2017 KHQA Barnstorm Report-Tour Stop 20: BEARDSTOWN TIGERS
DUERRISMS BARNSTORM NOTES FROM OUR VISIT TO THE LAND OF STRIPES AND SOUND FINANCIAL ADVICE
THE SKINNY: What a difference a year makes. After the failed attempt to hire Barry Creviston to helm the Beardstown Football program, the Tigers struck gold with the hire of Robbi Howard. The ex-Williamsville Assistant made the most of his first head coaching gig, transforming a program that had gone the two prior seasons without posting a single victory into a 5-5 3A Playoff Qualifier that was eventually ousted by North Mac. The Tigers return a Tri-State Best 20 starters from that roster and are being hailed as the consensus favorite in the WIVC North from Mendon to Jacksonville.
THE FREAK: We'd heard all the hype about his athleticism tracing back to his IESA Track and Field State Championship Days. When Freshman Pascal Guilavogui finally hit varsity radar, he proved the rare exception who over-delivered on hype. The 190 pounder led his team in rushing with 746 yards, despite spending a considerable amount of time early in the year at Wide Receiver. He was also an All Conference performer at Safety and the WIVC's best Place Kicker and Return Specialist. Now as a Sophomore, he might be the most irrepressible weapon in Tri-State Football; unleashing a fire and furry akin to letting Quincy High Star Jirehl Brock play against 1A/2A competition. If you get the chance to see him play in person this Fall, I strongly suggest you do so.
WEAPONIZED: As good as Pascal is, Robbi Howard is doing his level best to assure that defenses can't sell out against him. The Beardstown skipper has converted Junior Chad Grimm from Guard to Fullback to address a position of need. Grimm, a standout wrestler, reminds me a ton of former Macomb star Curt Myers both in approach and appearance (as well as mat background) The Tigers also return both Brady O'Hara (724 rushing yards, 6 TD) and Drake Wrobleski (682 yards, 8 TD) to the mix as well. They've also got a four year starter at Quarterback in Ike Riddle (who Howard calls the smartest kid on the field) and a fast rising Wide Receiver to boot in Junior DJ McWilliams. Pick your poison.
LINED OUT: Beardstown returns Five starters on the Offensive line, even with Grimm's move to the backfield. Juniors Adam Kirchner and Trent Watkins will team up with Seniors Yarid Ruiz, Sebastian Lopez, and 300 pounder Cal O'Hara to front for the backfield. Don't sleep on either Lopez, who is athletic and rangy at 230 pounds or Yarid Ruiz and his low center of gravity as guys who won't give ground on a good line.
DRANE THE SWAMP: They won't receive the hype enjoyed by more traditional powers, but the Brady O'Hara/Drake Wrobleski/Drew Drane combo might be the low key most productive Linebacker group in Western Illinois. O'Hara had 123 tackles a season ago. Drane finished with 69. Wrobleski with 84. These guys get plenty of protection from a massive Defensive Line and all three have the ability to pop you on your back, rather rudely. Love the Old School feel here, as these guys profile like the Lambert/Ham/Russell of Tri-State High School Football (crack a history book kids...or at least some old NFL Films video, you will thank me for this later. )