Louder than a Bomb: 2011 KHQA All Do or Die Internet Companion Piece

The most prolific running back in Bomber Football history becomes the first Macomb player ever to win KHQA Player of the Year honors.


Gridiron Greetings and Happy Holidays my friends. Celebrating sixteen years now of Tri State Pigskin Coverage, this is your KHQA All Do or Die Football Internet Companion for 2011. If you missed the Do or Die Football Show itself, which aired December 17th, you can find it here on the website. Also, keepsake DVD and VHS copies are available for purchase. You can call the KHQA offices to request them during normal business hours at (217) 222-6200.

Time now for our annual disclaimers: these awards shows, more than anything else we do all season, are based on nothing but our subjective opinion and are intended purely as entertainment. Our decisions carry little to no weight with college scouts and rarely end up being anything more than scrapbook material for your memories in later life. In essence, don't take this stuff too seriously. It's all done in fun and I hope you will enjoy our subjective, non-expert opinions as such.

Also, a quick reminder of our rules, since they seem to inspire confusion every year. You are only eligible for Do or Die Team honors on one side of the football. We pick what we feel is the skill set that best serves our purposes and draft you here for that reason. If you are a first team pick on offense, you will not be represented on any of our defensive teams, no matter how many All Conference/All State/All Universe nods you may have gotten there. Also, any player who received an honors code type violation and missed football games is ineligible for First Team and Player of the Year consideration. Our rationale is that if we put you on the roster, we want to be able to rely on the fact that you will make good choices to stay on the field.

Thanks for your patience all. Duerrisms returns to this space after the first of the year with a brand new sponsor in GAMEMASTERS. So be on the lookout for plenty of high school basketball talk coming your way in 2012.


2011 KHQA Football Player of the Year

CHRIS JACKSON, RB/LB, Macomb High School

Rationale: There were probably a half dozen really viable candidates for this award and I think there were compelling arguments to be made for all of them. I just could not find a viable reason to push any of them ahead of the man who is now both the single season and career rushing leader in Macomb's rich history. We are talking about a man who now sits above John Stovall, Ne Parker, Ryle Irish, the Hendrickson Brothers, and Tony Huston in the Bomber record books. That is a huge accomplisment. If you saw Chris Jackson play, you know exactly what he brings to the table. And after floating the "Jackson as POY" trial balloon to a handful of coaches who had to defend against the kid, I got zero blow back on the decision. That's respect. And Chris earned every ounce of it. He's a best of all worlds type runner: size, speed, physicality and intelligence. More than that, he's a unquestioned leader who helped pull the Rockets out of a surprising early season tailspin. He's also a young man who seems to have the universal respect of his classmates, something that goes well beyond football, particularly in what was an emotionally trying and ugly summer in Macomb in reference to the high school basketball coaching scandal. As someone told me earlier this year: Chris Jackson is not only the guy you want as a teammate; he's the guy you want as a lifelong friend. Granted, rushing for nearly 2100 yards in a year was an undeniable impulse to give the kid this award. But character matters too. And you be hard pressed to find anyone who brings a more complete, well rounded resume to this process then Macomb's stellar All State tailback.

2011 POY First Runner-Up: Austin Gooding, DT/OL, Brown County

Final Balloting


2) AUSTIN GOODING, DT/OL, Brown County

3) SCOTT KROEGER, QB, Clopton-Elsberry

4) NATHAN KNUFFMAN, RB/K/LB, Central-Southeastern

5) DAX DOLLENS, QB, Centralia

6) GARRETT KESTNER, RB, Central-Southeastern

7) NICK REICHERT, DL/OL, Quincy Notre Dame

Past Winners:

2010: Ser Whitaker, Illini West

2009: Michael Lafferty, Illini West

2008: Javis Vineyard, Clark County

2007: James Vandenberg, Keokuk

2006: Andrew Bergeson, Hannibal

2005: Tony Hall, South Shelby

2004: Trevor Frericks, Quincy Notre Dame

2003: Cliff Bumgarner, Concord Triopia

2002: Cody Grotts, Carthage

2001: Jensen Jones, West Prairie/LaHarpe

2000: Wyatt Green, Carthage

1999: Matt Paris, Monroe City


2011 KHQA Football Coach of the Year

ROB WILT, South Shelby High School

Rationale: Lots of really viable candidates, but I have always quantified good coaching (in any sport) by the progress a team makes from Point A to Point Z in a season. By that standard, Rob Wilt clearly stands head and shoulders above the field here. His team was 2 and 4 at one point this season with critical injuries to two of its few expected lynchpins (Will Mefford, Alex Blackford) and Rob Wilt was forced to go to war with one of the greenest rosters in Tri State Football. See also the three Freshmen he had in the starting lineup on the Offensive Line, a virtual death sentence for any team with even modest postseason aspirations. Except in this case, it actually wasn't. Rob Wilt found a way to channel the enthusiasm of his younger kids from the bottom up and that helped this South Shelby squad forge a new identity in mid-stream. That's a nearly impossible trick to pull off but under Rob Wilt's command this season, the Angry Birds did a lot of seemingly impossible things, including the upset of Westran on its home field and booked passage to the Dome for the Show Me Bowl. It is just a really unbelievable story forged by a staff that has probably never to date gotten the credit it has deserved. That Rob Wilt and his staff were this successful in the face of such adversity, speaks volumes about their ability and the state of their program. And I suspect, it will be a long time before anyone underestimates South again, in any circumstance.

2011 First Runner-Up: Rich Thompson, Triopia

KHQA Viewers Choice Award: Rich Thompson, Triopia

Past Winners:

2010: Tom Little, Brown County

2009: Jimmy Tucker, Bowling Green

2008: Rich Thompson, Concord Triopia

2007: Jayson Campbell, Keokuk

2006: Mark St Clair, Hannibal

2005: Kent O'Laughlin, South Shelby

2004: Pete Claas, Macon

2003: Randy Dickens, Quincy High

2002: Jim Unruh, Carthage

2001: Mark St. Clair, Hannibal

2000: Par Pitts, Palmyra

1999: Jim Unruh, Carthage

1998: Tony Merryman, Pleasant Hill

1997: Jay Wessler, Concord Triopia

1996: Dale Labuary, Monroe City

1995: Kent O'Laughlin, North Shelby (Missouri Winner)

Jim Unruh, Carthage (Illinois Winner)


2011 KHQA Missouri/Iowa Offensive Player of the Year

SCOTT KROEGER, QB, Clopton/Elsberry

Rationale: From a purely statistical standpoint, Clopton-Elsberry's Scott Kroeger established a quarterback standard in 2011 that may never again be replicated or equalled. The Indian Hawk Senior proved to be the living embodiment of the phrase "duel threat" while leading his program to eight wins and its first ever District Title. But don't take my word for it. Check out the statistic-driven high school website MaxPreps, which listed Kroeger as number two in the nation in Total Offense at 4766 yards; behind only University of Missouri signee Maty Mauk. Bottom line, Scott proved to be the ultimate "pick your poison" conundrum for Northeast Missouri defenses. As a passer, Kroeger connected on 64% of his throws this season, notching 3287 yards through the air, or roughly 298 yards per night. He connected for 33 touchdowns, against just 10 interceptions and posted an obscenely high 109 Quarterback rating along the way. Flush him from the pocket, however, and your defensive prospects got no better. Kroeger rolled up 1479 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on close to seven yards per carry. Those are the kind of numbers that comprise All State accolades for most tailbacks. On balance, Kroeger ended the year with 4766 yards and 55 total touchdowns to his credit; an absolute staggering achievement for one player. And to give you some idea of this kid's football disposition, he still found enough energy to finish second on the team with 80 tackles. The first ever All State Selection in program history, Kroeger did everything you could ask of a kid to help elevate the nascent Clopton-Elsberry program, including carry himself as a true leader and example for his teammates with a 3.95 GPA to boot. Hard to believe that Football is only his second best sport. Kind of makes you feel sorry for the kids who will lace up the high tops and try to defend Scott Kroeger on the Hardwoods this winter.

KHQA Viewer's Choice Winner: Logan Hicks, Hannibal

Past Winners:

2010: Mark Nemes, Hannibal

2009: Justin Alderton, Clark County

2008: Shawn Maloney, Monroe City

2007: James Hurt, Keokuk

2006: James Vandenberg, Keokuk

2005: Josh Roberts, Clark County

2004: Jared Bichsel, Monroe City

2003: Aaron Bergeson, Hannibal

2002: Clint Carroz, Mark Twain

2001: Wentric Williams, Hannibal

2000: Will Clayton, Hannibal

1999: Matt Paris, Monroe City

1998: Craig Lewis, Keokuk

1997: Ryan Watson, Monroe City


2010 KHQA Illinois Offensive Player of the Year

GARRETT KESTNER, RB, Central-Southeastern

Rationale: No area program has enjoyed a more meteoric football rise over the last three years than Central-Southeastern. That such success came on Garrett Kestner's watch is no mere coincidence. In every sense the epitome of a Franchise Back, the Panther senior was the piston that powered the Panthers to 24 wins during that run, their first ever playoff victories, and a first ever West Central Conference title in 2011. Need proof? See also the 57 rushing touchdowns and 342 points he contributed to the Panther's offensive success over that time frame. And if there was a singular defining aspect to Garrett Kestner's legacy, it was simply that: a god given ability to find the end zone. Blessed with a rare mix of speed and power, Garrett clearly lived up to his moniker as "The Human Muscle" in trampling opponents in route becoming our region's premier Red Zone threat the last two years. Granted, he had the speed to hit the home run ball but Kestner's hallmark was being nearly unstoppable from the 10 yard line in; despite the fact that everyone on the field and in the stands knew exactly who would be touching the football in that situation. Call it sheer force of will. Call it brute strength. Whatever the key, Garrett Kestner's "unique" talent for breaking a defenses will was evident from the outset. That's not to suggest the kid didn't get better over the course of his career. Clearly Garrett's Senior Season was a fitting punctuation to a stellar career. He matched his 2010 total of 24 rushing touchdowns and added two more through the air. He posted his career high in rushing yards at just over 13 hundred for the season, averaging better than eight yards a tote along the way. He was good for better than 118 yards of rushing a game on average, despite playing in an offense that put a higher emphasis on sharing the football with backfield mates Nathan Knuffman, Austin Dormire, and Dalton Heubner. And those were just the tangible positives of his game. There's no way to estimate the toll his runaway freight train running style took in taking the starch out of a defense, or just how much his presence on the field cleared the way for his backfield mates to succede. Nor does it take into account that Kestner emerged as a stout force on the other side of the ball for Brad Dixon as well, notching 66 total tackles on the year in limited reps. The kid was just a great football player and sets an incredibly high benchmark for future Panthers to emulate. Perhaps that, more than anything, at this once beleagured program was Garrett Kestner's greatest score of all.

Viewer's Choice Selection: Chris Jackson, Macomb

Past Winners:

2010: Daniel Weiman, Quincy Notre Dame

2009: Daniel Weiman, Quincy Notre Dame

2008: David Arendt: Concord Triopia

2007: Taylor Joehl, Concord Triopia

2006: Myers Hendrickson, Macomb

2005: Dustin Jacoby, Concord Triopia

2004: David Watts, Carthage

2003: Ashton Gronewold, Carthage

2002: Ashton Gronewold, Carthage

2001: Jensen Jones, West Prairie/LaHarpe

2000: Wyatt Green, Carthage

1999: Wes Lundgren, West Prairie/LaHarpe

1998: Ryan Miller, Concord Triopia

1997: Dom Tamberelli, QND


2010 KHQA Missouri/Iowa Defensive Player of the Year:


Rationale: Even against the backdrop of Hannibal's well earned reputation for producing outstanding Defensive Backs, Caleb Bieniek already stands out as something uniquely special. In two seasons worth of work, the Pirate Junior has amassed two All State nods, 191 career varsity tackles and 11 interceptions, and he still has a full year left to augment that impressive resume. The cornerstone of a Pirate Defense that surrendered just 15 points per night this season and won eight games and a District Title, Bieniek brought a linebacker's mentality and physicality to the job of run stuffing. He finished the year with a team high 92 total tackles, at a clip of eight stops per game, as well as a pair of Quarterback sacks. And few defenders got more for their money's worth than Caleb in the contact department. His quickness to impact and the ferocity with which he arrived at the point of attack made him one of the most intimidating players in Tri State Football. He has also proven himself to be a tremendous asset in coverage, notching 5 interceptions on the year and causing countless quarterbacks to throw opposite his direction in the process. Due to some injury issues, his offensive role was minimized this season, but that allowed him to concentrate even more of his focus on suring up the Pirate Defensive backfied; a unit that was so sound by year's end that it produced First Team All Conference nods for three of its four starters. And as if that wasn't enough, Caleb contributed a huge boon to the Pirates Special Teams play as well as a second team All Conference Kicker with 3 field goals and 31 converted extra points.Looking forward, it's hard to find a better, more intriguing local prospect in the area talent pool for 2012 then Caleb Bieniek; who figures to be the singular player of gravity in All of Northeast Missouri Football for yet one more season to come.

Viewer's Choice: Caleb Bieniek, Hannibal

Past Winners:

2010: Matt Brown, Bowling Green

2009: Geoff Correnti, Bowling Green

2008: Bryce Johnston, South Shelby

2007: Javis Vineyard, Clark County

2006: Luke O'Laughlin, South Shelby

2005: Andrew Bergeson, Hannibal

2004: Sean Kite, Clark County

2003: Alphonse Dames, Palmyra

2002: James Branch, Hannibal

2001: Keith Painter, Monroe City

2000: Derek Wallace, Mark Twain

1999: Jonathan Simpson, Hannibal

1998: Derek Minter, Monroe City

1997: Adam Crowe, Monroe City


2010 KHQA Illinois Defensive Player of the Year


Rationale: Given all that was lost to graduation a season ago, Brown County seemed destined to take a step backwards in 2011 from its Final Four perch. Particularly, since much of that talent attrition was concentrated on the Hornets Offensive and Defensive Lines, areas that have been a consistent source of strength during the Tom Little era. To that end, however, The Hornet Coaching Staff did however have the luxury of bringing back one pivotal cog in both equations. Fortunately for them, that holdover piece just happened to be their best blocker and their most ferocious tackler from a year ago. Austin Gooding was asked to be the cornerstone upon which Brown County rebuilt, and he proved to be more than up to the task. Flanked on the Offensive Line by four new starters, Austin Gooding raised not only his own level of play, but that of the kids around him, quickly re-establishing the program's reputation for ground and pound excellence. So much so that the 2011 Hornet Offensive Line became the first in the Tom Little era to front for a 1000 yard rusher...or more precisely...two of them; paving the way for both Alex Sheppard and All Stater Rick Logsdon to etch their names into the school record book. In the wake of that effort, Offensive Line Coach Heath Fullerton called Gooding the best blocker he's had the the chance to work with. And clearly that resonated in returning the Hornets back to the State Semifinals.Impressive, to be sure. But From our standpoint, Gooding's greater goodness was exemplified by his work on the other side of the football; reeking havoc on those who attempted to move the football against the Hornets. While he certainly wasn't the biggest or most physically imposing prospect in Class 1A football no interior lineman cast a bigger shadow over the state. With a relentless thirst for contact and a constantly revving motor, Austin Gooding fought through constant double teams to post tackle totals that would be the envy of most linebackers. He finished the campaign with a team high 134 tackles, 74 of which were of the solo variety. That works out to better than 10 stops per game, obscene numbers for a Defensive Tackle. Austin also led his team in tackles for loss with 12 and finished second on the team in Quarterback sacks with six...numbers that might have been even higher had opponents not spent the entire year running away from the kid. Austin blistering attack on opponents helped Brown County limit its opponents to just 12 points per game this season and propelled the Hornets back to the Class 1A Final four for the second straight season, avenging their only loss along the way to rival Triopia. In accordance with that dominance, Austin Gooding earned first team All State honors as well as our nod as the best Defensive Player in Illinois Football this season. And to be even more frank, we didn't see a better two way football player in any arena this season.

Viewer's Choice: Austing Gooding, Brown County

Past Winners:

2010: Jack Carlisle, Illini West

2009: Nathan Goudschaal, Brown County

2008: Zack Burling, Illini West

2007: Phillip Smith, Quincy Notre Dame

2006: T.J. Taylor, West Hancock

2005: Alex Ebbing, Brown County

2004: Les Hammers, Jacksonville

2003: Terry Comiskey, Beardstown

2002: A.J. Huston, West Prairie/LaHarpe

2001: Blake Bainter, Macomb

2000: Chris Rogers, Carthage

1999: Willie Thompson, Carthage

1998: Luke Wessel, Carthage

1997: Ryan Cramer, West Prairie/LaHarpe



(as voted by you the fans)


Rationale: The bruising Quincy High lineman beat out sledgehammer Rushville/Industry Fullback Austin Onion in a very close vote. Hard to argue with either of these guys. Finklea did a wonderful job as the interior counterbalance to the Blue Devils exceptional Defensive End pairing of DeAngelo Dean and Wes Ervin. He is a young man who plays with the kind of presence you want in a two-gap tackle; but what makes Clay special is that he does so with a lot more mobility and burst than your typical run stuffer. You can tell the kid was a Fullback at the lower levels of the program and that has made him a better Defensive Lineman. Offensively, he is cut from the old mold as a pin-your-ears back run blocker who wins at the point of attack consistently because of his powerful leg drive. In some ways, the kid is very reminiscent of QND All Stater Nick Reichert in both his smart approach and relentless physicality. With another year to go, it will be interesting to see just how much more Clay pushes the envelope of his game over the next 10 months.


2011 DO or DIE TEAM


1st Team Selections



BLAKE GRICE, Monroe City


WES CARLOCK, Beardstown



The Linebacker vintage for 2011 proved to be a fantastic one in Tri State Football, thanks in no small measure to a trio of junior run stuffers who played well beyond their years. Macomb's Brett Taylor, Monroe City's Blake Grice and Concord Triopia's Blake Richardson (from heretofore, the Killer B's) set a high standard for the future of the position with resumes hewn of relentless attacking play. Arguably the region's most physical finisher, Taylor amassed more than 170 total tackles and more than 150 solo stops as the centerpiece of a Macomb defense that held opponents to 14 points or less in seven games this year. The Bomber Middle Linebacker also posted a team high eight tackles for loss, forced a pair of fumbles, snared an interception, blocked a punt and scored a defensive touchdown in helping Macomb reach the State Quarterfinals.

Blake Richardson too paved the way to an Elite Eight finish for his squad, as the number two tackler this season on what was arguably the Tri State's best defensive unit. Triopia held 12 opponents this season to a combined 58 points, pitching six shutouts along the way and allowing only one opponent to reach double digits on the scoreboard all year. To that effort, Richardson contributed more than 100 total tackles, 50 solo stops and tied for the team lead with three interceptions. Not to be outdone by the other Blake, Mr Grice finished as the top tackler on a resurgent Monroe City Squad, notching 144 total tackles, 73 solo stops, and 12 takedowns behind the line of scrimmage in helping the Panthers to seven wins and arguably the years most compelling postseason upset in besting Centralia on hits home field.

There were no shortage of Senior Stalwarts at the Linebacker position either; perhaps none more effective than Keokuk's Derek Rose. For the second straight season, Rose finished as the Chiefs leading tackler, this time with 112 stops. But this year his impact was infinitely more pronounced in reversing the fortunes on what was once one of the area's most porous defenses and turning it into a playoff caliber crew. A tremendous source of big play momentum, Rose finished his year with 13 tackles for loss and 4 forced turnovers.

On the heels of an honorable mention All State campaign in 2010, Beardstown Opponents did well in 2011 to avoid speedster Wes Carlock in the heart of the Tiger Defense, as his total tackle numbers dropped slightly from a year ago. Stats aside, anyone who saw the kid play can tell you that Carlock was one of the most substantial two-way difference makers in Tri State Football this season, whether he was hunting down running backs to the tune of 80 tackles this season or rushing for more than 1000 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns on the ground for Aaron Elmore's crew.

For our Dream Team purposes, we weren't going to allow Macomb's Reid Fulkerson to slip off our roster either. For my money the most instinctive, astute Defensive Leader in Tri State Football, Fulkerson served as Kelly Sears captain on the field and finished the year as the Bombers number two tackler on the season with more then 70 tackles, six stops for loss, two interceptions and 3 pass breakups.

A critical cog in the year's finest Cinderella story, West Central's Cory Barnett rounds out our Linebacker stable after posting a team best 130 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries to help lead the once dormant Cougar program to a WIVC South Championship and rare playoff berth.


2nd Team Selections


Clark County High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Tremendous sideline to sideline pursuit, fierce tenacity made him the perfect safety net in Quentin Hamner's complex system. Great versatility against both the run and the pass. Finished the year with 109 tackles, second highest total on the team. We toyed seriously with Dalton as a first team selection, but one pedestrian game against Macon proved the line of demarcation between first and second team honors. That's just how competitive it was this season at the loaded Linebacker position. Overall, incredibly valuable asset.


Centralia High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Incredible work rate. McCoy somehow averaged a team high 11 tackles per game on a squad that also included defensive demons Marc Schmidt, Austin Kinkead. Nimble, nifty athletic with fearless approach, natural nose for the football. Very fundamental and secure tackler. Suffers a bit here in comparison with other linebackers because of the quality level of talent surrounding him, the fact that unlike some of the other players here, he wasn't the best defensive player on his own team. Heck, at times, he wasn't the best linebacker at Centralia named Austin. Nevertheless, a really nice foundation piece for Erle Bennett and a kid who embodied the blue collar ethic of this defense. Hard to put a value on guys who are this good, one on one, at putting running backs on the turf.


Macon High School

WHY HE'S HERE: High IQ/high character cornerstone on Tri State's best defense. Finished the year with 69 total tackles, which seems a little low compared to many of the other names you see here, but remember that getting tackles in Macon's loaded defense was like fighting for a morsel of left over fish in a sea full of starving Great White Sharks. There was only so much opportunity to go around. Again, like McCoy, Flowers was on the cusp of being a first team pick but was probably the third best player on his own defense, which hurt his stock just a bit. Given all he brings to the table, on both sides of the football, and all the things you can do with this kid, he's a player any coach would covet.


South Shelby High School

WHY HE'S HERE: The lynchpin upon which the South Shelby Defense was built and one of the best closers in the business. Greenwell averaged better than 12 tackles per game this season and finished the year with more than 180 total stops. Considering how inexperienced the Cardinal crew was around him, and the end result of the season, I think it's fair to say Mason had as wide ranging and important and impact as any one player in our area. Terrific Offensive Lineman to boot.


Knox County High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Made a seamless transition from Defensive Lineman to Linebacker, posting 107 tackles on the season including five behind the line of scrimmage to help infuse some ferocity into the Eagle Defensive front eight. His inclusion here, however, owes greatly to one particular skill: the ability to block punts, field goals, and PATs which he did an amazing six times this season. Terrific player who sailed a little too far under everyone's radar the last two seasons.


Brown County High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Really elevated his game from complimentary piece to focal point for Eric Grady's defense in 2011. Enthusiastic, prolific hitter who specialized in taking the starch out of an opponent's running game. Played with a great nasty streak and helped the Hornets project more physicality than a team with such pedestrian size would ordinarily be able to do. Came a long way this year as an offensive lineman as well. Just a good, tough, country-strong kid who set the right tempo for Brown County in it's return to the Final Four.


Routt Catholic High School

WHY HE'S HERE: The transfer eligibility soap opera with the IHSA proved to be well worth the hassle for Nick Graham as the former Virginia Redbird made a tremendous splash in the middle of the Rocket Defense. I have him at 102 tackles for the season, and considering he had to sit out the opener against Pleasant Hill, that works out to an area best 14.5 tackles per game average. Young proved the human equivalent of a heat seeking missle, posting three games this year of 19 tackles or better. Active to the nth degree. I am not sure how stop-watch fast the kid is, but he seems to move at warp speed in closing the distance on his prey. Not sure I saw a better pursuit backer this year. Solid finisher with a great approach to the game/terrific attitude. He's going to make some lucky college coach a heck of a safety some day.


3rd Team Selections


Hannibal High School


Centralia High School


Keokuk High School


Macon High School


West Hancock


Brown County High School


Rushville-Industry High School



1st Team Selections




BROCK BONDURANT, Scotland County



DERRICK SCHONE, Concord Triopia


This was billed preseason as one of the deepest classes of home grown Defensive Backs in memory. It certainly didn't disappoint, offering us perhaps the most competitive group of All Do or Die candidates from which to choose. From a coverage standpoint, Keokuk's Darrion Sanders emerged very early as an obvious choice to lead this group. The most prolific thief in Tri State Football this year, the lightning quick junior led all of Iowa Class 3A Football in interceptions this season with 10, including three of them in Chiefs's heartbreaking playoff loss to Norwalk. Honored as a third team All State selection by the Iowa Newspapers Association, Sanders gives our dream team a tremendous lock down cover man with the speed and instincts to make putting the football into the air a fool's errand for opponents, particularly in the red zone, where Sanders delivered three of his picks this season.

That established, physicality is really the long suit of our All State Secondary. Clarence Cannon Conference Defensive Player of the Year Nic Hamilton fashioned an All State resume with 124 tackles this season, tops on a Macon squad that gave up just 73 tot al points all season. Despite starting every play so far away from the line of scrimmage, Hamilton ended his senior season with a better work rate then most linebackers, averaging nearly ten tackles per game. Hamilton was not the only Cannon Conference contribution to our Defensive Backfield. The epitome of pure tenacity,Centralia's Marc Schmidt more than lived up to his All State reputation. Arguably the region's best pound for pound hitter, the Panther senior and defending state champion wrestler notched 108 pigskin pins, if you will, in leading Centralia to its sixth straight Clarence Conference Championship.

We import a pair of Tri Rivers Conference stars into our Secondary mix as well in Knox County's Leighton McCabe and Scotland County's Brock Bondurant. McCabe was a force of nature performer in all aspects of the game in Edina, filling in as the team's emergency quarterback, rushing for over 11 hundred yards, and leading the Eagles to the State Playoffs. He was at his best, however, in the Defensive Backfield as the cornerstone of Alex Van Delft's season, with 65 tackles and five interceptions, all of which were snared in a single game against Schuyler County to break a 58 year old MSHSA record for picks in a contest. Bondurant was the the TRC's most feared enforcer, with 92 total tackles and four interceptions on the season, two of which were of the Pick Six variety. He also produced over 1600 yards and 20 touchdowns as the Tigers Quarterback in leading his team to a District Title.

Hannibal's Grant Taylor rounds out the Northeast Missouri contingent in our Defensive Backfield, prized here for his consistently spicy hitting and the specialist role he can play as perhaps the best blitzer in Tri State Football this season, where he notched six and half quarterback kills. A first team all NCMC selection, Taylor posted 60 total tackles this season and a pair of interceptions.

Concord Triopia Safety Derek Schone is the lone Illinois representative in our DO or DIE Team secondary. Though probably better known for his exploits as the Trojans leading rusher at just over 1000 yards and 15 touchdowns, we love the kid for the toughness and skills as a centerfield at the back of a defense. He finished his senior year with 81 tackles, 10 pass break ups and a pair of interceptions.

In the all import Rover Role, we draft Central-Southeastern's Jonah Coggeshall to our defense to play a hybrid Linebacker/Defensive Back position. And there is no possible better choice for this unique role, give Jonah's penchant for ferocious hits and timely big plays. The top tackler this year for the West Central Conference Champions, the Panther Senior finished with a 117 tackles, including nearly 70 solo stops. Possibly the year's most glaring All State omission, Jonah Coggeshall was the straw that stirred the drink on Brad Dixon's stellar defense.


2nd Team


Illini West High School

WHY HE'S HERE: A bit overlooked in the awards department because teams wisely threw away from his direction this season. Surprisingly, Jack didn't end up with a single interception on the year; perhaps the by-product of having a reputation for being a skilled ball hawk. He did however force a pair of fumbles on the year. The really compelling aspect of Bastert's work here was in run support, where he netted 54 total stops and was second on the team with 28 solo tackles. Good, hard nosed football player who played with high IQ/great tenacity. Ideal backbone guy for a defense as a Safety here.


Central Southeastern

WHY HE'S HERE: Meet Central Southeastern's next headline maker. The Panther Junior projects next season as the guy who will eat up much of Kestner/Dormire/Knuffman's rushing production in the CSE Backfield and your early clubhouse leader for the 2012 Rushing Crown. Dalton's pedigree as a skilled cover man is already firmly established. He posted seven more interceptions this season to give him 13 in his young career, just one shy of the program record. Super tough kid who breaks on the football with uncommon speed/aggression and a cornerstone of one of the region's best secondary. Toughest first team DB cut, but I just could not put him ahead of Coggeshall in terms of what each repectively meant to Panther Defense this season.


Rushville-Industry High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Cornerstone defensive piece on one of the region's most quietly improved teams. The rangy Canter posted 42 tackles and a pair of interceptions this season in leading the win-starved Rockets to three victories. Terrific athlete who helped reverse the fortunes of his program this season.


South Shelby High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Triple digit tackle totals. Thirteen pass breakups. Outstanding stability and leadership in the back. What's not to like? Delena came from off preseason radar to become an absolute pillar of the Cardinals Defense and an All State honoree. Hard to argue with 129 tackles and two interceptions...


Monroe City High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Terrific athlete with the ability to blanket all comers. Difference making speed is certainly a nice boon. Berry finished the season as a first team All Cannon Selection after posting 43 tackles and a pair of interceptions. High character kid who was a big factor in helping radically improve the culture of Panther Football this season.


3rd Team


Central Southeastern


Palmyra High School


Beardstown High School


Macon High School


Unity-Payson (ROVER)



1st Team Selections


JOHN LOVE, Concord Triopia



TJ KLITZ, Unity-Payson

LUKE ROSS,Clark County


While the distribution of Defensive Line talent skewed heavily again to the edge this season, there were a couple of notable interior run stuffers we coveted for our Dream Team, none more than Quincy Notre Dame's Nick Reichert. While all of the preseason acclaim centered on Reichert's tremendous run blocking ability on the Offensive Line, the Raider Senior went out and proved to be one of the most dynamic Defensive stoppers in Illinois, posting 72 total tackles, 17 stops for loss and four quarterback sacks; an All State campaign made all the more impressive given all the attention he commanded from opposing blockers this year.

Playing the hand we were dealt, the other six first team slots on our Line all go to Defensive Ends; starting with Tri State sacks leader John Love of Concord Triopia. The Trojan Senior really came into his own as a pass rusher, screaming off the edge to post a jaw dropping 16 quarterback kills, four more than his next closest area competition. And while Pass Rushing may have been his calling card, John Love proved a much improved force against the run as well, notching 63 total tackles.

For my money, the Clarence Cannon Conference's best defensive player, Joey Turner may have been the best rags-to-riches story in Tri State Football this season. Completely lost in the preseason hype surrounding some of his more celebrated Macon teammates, Turner went out a waged a campaign that was impossible to ignore, finishing second on the team in total tackles with 106 stops and second in the area with 12 quarterback sacks; playing the heavy on what was the region's most statistically impressive defense from August to November.

Less surprising here is the return of a pair of Adams County All Stars for their second tour of Do or Die team duty: Quincy High's DeAngelo Dean and Unity-Payson's TJ Klitz. A frightening talent, Dean just kept getting better and better for the Blue Devils, finishing up his Senior campaign with a team high 94 tackles, 16 stops for loss, and 11 quarterback sacks. He may be the face of the franchise for one of Illinois most storied basketball programs, but there isn't a college football coach in a ninety mile radius who isn't drooling over Dean's gridiron potential. Despite wearing a much bigger blocking bull's eye this year, Klitz remained the Bannerman for Mustang Football, delivering 7 quarterback sacks.

We round out our Army of Linemen with a pair of newcomers: Clark County's Luke Ross and Illini West's Spencer Kirkenschlager. Statistically speaking, Ross proved a revelation in Kahoka, leading his team with 135 total tackles and five quarterback sacks. And the junior D-End has barely scratched the surface of his potential; a prospect who melds quick feet with impressive point of attack power. Kirkenschlager finished his season with a flourish, after finding his niche midway through the year. He was the Chargers top tackler this year with 68 stops and posted a tour de force five QB sack effort in the regular season finale against Sherrard.


2nd Team Selections


Quincy Notre Dame High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Disruptive, unyielding force who helped put some serious teeth in what may have been the best front line in Tri State Football this season. Despite giving up considerable size to his opponents seemingly on a nightly basis, the relentless Holtschlag proved more than adept at finding his way into opponents backfields, delivering 56 total tackles on the year and 12 stops behind the line of scrimmage. Hard to find a kid who read the snap count any faster or got past his intended blocker with more burst.


Quincy High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Like Holtschlag, Ervin was heavily considered for first team honors here, but lacked some of the big play stats that distinguished other candidates. That may have had more to do with Ervin's tag team partner then any real falling on his part. DeAngelo Dean didn't leave many QB sack opportunities on the board for anyone else. Ervin was tremendously physical and forceful against the run, finishing 2nd on the team with 63 tackles, six of them for loss, and four quarterback sacks. Going forward, Wes might have as much college upside as any Defensive Lineman on this list with his ideal frame and athleticism going forward.


Centralia High School

WHY HE'S HERE: The man who paved the way for much of Centralia's success with his ability to overpower blockers and free up tackle opportunities for his teammates. The Panther Senior didn't put up huge defensive stats (36 tackles) but his forceful presence was such that he earned first team All State accord from the Missouri Sportswriters Association and Second Team All State plaudits from the Coaches Association. Just a guy who played with great strength and leverage; an ideal two-gap plugger with a blue collar ethic and lunch pail mentality.


Macon High School

WHY HE'S HERE: You could argue he was a bit overshadowed by his more statistically impressive teammate Joey Turner, but the Missouri Sportswriters Association opted to elevate Tyler Shoemaker over Joey Turner for 1st team All State honors. Call it case of subjective opinion, but I don't think you go wrong with either of these kids. Shoemaker is a natural pass rusher (5.5 sacks) and a kid whose main calling card skill is that he stalks down his prey with those long arms of his as well as anyone. High motor kid who had 65 tackles this season. More to the point, I am not sure I ever remember this kid missing a tackle. One of the more certain tacklers among Defensive Lineman we've seen. Tough blocking assignment as well with his ability to control Offensive Linemen so well. The more you reconsider these Tiger kids, the more you appreciate just how great this Macon defense was this year across the board.


Monroe City High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Supreme pass rushing skills. The high motor Panther All Stater (2nd Team-Sportswriters Association) has a knack for Big Play panache, registering 14 total quarterback sacks and 110 total tackles in a stellar campaign that put some teeth back into a vastly improved Monroe City defense in 2011. Would make someone a really nice linebacker at the next level.


Jacksonville High School

WHY HE'S HERE: The other shining gem in the Class of 2012 and a potential Dwight Freeney type pocket destroyer going forward with his game changing speed off the edge. The kid made a wonderful varsity debut with 62 tackles and seven and a half quarterback kills this fall, but he was just barely scratching the surface of his skills. We are talking about a player who was quick enough to amass over 900 return yards this season. Diontue can flat fly. If he continues to progress in the weight room and get a little stronger at the direct point of attack, the sky is the limit for what he may be able to do for the Crimsons going forward.


3rd Team Picks


Palmyra High School


Bowling Green High School


Keokuk High School


Centralia High School




South Shelby High School


Concord Triopia High School


Beardstown High School


Keokuk High School



1st Team Selections


JANSEN JOEHL, Concord Triopia


CHARLES FRACTION, Clopton-Elsberry

MATT LOTER, Clark County

WES MEFFORD, South Shelby

DALTON KEENE, Jacksonville


Thanks to the proliferation of the spread offense in Tri State Football, the quality of pass catchers around here just keeps getting better and better: both at tight end and wide receiver. Our top target on the edge is a converted Quarterback with tremendous receiver pedigree. Following the career arc of his big brother Michael Jennings, a Division Three All American Wide Out at Illinois College, Kevin Jennings made a seamless transition to the edge for Keokuk this season and earned 3rd Team All State honors for his work from the Iowa Newspapers Association. Jennings body of work included a team high 38 receptions for 680 total yards on the year, a clip of right at 18 yards per catch. He also tied for the Chiefs team lead with seven touchdown receptions, becoming the most feared target in a potent Chief passing arsenal.

Like Jennings, Jansen Joehl made the move from Quarterback to target look surprisingly easy. Concord Triopia's designated Game Breaker, Joehl scored 13 total touchdowns this season: nine through the air, two on running plays, and two more on kickoff returns. Jansen finished the year with just 409 receiving yards for the run oriented Trojans, but was among the area leaders in yards per catch at just under 22 yards a snare, making him an edge weapon to be feared in the loaded WIVC North.

Injury issues and intense defensive scrutiny limited Pittsfield-Griggsville Perry's Dillon Butler to some degree this season, but the Senior Game Breaker was still quite a weapon for Don Bigley. He finished the year with one thousand, 73 all purpose yards, 538 of which came through the air. Butler also snared eight touchdown receptions, scored three times on the ground, and added a kick off return for touchdown for good measure.

As dynamic a target as you will find in the Tri State Pass Pattern this year, All Stater Matt Loter really came into his own on both sides of the football in Kahoka. While his receiving numbers were stellar (720 yards on an area best 29 yards per catch average and 10 touchdowns) we also considered Matt here for inclusion at Defensive Back, thanks to his timely penchant for game changing interceptions. Which speaks volumes about what a tremendous leap as a player Loter made from last season to this as a cornerstone of Clark County's success

Clopton Elsberry had four receivers with 500 yards or better this season. Charles Fraction ended up as the team's yardage leader with 933 through the air and over 11 hundred yards worth of total offense. The IndianHawks junior speedster rolled up seven receiving touchdowns and 12 total end zone visits to power an offense that averaged just over 40 points per game and claimed its first ever District Championship in 2011.

Wes Mefford certainly came into his own as as a two way star in Shelbina, leading the Class 1 State Runner Up Cardinals with 703 receiving yards and seven touchdowns; the counterpunch to one of the Tri State's most effective ground games. An argument can be made that Wes was also one of the area's best defensive weapons after he finished the year with 93 total tackles and a team best eight and half quarterback sacks.

All American candidate and blue chip Division One recruit Dalton Keene is back for his second tour here of Do or Die Team duty. The Crimson junior hauled in 54 receptions for Mark Grounds this season, generating 819 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns along the way. The 6'6" 250 pounder is a freak of nature, running a 4.6 forty time that has some of the most esteemed colleges in the nation: Alabama, Oregon, and Tennessee among them...coveting his future services.

Hannibal's Connor Brown is the final piece of our receiving stable. A fiercely effective competitor, Brown earned first team All Conference plaudits in the NCMC at both Defensive End and Tight End this season for work. Again, his receiving stats were effected by playing in a run-first offense, but Brown led the Pirates with 399 yards through the air and four touchdowns, averaging nearly 30 yards per catch along the way. Blessed with great hands and absolute fearlessness going over the middle, Brown turned himself into the perfect safety net for the Pirate offense and his fierce some play set a high standard for his teammates.


2nd Team



WHY HE'S HERE: Ceaseless production. Cheese caught more passes than anyone else in Tri State Football (94 receptions) and joined Scott Kroeger as the first All State picks in program history. The ultimate possession receiver, Hurley ended the season with 879 yards on the season and nine touchdowns. Fearless pass catcher who will go down as one of the best work horse receivers in area history.



WHY HE'S HERE: IndianHawk overkill? Hardly. Hicks proved a sensational deep threat in the Tri State's most prolific offense catching a team high 10 touchdown passes for a team best 19 yards per catch. Expected to take over for Kroeger next season as the C-E Quarterback, Hicks is one of the most dynamic and intriguing athletes in Tri State Football going forward.


Pleasant Hill/Western

WHY HE'S HERE: Designated field stretcher. Gregurich busted for nearly 21 yards a carry this season as Matt Gunterman's favorite deep threat. Difference making runner who ended up with 688 yards in just nine games and eight touchdowns via the air. Tremendously underrated kid who would shine anywhere.


Jacksonville High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Breakaway potential and YAC ability. The Crimson junior speedster caught 44 passes this season for 649 yards and seven touchdowns, at a clip of nearly 15 yards per catch. Ideal slot weapon who can really diversify and offense with his ability to scoot away from peril.


Scotland County High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Huge, reliable target who simply overpowered most defensive backs, Stone would have been our starting tight end in just about any other year. He caught 32 passes this season in route to first team all Tri Rivers Conference honors. Tough, throwback kid who proved a terrific blocker as well.


West Hancock

WHY HE'S HERE: Breakout performer for the Titans who snared 41 receptions in helping to make Brian Lewton's newly installed passing game viable. Love his tenacity and the way he battles like his life depends on it for every 50/50 ball. Terrific future ahead after generating 569 yards. Outstanding defensive prospect as well here.


Third Team


Keokuk High School


Brown County High School


Pleasant Hill/Western


Palmyra High School


Centralia High School


Jacksonville High School



1st Team Selections

DAX DOLLENS, QB, Centralia




RICK LOGSDON, RB, Brown County



What better way to front an explosive offense then with a dual threat quarterback of the highest order. In that spirit, we turn the keys over to the reigning Clarence Cannon Conference Player of the Year, Dax Dollens. Talk about a kid making up for lost time. Originally picked to be Centralia's starter as junior, Dollens survived all of one game before an injury uprooted him, Wally Pipp style, and the luminous Alex Schmersahl never relinquished control of the Panther Offense. It did not take us long this season to see why Erle Bennett has been so high on Dollens from the get start. Blessed with an extra gear most quaterbacks, heck most all state tailbacks for that matter, don't have, Dax proved to be nearly impossible for defenses to corral. Make not mistake, he was good in the pocket this year, completing 60% of his passes for 11 touchdowns and just over 14 yards. Dax was just better when chaos ensued. Flush him out of the pocket and there wasn't a defensive player on this side of the state who could seemingly run with him. Dollens rushed for 70 or more yards in all but one of the Panthers games this season, with a high of 171 yards against Hallsville. He finished the year with with over 11 hundred yards rushing and 22 touchdowns, leading Centralia to a perfect regular season, a sixth straight Cannon Conference title, and a clean run through the District of Doom. You'd be hard pressed to find a more substantial, more electrifying talent in Tri State Football this season.

In stacking the rest of our Offensive Backfield, we give Dollens plenty of weapon to ease his workload. The Tri State's pre-eminent power runner, Trevor Roth slides nimbly into the fullback role for our Dream Team. The Keokuk junior had his season ended prematurely in the second half of his team's playoff opener at Norwalk by a knee injury and one could argue that his absence, more than anything, doomed the Chiefs in that game. Like seemingly every other team on the Chiefs slate this year, Norwalk simply couldn't handle Roth's physicality. He hit the running lanes with all the finesse and subtlety of a runaway bull, piling up just under 1500 total rushing yards this season and 15 touchdowns. Granted, Keokuk was probably better none this season for its explosive passing game, but without Roth's considerable presence to keep a Defense honest, the Chiefs would likely not have reversed their fortunes this radically.

In building our tailback rotation, we tab a pair of Clarence Cannon Conference products: including one of the region's two 2K backs this season: South Shelby's Shawn Bertrand. Of all the players in our area, Bertrand's success might be the hardest to articulate. He's a between the tackles runner who seemingly lacks between the tackles size. And yet all the kid does is sledgehammer away relentlessly at a defense and eventually break it. Doesn't hurt that he's tougher than a three dollar steak: see also the 351 carry workload he delivered. Bottom line, there's just something special about Shawn that makes him too ornery to break down or wear out. And in the end, that mean 21 hundred and 3 yards and 24 touchdowns for the Cardinals in route to a Show Me Bowl Appearance.

Monroe City's Shane Williams cemented his place on this honors squad with a 238 yard, 2 touchdown effort at Centralia to help the Panthers cement the biggest upset of the season, the punctuation on a campaign that saw him ramble for 1321 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.

A ceaseless worker (be it on the field or in the weight room) Shane maximized his natural athletic gifts to become a perfect combo speed/power guy; the kind of player who was just as comfortable running over you as he was speeding by. He also happens to have one of the highest football IQ's in the region and was a high character leader that formed the new, improved foundation of Panther football this season.

Brown County All Stater Ricky Logsdon adds the Land of Lincoln flavor to our tailback troika. A relentless grinder on the ground, Logsdon was a maddening defensive assignment in that no one could ever seem to keep him in check. He averaged nearly seven yards a carry in route to nearly 13 hundred on the year, but the genius of his work and the reason we have him here was just how good he was after initial contact. You couldn't get Logsdon to stop churning his legs, which is emblematic of the fighting spirit that has driven Brown County to two straight Final Four appearances.

Hannibal's Logan Hicks and Brown County's Alex Sheppard snare the All Purpose Back slots left on our roster. Hicks started his year as a quarterback but quickly found his niche as a do it all weapon in the Pirates attack. Logan had a hand in 19 touchdowns this season: 3 as an option passer, 15 on the ground, and another six receiving. He finished the year with 11 hundred four rushing yards and over 330 receiving yards.

And for a four week stretch, he put up some mind boggling numbers. To give you some idea of Logan's impact; against Kirksville he had over 100 yards receiving and rush and hand in six touchdowns. He scored a school record six total touchdowns against Mexico, five of them on the ground. Just an unbelievable run of success from a terrific player. Sheppard became the first back to surpass 1000 yards rushing at Brown County in the Tom Little era, ultimately finishing with 1240 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns, averaging nearly 8 yards a clip along the way. He was also second on the team in receiving with 216 yards and 3 touchdown catches, and jumped in a quarterback to lead his team to a win over Triopia when Tim Woodward went down with a knee injury. His versatility was freakish, as he lined up everywhere from Defensive End to Cornerback this season for the Hornets, and led Brown County in Quarterback Sacks with seven.


2nd Team Selections


Clark County High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Huge logjam at Quarterback. Any other year, Seth is a first teamer with a resume that includes 28 total touchdowns and over 2800 all purpose yards. Williams was a second team All State selection and can't get do any better then second team here? That's criminal. But that is also the gold mine of signal callers we were looking at in 2011. Love Williams improved confidence controlling the offense this season and his sneaky good running skills.


Macomb High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Certainly took advantage of an elevated stage to show off his skills in Macomb, rushing for over 1000 yards in the same backfield as KHQA Player of the Year Chris Jackson. LaFortune adopted a fantastic knack for swerving his way through traffic and making the most of any creases and lanes he would find in an opponents defense. Super tough kid with great leg drive who was among the best inside the tackles runners we saw this year.


Macon High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Injury issues. Macon's stellar junior, arguably the most gifted runner in Tri State Football, had just 112 total carries on the season and seemed to struggle at times to recapture some of his trademark "Barry Sanders-esque burst and wiggle." He finished the year with 938 rushing yards (and still managed better than 8 yards per go) and 11 touchdowns. Those are scary numbers still for a kid who was probably no better than 80% of his true self all year. If he gets back to full health, Kelly enters 2012 as your Player of the Year front runner.


Quincy Notre Dame High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Smaller sample size. Like Taquan Kelly, Luke Hinkamper's work load was hampered by health issues as he missed a considerable chunk of time in the middle of the season due to a broken collarbone. When he was on the field, however, Hinkamper was as good a slasher as you would find, powering the Raider Offense to 1204 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 173 total touches. A surprisingly difficult back to bring down who coupled great vision with uncanny ability to accelerate into daylight.


Bowling Green High School

WHY HE'S HERE: The straw that stirred the drink in Pike County, Missouri. Lathrop's resume included a 370 yard rushing effort on opening night and a 400 yard plus effort (with eight touchdowns) during district play. Great explosive ability to the edge helped cement Tom's place as an All Stater in Class 3 from both the Sportswriters and Coaches Associations.


Unity-Payson High School

WHY HE'S HERE: Home run ability. Kyle's long been a favorite, with feet like a Food Processor and the kind of breakaway speed to average nearly 10 yards a carry this season. Vandermaiden was the last "first team" cut from our our Offensive Backfield and it came down to nothing more than the fact that the guy who beat him out had 19 total touchdowns against Vandermaiden's 12 total scores. Hard to argue with anything, though, in this kid's body of work.


3rd Team Selections


Keokuk High School




Quincy High School


Illini West High School


Routt Catholic High School


Pittsfield-Griggsville Perry


Beardstown High School


Pleasant Hill High School



1st Team Selections



COLLIN SHEEHAN, Routt Catholic

PHILLIP WHITED, Concord Triopia

TYLER RICHMILLER, Central-Southeastern


COLTON BOCK, Monroe City



The deepest well of position talent in Tri State Football this year can be found on the Offensive Line, where menacing, physical bodyguards abound. The best of the lot may well have been Macomb's Nick Severs, who fronted a running game that produced both a 2000 and 1000 yard rusher in his offensive backfield. A physically overpowering player at 6'5" and 240 pounds, the Bomber Junior was an All Conference pick for his work on both sides of the football this season. Opposing Quarterbacks may have despised Nick for his constant presence in the backfield, but his own signal caller never had a more dependable friend.

Parochial Powerhouses Brad Wellman of Quincy Notre Dame and Collin Sheehan of Routt Catholic provide even more physicality to our line. A gigantic force at 6'5" and 295 and blessed with arms the size of a small infant, Wellman was the biggest reason Raider tailbacks averaged nearly six yards per carry this season. Sheehan cleared running lanes in Jacksonville this season with all the subtlety of wrecking ball; a thinking man's lineman with a penchant for flat backing his opponents...and a fine defensive player in the middle of the Rocket Defense to boot.

Concord Triopia's Phillip Whited earned his All State stripes leading for his stellar work at linebacker as the Trojans leading tackler. But that was merely the easy stuff to see. To be honest, I am not sure I saw a better blocking technician in Western Illinois this season, nor a kid who got downfield and picked off additional defensive threats any better. Just a really nasty, well school football player. Central-Southeastern's Tyler Richmiller, the unsung hero of the Panther's stellar run game, rounds out the Illinois Contingent on this line after fronting for a ground game that netted nearly 35 hundred yards and 43 touchdowns. A stellar wrestler, Richie may well have led the region in the unofficial stat "defensive pins" this season for his work in crushing linebackers.

West of the Mississippi, the Clarence Cannon Conference affords us two of the best centers to buckle up a chin strap in our area in the last 10 years. Macon's James Schwieter was a first team All State selection and a man Pete Claas calls the best offensive lineman he's ever coached. He was also a beacon of steady consistency on an offense that was beseiged with injury issues this year; the guy who held it all together. Mark Twain's Phillip Hamilton earned third team All State plaudits on a team that won just two games. Defensive Lineman across the Cannon would attest he was worthy of much unrelenting sledgehammer of a man who has all the tools and intelligence to a be a standout at the next level. Monroe City's Colton Bock was the quiet conscience of a vastly improved Panther Offensive Line, a first team All Conference pick in his own right who Tony DeGrave calls the best Offensive Lineman he's coached.

The Keokuk contingent continues to be well represented on our Dream Team as well, contributing a pair of stellar gia-normous juniors to the mix in Alex Goss and Wes Bradley; a couple of rare trench talents in this day and age who were nearly flawless pass blockers in the spread offense; but also nasty enough to play old school downhill football in the run game. They may also be the biggest reasons, literally and figuratively, the Chiefs amassed 42 hundred yards of total offens this season.


2nd Team Selections


Mark Twain High School


Hannibal High School


Clark County High School


Unity-Payson High School


Centralia High School


Keokuk High School


Bowling Green High School


Louisiana High School


3rd Team Selections


Keokuk High School


Macon High School


Centralia High School




Macon High School


Beardstown High School



1st Team Selections

Kicker: NATHAN KNUFFMAN, Central-Southeastern

Punter: JANSEN JOEHL, Triopia

Kick Returner: JACOB LINEAR, Macon

Punt Returner: EVAN ROUSH, Quincy Notre Dame


2nd Team Selections

Kicker: BRANDON WHITE, Quincy High

Punter: HARLEY STONE, Scotland County

Return Specialist: BRAXTON PHELPS, Brown County


3rd Team Selections

Kicker: SETH STRONG, Keokuk

Punter: LUKE GRAGG, Brown County

Return Specialist: AARON WITTLER, Unity-Payson







WR-TREZ COURTNEY, Jacksonville




OL- RYAN ROBBINS, Rushville/Industry



OL-JACOB PAUL, Quincy High


DL-JORDAN SMITH, Concord Triopia

DL-JED TROUTMAN, Scotland County

DL-KYLE KOVAR, Clark County

DL-DAKOTA LONGLEY, Concord Triopia





LB-DEVIN LINTON, Clopton Elsberry



DB-COREY BROWN, Bowling Green







RB-LUKE NASH, West Central




OL-WADE KEMP, North Shelby

OL-TAYLOR RADAR, Scotland County


OL-TERRY JACKSON, Clopton-Elsberry




DL-JED NIEMEYER, Bowling Green



DL-E.J.MCPIKE, Bowling Green









DB-COLTON BOBB, Routt Catholic




Best Game, Defensive: MACON VS CENTRALIA


Best Upset That Should Have Been: KEOKUK VS NORWALK


Best Play: LEIGHTON MCCABE, Knox County goes Techmo Bowl Randall Cunningham on North Shelby

Best Hitter: JONAH COGGESHALL, Central-Southeastern

Best Hit: AUSTIN GOODING, Brown County pancake block vs Triopia

Best Opposing Player we Saw this Year: WES LUNT, Rochester (tie); ZACH GRANT, Rochester (tie)

Best Coaching Debut: BRAD DIXON, Central-Southeastern

Best Coaching Job No One Will Ever Fully Appreciate this Season: TIM LAFFERTY, Illini West

Best Coaching Job No One Will Every Fully Appreciate, Career Achievement: BRENT BONDURANT, Scotland County

Most Pleasant Surprise: WEST CENTRAL wins WIVC South, makes playoffs

Best Freshman: HADLEY ROBERTS, South Shelby

Best Sophomore: MALIQUE ROBBINS, Quincy High

Best Junior: DALTON KEENE, Jacksonville


Five Reasons to Look Forward to 2012

1) OBSCENE TOP END TALENT: Dalton Keene may be the most legitimate blue chip recruit the Tri States has produced since Eric Bush was at Quincy High; but from our vantage point, the top end of the Class of 2012 is also as deep as I can remember thanks to the recruiting profiles that Caleb Bieniek, Alex Goss, Nick Severs, Sam Hartung, and Brett Taylor (minimally) figure to enjoy. Don't sleep on Gabe Vandenberg, Wes Bradley, or (most especially) a fully healthy Taquan Kelly here just yet either.

2) THE RICH GET RICHER: The best small school division in Illinois Football, the WIVC North, is about to get a whole lot better and more competitive with Central-Southeastern joining the Triopia/Brown County/Routt dance. All four of those teams will take a graduation hit this season but that may just make the mix all the more intriguing to watch.

3) PURPLE HAZE: Keokuk will return nearly every vital offensive cog (including 80% of a fantastic offensive line) from what is shaping up to be the most potent and diverse attack in the state of Iowa. Trevor Roth has to come back healthy off that knee injury and Doug Dodds will have to replace some very key defensive pieces, but on paper, the Chiefs look like a fantastic buy in 2012

4) RIVALRIES RENEWED: Macomb and QND are slated to renew hostilities, perhaps at Hansen Field, in Week Nine 2012. And on paper, the Bombers might well finally have the edge in this rivalry. CSE/Brown County is an intriguing reality, thanks to the WIVC North expansion. And Hannibal/Quincy High? That's a lot of fun new stuff on the horizon.

5) CANNON CONFUSION: Centralia's long strangle-hold on the Clarence Cannon Conference trophy may finally be at an end. No, Erle Bennett didn't suddenly fall of the Iron Throne of Coaching Greatness. Nor is the cupboard bare in Panther Country. It's just that everyone else in the mix here is returning really good pieces. How about the Centralia vanquishing Monroe City Panthers, anyone? Or Macon with a healthy Taquan Kelly? Brookfield will still be plenty good. Palmyra might be the most improved team in our area for 2012 under Kevin Miles. And I would argue that Clark County might have the best junior group in the bunch. And did I forget to mention that South Shelby just went to the Class 1 Title Game with a nucleus made up of Freshman and Juniors? Fun stuff here.