So we survived WIVC Warfare with our sanity (relatively) in tact last week. And it was as fun as advertised. Still, I remain suspicious that "The Scheduling Gods" may be trying to finish me off with the mind-meltingly good Centralia/Clark County matchup coming just seven days later. Guess it's time to refuel the Hype Machine. And in that spirit: Welcome to Duerrisms for the first week of October, my friends, where business has clearly picked up. And before we dive in, our gratitude to the fine people at GAMEMASTERS for their sponsorship of this column and Tri State young people.
Believe it or not, the Fall Postseason begins this week with Illinois Golf and Missouri Softball. Where has the time gone? Next thing you know, it will be Christmas break...
Lots of goodies to throw your way in the coming days. The KHQA Student Athlete of the Week Award is back starting this Wednesday at 6pm and runs through the end of the school year. We are also entering that wonderful time of the year when OVERTIME isn't just a luxury viewing, but a necessity for the local sports fan as Ross and I travel to every remote corner of the viewership...and beyond to bring you the region's most extensive coverage of all things Tri State Sports. You can view us live every Saturday night at 10:30pm for a 30 minute wrap up of all the days local sports at KHQA-CBS. And if you miss it, we rebroadcast at 5:30pm every Sunday on KHQA-ABC.
A reminder to all you social media users out there: you can follow me on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/ChrisDuerr ) for instant feedback, scores as the happen, and stories as they break in real time on Twitter. And if you are up late on Friday Night after the games, the Pigskin Party continues for KHQA on our Facebook site ( http://www.facebook.com/KHQAChrisDuerr ) We are there until Midnight delivering opinions and sharing your observations and comments on the night's action. Plus it's your chance to vote on our Star of the Week Poll, the winner of which is unveiled below every week in this column. We've got something akin to 2200 Twitter Followers and 2300 Facebook users on those specific sites, so come join the party with us. It's fun and easy and I guarantee you it will heighten your enjoyment of local sports.
KHQA STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE WEEK presented by CELL TECH, PETERS HEATING and AIR, and SUBWAY
Now in its eight year of existence, the KHQA Student Athlete of the Week Award celebrates the best and brightest examples of achievement in Tri State Athletics. Every Wednesday Night at 6:00pm, we will profile a deserving senior selected from a pool of applicants by our independent nominating committee. It's a look beyond just their highlights into the mindset and determination that make these young men and women successful in all that they do; a reminder to all of you just how much good there is out there to be celebrated in this generation. And at year's end, we will once again award scholarships to the top boys and girls scholar athletes in our area.
If you know of a deserving senior who sports a minimum 3.5 GPA, please contact your high school athletic director and have them fill out a form on that student's behalf. Or help expedite the process yourself by printing a nomination form from our website (which can be found on the Student Athlete of the Week Page) and turning it in to your local athletic director so that they can submit it to us. Our next nominating session is Mid-December, at which point we will pick or last 12 more honorees from the pool of seniors. The window of opportunity to nominate a deserving applicant is closing fast. We don't want to miss anyone in the process and sincerely hope you will help us out in that spirit.
Week One: DALTON POWELL, Hannibal High Football/Basketball/Baseball
Past Scholarship Winners
2012: ALEX WALTER, Central High (Augustana College)
TORI KUHN, Quincy Notre Dame (Lindenwood College)
2011: JACOB CONLEY, Central High (U.S. Military Academy at West Point)
DAKOTA FLESNER, Payson Seymour (John Wood Community College)
2010: MICHAEL LAFFERTY, Illini West (Monmouth College)
TAYLOR BAXTER, Palmyra (Illinois State)
2009: MATT PATTERSON, South Shelby (Truman State)
CHLOE BARNES, Quincy Notre Dame (Ball State University)
2009: LUKE GUTHRIE, Quincy High (University of Illinois)
2007: KATELYN BASTERT, Illini West (Duke University)
2006: MIKAL BENECOMO, Clopton (Southeast Missouri State)
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN-WEEK SIX
7) BRODY MOUBRY, RB, Knox County
16 Carries, 147 Yards, 3 TD vs Putnam County
6) SCOTT BECK, FB/QB, Unity/Payson
21 Carries, 157 Yards, 2 TD vs ISD
5) JACK HICKS, QB, Clopton-Elsberry
8 of 14 Passing, 112 Yards, TD; 16 Carries, 208 Yards vs Bowling Green
4) KELLAN GILLASPY, RB, Knox County
11 Carries, 157 Yards, 3 TD vs Putnam County
3) CHRIS SPARKS, LB/FB, Highland
8 Tackles; 21 Carries, 142 Yards, 3 TD vs Mark Twain
2) LOGAN PREWITT, WR/DB, Clark County
3 Receptions, 40 Yards, 2 TD; Pick Six Interception vs Palmyra
1) DALTON HEUBNER, RB/DB, Central-Southeastern
15 Carries, 166 Yards, 2 TD; School Record 16th Interception vs Concord Triopia
KHQA HERO OF THE WEEK
(as voted by the fans at http://www.facebook.com/KHQAChrisDuerr)
ADAM VEITH, Fullback, Brown County
The Missouri Monopoly has been broken thanks to an outpouring of votes from Hornet Nation. Veith was a guy the Brown County staff first tipped us off to this summer. After giving up the game a few years ago, Veith showed up in camp and immediately showed promise as legitimate power back who could help pick up the slack for a Hornet Running Back group that had been decimated by graduation. He had some obvious football rust to scrape off and early on this season when we saw him he was more mechanical than instinctual. Clearly, his comfort level is improving by the carry. Friday was his crispest outing to date as he tagged Routt's defense with a pair of touchdown rumbles (including one of 27 yards) and a team high 81 ground yards. He is a guy with the undeniable size and strength to move a pile and is easily the most physical back to grace a Brown County backfield since Joe Cross. What Adam is becoming now is a little niftier in his approach; looking for that secondary cut or running lane to exact a higher toll on opponents. He's also doing a much better job building quick momentum and not letting defenders get into his legs before he can build up a head of steam. At this current rate of progress, Veith is on pace to round into the perfect complimentary battering ram to Brady Long and Braxton Phelps in the Hornet Backfield...and occasionally give you some downfield pop as well as just providing the hard yards between tackle. It's a work in progress but a really promising one and I can see Brown County being a much more difficult offense to curtail if Veith continues his surge. He's the right guy for this spot and his progress to date has been impressive. And he's got a really good chance of helping Brown County pave over its early season issues and crash the playoff party. I just shudder to think how good this kid would be right now if he had been playing football all along. Hard to find guys with this kind physical makeup at the 1A level and he's certainly a potential asset that future foes are not going to like having to deal with.
Week One: ANDRE REYNOLDS, Macon
Week Two: TYLER STEINKAMP, Mark Twain
Week Three: BROCK BUTLER, Palmyra
Week Four: TYLER STEINKAMP, Mark Twain
Week Five: JUSTIN PRICE, Hannibal
KHQA POWER POLL FOR WEEK SEVEN
1) CLARK COUNTY (6-0)
Last Week: 40-6 win over Palmyra
This Week: at Centralia
THE SKINNY: This kids is how you handle your business. Clark County was a team perfectly primed for a let down on Friday night. With Centralia looming and Palmyra sliding into town under radar with the hottest defense in Northeast Missouri over the last month, the Indians were right smack dab in the middle of the perfect nexus of Trap Game variables. So when my phone started blowing up with a seemingly unending run of Indian first half scoring updates on Friday night, it dawned on me that made these guys not only have the right talent for the job this season, but the right temperament as well. Whatever lingering question marks we may have still had about Clark County, got answered emphatically. We told you in this column that Clark County's Defense matched up really well with Palmyra's Offense and in the end those words proved prophetic: the Indians ended the night with just four first downs and just 111 yards of total offense, all of it on the ground. By nature, the Indians the kind of team that isn't going to let you get to the edge and will beat you up if you try to run between the tackles. Palmyra, at least to this point, hasn't shown the kind of quick hitting passing game that can loosen a team like Clark up and the Indians Defense feasted. What impressed me here, however, is just how much success the Indian Offense created at the expense (over 400 yards worth) of a really talented Palmyra Defense. Here's the thing I am beginning to understand about Austin Egley: the bigger the game, the bigger he plays. He's a great running quarterback. That is a given. His passing efforts against Palmyra were top notch this week as well. We threw the kid in a hard spot by saying this was a moment of truth game for him and he responded with three touchdown passes and five scores in all. That is what we call a signature game on a Player of the Year resume. And Austin certainly belongs near the top of that conversation. Credit here as well to both Austin and Offensive Coordinator Scott Murdock for doing such a great job spreading the offense around. Again, the really scary thing about the Clark County Offense is that there are weapons here that would be Franchise Guys anywhere else. Lincoln Jones for one. He's a freight train with the ball in his hands. As Ross Green documented on Thursday, Jacob Trump is fast becoming a weekly difference maker and scored another touchdown against Palmyra. And of course, there is Logan Prewitt. He snared two receiving touchdowns, which may actually have been the least impressive thing the Indian's rising senior did on the night. Logan's interception return for touchdown; one in which he was essentially perpendicular to the ground (on top of the wide receiver) and had the presence of mind to realize he was never down by contact is one of the best plays you will see at the high school level. When it is all going well, Clark County is as tough an offense as there is to slow in Tri State Football, which in no small part reflects the quality of this outstanding Offensive Line. Which brings me to this week's challenge. If last Friday was a referendum on Austin Egley's star power, this week's tilt with undefeated Centralia will tell us just where the Indian Bodyguards fall on the Tri State Food Chain. The Panthers are big and talented on the Defensive Line with a group that will be the best the Indians see all year. And I would argue Centralia is even better than that at linebacker, with the kind of speed in the mid-level of the defense that would make most high school secondaries envious. For perhaps the first time this season, there are going to be matchup issues at play Friday that don't favor Clark County in the trenches. Can the Indians get their guards up field and prevent the Austin Kinkeads and Jesse Arnolds and Cullen Ralphs (and don't forget Jason Anders in back) from coming up field and making plays. Bottom line: if Centralia's Defensive Rainmakers are allowed to run to the football with impunity, Clark County becomes victim 71. If, however, the Indians can fight off/through the Law Firm of Hockman, Thall, Morris, and Jerichow and provide some cover fire on the Centralia Backers, there is no reason to believe that Clark County can't get enough points on the board to let their defense put this game to bed. To my mind, three touchdowns probably gets that done. I have no idea what to make of the Centralia Offense and its wide ranging body of work to date, but on paper, not sure it matches up very well with the Indians ability to bring consistent, disruptive presence against the run. Then again, I am not sure we've seen anything remotely close to a true unveiling of what the Panther passing game has to offer. I guess we find out Friday.
2) CENTRALIA (6-0)
Last Week: 39-14 win over Monroe City
This Week: vs Clark County
THE SKINNY: It's no secret that the Monroe City Panthers have experienced their share of Defensive issues this season so view this Centralia performance through as much or as little of that prism as you see fit. That established, Zach Etzler's six touchdown effort at Quarterback (4 passing, 2 rushing) certainly commands attention and speaks to the potential that I have heard folks ascribe to this kid since the preseason. Etzler generated 300 passing yards (and rushed for another 62 on the ground) and seems to have developed a really nice instinct for finding the right receiver at the right time. Note to Clark County Boss Quentin Hamner: you play your corners loose on Friday, this kid's eyes are going to be Mike Singletary-type big and he's going to go after you in the passing game. Dixon Dollens was the big beneficiary of that air attack with three touchdown receptions but we have clearly seen that Etzler is an equal opportunity distributor and really has a nice working dynamic with good looking Junior Chandler Blackwell as well. There is going to be a lot here for Clark County to game plan for. Granted, the passing game was the story line for Centralia on Friday but even in a complimentary role, running backs Cullen Ralphs and Austin Kinkead quietly helped contribute to a 200 yard effort on the ground. Again, Monroe City's defense has been suspect to date, but 500 yards of offense is still 500 yards. Centralia's much touted Defense also had a good night, posting 5 players with 10 or more tackles. That established, we are going to see the Centralia D stretched in a way it hasn't been to date. When you are playing Monroe City, you lock down on Blake Grice. Highland? Chris Sparks. Clark County's arsenal of weapons is well above anything Centralia has seen to date and maybe less Quarterback-centric than Brookfield's attack was. Granted, Austin Egley will be the highest value target here because he is the catalyst: but he also proved himself to be a different level of catalyst than say JJ Abongo was with his orchestration of last week's win over Palmyra. Also realize that the Clark County kids walk into this game still angry over the loss of a game last year to the Panthers they feel that had won. Make no mistake: this is as big a test to "The Streak" for Centralia as those games with Macon were the last two years. And yet, every year, Erle Bennett just keeps finding a way to beat back challenges from the talented younger coaches in the conference and keeping this thing going. Hard to bet against him (especially with Home Field advantage) even given the threat level Clark County provides. My gut feeling as well is that this may be the hardest hitting local football game we've seen in a long time. Clark County brings an every down volatility that I am not sure Centralia is seen yet; nor is it one I think you can prepare for. Expect an all out war and a classic finish. And number me among the thousands who can't wait to watch it.
3) CENTRAL-SOUTHEASTERN (6-0
Last Week: 33-22 win over Triopia
This Week: at ISD
THE SKINNY: Just a hunch but methinks the atmosphere and excitement level in Jacksonville on Friday night won't quite match what we got to see in Camp Point last week. Give the newly minted WIVC North Champs all the credit in the world for that gritty win over a very talented Triopia club. The Panthers weathered an opening offensive salvo from the Trojans that saw Derek Schone essentially put his team on his back (ask any CSE fan who will now willing concede today just what a tough, tremendous weapon Schone is after seeing him in person for the first time) and march to an early 8-0 lead. Moments later, Triopia pulled off the successful on-side kick and for the briefest of moments, CSE looked to be in legitimate trouble....right until the Panther defense stepped up and negated that turn of fortune with a tempo setting stand. From that point forward, CSE looked like a very different team. I told people last week that I thought CSE had not been legitimately punched in the mouth and that we didn't know just what kind of mettle this particular incarnation of the Panthers had. The haymaker came early. And we now know much better: there is no glass in this program's jaw. Loved what the CSE Coaching Staff did in terms of taking some real risks with the offensive game plan. For starters, the Panthers came out throwing; which is something this program hasn't done or shone much in the last two seasons. And while Seth Leezer's first two passing attempts went incomplete, they created an impression that the Panthers were willing to do whatever is necessary to win this game. It was not only a vote of confidence in Leezer and the Offense, but it also forced Triopia to contend with the notion that packing the box against the run wasn't going to be enough. I would argue that the biggest single play of the game was a Leezer to Marcus Landes pass completion on 3rd down that set up Bobby Keltz's Touchdown that put the Panthers up 21-8 at the half. The Panthers seemed to be in control of the game from that point forward. After the game, I was told that one of the Triopia talking points for this week's game plan was this: if CSE is going to beat us, they are going to have to do it through the air. To some degree, that was in fact the case. The Panthers final numbers don't tell that story, clearly but throwing that ace on the table early bought the Panther run game some much needed space. I talked earlier in this column about Signature Games for Player of the Year resumes....they come no more textbook than Dalton Heubner's tour de force 166 yard, 2 touchdown effort. While I have seen Heubner on tape this season more times than I can count, this was my first chance to see him in person. And prior to Friday, I had no appreciation for just how aggressively he accelerates into everything cut he makes and every running lane he chooses. He is the epitome of the phrase "running down hill" because he gathers such great momentum. He's a special player. See also his school record 15th Interception, which broke a 40 year old mark. (Truthfully, I think the kid's college future is at Defensive Back...ala Jacob Wilson. Both have coverage instincts you simply can't teach.) While Heubner dominated the headlines (and deservedly so) I was also really impressed with the CSE Defense as a whole, especially in combating all that the Trojans give you to deal with in the run game. Douglas Weese covers a ton of ground and was seemingly in on every tackle. Marcus Landes had a huge game that included a critical QB sack. Drew Miller had a sack of Tanner Huddleston to close out the first half and I counted two tackles for loss on my tape. Cole Phillips may have delivered the biggest momentum swing of all with his fumble recovery and return deep into Triopia territory. All in all, just a great team performance under the white hot glare, which says a lot about the maturity of this team. Brad Dixon and his crew did an amazing job in preparation for this opponent. And the Central-Southeastern kids could not have stood taller in a big moment game. And thus, their hostile takeover of the WIVC North is complete silencing all those who had questions and doubts, yours truly included. This is a win that can have great value going forward. You find many 2A teams in the playoffs who are as good as the one CSE beat on Friday. There remains one great regular season challenge for the CSE Panthers going forward: keeping this momentum flowing against a schedule that doesn't offer a whole lot left in big game appeal. Mature teams dictate their own tempos and their own agendas, however. But if Friday proved anything, it is that this team is as strong between the ears and with its psyche as it is athletic. Happy hunting....
4) MACOMB (6-0)
Last Week: 27-24 win at PGP
This Week: vs Princeton
THE SKINNY: Airplane pilots often say any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. The same logic applies to high school football wins on the road. Granted, Macomb's road win at Glen C. Smith Field was hardly a masterpiece. And the next time the Bombers cover an imaginary spread (entertainment purposes only) will be the first. By the same token, 6-0 is still as perfect as it gets and beating a good, physical opponent at its own game in hostile climes is impressive, nevertheless. On the plus side, the Bombers were able to pound away at a increasingly more stout Saukee Run Defense for big yardage on the ground. Jarrod Rockhold and Eli Cousins tallied 283 ground yards and three touchdowns between them. And the Bombers continue to do a good job minimizing their own mistakes. No turnovers. Just one penalty. On the flip side, you could not pay me enough to sit through film with Kelly Sears this week and watch him bristle over the missed assignments that led to Wayde Smith's two long rushing touchdowns. Those are the type of miscues that get you beat and the Bombers Defense has to get better at keeping contain. If you are as physical as Macomb, it behooves you to turn everything back into the heart of the defense any chance you get and take the starch out of an opponent. Start letting people think they can beat you to the edge with impunity and Macomb's greatest strength gets severely undercut. Knowing Kelly Sears, I suspect that gets cleaned up and quickly before homecoming. Not sure Princeton posses anywhere near the challenge that PGP did but it would be nice to see the Bombers put together one game of start to finish dominance to set the tone for a tough finish to the regular season. Again, I am not sure we have seen Macomb at Max-Q yet, which is a scary proposition for those who still have the Bombers on the schedule. If they every get everything cleaned up and flowing consistently, rather than this current greatness-in-spurts approach, the Bombers will be a tough beat for anyone.
5) HANNIBAL (6-0)
Last Week: 42-0 win over Fulton
This Week: vs Moberly
THE SKINNY: These last three weeks haven't exactly been a picnic for Mark St Clair. Don't get me wrong, every coach deserves a scheduling break in between Red Letter Games but the Pirates last three opponents have been...ahem..something less than remotely competitive to Hannibal. To wit, the Pirates out-gained Fulton 426 yards to 120 this week; a spread that could have been far worse had Hannibal not called off the dogs early. Mitch Nichols hit the Hornets with 107 yards and a touchdown. Dalton Powell had two rushing scores from his Quarterback spot, including an 80 yard rumble. Jahwaun Cassidy had 83 yards rushing and a better than 12 yards per carry average. And the Defense was its typical smothering self against a less foe. Things should get much more interesting for all involved on Friday with a pretty darned good Moberly team coming to town for Homecoming. The Spartans are 7-1 on the season and haven't lost since an Opening Night road trip to Blair Oaks. Jason Ambrosen teams play hard and tend to be very physical on Defense. This years incarnation has only one opponent to score more than 13 points. This is a well timed test (with the distractions of Homecoming in play as well) for a team that could use one right about now. The Pirate Offense seems to be operating at Max-Q and is averaging right a 39 points per game right. This will be a week when the Pirates get some push back.
6) ILLINI WEST (5-1)
Last Week: 46-27 win over Orion
This Week: vs Trenton
THE SKINNY: These Chargers have a bit of a vintage, Tim Duncan in his prime San Antonio Spurs feel. Throw any style of play you want at them and they will find a way to turn you away disappointed. For the second time this season, Illini West found a way to dispatch a high octane spread offense and come away unscathed. Part of that falls on the ability of this Charger Offense to possess the football and ramp up some pretty gaudy offensive numbers of their own. To that end, Brody Gronewold has been a really nice find at Quarterback; one who seems to be getting better by the snap. This week the Charger speedster finished with a team high 150 rushing yards on 13 carries, better than 11 yards per tote. He and Bryton Smith certainly add a dynamic edge to this rushing game. Alex Appel and Ben Gittings are a nice powerful counterbalance to that speed. Appel muscled his way to a pair of touchdowns on Friday. Gittings finished with 113 rushing yards in his own right. Defenses are really struggling to account for all these guys and part of that has to do with what a nice job the Charger Offensive Line is doing giving those backs a full steam, running start at the Defense. I'd argue that at this very moment, Illini West is the toughest team to run defense in our area; an especially scary thought since Smith and Gronewold are only just starting to realize their abilities. Defensively, I will concede that the Chargers have given up some points this season. Some of that is a function of the system teams they've played. Part of the fact that Illini West is traditionally a team that improves as the season goes on and tackling initially wasn't a core strength of this group. It's getting better even if the numbers aren't reflective of that. The Chargers have some tent pole players here in Gittings, Kaleb Spiekermeier, and Braxton Squier. The guys around them are starting to show growth though as well. Nolan Ard has snared three interceptions this season. Forrest Ellison is coming off his best game of the season (8 tackles, 7 of them solo stops and a TD) Lyle Klein is mixing in a lot of different player combinations as well and is still finessing what may be the final product. Twenty different Chargers registered tackles this past week. That may fast translate into a healthy amount of depth. Just one more reason to like these guys going forward. The Chargers are looking very much like a team that will finish the regular season 8-1 with a ton of momentum and the kind of depth that will give other 2A schools fits. It's going to take a very specific, athletically gifted type of team to oust these guys from the 2A Dance.
7) TRIOPIA (5-1)
Last Week: 33-22 loss at CSE
Thsi Week: vs Routt (Thursday)
THE SKINNY: The biggest difference between CSE and Triopia on Friday wasn't talent, but overall team experience. The Panthers looked like the team with the more veteran, battled tested roster. Triopia, for the first time, looked like a team banking on getting important, consistent contributions from a core group of Sophomores. As the game wore on, the stage seemed a little bigger/more adverse than realized for some of Rich Thompson's younger kids. The good news is that this particular set of growing pains and accompanying lessons comes without any "real" harm. There is still a very bright future ahead for this group this season. Triopia won't see a better (or at least faster/bigger) team than the one they played Friday Night in the Class 1A playoffs. The season wasn't lost and there is still a world of State Championship opportunity afforded Triop going forward in Class 1A. And Rich Thompson and Andy Phelps can go to their younger kids this week with the indisputable evidence of the game film and say "we need you to grow." Or maybe they can just point to their own Number 18 on film and in practice and say be more like him. Hard to dispute that Derek Schone is the ideal role model for a young kid to pattern himself after. And I'd dare say you would not find a kid on the field Friday Night who worked harder (on every play) for that victory. He played hurt, I am told, all week long and no one noticed any fall off in his efforts. That's a kid you walk off the field as an opponent and can't help but respect. He tried to will the Trojans back into this game and in the end, the team itself wasn't quite ready for this level challenge yet. But I suspect the Trojan Coaching staff gets great value from this loss this week moving forward and the performance gap (at least in terms of consistency) between kids like Schone and Blake Richardson versus some of the younger guys narrows pretty quickly. This might have been a necessary crossroads moment for Triopia if the real end goal is a State Championship. I thought all along CSE was the team that needed to be punched in the mouth for the first time. The Panthers took the blow like a champ. Triopia seemed a little more wobbled and stunned in spots when it was their turn to take the hit. I am still very much a believer in the talent here. Triopia just needed a moment of clarity to grow from. CSE provided it; a next level examination of the strengths and weaknesses of this team, exposed for all to see. How Triopia responds going forward will be very telling indeed. My better suspicions tell me I would not want to trade places with the Routt Rockets on Thursday.
THE SECOND TIER
8) QND (4-2)
Something finally came easy for the Raiders this week as Bill Connell's crew gives the fan base a week absent any Maalox Moments. The Raiders dropped 28 first quarter points on an overwhelmed IVC squad and put Nick Weiman over the century mark for the night just two possessions into the ball game (finished with 169 on 9 carries) to help fuel the blowout. Not sure Manual will be as easy a mark, but the Raiders will again be heavily favored this week on the home digs against a team that does have some impressive specimens in the ranks, including Michigan pledge Logan Tulley-Tillman.
9) BEARDSTOWN (5-1)
Bubba Patterson scored three rushing touchdowns to push the ground and pound Tigers past Knoxville 39-13. Cole Huey also topped the century mark as Aaron Elmore's crew amassed nearly 400 rushing yards at the Blue Bullets expense. Like Illini West, these guys are really just one play away from perfection right now. Unlike the Chargers, the Tigers figure to get a stern test this week. Farmington is 5-1 as well and like The Stripes, the Farmers only loss is to Elmwood-Brimfield. This is the toughest road game on Beardstown's slate this season and the Tigers weren't overly impressive in their last "hostile climes" trip to Rushville/Industry. I think we find out a ton about the mettle of this team this week in the way it handles this potential landmine game.
10) MACON (4-2)
Six different Tigers scored touchdowns in Macon's 45-15 wrecking ball victory at Louisiana. So here's win number four already for a team some predicted would not see three victories all year. To be honest, I have had my reservations about Macon as well. The Tigers four wins have come against a quartet of teams who are a combined 4-20 right now on the year. That established, manner in which Clark County manhandled Palmyra this week and that fact that Macon put up a much more compelling fight against those same Indians makes me think the curve was set a little bit high. Give Pete Claas this: he's maximizing the guys he has. Both Gabe Gravitt and Tyrone Walker topped the century mark this week and the inspired Defensive Play of underclassmen like CJ Gast and Brandon Sontheimer suggests their might be more here than meets the eye. The schedule ends on a nice crescendo. If Macon can two of three against Twain, Centralia and Brookfield, I'd say Pete Class belongs in any coach of the year conversation.
11) KEOKUK (3-3)
Matt Nye may be the best "backup" of his kind in Tri State Football. All he did on Saturday at Oskie was rush for 242 yards and two touchdowns to help the Chiefs climb back to the 500 mark. Gabe Vandenberg was a near flawless 14 of 18 passing for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns to boot. For a squad that can't afford another District loss, Friday's non-District victory might be the perfect tone setter going forward. We will see on Homecoming Friday night with your KHQA Game of the Week.
12) KNOX COUNTY (4-2)
It's easy to frame the Eagles success against the backdrop of a lesser schedule but these guys did also roll up 60 points on Friday at Putnam County's expense and may not lose another regular season game this year. We finally got the chance to send a camera to Edina on Friday and we weren't disappointed. We tend to like it when getting highlights is akin to shooting fish in a barrel. Between Kellen Gillaspy, Donovan Edwards, and Super Soph Brody Moubry, we may have collected enough clips to finish the Eagles Season Highlight tape...in one 45 minute viewing.
13) WEST CENTRAL (4-2)
Still trying to wrap my head around that Pleasant Hill loss. That established, Nick Graham's crew has steadily rebounded and taken care of business. Austin Boehs may be the best player in Western Illinois no one is talking enough about.
THE THIRD TIER
16) SOUTH SHELBY
17) BROWN COUNTY
18) QUINCY HIGH
21) PLEASANT HILL/WESTERN
22) BOWLING GREEN
WEEK SEVEN SNAP JUDGEMENTS
1) Further proof positive that "smart" counts in the sport of football: Quietly, Hannibal Quarterback Dalton Powell has fashioned a 58% completion rate this season through six games. Traditionally, Mark St Clair has been about as loathe to unnecessarily put the football into the air as any coach in our area. Powell's proficiency is fast becoming a paradigm shifter in America's Home Town.
2) Averaging right at 11 tackles per game on average, unheralded Macon Linebacker CJ Gast gets my vote right now as the best kept secret in Tri State Football.
3) Hard to get anyone to buy into the notion that Highland may be the most improved team in Tri State Football until they actually won a game this season, but the Cougars obliged my theory this week with a stunning 34-20 win over Mark Twain to mark the happiest homecoming in Ewing in a long time. Saw trace elements of this in the team's perfomance at the Hannibal Jamboree but clearly Kenny Grubb's kids are figuring this thing out more and more with each passing week. This is the team no one wants to draw first week of Districts. And I fully contend that if Chris Sparks played on a higher profile/more traditionally successful team: he'd be a no-brainer nominee for All State honors.
4) Wondering aloud what kind of week this has been for First Year Centralia Athletic Director Matt Smith. You remember Matt, right? The svenghali who coached Clark County to its first ever State Football Championship??
5) West Hancock's loss to Sherrard was fatal last Saturday, knocking the upstart Titans completely out of Playoff Contention. You can slide Quincy High and Jacksonville, two much celebrated area teams preseason, onto the Endangered Species list. Quincy High has to win out against a slate of East Moline, Galesburg, and Par Pitts coached Troy Buchannan to get to 5-4. The Crimsons have to win at least two of their last three to have a prayer of getting into the dance against a slate that includes two highly regarded 5-1 teams in Rochester and Breese Mater Dei.
6) Very real possibility that Trevor Roth could return to the Keokuk Offensive Backfield this week. I am told he's ahead of schedule on recovery from a high ankle sprain. By the same token, with Matt Nye coming off a 240 yard, 2 Touchdown outing last week, Doug Dodds may well buy his bruising big man a little extra rest if the situation dictates he can get away with it.
6) Your top Tri State Fantasy Football plays this week? Any member of the Knox County or Macomb Running Back stables are a good place to start. Very favorable draws for each. Or pick your favorite Louisiana Bulldog or Monroe City skill position guy because neither team's defense has been very good. That said, I am told that terrific Panther Lineman Brenden Williams could make his 2012 season debut on Friday and if that happens, Monroe City gets a huge bump on both sides of the ball. Got a funny feeling that Brock Butler rebounds from the Clark County debacle and gives Brookfield all it can handle. My top pick here, however, may be an angry Derek Schone. Don't envy Routt the job of tying to stop him Thursday.
WEEK SEVEN FEARLESS PREDICTIONS
Last Week: 12 of 16 (75%)
Season to Date: 87 of 104 (83.6%)
QUINCY HIGH 28
EAST MOLINE 7
PEORIA MANUAL 0
BROWN COUNTY 24
ILLINI WEST 36
WEST HANCOCK 31
CLARK COUNTY 22
SOUTH SHELBY 21
MONROE CITY 30
KNOX COUNTY 31
The Tri State's top football "free agent" is now spoken for. Per Jacksonville Head Coach Mark Grounds, Crimson Tight End Dalton Keene has given his verbal commitment to Illinois State; opting for the Redbirds over a handful of Bigger Division One Schools that had offered him. Spoke with Dalton's family prior to his commitment and got the feeling that they had tired of some of the dragging of feet that had gone on with the BCS Schools who were in on Dalton. ISU also will look initially at Dalton at Tight End. Some of the others involved in his recruitment projected Dalton as a Defensive Lineman coming in.
A Family Source tells KHQA that SEMO and Northwest Missouri State are among the schools that have stepped up their recruitment in recent weeks of Palmyra Defensive Lineman Bobby Gruenloh.
One week after winning Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Week honors, Simpson College Wide Receiver and Central Lee alum Brad Vogel as back at it again with 7 receptions for 202 yards and a 76 yard touchdown in a win over Wartburg. Brad is currently sixth in all of Division Three Football with 524 receiving yards.
At 385.7 yards of Total Offense per game so far this season, Illinois College Quarterback Michael Bates is your national Division Three leader in that category. The Blueboys are also the nation's most prolific Division Three Offense in averaging a little better than 605 yards of total offense per game this season. Whittier College is currently second on that list, at 566 yards per contest.
As we intimated here last week, Jacksonville native Nick Lonergan got his first collegiate start for Quincy University at Quarterback last Saturday and three three second half touchdown passes to rally the Hawks from a 21-0 deficit at Saint Joseph's. His comeback heroics were curtailed by his only interception of the game during the first session of Overtime. Lonergan is expected to start again Saturday night when the Hawks host Saint Ambrose at Flinn Stadium at 7:00pm
Former Quincy Gems Manager (2000-2001) and nine year assistant at the University of Iowa, Ryan Brownlee has been hired as the new head Baseball Coach at Western Illinois University. He will be formally introduced at a Press Conference on Thursday.
For the first time in program history, the Macomb Lady Bomber Golf Team is a regional champion. The Bombers advanced to Sectional Play thanks to a pair of top three individual showings from Regional Medalist Allison Torrance and third place finisher Hailea Hadsall.
The Quincy High Volleyball team suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday at the loaded Belleville East Tournament to Incarnate Word. The Blue Devils bounced back to win out the rest of the weekend and post a third place finish. Super setter India Green was named to the All Tournament Team for her efforts.
The Mark Twain Softball team set a new school record for Single Season wins this week with its 15th win of the year on Monday.
Lots of big things happening for former Van-Far High School Basketball Superstar and Two-Time KHQA Player of the Year Mike Smith. After a year spent playing professionally in Europe, Mike tells KHQA that his new agent has him earmarked for a stint this year playing state-side in the NBA Developmental League. Mike is also just got engaged to former Knox County Softball star Katie McMahon. Our congratulations on all fronts.