A Black Mile to the Surface (Duerrisms for the Week of November 10th)
You’ve got to hand it to the Tri-States. We’ve certainly found a way to max out the value on the Fall Sports Season in 2017. Three State Volleyball Qualifiers. Three Football Teams left alive. A nice smattering of State Cross Country honors. Not to mention the two State Softball Title already in our coffers. It’s been one tremendous Fall around here. The soon-to-be starting Winter Docket has some serious living up to do.
This is DUERRISMS for the Week of November 11th, presented as always by our friends at SLEEP TIGHT. As mentioned last week, I am here with you until we run out of Fall Sports Events to talk about. Best case scenario: Thanksgiving Week. Worst case scenario: this could be the last you hear from me until KHQA AWARDS Week in December. Speaking of Awards Week, we have yet to set a date (that will become more evident whenever the football season wraps up) but we will star official voting on KHQA Fall Non-Football Awards on Sunday of this Week. Remember, fans get total control of these two honors. So be ready to cast a vote for your favorite Softball, Soccer, Cross Country, and Volleyball Stars from the local scene this weekend.
The glorious Nico Haeflinger Era comes to an end on Friday here at KHQA. He’s been a phenomenal friend and ally and likely deserves sainthood after spending sixteen months of his life here dealing with an insane, crazy boss. He’s also going to do a marvelous job running his own shop now in Champaign. So a big time thank you to him as he flies the nest.
As for what is next, we are proud to announce the hire of Jett Beachum to our Sports Team as our newest Assistant Sports Director. Jett is a Texas native and UT grad who rose out of a really loaded applicant pool to land the job. He begins work with us November 20th, just in time for the crush of Thanksgiving Week Tournament Basketball. Be sure to give Jett a follow on Twitter @Jetthro_ and give him a warm Tri-State welcome when you meet him out and about on his rounds.
Lots of college signings on our radar this week, too many to do justice with in a short window, actually. We will likely hold some of them for OVERTIME and our Sunday Night News this week just to make sure everyone gets their fair share of the spotlight and we don't short change anyone trying to shoehorn their big day into a small news window. Thanks for your patience and understanding. And as always, those stories will be posted to KHQA.com after they air...in case you miss them live.
Yours in Sports,
KHQA STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE WEEK PRESENTED BY HANNIBAL REGIONAL HOSPITAL, CELL TECH, REFRESHMENT SERVICES PEPSI AND SUBWAY
On Wednesdays at KHQA, we scrap the traditional format and devote our entire three minute six o'clock newscast to honoring the outstanding student athletes in Tri-State Sports. Minimum requirement to be considered for this award is a 3.5 GPA with participation in at least one sport. And you must be a High School Senior. At year's end, our independent nominating committee will choose and reward the top Male and Female from the 36 candidates appearing in our Wednesday Night honor roll with a college scholarship. If you know of a deserving candidate, you can obtain a nomination form from your High School's Athletic Director or Principal, who must sign off on the nomination for it to be considered. Or print one from the KHQA Website, but be sure to have your AD and Principal sign off on it. We don't want to miss out on introducing the Tri-States to single deserving candidate so help us put the spotlight on these amazing Young Men and Women in our communities. Plus there is a dinner banquet to honor all of our nominees in June. Please help us add to the list below. Our second (and second to last) nomination vote is set for January 8th, 2018, your next deadline to send us quality kids to honor.
2018 KHQA SAW Honorees
Week One-SIERRA ERKE, Quincy High Volleyball
Week Two-ELI TEN EYCK, Pittsfield Cross Country/Track and Field
Week Three-MICHAELA DAVIS, Keokuk Basketball/Track and Field/Volleyball
Week Four-TAYLOR KLUSMEYER, Unity Football/Basketball/Track and Field
Week Five-JOE HENDRICKER, Brown County Football/Basketball/Baseball
Week Six-JOSIE STANFORD, Payson Seymour Volleyball
PAST SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
2017-KOLBY MCCLELLAND, Southeastern, Murray State
2017-CORY MILLER, Unity, John Wood Community College
2016-MARIAH BRODIE, Illini West, Illinois State
2016-DYLAN POWELL, Hannibal, Stanford
2015-MIKAELA FOECKE, Holy Trinity, Nebraska
2015-CAMERON DURST, Canton, Columbia College
2014-TYLER NIEMANN, Canton, Morehead State
2014-KATEE HINKLE, Palmyra, Bowling Green
2013-KASSIDY GENGENBACHER, QND, Lindenwood
2013-DALTON POWELL, Hannibal, Truman State
2012-ALEX WALTER, Central, Augustana
2012-TORI KUHN, QND, Quincy University
2011-JACOB CONLEY, Central, US Millitary Academy at West Point
2011-DAKOTA FLESNER, Payson, Iowa Wesleyan
2010-MICHAEL LAFFERTY, Illini West, Monmouth
2010-TAYLOR BAXTER, Palmyra, Illinois State
2009-CHLOE BARNES, QND (Ball State)
2009-MATT PATTERSON, South Shelby (Truman State)
2008-LUKE GUTHRIE, Quincy High (Illinois)
2007-KATELYN BASTERT, Illini West (Duke)
2006-MIKAL BENECOMO, Clopton (SEMO)
KHQA/SLEEP TIGHT PLAYER OF THE WEEK (AS VOTED BY YOU THE FANS ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE
BRYCE WILSON, FB, West Hancock
Rationale: If Vegas had a prop bet for this award, this time of year, you could clean up nicely betting on Wing-T Fullbacks in big playoff games. West Hancock Offensive Coordinator Jim Unruh went traditional against Bismarck-Henning in the Week Nine rematch on Saturday, using Bryce Wilson to hammer away at the Blue Devils Defensive resolve. History has demonstrated in Hancock County over the last two and a half decades, that’s never a bad bet. The Titan Powerhouse delivered 245 yards and three touchdowns on a whopping twenty nine workhorse carries. And within that body of work Saturday afternoon, we saw all the unique qualities that have made Wilson such a successful convert from Wingback to Fullback in the stead of All Stater Will Fox. As we chronicled for you this week, Wilson has really strengthened up nicely in the weight room over the last year. His dedication to the squad rack has yielded unbelievable leg drive, but has not compromised any of his former explosiveness. I mean this in a complimentary way, but Bryce has always been a blocky runner in profile, And as such, his explosiveness was always such a neat incongruent by-product of watching him run. Dudes with legs that size shouldn’t be able to get that many strides (the result of being “not tall” for diplomacy’s standing) off so quickly. But that’s what Bryce does. And that packs plenty of whallop; the whole force equals mass times acceleration thing. The less celebrated aspect of Bryce’s weight work is that the extra muscle he now carries in his shoulders and chest make him a lot tougher to deal with when he doesn’t find daylight. To give you a simulation of what it’s like to try and bring this kid down in tight quarters, head outside right now to your nearest fire hydrant, take a full speed running start at it, and try to see what happens to you in the process. On second thought, don’t actually do that. I don’t need the law suit. Travis Cook is quick to point out just how good Bryce is right now off first and second contact and a lot of that is because there really is no elegant or fun way to tackle the kid that doesn’t also take a tremendous toll on the tackler. I mean 1500 yards of rushing through 11 games and 20 touchdowns don’t’ lie. And as such, the young man has turned himself into a legitimate POY Dark Horse. It’s been quite a productive year for Mister Wilson.
Week One: KEVIN CAMPBELL, RB/DB, Hannibal (vs Helias)
Week Two: DEVIN TYNAN, RB/DB, Brown County (vs West Central)
Week Three: ALEX GULLY, RB/DB, Fort Madison (vs Central Lee)
Week Four: JOE HENDRICKER, QB, Brown County (vs Beardstown)
Week Five: DALTON CRANE, QB, Pleasant Hill/Western (vs Calhoun)
Week Six: JIREHL BROCK, RB, Quincy High (vs Rocky)
Week Seven: DARIAN DRAKE, RB/LB, Brown County (vs Triopia)
Week Eight: GABE GOODWIN, OLB, Palmyra (vs Brookfield)
Week Nine: COLE PENNEWELL, FB/LB, Monroe City (vs Palmyra)
Week Ten: CALEB GEHLE, RB, Fort Madison (vs Washington)
Week Eleven: JOE HENDRICKER, QB, Brown County vs Arcola
MSHSAA CLASS 2 QUARTERFINAL-NORTH CALLAWAY AT CLARK COUNTY
LONDON CALLING: Just a weird quirk of the schedule this Fall, I suppose, but Friday’s Clark County/Palmyra District Title Tilt was actually my first in-person viewing of the Indians this season. Typically, I make it a point to try and see everyone in person but for whatever reason, Nico and Ken Mitchell somehow earned the Clark County “beat” for us this season. Suffice it to say, the timing couldn’t have been more opportune to change that in the Flower City. Clark County played an excellent football game, across the board in upsetting the Panthers 26-16. You heard a lot of sentiment this week from a lot of different quarters that Palmyra mighted by positioned her for a loss and that a Clark team that had really nicely re-evaluated and reconfigured the dimensions of its offense since a loss to these same Panthers six weeks ago might be the ideal team to hand it to them. The earliest returns on this game, from both squads, however weren’t very good. Palmyra fumbled a ball away in their own end of the field. Clark failed to convert. The Panthers had an early chance to take the lead and fumble the ball away again inside the Clark Red Zone. The only really standout element of the First Quarter (for either team…but in this case both) was run defense. Both Palmyra and Clark County established a very aggressive (and smart, see also Bryan Plenge and Marty Smyser) approach to attacking the other’s run tendencies. For Clark’s part, a lot of this was set up by terrific play out of the tackles. When I talked to Ethan Allen on Saturday for the MCDONALD’S SATURDAY MORNING TICKET, he specifically cited the work of Sophomores Nick Gray (who had that first fumble recovery) and Trevor Schorr in forcing Palmyra to have to try and run outside the guards. And to do that, is to learn just how good Clark is to the edge with Jack Hunziker and Brad Forquer as pressure points to pinch things inward. I was also really impressed with the Indians defensive pursuit outside. Chayson Kleine is so good he is kind of a given but I had no idea Caleb Lapsley was this active of a defensive force (and so good at chase down pursuit) For the third time in two weeks, Zeb Riney came away with an interception. But all of that was set up from the Line. And look, it might not be a mainstream opinion here but I thought Nick Gray delivered the clarion call moment of the game in the second quarter when he caused a fumble by hitting Peyton Plunkett so hard in the backfield he separated him from the football. Gray was so intent on wrapping up Plunkett, he didn’t notice the ball was on the ground and he actually kicked it to Jacob Kroeger. Granted, Jarom Alexander reeled off a 53 yard run on the next play, but Gray’s punishing hit had sent a message that the young guys on this Indian Defense were equal to the moment. Gray spent his night hitting the fullback. He had a couple of other great shots on Plunkett that weren’t tackle chances (one in particular I remember in the third quarter) that showed both a dedicated intensity to his job duties for the night as well as his potential as a gap-splitter now and into the future. I like that big 66 kid a ton after seeing him work. He stepped up big in a big and necessary spot. Look, I know there has been some talk here and other places about the hiccups in the Palmyra Offense in recent weeks. Don’t let that in any way diminish what Clark County’s Defense achieved on Friday.
If there was any benefit in having gone so long for me between seeing Clark County in person, it was the stark contrast that absence painted between “last year” London Brunk and “now” London Brunk at Quarterback. I commented on this on Twitter on Friday and it deserves greater attention here: his poise was unreal Friday Night. That is certainly not an easy achievement when you star across the line at Gabe Goodwin and Peyton Plunkett, but I found it remarkable how much London looked like he was just sitting in that pocket like he was playing backyard Nerf ball on Thanksgiving Afternoon. No happy feet. No tension in his passing. No locking onto receivers. Just great read and diagnose at his pace. His first half (207 yards passing and a touchdown) might have been the finest example of quarterback game control we’ve seen from anyone this year. And even when he was flushed, he seemed totally good with it. No obviously, the job the Indian Offensive Line has done protecting him the last couple of weeks plays into that. There were a lot of times Friday London could have held the ball for to ten seconds with no orange in sight of him in the pocket. I would also argue that there is no harder run defense to block in our area than Palmyra’s and while 184 yards on 41 totes isn’t exactly spectacular production on the ground; when paired with what Brunk did through the air early, was more than enough. Here’s the sort of unfortunate storyline here for Palmyra. I thought the Panthers did an excellent job adjusting Defensively in the second half (and to some degree offensively as well) and essentially playing keep away from Clark County in the second half. But as I remarked to someone on the sidelines Friday, I am not sure Palmyra’s offense could get to 19 points for the game (the total the Indians had amassed in building a 19-3 halftime lead) Again, Kevin Miles found some run traction on that first drive of the second half, but Bryan Plenge not only quickly countered those tweaks; the Panthers seemingly got flagged on first down on every single ensuing second half possession for something. Some of that was obviously trying to keep those outstanding Defensive Ends hemmed in. But it seemed like Palmyra was in long yardage situations all night long; when the Panthers weren’t putting the football on the ground. It was just a perfect storm type scenario. And Caleb Lapsley’s late touchdown immediately following the last Panther fumble was about the most predictable thing in the world. The Indians were bottled up for too long in the second half. We had to now some kind of explosion was coming.
Which brings us to Saturday’s Quarterfinals Showdown in Kahoka. Much like the Indians have turned the tables late on some of their past CCC tormentors, it would appear the balance of power in Callaway County has shifted back to the North for the first time in a long time. Twice this season the Thunderbirds have tagged South Callaway with losses; Saturday’s 38-20 win for a District Crown obviously the exclamation point on that reversal of fortunes. And maybe facing Peyton Plunkett a week ago was good practice for the Indians. The T-Birds boast a very similar two-way superstar in Fullback/Linebacker Adam Reno. All he did on Friday Night was rush for a pair of touchdowns and scoop-and-score a 99 yard fumble recovery. The 6’ 215lb Senior had 37 total carries (!!!) on Friday and sledgehammered his way to 229 yards. He’s already cracked the 2K rushing mark (2003 for the year) and has 31 touchdowns to his credit. Obviously, the defensive focus here is fairly obvious. Doesn’t make it easy, but Clark is going to need to tackle well at all levels and hope the Defensive Line can prevent Reno from finding the room to get up a full head of steam. From the video I’ve seen, Reno is terrific running off contact and there aren’t many Defensive Backs or even Linebackers for that matter capable of bringing him down one-on-one. The T-Birds do have some Play Action in the arsenal to keep teams honest. Sophomore QB Tully Thomsen has only attempted double digit passes in four games but he has been efficient. He had two early strikes against South to open things up for Reno Friday, giving him 19 for the season. And he’s thrown only 4 interceptions. So you can’t totally sell out on the run here. Defensively, the Indians have only given up 122 points all year. They’ve got three kids on Defense with more than 100 tackles, led by Junior Jordan Delashmutt, with 129 stops and 28 tackles for loss and 9.5 Quarterback Sacks. It’s a good crew. Again, not unlike playing Palmyra. Honestly, I see the scenario here as being almost identical to what it was a week ago. I Clark stays Physical and poised and continues to play mistake-free football, the very well could pull off this upset too. They certainly have played a much tougher schedule than North Callaway, which is beyond legit in my mind but does profit from feasting on a lot of very poor defensive opponents in the EMO. And Ethan Allen’s crew is as hot and confident as anyone. Plus with a win, I believe the Indians would be back home for the Semifinals regardless of what happens on the other side of the bracket. I like the spot here for Clark County. A great deal, actually. I love that they get to play this at home. And I love the mindset they are in having fought through the pitfalls of Macon and Palmyra back to back. Give me the slight upset here.
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTION
NORTH CALLAWAY 18
CLARK COUNTY 24
MSHSAA CLASS 1 STATE QUARTERFINAL-MONROE CITY AT WESTRAN
TRUE GREATNESS TRAVELS A GRAVEL ROAD: So much for that expected Marceline/Hamilton-Penney two-step we’d all been projecting since August. Be reminded people: Playoff Football is a wildly unpredictable animal. LaTroy Harper suffers an MCL injury and suddenly Hamilton-Penney is not only made mortal, but unceremoniously dumped by Princeton 46-16 to end its title reign. As someone who has seen Harper play in person, the mechanisms of this “upset” fit an explainable narrative. Marceline’s blowout loss to Westran is far more confounding. And perhaps concerning to anyone who wants to see Monroe City return to the State Championship Stage. I saw the Hornets in jamboree action this Summer. They looked decent enough. Certainly not like a squad (at the time) capable of blowing out undefeated and second ranked Marceline; who had owned this rivalry with six straight victories over Westran since 2014. Again, the road between August and November tends to transform Football Teams and clearly Lance Massey has found the right gear late. Selfishly, I’d like to think some of this upset goodness owes to the fact there was an O’Laughlin involved. (Aaron is the lead assistant to Massey) Practically, it feels like Westran is having its “Clark County” moment and seems to be peaking at the perfect time. The Hornets have righted and avenged earlier losses to both Fayette and Marceline and seem to be hitting on all cylinders entering their showdown with the top ranked Panthers, particularly on defense. That established, the manner of attacks employed by Marceline and Monroe City are radically different. To wit, I am going to hazard a guess that David Kirby gets nowhere near the 40 passing attempts Marceline made in trying to play catchup with the Hornets. Monroe City’s m.o. is to let the best Offensive Line in the state eat while putting playmakers in position to make plays (as we saw again in microcosm on Friday in the Panther’s video game-paced score-fest with South Shelby) From all I could gather on the Marceline/Westran game, much of the Hornets success was born of being able to get disruptive penetration into the Tiger Backfield. No one has managed that trick yet against Monroe City and that will likely be the tipping point either way Friday. All due respect to Westran, but I haven’t bet against Monroe’s big guys yet and I am not ready to start now.
Moreover, it seems at this particular moment, David Kirby is going throttle up with his weapons in his “Spread Offense,” thusly named because the Panthers do indeed spread the football around to their weapons a ton. Six different Panthers hit the end zone against South. Keenan Batsell (who is rising fast late in this campaign as an option to spell Cole Pennewell) and Zach Obsorn each topped the 100 yard mark rushing. Blake Hays continues to thrive when his number is called a Quarterback (Had no idea he has gone a dozen games this season without throwing an interception until I saw the Kirby quote on his game management in Saturday’s Quincy Herald Whig. Not sure how that factoid escaped my attention but as previously stated here, I have yet to see that kid not be equal to a moment in two years of playing Quarterback. He’s got the clutch gene) and Monroe’s play action game is both precise and explosive enough to keep a pair of quality Westran Cornerbacks on edge Saturday. Monroe City’s offense has rhythm right now and I have yet to see the team that can control it when it does. Even much of Palmyra’s success against Monroe was born of MC miscues and Kevin Miles finding ways to possess the ball and shrink the clock on David Kirby’s team. Monroe has repeatedly put a lot of points on the board, against almost everyone. It’s covered for nights when the Defense or Coverage Teams haven’t been their sharpest. The margin for error is shrinking however with those units as we are getting into Elite Competition time and Saturday afternoon would be an ideal time for Monroe’s D in particular to deliver a four quarter statement; to give future foes one more something to concern themselves with in film study. For all the points they surrendered Friday against the Cardinals, Monroe did only yield 216 total yards of offense. Quietly (largely because they have been overshadowed by the glittering reputation of their offensive counterparts) these guys haven’t gotten a lot of credit for stringing together a run of very credible performances. I’m still not sold we’ve seen Monroe’s Defensive ceiling game however and given the rising stakes, this might be the perfect time for it.
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTIONS
MONROE CITY 40
IHSA 2A STATE QUARTERFINAL-MAROA FORSYTH AT WEST HANCOCK
THE ROONEY RULE: So I have spent the better part of this week trying to remind myself just how much the West Hancock Titans rose to the occasion of facing a tremendously athletic, historically strong Miller Career Squad earlier this season. How Travis Cook’s crew won against type in adverse circumstances, on the road and on turf against a very fast football team. That was a pretty jaw dropping moment; one that spoke to the resolve and talent of a very good football team winning big despite the degree of difficulty involved. A “finest hour” performance of the highest order.
I did this largely because I am very disquieted by the prospect this week of the Titans having to match up with Maroa Forsyth. One man’s opinion here (and trust me, I know, I have been very wrong before) but the Titans seem to me to be the most “at risk” of our three squads left on the board on Saturday and I am not a particular fan of this draw at all for this team on this week. I’ve had smart football fans point out to me all of the Titan attributes in play, the big wins that have honed them for this moment, the built-in advantage of playing this game at Warsaw and on natural grass. And I was there, in person, to watch West Hancock toy with the last Sangamo team they faced: an Auburn team that oozed some danger with its offense. And yet very little of that has served to quiet the creeping doubt.
Let me give voice to what is fueling my concern here.
1)The Trojans are a bona fide small school powerhouse in Illinois (five State Championship Game appearances since 2009) and are superbly coached. They are steeled by playing in one of the most elite School conferences in the State; a league so good that it has four Quarterfinalists still alive. And in my opinion, Josh Jostes is an absolutely terrific football coach with a ridiculous talent for carving up opposing defenses. The 2017 Trojans are averaging 44 points per game this season and have won eight straight ballgames since that lone loss in Week Three to Williamsville. This is not only a terrific football team but a white hot one right now as well.
2)Maroa will present the West Hancock defense with the single greatest individual talent threat they have seen to date (and may see this season) in the electric Deondre Gregory, who has rushed for 576 yards and nine touchdowns in the first two games of the postseason. He is one of those rare kids who is a threat to score from anywhere on the field and at any time. And while he is far from the only weapon on the field for the Trojans, he is a true “center of gravity” kids the likes of which dwarves any back the Titans have defended (at least in terms of explosiveness) in the last two years. And Maroa counterbalances this with a host of receiving options for Sophomore QB Ian Benner to work to who demand attention as well. You can’t fully sell out as a Defense on Gregory, which makes him all the more lethal.
3)The Trojan Defense, which has at times looked mortal, has also shown moments of dominance. One of those came in limiting Athens to just 15 points. Why point this game out in particular? The Warriors are a Wing-T Team with three coaches named Reed on staff directly off the Jim Unruh coaching tree. Maroa also opened the first round of the playoffs against Illini West, and while the Trojans gave up 23 points in that game, they did a credible job defending the intricacies of Lyle Klein’s Augustana rooted run game as well. Granted, Jim Unruh brings a different level of play calling and defensive diagnosis to the table here (see also all those State Championship rings) but Maroa is a team that has demonstrated a familiarity with the uniqueness of West Hancock’s attack and a proficiency in keeping it largely hemmed in.
So yes, there is a lot of potentially ulcer-causing backstory here to digest. For those devoid any rooting interest or vested personal stake, this is clearly the most interesting (and I would argue entertaining) football game on the local docket this weekend and one that could end up looking a lot like the QND/West Hancock “defense option” shootout two years ago. Or a bunch of really fine football coaches on both sides of the field could turn it into a high caliber chess match that makes for an instant classic of a different ilk. It would be the most Hancock County thing ever (again) for West Hancock to play mistake free football, run off long possession, clock-suffocating drives, and somehow win a game that afterwards leaves us all scratching our heads to how the Titans beat a team with that kind of flashy talent…simply on blue collar guile and clean play. It would also be the most Travis Cook thing of the season for his gritty defensive kids to hear all this talk about Gregory and the Sangamo and how they can’t win and replicate the Miller Career victory model by hitting uber talent kids so repeatedly hard that the glamour drains right out of them. We saw how opportunistic Tyler Korn and Bryce Buckert were last week in forcing turnovers. And there’s precedent here, in big game territory, for another Riley Langford “special” whereby that kid again intercepts any/every ball thrown is way in a money game. That’s just his DNA as a DB. But make no mistake about it, for all the assets at West Hancock’s Defensive command, it still is going to require the best collective performance of the season by that unit to advance. Are they capable? Sure. Heck, Williamsville found a way to hold this team to seven. Is it likely? Therein lies the question. As far as paths to victory go: I can’t see West Hancock winning a track meet against these guys, period. So the more stops the Titans get, the better their odds. Keep Maroa under 35 (nine points shy of their average) and the Titans raise the probabilities here. Let the Trojans score their typical 45 and I just don’t see how West Hancock keeps that pace and wins that style of game. And based on what we’ve seen of late of Maroa’s current scoring groove, I have my doubts even a defense as brutish and consistently stingy in the red zone this season as the Titans can slow it down. Again, I’ve been wrong before and hopefully I am wrong again here and we have Illinois Playoff Football for another week. But I just can’t shake the anxiety on this one.
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTIONS
MAROA FORSTYH 38
WEST HANCOCK 44
KHQA Preseason All Do or Die Boys Squad
KHQA Preseason Boys Player of the Year: CHANDLER BEVANS, Clark County
Rationale: For the second straight year, Clark County’s finest opens the season as our Basketball Bellwether. Deservedly so, given his talents, his size, his skill level, his body of work and his fierce work ethic. I’d also make the argument it’s a little easier this year to install Chandler as such because the most obvious challengers here all come with question marks. Will Aaron Shoot get a full season, heck any season with the looming Quincy Teachers Strike? Will Lance Logsdon and Noah Mendenhall be healthy enough to play any high school ball at all? How much to injury issues with teammates/graduation losses hamper Derek Richards and C.E. Talton here? What does a coaching change mean for Dezi Jones in Hannibal? Bevans, comparatively speaking becomes an even safer bet with all that stuff going on out there. He’s a gifted natural scorer who has gotten a lot better at delivering two-way points. His feathery jumper is still lethal both above the arc and at mid-range; but Chandler has become a much niftier option in the paint. The skill set was always there. His assertiveness and comfort level, however, have grown by leaps in bounds. I don’t know that he will average more than the nearly 21 points per game he did a year ago, because he doesn’t have to anymore. The Clark County cast is really nicely fleshed out and balanced. But I still think we have the nights where Chandler goes for 40 because it helps bail his team out of a funk here or a slump there. More to the point, I think we see much more of Bevans floor vision and inside/out passing profiled this season, and that’s a pretty exciting added skill here that augments an already glowing resume. The guy is just really good at basketball now, not just scoring. That’s a fun development and one that figures to generate a ton of headlines this Winter on the local scene.
First Team Preseason All Do-or-Die
Center-LOGAN DORETHY, West Hancock
Forward-CARTER FAYHEE, Macomb
Forward-TREVOR VOSS, Payson Seymour
Guard-AARON SHOOT, Quincy High
Guard-C.E. TALTON, Monroe City
Sixth-DEREK RICHARDS, Louisiana
Deserving Injury Omissions-LANCE LOGSDON, Canton; NOAH MENDENHALL, Pittsfield
Second Team Preseason All Do-or-Die
Center-TREAVOR JAMES-KOKJOHN, Fort Madison
Forward-DRAKE HAMMEL, West Hancock
Guard-DEZI JONES, Hannibal
Guard-JAEDEN SMITH, Quincy High
Guard- ZEB RINEY, Clark County
Sixth-KALEB CRESSWELL, Fort Madison
KHQA 2018 Breakout Team to Stardom Team
Center-LANE IPPENSEN, Central
Forward-NATHAN HENDRICKER, Brown County
Forward-EVAN DOYLE, Central Lee
Guard-JIREHL BROCK, Quincy High
Guard-TAYLOR KLUSMEYER, Unity
Sixth-NICK SCHWARTZ, QND
So much for the notion of a Redshirt. Hannibal’s Shamar Griffith has enjoyed a very productive “True” Freshman campaign at Missouri Western to date. He has had 61 total carries for 361 yards, averaging close to six yards a tote. Shamar is also the Griffons top Kick Return Specialist with 31 attempts for 708 yards, an average net return of just a shade under 23 yards per attempt, and had a season long effort in that department of 58 yards.
Quincy High Star Tailback Jirehl Brock tells us he enjoyed his trip to Columbia to watch the Missouri Tigers torch Florida last weekend. Brock expects to spend this weekend in Champaign for a bird’s eye look at Illinois and the week after tells us he will likely head to South Bend to check out Notre Dame.
Quincy Notre Dame alum and two-time KHQA Player of the Year Jordan Frericks is set to make her return to the basketball floor for Mizzou after missing all of last season with a knee injury. The Tigers open their regular season slate on Friday against Western Kentucky.
Keokuk native Lakyn Boltz is a projected preseason starter this season for Coe College, entering her Junior Year.
Hearing scuttlebutt that West Hancock native Will Lucie is pushing hard now for the starting spot at 149 pounds on the Army Wrestling Squad. There was a chance Thursday Night that Will would get the start against #1 Penn State in his weight class, but that didn’t materialize in that spot. But that day doesn’t appear to be too terribly far off into the future.
Citing the growing demands on his time as Principal at Carthage Middle School, Jerry Butcher has announced his resignation as the Girls Track and Field Coach at Illini West, ending a spectacular 21 year run at the helm. During his tenure, Butcher helped the Chargers/Bluegirls to nine Conference Team Titles, eight Sectional Championships, nine Top Ten Team Finishes (including five Top Four finishes and a State Title) while coaching 266 state qualifying Athletes to 129 State Medals and nine State Titles. That is a most impressive legacy. Our congrats to one of the true good people (made even better since the collapse of the KHQA Messageboards many years ago) in our industry on a job well done.
Hard to fault Carl Sandburg Volleyball Coach Todd Winkler from sounding like he hit the Powerball this week with the signings of West Prairie stars Cora Vyhnanek and Peyton Bowman. That’s about as good a package deal as a JUCO skipper can get, considering that both Cora and Peyton were at one point pledged to Division One Western Illinois. Winkler now dets to add a State Championship Certified Setter and Middle Hitter to a very talented existing roster that just won the Region IV Tournament with a 25-14 record and 8-2 mark in the Arrowhead Conference. Cora and Peyton will be reunited with Cyclone State Championship teammate Hannah Thompson in Galesburg next season as well.
Jacksonville alum Jaelyn Keane is one of ten Division One NCAA Volleyball Players nominated for the Senior CLASS Award. The Illinois State Middle Blocker is being recognized for her overall excellence as a Student Athlete as a CLASS finalist (the acronym stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School) and you can help vote to make her the winner of this honor here at: seniorclassaward.com/vote/volleyball_2017. Fans can vote for up to three finalists every day until voting closes Dec. 4. Fan voting accounts for one-third of the selection process, which also includes input from a panel of NCAA Division I coaches and national media members.