??

      6) ELI COUSINS, FB, Macomb

      18 Carries, 168 Yards, 2 TD vs West Hancock

      ??

      ??

      5) STEVEN HAYHURST, QB, Paris

      24 Carries, 145 Yards, 2 TD; 7 of 15 Passing, 124 Yards, 2 TD vs North Shelby

      ??

      ??

      4) MALIQUE ROBBINS, FB, Quincy High

      25 Carries, 212 Yards, 2 TD vs Harlan

      ??

      ??

      3) TREVOR ROTH, FB, Keokuk

      24 Carris, 225 Yards, 4 TD vs Centerville

      ??

      ??

      2) BRYCE SCHNITKER, QB, Jacksonville

      10 of 11 Passing, 257 Yards, 4 TD vs Lanphier

      ??

      1) DALTON HEUBNER, RB, Central-Southeastern

      10 Carries, 189 Yards, 4 Rushing TD; 44 Yard TD Reception vs Unity/Payson

      --------------------------

      KHQA HERO OF THE WEEK

      (as voted by the fans at http://www.facebook.com/KHQAChrisDuerr)

      BROCK BUTLER, QB

      Palmyra High School

      Great week of candidates where you really could not go wrong with your vote. That established, burgeoning Palmyra Quarterback Brock Butler won in a landslide for his efforts in the Panthers 21-12 win over South Shelby, a victory that may well reverse the polarity of a heartbreaking start for P-Town. Near misses against Macon and Centralia made the Panthers THE hard luck team in Tri State Football to start this season. Clearly, Butler and friends were fed up with such adversity and it showed in their attack and demeanor against South Shelby. Palmyra negated Andrew Teel's early touchdown with three unanswered Brock Butler rushing touchdowns. The Quarterback hit on two four yard scoring scrambles in the second quarter and added that 46 yard rumble you saw on Sensational Seven in the 3rd to account for all of the Panthers points on the night. The final tally on Butler netted 74 rushing yards and 96 passing yards on 6 of 7 passing, which is a pretty complete outing for the junior signal caller. Butler is a terrific all around athlete. He's fast becoming a terrific quarterback to boot. There are maybe three other quarterbacks in Tri State Football who could have made that touchdown run Brock delivered in the third quarter. He displayed not only the obvious speed he's always had, but tremendous vision in picking his running lanes and setting up his blockers. More to the point, he's becoming more patient with his approach and more controlled as leader. He minimizes mistakes, puts his team in positions to win and seems fearless on the big stage. In a year where the Quarterback board in loaded with intriguing prospects from all corners of the Tri States, Butler is becoming one of the region's fastest risers. And he is going to be plenty fun to watch over the next two season, proving what I have long said: there is something to be said for employing good Point Guards at the QB position.

      ??

      Previous Winners:

      Week One: ANDRE REYNOLDS, Macon

      Week Two: TYLER STEINKAMP, Mark Twain

      -----------------------------

      1) CLARK COUNTY (3-0)

      Last Week: 41-9 win at Highland

      This Week: vs Macon

      THE SKINNY: The Indians rallied from a cold start in Ewing with three second quarter touchdowns, all via Austin Egley QB keepers, to extend their points per game scoring average to nearly 40 a night. To date, Clark County has looked every bit as good as advertised. But as a cautionary note, allow me to mention that the Indians have fashioned this impressive 3-0 bolt from the gate against teams who are currently a combined 0-9 in the win/loss column. In theory, Macon will be the best team the Indians have seen to date and quite clearly the best defense Clark has seen yet; especially after having surrendered a grand total of just three points in the last eight quarters. It bears mentioning, however, that Clark County will also be the most potent defense Macon has come across to date. Here's proof: the Indian Defense has accounted for two touchdowns (Logan Prewitt's 34 yard scoop and score against Highland the latest offering) and a pair of safeties this season. Toss in Prewitt's game opening kick off return for touchdown a week ago and the Indians Defense and Special Teams groups have produced more points (22) than either Monroe City (17) or Highland (18) have scored in total this season. These guys hit hard, separate ball carrier from ball as well anyone in the area, and they look to make you pay for you those mistakes by trying to exploit every opportunity. Clark County has demonstrably shown more ways to beat an opponent in every phase of the game than anyone else in our area to this point. If the offense is a little slow in getting started, the safety net in place is pretty large with their Defense and Special Teams. And that's why they continue to hold the number one spot in our countdown this week, in spite of their lesser strength of schedule. There is just no evidence yet to suggest that the upper echelon teams are going to fare any more successfully with these guys than Monroe City, Louisiana, or Highland have to date.

      ??

      ??

      ??

      2) CONCORD TRIOPIA (3-0)

      Last Week: 44-0 win over Brown County

      This Week: at ISD

      THE SKINNY: After watching the arch-rival Hornets dash their State Championship hopes last November, the Trojans had a message to deliver on Friday Night at Don Kemp Field. Mission accomplished. The Trojans dominated Brown County in every sense of the word and left not one shred of even a moral victory for the guys in the other locker room. It started with Derek Schone's 80 yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff and ended with a running clock. It's been a long time since a Tom Little coached team was this overwhelmed by any opponent. To wit, the Hornets netted just 35 rushing yards on 33 attempts. They were shut out for the first time since a 20-0 playoff loss to a powerhouse Pawnee squad in 2008. And essentially, Derek Schone could have named his number of yards and touchdowns on Friday Night, had not Rich Thompson and company let off the accelerator in a game that was 22-0 at the end of one quarter and seemingly over long before then. Which begs the question: what is the real dynamic at play here? Is Brown County really this down from last season? Is Routt really this good? Or is it a mix of both? Look, I am not going to argue that all this youth and inexperience isn't really plaguing BC right now. More to the point, this is the first time I've seen a Hornet squad in years that just isn't overly physical in its approach or demeanor. It's not everyone, mind you. The Hornets still have some productive blue collar guys in the mix. But you've also got some kids here who clearly aren't fond of contact and don't seem to enjoy the dynamic at play. That was evident in person against a very physical North Greene club. And glaringly apparent against a Triopia team that is just brutish in its approach. See also the Dean Arendt hit from our highlight package. But I do think that too much of this weekend's focus has been on "what's wrong with Brown County." Look, this is a Trojan team whose supposed flaws were Defense and Offensive Line play, where inexperience was a galling concern. Curiously, the Trojans have blanked both Greenfield and Brown County and all the talk has centered on either the weather conditions or the opponents issues. How about recognizing the fact that Triop has beaten three 2011 playoff teams and given up just eight total points in the offing. Or that a team with a rebuilt offensive line is averaging 38 points per game against opponents whose defenses are coached by no less than Eric Grady and Nick Graham? Why is this not impressing anyone to the degree it probably should or would? Had BC held on to beat North Green a week ago, would you view Triopia any differently? Clearly, the next two weeks aren't really going to add much to the Trojans reputation as ISD and Unity/Payson have nothing to lose and everything to gain in those games. So maybe none of us will truly know how to regard this incarnation of Trojan Football until the September 28th visit to Central-Southeastern. But my inkling here is that if this Triopia team continues to trend in this direction, this bandwagon will grown exponentially on September the 29th .

      ??

      ??

      ??

      3) CENTRALIA (3-0)

      Last Week: 21-0 win over Mark Twain

      This Week: at South Shelby

      THE SKINNY: The Panthers continue to excel at the art of winning ugly, extricating themselves from a scoreless tie with Mark Twain at halftime before exacting a 21-0 victory. If you are looking for pretty statistical numbers or personal offensive bullet points from this contest, you are sniffing around the wrong supper table. The Panthers ended up with just 156 total yards of offense and found themselves largely on the wrong side of a time of possession battle with the Tigers, who quite literally took the air out of the football by playing keep away in the First Quarter. Give Matt Hudson credit for a savvy game plan in not allowing the Panther Offense to gather any momentum or build any continuity. By my count, I have Centralia running a grand total of just 43 plays. Cullen Ralphs did score a pair of touchdowns to help provide the margin of victory here but in the end this night was largely about Erle Bennett's defense. The usual suspects were their usual strong selves. Haden Morris and Jesse Arnold each finished with 11 tackles. Jason Anders added ten. Austin Kinkead had nine. The Panthers just kept punching away and held Twain to just 90 total yards and never gave up a back breaking run. Friday's win was the rough equivalent of trying to chop down a Redwood with your bare hands. It's slow and painful and arduous, but eventually, if you keep hitting hard enough you will break your opponent here. That's what Centralia did against a stubborn and determined and physical opponent that rarely yields or allows its opponents to dictate tempo. Bottom line, it's a high value win for the Panthers that most outsiders really don't know how to value. It doesn't look good in theory. People will talk about how Centralia "struggled" but the bottom line here, as always, is that styles make fights. Centralia prevailed by beating Twain at its own game and that counts for something. The challenge will be far different in Shelbina, however, and the Panthers (who are overdue for a true Centralia-like performance) would be well advised to deliver their best effort yet against a very balanced offensive squad. Provided good weather, David Heathman will be the truest test yet for Centralia's Secondary. And South Shelby has the physicality to exact a toll on the Panthers speedy linebackers. It's an interesting pairing, moreso if Wes Mefford can play (preliminary injury report had the Cardinal All Stater suffering no broken bones in his early game injury at Palmyra, just bruises)

      ????

      ??

      ??

      4) CENTRAL-SOUTHEASTERN (3-0)

      Last Week: 41-0 win over Pleasant Hill/Western

      This Week: at Brown County

      THE SKINNY: The rushing heroics of Dalton Heubner, who is your de facto Player of the Year front runner at this point with 589 rushing yards, a 15 yards plus per carry average, and ten total touchdowns, has obscured the fact that the Panthers have now gone eleven full quarters without surrendering a score. To wit, CSE is averaging an area best 2 points per game against at this point, which is an absolutely ridiculous number when you really think about it. What has been impressive here is that the Panthers have been incredibly balanced on the Defensive side of the football. There are nine guys on this club averaging four or more tackles a game right now, which means that Brad Dixon is getting a lot of different people to the football. Marcus Landes, who was really the anchor of this unit coming back as a returning Linebacker, has allowed Douglas Weese and Dalton Heubner to use their speed to play catalyst (Heubner, by the way, has three quarterback sacks already as the designated blitzer here) the way Dixon envisioned when he moved them up from the Secondary. More importantly, newcomers Aaron Aschemann (17 total tackles) Jared Starman and Mike Johnson have developed into stellar run stoppers in their own right. This might be the most complete Linebacker group we see this season outside of Centralia, Missouri and that is high praise indeed. That also owes to the very strong, if overlooked play of the guys up front who have kept them clean. This is where CSE's size and strength is coming in handy. The Drew Miller/Logan Myers/Jacob Waters faction has been quietly superb. That does not bode well for a Brown County team right now that is struggling to move the football; one on paper that appears to matchup less well with the Panthers than they did with the Trojans. CSE is quicker in the front eight than Triopia was. The Panthers may not deliver the same level of physicality on a play to play basis (see also Richardson, Blake) but CSE has guys who will hit, big guys who will keep them clean, and CSE is very technically proficient in bringing guys down to the ground. With BC struggling right now in the passing game, a second straight Hornet shutout may not be out of the question. By the same token, the CSE/BC rivalry brings out a different element of pride and competitiveness and I suspect the fact that this rivalry is being renewed guarantees a much more spirited outing from BC than we saw a week ago, at least in the first quarter. There is also the fact that the Hornets are fighting for their playoff lives now and to avoid an ultra-rare three game losing streak. Bottom line, CSE would be well served to punch BC in the mouth early and not allow anything to go right from the get start. If you let these Hornets hang around and gather some confidence, there is enough talent there to make this really interesting. If the Panthers can deliver a Derek Schone-esque haymaker six seconds deep, however, young teams of this ilk tend to start sliding back into old bad habits or the "here we go again" mindset in a hurry. I think we find out an awful lot about the finishing instinct of this CSE team this week.

      ??

      ??

      ??

      ??

      5) MACOMB (3-0)

      Last Week: 35-20 win at West Hancock

      This Week: at Orion

      THE SKINNY: For the first eight minutes in Warsaw on Friday, the Macomb Bombers looked like a team reliving their nightmarish 2011 opener in Orion. Pass happy opponent with a stellar quarterback (and make no mistake, Coy Dorothy as is good as it gets in Tri State Football this season) just shredding the Bomber Secondary. Macomb was down 12-0 just eight minutes deep into this ball game thanks to a pair of Dorothy TD passes to Jordan White and Kolbie Schilson. But before you could type the words "upset alert" into your Twitter hash tag, Macomb did what good teams do: adjusted. Kelly Sears found a way to get more pressure on Dorothy essentially took away the Titan QB's greatest resource: his ability to extend the play. Some of this owes to Max Ford, who might be one of the best stories of Week Three. Here's a kid who looked like he would miss the entire season after re-aggravating a leg injury from track during the first week of August workouts. He sits out the first two games of the year and then suddenly, there he is, blitzing the quarterback like he never missed a beat. He had back-to-back sacks on Dorothy to set up the Titans botched punt safety which really marked the first big turning point in this game. Beau Spencer reported this week that Ford will continue to play from here on out, so long as the pain he suffers isn't "unbearable." That kid is a warrior and a tremendous different maker for a Defense that can really feed off his sudden-ness to the football. Essentially, the Bombers took the wind out of the Titans high flying sails...and then beat them up on both sides of the football. And bottom line, that should be Kelly Sears plan of attack against teams like this. To be honest, I was more impressed with the Titan Defense early than I thought I would be...based on what we saw lasts eason. But even at that, the Titans did not have the heft or depth to stand up to the withering pounding that Macomb doles out from its offensive line and a particularly physical fullback in Eli Cousins. Truth be told, the Titans Linebackers are (with one exception) basically dressed up Defensive Backs and that isn't conducive to stopping the football from being run directly down your throat. Bomber Offensive Coordinator Max Kreps patiently overcame some early hiccups with the run game to settle into a play calling groove with Cousins (168 yards, 2 TD) and Jarrod Rockhold (153 yards, 2 TD) that ultimately spelled doom for the Titans. And the team with the bigger, stronger kids ultimately won by playing bigger stronger football. To be honest, this is a Bomber Football team that is a bit more savvy than I realized, especially post Reid Fulkerson on Defense. I still worry about depth but I like the problem solving ability of the guys on this team. Biggest instance of that might have been watching Cousins figure out after a couple of failed ventures between the guards to bounce the football outside and get north/south, which he did on both of his long touchdowns. I am also sold on the "unsung" guys on the Bomber Offensive Line. As Macomb kind of got its traction on Friday, I saw both Garrett Kline and Reed Sprinkle make a couple of lane clearing blocks that the running backs missed that could have went for big yardage. It's really easy to focus on Taylor and Severs all the time because they are so tough to miss. I honestly think from Tackle to Tackle, Macomb might have the most complete line in our area right now. Again, I said this during the preseason. I had some reservations about Macomb coming into this year: notoriously slow starts, lack of depth, potential position soft spots. And I did not project the Bombers to be a 9-0 type team or even an 8-2 squad. I may have been too cautious. There is very little in the body of work here so far than hasn't portended greater success. This is a talented team that is minimizing its potential Achilles Heels by the game. And after watching Rockridge struggle with Pittsfield's physicality on Saturday, I am not sure Jason Kirby's team will lay a glove on Macomb going forward. Outside of QND, there might not be a team left on the slate that matches up at all well with Macomb. Look, I man enough to admit when I am wrong. I seriously undervalued Macomb coming into this season. Thought everybody was so enamored of Nick Severs/Brett Taylor that they were ignoring obvious flaws. Those flaws are microscopic right now that owes to a great ensemble effort. This is a fun team to watch grow, even if that growth is making some of us so called experts look way too cautious in our preseason assessments.

      ??

      ??

      ??

      ??

      6) HANNIBAL (3-0)

      Last Week: 41-12 win over Boonville

      This Week: at Mexico

      ??

      THE SKINNY: More of the same from the Pirates, who continue to look like world beaters....provided they are coming off halftime speeches. Hannibal has outscored its first three opponents 77-6 in second halves so far this Fall, which certainly says a lot about this team's ability to readjust and refocus. Now about those lack luster first half showings...Three turnovers against a mediocre Boonville squad last Friday night cut the heart out of Hannibal's unmistakable on-field dominance and left them with a just a 14-12 lead at the half. Twenty seven unanswered points later and we saw the Hannibal we expected to see. Caleb Bieniek had three touchdowns and he, Mitch Nichols and Louis Burton all had 90 or more rushing yards on the night as the Hannibal Offensive Line continues to be the most unsung unit of any kind in Tri State Football. Dating back to the Jamboree (where they manhandled a terrific Clark County Defense) show me a position group of any kind that has been as consistently strong as these guys. Hannibal is really, really stout up front and that allows the Pirates the latitude to use all these different backs or scheme to take advantage of Dalton Powell's versatility. The Pirate Defense is also much further along at this point than maybe I thought they would be in having to break in a new set of linebackers. Boonville had just 93 total yards on Friday and three first downs. Which doesn't bode at all well for a Mexico team that has really struggled with its offensive continuity. Maybe this is the week the Pirates clean up their self inflicted first half wounds and open strong. I don't think this will be the week however that sees Hannibal play its first four quarters of good football. I have a hard time believing that the Pirates starters will see the third quarter. This will be the first time this season the Pirates have played a game more than 20 minutes from home and Hannibal will be heavily favored going into Mexico, so maybe the best we can say about this week is that it will be a litmus test on the overall maturity and focus of this group. Beyond that, don't expect a whole lot in the way of Week Four drama or excitement from this pairing.

      ??

      ??

      ??

      7) JACKSONVILLE (2-1)

      Last Week: 42-6 win over Lanphier

      This Week: vs Southeast

      ??

      THE SKINNY: Coming off a statistically spectacular effort against an overwhelmed Lanphier squad, the Crimsons find themselves in a very interesting spot on Friday. Springfield Southeast comes to K-R Field riding a couple of workman like victories over struggling Lincoln and Canton teams and sitting here as underdogs with nothing to lose. On paper, Jacksonville will be the superior team in every sense of the word and the expectation will be that the Crimsons should dispatch with the Spartans as easily as SHG did on opening night. Problem is, there have been Jacksonville teams in the past that have either got caught looking ahead past these type games (an easy thing to do with a road trip to Griffin looming next week) or for reasons inexplicable, have come out flat for mid-card CS8 foes. This is really a statement opportunity for Mark Grounds team and a chance to extend the momentum into next week's titanic clash with SHG. This isn't about talent this week. It's about approach and how the Crimsons conduct their business. How they clean up last weeks turnover issues (10 penalties for 120 yards) and continue to attack with the confidence they displayed against Lanphier. To be blunt, I have been really impressed with Bryce Schnitker and his play at Quarterback and that happened long before this week's statistical marvel. The kid is really tough, stands strong in the pocket without regard to personal safety, and has a kind of gunslinger swagger that I credit Mark Grounds for recognizing and capitalizing on in the preseason. Speaking honestly, the Crimson staff is probably on the demanding side of the spectrum relative to coaching staffs in our area. Guys who are shrinking violets or who don't do well with criticism probably aren't going to last real long here. Schnitker is one of those kids I love: he can make a mistake, hear about it in sometimes colorful fashion from his bosses, and he adjusts and moves on without taking it personally. He's been a really neat find here and he seems to be a winner. To wit: you cut the number of dropped passes in half in the Glenwood game, I think Jacksonville has a shot to win that game. He also does a great job spreading the football around. This week both Reggie Bratton and Dalton Keene had more than ninety yards in receiving. Some weeks, it will be Blake Hance or Andy Mills who put up the numbers. Mills, by the way, is starting to get some run at Running Back as well, which is just one more layer of versatility to this impressive offense. Defensively, the Crimsons forced six turnovers and held Lanphier to just 144 total yards. Failed to make this point, but color me impressed with the dynamic Aaron Vasquez and Devante Clark have infused into this secondary this season. Clark is averaging a team high 12 tackles per game right now and brings great energy to the back. Vasquez plays the jump ball as textbook as anyone I have seen. This Jacksonville Defense is a rising force. How much that rise continues through this week will help shape JHS fortunes for Week Five.

      ------------------------------

      THE NEXT LEVEL

      ??

      8) ILLINI WEST (2-1)

      The Chargers are one ill-timed fumble from being 3-0 at this point, which is impressive considering the number of new working parts in play. It's a little scary how quickly Bryton Smith (118 yards vs Princeton) and Brody Gronewold are emerging as potential difference makers on an offense that already boasted freight train runners like Alex Appel and (when healthy) Clay Huston. At this clip, one wonders just how potent these guys will be by October. Curious to see how the Chargers handle West Hancock's passing game this Friday. Kelly Sears called Coy Dorothy "one of the best Quarterbacks we've seen in a long time" after Friday's win at Warsaw. In a week without very many compelling games, this Hancock County War looms as one of the most intriguing.

      ??

      ??

      9) QUINCY HIGH (2-1)

      Wondering to myself during Saturday's Game if Jacob Paul got Wally Pipp-ed. River Bugh stepped in for the injured Defensive Lineman and went nuts against Harlan, making big hit after big hit. I can't imagine Defensive Bosses Jose Quintero and Randy Dickens walking away from that kind of production going into the Homecoming tilt with Rock Island. That kid was the heart and soul of a pretty good defensive effort, one that needed some spice with Ethan Rockhold out of the mix due to an ejection (which will carry over to Friday for the KHQA Game of the Week as well.) All in all, the Blue Devils did some nice things on both sides of the ball against a talented opponent. Beyond the obvious (and his name is Malique Robbins) I really like the way Jordan Osborne has emerged as a complimentary weapon. I like Connor Kelle's toughness at quarterback. I really like what the Line is doing in front of him (mind you absent Jacob Paul this week) Beyond doing a better job spying the quarterback keeper and defending the halftime hail mary pass, not sure what the Blue Devil Defense could have done much better. No lets see where these guys really stand versus Rocky....

      ??

      ??

      ??

      10) SOUTH SHELBY (2-1)

      Hard to beat a good (and exceptionally hungry) team on the road when your best player goes down in the first quarter. Talked to Wes Mefford's dad this week and the good news on the Cardinal All Stater is that the leg injury he sustained turned out to be a severe bruise, rather than broken bones or torn ligaments. Not sure what his status is for Friday's showdown with Centralia, but safe to say the Cardinals really could use him. Without Mefford, the Cardinals could not keep Brock Butler corralled and with Zach Etzler and Cullen Ralphs on the immediate horizon, this is not a good week to go to war with doubts as to the soundness of your run defense.

      ??

      ??

      ??

      11) BEARDSTOWN (2-1)

      The Tigers come up just shy of pulling off the upset of a very good Elmwood/Brimfield squad, largely because Aaron Elmore's crew just could not convert a two-point conversion attempt on Friday. Beardstown went one for five in that department in a 34-32 loss. Run defense needs to get more sound as well after giving up 311 yards and 5 touchdowns to stud back Brady Westart. Granted, this program is well past moral victories but the fact that the Tigers tagged a powerhouse team for 32 points speaks volumes about the viability of this offense. Looking forward, Beardstown might well be playing the most intriguing game of the season this week. If you haven't been paying attention, Havana is now 3-0 for the first time since 1997. Could be a very illuminating contest here.

      ??

      ??

      12) QND (1-2)

      Could the Raiders be 1-3 by the weekend? The Raiders got dominated in every phase of the game at Adkins Stadium on Saturday and on a short week of practice have to go on the road Friday night to state ranked Peoria Notre Dame. The Crusaders have given every future Raider opponent a template on how to beat QND at strength as Helias ran the ball effectively against QND's usually stout Defense and forced Bill Connell's team to stop running the football out of futility. Coming off its first shut out in seven years, QND has now put itself in a very tight predicament for those trying to find six playoff qualifying wins. The margin for error from here on out out is zero.

      ??

      ??

      13) KEOKUK (1-2)

      No team more desperately needed a win Friday than the Keokuk Chiefs, who responded by pasting in a 46-6 rout that showed all the earmarks of the team we all had so highly rated preseason. Trevor Roth took over on Friday with 213 yards and four touchdowns, on a bum wheel no less, to jump start a Chief Offense that was moribund at Mediapolis. He also had 10 tackles on the night to help put some teeth back into a defense that needed a shot of confidence. Kid who really impressed me Friday on that side of the ball was Chris Barclift, who was seemingly everywhere during my brief stay in the Gate City. There is still plenty of heavy lifting to be done for the Chiefs to get back on the trajectory they would like to be. Friday was one giant leap forward, however.

      ??

      ??

      14) WEST CENTRAL (2-1)

      Since that opening night loss to Triopia (and knowing what we now know of the Trojans, 30-8 doesn't look nearly so bad) the Cougars have outscored their last two foes by a combined 88-6 margin. Nick Graham's team still has the meat of the WIVC South schedule ahead but this is a team with the kind of brute force strength to stand up to a Greenfield or Carrollton. Don't sleep on these guys, especially with Cory Barnett get better under center by the snap.

      ------------------

      The Next Level

      15) MACON

      16) BROWN COUNTY

      17) ROUTT

      18) BOWLING GREEN

      19) KNOX COUNTY

      20) PALMYRA

      21) PGP

      22) MARK TWAIN

      23) RUSHVILLE/INDUSTRY

      24) FORT MADISON

      25) HIGHLAND

      --------------

      WEEK THREE SNAP JUDGEMENTS

      1) Winless Scotland County will get a big boost this week with the return of its most veteran and explosive player. Zach Miller was forced to sit out the first three weeks of the season to meet his MSHSAA approved practice requirement. Miller did not start school or practices until August 31st due in order to fulfill his National Guard duty. This seems an odd position for MSHSAA to "punish" young men who serve their country through elective military duty, but by the same token, from a safety and legal standpoint, the folks in Columbia are probably wise to adhere to a uniform standard in requiring 14 days of practice from all football candidates, regardless of the circumstance. That is neither here nor there at this point. The Tigers sagging offense is getting an instant boost of offense this week by adding one of the fastest sprinters in Northeast Missouri (see also Zach's storied track exploits last Spring) and a kid is a threat to hit the end zone from any point on the field. Scotland travels to Fayette this Friday to face Henry County at Central Methodist. Great player. Terrific kid. Glad to have Zach back in the mix.

      2) One time Quincy High Blue Devil and now Chicago De La Salle Running Back Mikale Wilbon received his biggest scholarship offer yet this week when he Tweeted out on Monday that he received an offer from the Iowa Hawkeyes. The junior speedster also has a Michigan State visit scheduled for later this month. Which begs the question: just how good would this Blue Devil backfield be had Wilbon not transferred to Chicago to be with family? Imagine the destruction Wilbon and Malique Robbins would inflict on Western Big Six defenses. Somewhere, I have to imagine that thought has crossed Rick Little's mind a time or two...

      ??

      3) For the last few years, football "experts" have turned their noses up at Illini West Defensive Coordinator Lyle Klein's devotion to the basic tried and true 5-2 Defensive Scheme. And all Klein's done is collect a pair of State Championship rings running a supposedly "antiquated" scheme and found ways to defend every wrinkle thrown at him. I mention this only because the Chargers are getting a rare schematic test Friday with West Hancock bringing its "Jacksonville North" scheme to Fuzz Berges Field. As we saw first hand last week, the Titan passing Offense is potent. Coy Dorothy is a rare talent in extending plays (ask the Macomb Defensive Linemen how many "near sacks" they had last week) and he's got two pass catchers in Austin Hardy and Kolbie Schilson who may be as good as anyone sees in 3A Football this season. You like chess matches? This week's Brian Lewton vs Lyle Klein play calling showdown might as well be the is the Illinois High School equivalent of Mike Leach against Dick LeBeau on Friday. Interesting to see what gives....

      ??

      4) The kid who might have singularly most impressed me in Week Three was Pittsfield/Griggsville Perry Defensive Tackle Austin Beard. He's by no means a household name but the next time State Ranked Rockridge blocks him, will be the first. The Saukees commitment to improving what has been a ridiculously porous defense the last three years seems to slowly be paying some dividends.

      ??

      5) Granted, their schedule doesn't exactly rival the QND/Keokuk run to start the season but Knox County has ground its way to a 2-1 start and is developing a nice offensive symbiosis between Donovan Edwards, Brody Moubry, and Kellen Gillaspy.

      ??

      6) Too early to start talking Player of the Year race? In my book, yes. But if you are less rigid than I: advantage Dalton Heubner. And if this sounds vaguely familiar to you, well good. It should. Kid averages a Wyatt Green-like 15 yards per carry, he ought to dominate the conversation.

      ??

      7) Your Tri State Fantasy Football team will suffer some statistical fallout this week from teams likely not playing starters beyond halftime. In that spirit, don't expect many reps from your favorite Hannibal Pirates or Concord Triopia Trojans. Plays beyond the obvious this week? How about Fort Madison's Ben Votrubeck against a surprisingly awful Mount Pleasant Defense on Friday. This is a great week to bank on Mark Twain's Tyler Steinkamp. Zach Abney at Pittsfield is a money play versus Bunker Hill. And just a hunch here, by I will take Keokuk Wide Receiver Bryce Baxter as well for maybe a touchdown or two.

      ---------------

      WEEK FOUR FEARLESS PREDICTIONS

      Last Week: 17 of 18 (94.4%)

      Season to date: 45 of 52 (86.5%)

      ??

      KEOKUK 40

      FAIRFIELD 10

      ??

      ??

      FORT MADISON 28

      MT PLEASANT 21

      ??

      ??

      ROCK ISLAND 22

      QUINCY HIGH 28

      ??

      ??

      QND 20

      PND 14

      ??

      ??

      SOUTHEAST 13

      JACKSONVILLE 38

      ??

      ??

      ??

      WEST HANCOCK 22

      ILLINI WEST 35

      ??

      ??

      MACOMB 28

      ORION 12

      ??

      ??

      ??

      BUNKER HILL 12

      PGP 24

      ??

      ??

      ??

      CSE 21

      BROWN COUNTY 6

      ??

      ??

      TRIOPIA 55

      ISD 0

      ??

      ??

      HAVANA 20

      BEARDSTOWN 32

      ??

      ??

      HANNIBAL 49

      MEXICO 14

      ??

      ??

      PALMYRA 12

      HIGHLAND 8

      ??

      ??

      MACON 12

      CLARK COUNTY 39

      ??

      ??

      CENTRALIA 18

      SOUTH SHELBY 10

      ??

      ??

      KNOX COUNTY 20

      PARIS 18

      --------------

      RANDOM MUSINGS

      The honors rolled in this week for Illinois College Quarterback Michael Bates, who was not only the Midwest Conference Offensive Player of the Week after his tour de force effort at Grinnell, but also was named the NCAA Division III Offensive Player of the Week for the entire nation in addition to being named to the D3football.com Team of the Week, for his 580 yard, 7 touchdown outing.

      After a stunningly lopsided season opening loss to Coe, Monmouth bounced back last week with a 31-14 win over Beloit. Local product Trey Yocum (BPCA) finished with 148 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Brown County's Ace Hendricks, making his first collegiate start as a Place Kicker, kicked a 25 yard field goal and converted all four of his extra point attempts.

      QND Alum Patrick Smith delivered a career best 46 yard field goal for Western Illinois in the Leathernecks 27-17 win over Indianapolis. Hard to get much read on the Necks through these first three weeks. WIU starts with two comparitively soft opponents at home and doesn't exactly put either away with easy. The Necks now travel to Ames where Iowa State awaits. Honestly, I don't think we will have any idea just where this team sits until Illinois State makes its September 22nd trip to Hanson Field.

      J.D.Gravina's recruiting work continues. The Western Illinois Womens Basketball program grabs a commit this week from 5'10 Wisconsin product Michelle Farrow. The Waukesha West High School Forward has been on varsity since her freshman year. Last season, Michelle was a first team all conference in the Classic 8 Conference. She has also has spent the past three years in the Wisconsin Lakers AAU program and was voted to the All Star Team at the USJN in Cincinnati, OH this past summer as part of the Wisconsin Lakers White , which finished 57-11 this summer. Her AAU Coach tells us that Michelle is a tough nose defender, and lights out three point shooter.

      With a win in a Quadrangular at Macomb on Wednesday, QND Girls Golf Coach Chris Hogge improved his career record to 303-3 this week. I'd dare say that is as high a win percentage as you will find anywhere in the area in any sport.

      Kenzie Grossman delivered a Perfect Game over the weekend to help Mark Twain ice a North Shelby Tournament title and she followed up on Tuesday with a no-hitter against Macon. Twain is now 8-1 on the season for those who may have been sleeping on the Tigers.

      Speaking of Tiger teams on the rise, Scotland County took out red hot Knox County, by shutout no less, this week and improved to 6-3 behind ace pitcher Bethany Raider.

      Hannibal's 3-2 win over Moberly was the first Soccer victory by that program over the Spartans since 2007. Blake Hosley continues to roll up the goals for the Pirates, with two more at Moberly's expense.

      Macomb running sensation Karyn Paisley broke through for a Running Raider Invitational Title on Tuesday, a prize she much coveted after previously placing 12th and 3rd in this premier cross country event. Paisley finished 70 seconds ahead of her next closest competition: Quincy High's Halee McNay. Bowling Green's Kylie Conrow, running in her first ever Cross Country meet, took third.

      Kudos to our guy Jared Schmidt for leading the Liberty Eagle Cross Country program to a 1st place team finish in his first year as the new boss in Eagles Country.

      QND's Luke Watson finished on his home turf with another strong finish, taking second place individually behind champion Dan Plunkett of Pleasant Plains. Bonus points for Watson because he actually managed to run well in the hot pink shorts the Raiders were sporting in support of Breast Cancer research.