At the Summit: Duerrisms surveys the Semifinal Landscape

Presented by the great people at GAMEMASTERS: This is your mini-Duerrisms for the Week of November 18th or more appropriately, Final Four Week in Tri State High School Football. We've got two teams left alive in the prep ranks and a collegiate club in Illinois College making its first ever Division III Playoff Appearance. Good times, my friends. Good times. Here's hoping we still have some football to talk about beyond this week.

This will be our final Duerrisms posting until our December 17th ALL DO OR DIE FOOTBALL Internet Companion posts here in cooperation with our 16th Annual KHQA ALL DO OR DIE Football Wrap Up Show. DVR Alert: that one hour special is set to run from 11 to Noon that morning with all your annual KHQA Football Awards and of course, our honors team for the season. Your regular Duerrisms schedule resumes shortly after the Holidays, though if time allows, I will endeavor to post some mini-columns and musings for your enjoyment as the basketball season de-thaws.

The KHQA LIVE CHAT will return Friday, December 2nd at 10:35 pm so that we can all delve into the High School Basketball fun. Be sure to join us immediately following Sports Final, where we bandy about opinions, solicit questions, and just generally have a good old time with our loyal viewers up to Midnight.

For you Social Networking types, the fun never stops here at KHQA. You can join over 1000 other followers and find me on Twitter (!/ChrisDuerr ) for breaking news and the latest scores from whatever gym or field I happen to be in on a given night. And we maintain a KHQA Sports Facebook page here: for your further enjoyment with web polls and other tidbits, which is usually the quickest and easiest way to directly interact with Joe and me. Hope you will try them out.



For the seventh year now, KHQA is once again profiling the best and brightest young people in Tri State Athletics every Wednesday Night at 6:00pm in our Student Athlete of the Week Feature. (Apologies for all those Tuesday Night airings last month, but the breakneck pace of the Fall Sports Postseason dictated we move the feature temporarily to Tuesdays.) It's a look beyond the highlights into the mindset and determination that make these folks successful in all that we do and reminder to all of you just how much good there is out there to be celebrated in this generation. And at year's end, we will once again award scholarships to the top boys and girls scholar athletes in our area.

If you know of a deserving senior who sports a minimum 3.5 GPA, please contact your high school athletic director and have them fill out a form on that student's behalf. Or help expedite the process yourself by printing a nomination form from our website (which can be found on the Student Athlete of the Week Page) and turning it in to your local athletic director so that they can submit it to us. Don't delay. The School Year will be over before you know it and we'd hate to think a deserving SAW candidate slipped under radar. As of today, we already have 23 new candidates to consider (as well as our holdover nominees from our first meeting) when the SAW Board reconvenes in January. It's a very competitive process and the more chances we get to discuss your candidate of choice, the better their chances of receiving this honors becomes.

2011-2012 Honorees

Week One: LEXI FRESE, Quincy High Volleyball

Week Two: SYDNEY HAWLEY, Pittsfield Golf/Basketball

Week Three: COLTON BOCK, Monroe City Football

Week Four: MICHAEL BARTELS, Keokuk Football/Wrestling

Week Five: CATHERINE RICHARDS, Payson Seymour Volleyball

Week Six: JANSEN JOEHL, Concord Triopia Football

Week Seven: MELISSA WOOD, Mark Twain Softball

Past Scholarship Winners

2011: JACOB CONLEY, Central High (U.S. Military Academy at West Point)

DAKOTA FLESNER, Payson Seymour (Kishwaugee Community College)

2010: MICHAEL LAFFERTY, Illini West (Monmouth College)

TAYLOR BAXTER, Palmyra (Illinois State)

2009: MATT PATTERSON, South Shelby (Truman State)

CHLOE BARNES, Quincy High (Ball State University)

2009: LUKE GUTHRIE, Quincy High (University of Illinois)

2007: KATELYN BASTERT, Illini West (Duke University)

2006: MIKAL BENECOMO, Clopton (Southeast Missouri State)




Between Tim Woodward's season-ending injury and Tom Little's debilitating bout with Migraine issues on the sideline, it was bizarre ride to victory for the Brown County Hornets on Saturday. It was also a show of extreme resiliency by that squad with Ben Ellefritz taking over play calling duties, Alex Sheppard stepping back in at Quarterback on the fly, and Eric Grady's defense delivering its first shutout of the season against the best team it played all season. If you shutout a Rich Thompson team with that kind of weaponry, you've had a very good day. From my vantage point, I thought Sam Henricks and Clayton Taylor probably had the best games of their lives defensively against the Trojans, which gave an added layer of support to usual stalwarts Austin Gooding and Luke Gragg. The biggest play of the day, however, may have been turned in by Justin Volk, with an interception early in the third quarter. Some will argue that Alex Sheppard's mid-run strip of Derrick Schone was a bigger play, because it led directly to great field position and the game's only touchdown and that's certainly not bad conjecture. But it was Volk's prior interception that seemed to kill all confidence in the Triopia passing game and made the Trojan offense one-dimensional. From that point forward, there was vibe that Triopia simply would not go back to the air again (and didn't) and Eric Grady and his troops wisely picked up on it and suffocated the Trojan ground game: no small affair. As I said on Saturday, this game was a battle of the two best Defensive Coordinators in 1A Football and Andy Phelps crew did an amazing job. They just had the disadvantage of working from six points down. Brown County's Defense essentially got to call it's own shot in the second half and faced a team it was tailor made to have success against. The same probably can not be said for Saturday's showdown with Triopia, who has eliminated BC in both the 2009 and 2010 playoffs. Tuscola is a spread offense team with great explosive capability, something Brown County has not seen yet this season. The Hornets must also now face Tuscola without one of their surest Defensive Backs, thanks to that torn ACL Tim Woodward suffered. If this sounds pessimistic, it probably shouldn't. To be honest, Eric Grady has seen enough of the Tuscola Offense the last two years he can probably call plays for Rick Reinhart these days. His team, it bares noting, has also held the Warriors to just 21 and 17 points respectively the last two seasons. The challenge is a bit tweaked from the 2010 meeting. After starting at quarterback in 2009, then moving to wide receiver last year to accommodate Jud Weinke, Philip Meyer is back under center at Tuscola and enjoying an All State level campaign. While Weinke was a classic drop back passer, Meyer is the best 1A athlete in the state playing Quarterback. He's more dangerous when the play breaks down and his mobility is a huge cause for concern. He's surrounded by capable running backs and some pretty good wide receivers (though none of Tuscola's pass catchers from what I have been able to see on tape are as good as Meyer was at that position last year) The challenge for BC is to account for everyone. The luxury the Hornets have in Woodward's injury is once again moving Sheppard from Defensive End to Defensive Back (the rare athlete who can not only make that move but dominate the position) and hound some of those targets. The problem I see here is that Sheppard might also be the smartest, most athletic D End in the class and the one guy who could turn Meyer back into the heart of the BC Defense when he seeks to get to the edge. Brown County is going to get interior pass rush and collapse pockets. That is the guarantee of having Austin Gooding in the middle. The question is how well Brown County can clean up after the fact, at the edge. Offensively, I am not sure the Woodward injury negatively impacts Brown County as much as you may think. Braxton Phelps will step into the running back slot for new Quarterback Alex Sheppard and I would argue might be the Hornets best overall home run threat anyway. Having Sheppard and Phelps in the same backfield gives you two break away threats to pair with the most befuddling between the tacklers runner Tuscola may see all year in Rick Logsdon, who has an innate knack for getting north and south. I suspect Tuscola will pack the box and force Brown County to have to throw at some point. Therein l lies the challenge for Tom Little. Alex Sheppard has a very live arm but has had basically zero reps this season. Can BC stretch the Tuscola defense and still uses its aggressiveness against it, absent Tim Woodward's poised certainty and accuracy in the play action passing game. If Alex Sheppard can find some rhythm and force the Tuscola Defense to have to expand its level of Defensive Concerns, then Brown County has a real shot of pulling off the upset. If BC can't do that, then the Hornets may end up just like Triopia did a week ago: looking for running room "oxygen" in a defensive vacuum. Bottom line you have to score. Shy of eventually 2A State Champion Maroa Forsyth, no one yet has kept Tuscola out of the end zone for an entire game. We will see what wizardry Tom Little can summon in making the third time "a charm" in Mount Sterling on Saturday. If nothing else, BC will have that considerable (perhaps the state's best) home field advantage to bank on. Last year, the BC Harley Crew drowning out Triopia Fans in pre-game was the biggest chill inducing moment of my season. I suspect their may be more then a few more tingles on the way this weekend.


Okay, show of hands: who had South Shelby (currently starting three freshmen on its offensive line) as your last team standing in Northeast Missouri? Me neither. As we've long said, the measure of good coaching is the progress a team makes from point A to point B. Under that umbrella, who the heck has done a better job then Rob Wilt, Zach Grassley and company in Shelbina? I always knew Rob Wilt was a good coach. What he's done this season, with this team, makes me think that we grossly underestimated the man even at that. I saw these guys at Central Methodist in the summer and was convinced that South had too many holes to fill to be relevant beyond maybe a District win. Cut to today. The Cardinals are rolling right now (seven game win streak, anybody?) and doing it with the seemingly simple recipe of playing nothing but smart and physical football. Last week's 28 point output at Westran might be the single best example of Offensive Play Calling we've seen this season, given the degree of difficulty involved. See also the fact that State Powerhouse Salisbury and a pretty good Eldon team where the only squads this season to climb out of the teens against Westran this year. So let me ask you, why is it that a really good defensive team like Westran still can't stop Shawn Betrand from running wild, when in theory, Bertrand might be the single most marked offensive player left in the Class 1 dance? I'll bite. Maybe because Rob Wilt has been masterful at employing his All State caliber feature back against the weakest flanks of his opponents. And because Wilt has picked the perfect time to throw the Austin Hall curve ball, seemingly without fail this season. Deeper still, it might just be that David Heathman has turned into a quarterback of icy resolve and tremendous accuracy. He throws smart passes and has become, with very little fanfare, a terrific play action weapon. In the biggest game of his life, when most of us would have been throwing up all over our cleats in pregame, Heathman calmly goes 8 of 11 last week and makes the Westran Defense look silly for selling out against the run. Granted, having a kid like Wes Mefford at the other end of those passes ensures some confidence. He may not produce gaudy stats in the South run-oriented offense but Wes has become a very bankable and feared commodity, on both sides of the football. And again, in the middle of all of it, that young Cardinal Offensive Line got the job done. Bottom line on Saturday, the Cardinals won all three phases of the game. Two on-side kick recoveries (or well time squibb kicks, depending on your view) contributed. Swarm tackling may have been just as valuable against Drake Buffington and that explosive Westran offense. The Cardinals had eight kids with six or more tackles on Saturday, led by Adam Ellyson and Alex Durbin with 10 apiece. What Zach Grassley's defense may lack in name commodities, it makes up for in faceless, unceasing production. (At least for now. Check back in three years when Hadley Roberts is winning CCC Defensive Player of the Year accolades and we will see who lacks "marquee names, but I digress) Bottom line, the rise of South Shelby football this season is inexplicable and a credit to a program that could not be better coached. To be honest, I know very little about East Buchanan and there is not a wealth of material on these guys on the internet. After last week, I am to the point of not caring who the foe is. South Shelby is going to do what it wants to do and under the Wilt regime, it is going to do it well. If East Buchanan can stop Shawn Bertrand and friends, then they deserve to head to the Dome. But right now, on sure force of will, I am loathe to bet against South again. They've hewn a steely, physical identity and a "dare you to stop us" ethos and from this point forward, until someone does, I remain a converted believer.



Deeply saddened to hear this week of the passing of former Hannibal and Bowling Green Basketball Coach Steve Boeh, who was hands down one of the nicest human beings I've ever run across in this business. A head coach for 38 years before retiring, Steve had been serving as an assistant coach at Pacific High School in Missouri. I have seen two different reported causes of death for Steve. The Bowling Green Tribune reports a car crash. The Columbia Missourian lists heart attack, which was the report we had initially been given as well. Regardless, the world has lost a wonderful, wonderful man. I was at a Superbowl Party once a few years ago, in advance of the KHQA Subway Superfan Shootout in which QND was slated to play Boeh's Bowling Green squad, talking with Scott Douglas. For nearly 20 minutes, Scott went on extolling not only Steve's tremendous coaching virtues, but just what an incredibly good guy and class act Steve was on top of it all. When we'd show up to do stories or shoot highlights, Steve would always find time to come over and thank us for being there, just because he was that kind of gracious man. Joe Murano once showed up at Bowling Green to shoot interviews with his kids and Steve once let Joe shoot a free throw to see if conditioning was over. He was just that kind of fun-loving, wonderful guy. The Midwest Basketball world is poorer for his absence. Our prayers to his family.

In similar vain this week, we were also hit hard by the news of Jim Murphy's death, at age 59, as well. For those who don't know, Jim had been the Public Relations Director at Illinois College since 1989, long before that institution opted to hire a Sports Information Director. Jim was a tireless advocate for IC and its students and is the biggest reason we initially started covering IC Sports, even if it was technically "out of the viewing area." Jim would call with tidbits about local athletes (Carthage's Willie Thompson to start) and graciously supply reasons for us to come out to Blueboy Games. Soon enough we did start showing up and found Jim to be a wonderful ambassador to the institution and unfailingly gracious host. He would always come down from the press box with a kind word and a story idea and I very much enjoyed our conversations as one of the high points of the trip to Jacksonville. Jim was a gentleman of the highest order and a man with a true and unmistakable passion for what he did. To be honest, I am not sure the Illinois College Community would be nearly the place it is today had Jim never set foot on campus. He will be forever missed in these circles.

Suffice it to say, between Steve Boeh, Jim Murphy, and the heart-wrenching story of Brown County Quarterback Tim Woodward's tragic Saturday, this hasn't been a very fun week in this business. We've lost some really exceptional people over the last eight days.

Congratulations to Quincy High Basketball Coach Sean Taylor, who will join the Class of 2012 in the IBCA Hall of Fame this coming April. Between Reno Pinkston last spring and Sean Taylor this year, that's a superb run of Western Illinois sideline representation in the Hall.

On the list of unlikely State Champions, the QND Volleyball team may trump all. The Raiders had no coach until late in the game. They had a tremendously truncated off-season because of that. And QND had all manner of personnel question marks to answer. Enter Rich Meyer, who jumps in after a bad "divorce" at Culver Stockton, and finds the fountain of coaching youth with this energetic and charismatic group of young players. And at the end of the run, Coach O inexplicably earns his first ever State Volleyball title after he had seemingly closed the door on high school coaching. You can't script stories like this.

Our congratulations to Quincy High Defender Dalton Stark, who this week was named to the Chicago Tribune 3A All State Soccer Squad.

Your IFCA All State Selections for the 2011 Football Season included Austin Gooding and Rick Logsdon of Brown County and Phillip Whited in 1A, Central Southeastern's Nathan Knuffman in Class 2A, Macomb's Chris Jackson in 3A, and QND's Nick Reichert in 4A.

Excited to announce that after three years of begging and pleading, I have finally convinced Centralia Football coach Erle Bennett to helm the 2013 West Squad in the DO or DIE BOWL. Monroe City's Tony DeGrave and Central Southeastern's Bill Reed will serve as your 2012 Coaches.

From what we are hearing, Karl Asbury will be the next head softball coach at Payson Seymour. This will be the U-P Football Coach's first ever run in the third base box for softball.

BPCA product Trey Yocum led the Midwest Conference in rushing yards as a Sophomore and earned 1st Team All League honors this week. Virginia alum Brock Thompson of Illinois College was a second team All League selection at Wide Receiver, one of 10 IC Players to receive all league honors.

I've spoken "off the record" with Quincy University Athletic Director Marty Bell twice (candidly, emotionally and at great length) about his vision for the future of Hawk Football moving forward past the Bill Terlisner era. On Monday, the QU AD has promised he will share that vision with all of you.