Destroyers of the Soft Life (Duerrisms for Week of October 6th)
Happy October Everybody. Welcome to my favorite “Sports Month” on the calendar. Like March Madness, only with oodles and oodles of meaningful football. And welcome to DUERRISMS. Thanks as ever to our good friends at SLEEP TIGHT for making this column possible. And thanks to you for taking time out of your schedules to read about local sports and local kids.
Reminded this week, largely by the tragic loss death of Harrisburg teacher Brian Simpson (and the support our Northeast Community Schools have demonstrated for that grieving community) as well as the incredibly cool Homecoming King and Queen Ceremony at Monroe City on Friday just how blessed and lucky I am to have happened into a job here in the Tri-States some twenty-two years ago. There is no substitute in this world for caring, kind, compassionate people and we seem to blessed with those in abundance here. I’ve lived a couple of different places in my life and you’d be hard pressed to find better people than the ones who lived among us. It’s a blessing we too often take for granted; but one I am acutely cognizant of this week. Can’t thank you all enough for the pleasure and honor it has been to work among you and watch your kids grow up through sports.
Busy week ahead for us here in the KHQA Sports Department. We finally get to ramp up Student Athlete of the Week (SAW) and start our Wednesday 6pm features on the best and brightest High School Seniors in the Tri-States. If you are reading this, it is not too late to nominate a deserving candidate for that honor. Do know however, that we have already settled on our first dozen SAW features and that we won’t actually discuss any new candidates for inclusion in the process again until after the New Year. We had easily our most robust group of initial candidates in the dozen years this program has existed. Our committee had more than 40 qualified applicants to consider and whittle down to just an initial 12 honorees and the hold over group of initial nominees is good enough on its own merit to produce a quality cast of all 36 2017/2018 SAW honorees even if we don’t get another application all year. Really proud of you all and enthused that you did such a fantastic job getting deserving kids into the process. (Heck, we had a nominee from every single school in Southeast Iowa and I don’t know that we’ve ever enjoyed that kind of enthusiastic support from the entirety of that region of the Tri-States before, so a shout out to those Athletic Directors and Administrations for celebrating their kids.) That said, we still have a handful of schools who haven’t submitted a single nominee yet . And we’d love to see every school in our area represented this year during the SAW Process. There is always room for great candidates and there is nothing in the world I enjoy more in this job than celebrating the great young people among us who are the future of our region. So get us those nominations before January 5th so you can force our committee to engage in more impassioned discussions and debate over the young men and women to celebrate. We want to make this process as difficult as possible for those gentlemen and you are already off to a fine start.
We’ve made a fine capital improvement here at KHQA with a brand new phone system, for those coaches and administrators who call and leave scores for us on a nightly basis. I know the old system was kind of a hassle but if you call us at (217) 222-6206 these days, you will find a far easier system to navigate and get your scores to us in the sports department. If face, I now get an e-mail with the contents of your phone message, which is even cooler/easier for ths purpose of getting scores into our system. And as always, feel free to call or text me at (217) 779-7295 on my cell phone if you need to get me anything directly or feel more comfortable with a more personal exchange of information. I may not pick up initially as I am typically driving at all hours of the day (and often through Cell Phone Reception Purgatory) but I will get your message, story idea there most immediately and directly.
A note on social media: your likes and retweets of stories we do have become my barometer of what resonates and what doesn’t with our coverage of local sports. Case in point, we did a story last week on MacMurray Football, which is just beyond the fringe of our coverage area as a TV Station, and yet it received some of the most enthusiastic response on-line of any story we’ve done this Fall. And thusly, we’ve discovered that we need to do more to feed that enthusiastic and underfed part of viewership with more Highland Football information. Bottom line, if you see something you like (or don’t) on our Website or through Twitter/Facebook, you get a vote as to what works and what doesn’t. And we get a read on your interests or lack thereof and can better tailor our coverage to fit your needs. You folks wondering why I do so much Cross Country coverage or why over the years we have repeatedly tried hard to put Clopton or Macon or Holy Trinity coverage on our air over the years now have your answer. Every time I do one of those stories, they explode on our website. And like you fine folks, I have bosses to serve and keep happy. So there’s your clue on just how to shape the coverage you see. And as always, if there is something you don’t like or don’t agree with, you can again call my cell phone (listed above) or e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know. Or simply, you can passively even not like or favorite something we do and we will know that story did not resonate with you. And we will move on to better trying to find ones that do.
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 35 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. 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.
2018 KHQA SAW Honorees
Week One-SIERRA ERKE, Quincy High 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)
SEVEN THOUGHTS FOR A NEW WEEK
1)Ten solo tackles. Eighteen assists. Two and half stops for loss. A school record tying 28 tackles overall against a Nationally Ranked, undefeated opponent matching the WIU high water mark set in 1993 by former New England Patriots star Rodney Harrison. If that doesn’t quantify just how special a Linebacker talent Brett Taylor is, I don’t know what does. From even his earliest days at Macomb High School to his YouTube Sensation moment jumping over Offensive Linemen to his All American days now as a Leatherneck, I am hard pressed to ever remember a harder working, better defensive Football player that I have covered. He over-delivers on expectation at every single turn. And I am an ardent believer in the power of over-delivering to expectation in every walk of life, as anyone who has ever heard my Five Guys Burger speech can attest. Brett has maximized his natural talent by working at every turn to become the best version of himself he could be, dismissing the disbelief of those who thought he might have been “too this/not enough of that” to play Power Five Conference NCAA Football and turning himself into a legitimate NFL prospect and most probably the best FCS Defensive Player in the Country, when all is said and done. He’s the Tri-State’s version of JJ Watt in that respect; overcoming lack of “recruiting stars” to become an irrepressible force of nature tackler. And like we assume of Watt, Brett Taylor is a terrific young man way from the field. Someone you’d feel proud to hear your son say: Brett’s is my favorite player. And anyone who has crossed his path over the years can attest to this. If you want to be a successful football player, my friends, model yourself after Western Illinois’ finest. You’ll have to absolutely work your butt off. But I can’t think of a finer example of the power of self-belief and dedication to craft.
2)Rickey Henderson hit a Major League Record 81 home runs in his career to lead off game. In honor of such a feat (and not surprisingly if you know anything at all about the man’s unique and colorful personality/ego) the very act of hitting a home run to open a game became known as “A Rickey” when I was growing up. So can we now similarly ascribe the same designation to football; that opening a game with a touchdown run should be from now and into perpetuity be known in these parts as “Pulling a Jirehl” or perhaps a “Brocky” I am still working with the proper phrase and nuance of it all, but the very notion that a kid can come out and twice in three weeks rip off an 80 yard run on the first play from scrimmage is just one more reminder of how special this Quincy High Running Back era has become. It seems like we could simply just put out a Sensational Seven of Jirehl alone every week. And as impressive as the Jirehl/Viral hit against Rocky was a week ago, making three different Alleman tacklers look silly in the space of about six yards with no blockers around him has to rank pretty highly on the Career Resume hit list as well. We had this discussion Friday in our Sports Department: Jirehl is already on the list of maybe five athletes I covered that I think I will someday tell my grandchildren about. He may fast be Number One by the time his Junior Year is over. And for fun, I just keep reminding myself we get another year and half of this to cover; that he is actually going to get better relative to the competition. Good Night, what a treat for everyone in Tri-States to get to watch this young man. And if you haven’t yet: what the heck are you waiting for???
3)We’ve taken to calling Fiker Rosen “The Jirehl Brock of Cross Country” and while you won’t see much of the Junior High School Sensation in the TV highlight reels until he actually reaches High School, just know that when he gets to that level, he’s going to likely dominate his sport in a way this area hasn’t seen since maybe Kaitlyn Bastert. I caught Fiker in action on Saturday at the Tom Oakley Invitational at Bob Mays Park and the kid scorched the two mile coarse in a time of 10:16, at a 5:08 mile pace. He finished 55 seconds earlier that his next closest competitor. To put a finer point on just how advanced this young man is, your varsity winner of the Oakley was Illini West’s Jacob Bryan, who has monopolized the local running headlines this Fall. When Jacob was in the eighth grade, he ran the Oakley course in 12:01. Fiker is almost 1:45 faster at the same stages of their careers. Rosen has already won an IESA 2A State Title. He’ll likely have his second within the fortnight. I know Cross Country isn’t on everybody’s radar but just know that, to steal a phrase from House Stark, Fiker is Coming.
4)A tip of the cap this week to especially Eric Stratman but Matt Longo as well, whose work on the Go 4 The Goal Fall Soccer Classic in Burlington, Iowa has given our area a truly extraordinary in-season event. I got to spend two days at the event watching Quincy High and Quincy Notre Dame play outside their traditional comfort zones and against some of the best teams in the Nation and it was glorious. I know Quincy High lost and didn’t play particularly well on Thursday, but getting to watch them play against Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin was a memorable event because that was a tremendous opponent with at least three Division One College players and an All American level keeper named Elian Haddock who was worth the price of admission alone. I spent some time on Friday morning talking with parents from Washburn Rural, who were some incredibly fine folks, who talked about just what a great opportunity it was for their kids (in spite of the long drive) to come over every year and play in this shindig against elite foes to tune up for their own personal postseason. How nice it was to see someone other than the ten opponents they always see. Interestingly, the three Soccer Dads I talked with all made the same point, that through Eric’s events, the Washburn Rural kids have struck up a fine rivalry with the Blue Devils two states away as they now play them every year in Stratman’s Summer Tournaments. It’s a pretty special deal. And Burlington could not be a more hospitable host. That Soccer complex is wonderful. It keep 38 teams from as far away as Nevada, Colorado, and Kentucky in a single site. And after a late night of Soccer finishes Thursday, I showed up to find that the fields had all been mown before the 9:30 starts on Friday. Clearly the folks in Burlington take a ton of pride in providing their quests a top notch soccer experience, and it shows. Stratman is also the driving force behind organizing the Quincy High Basketball Shootout this January. If his Soccer Soiree this weekend is any indication, basketball fans are in for quite an top notch show as well this Winter. Job well done, gents
5)SLEEP TIGHT SLEEPER OF THE WEEK: It’s not easy to ping radar when you are a running back handcuffed to an offense that boasts one of the best pass/catch combos in Tri-State Football. And obviously, this region isn’t huring for terrific backs this season. Don’t let that in any way diminish what JAYDAN PAYNE means to the Scotland County Offense, or how good he has been to date. Friday’s statement win over Knox County was largely hewn by Jaydan’s feet, the perfect mix of burst and power to deal with a Knox County Front Seven that doesn’t lack for physicality. Payne rose to the occasion with 93 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns to help pave the way to the Tigers 28-6 victory. Scotland County Head Coach Troy Carper told me preseason just what high expectations he had for this kid and we are starting to see that become a wonderful compliment to help shift some of the defensive focus off of Will Fromm in balancing the offense. Payne is one of those rare kids who hit the running lanes with fury and fearlessness. He’s not a wiggle and juke guy. Jayden is more of an economy of motion runner who accelerates to daylight nicely…and who will trample those who get in his way in the process. There’s a bright future on the horizon for Jaydan as he will likely become more of a traditional feature back next year as a Senior. So the future forecast for Tiger Opponents very much calls for Payne. In the immediate, however, don’t sleep on this young man and the nice story that is brewing in Memphis after a tough start to the year.
6) MY FAVORITE THINGS IN THE WORLD, AT LEAST FOR THIS WEEK: The Central Lee “Walk Off Safety” to beat Eddysville/Blakesburg and avoid overtime. “He went to Jarom” Palmyra touchdown calls. Brooke Wilson walking around Palmyra with graphic photos of her hand injury after the freak encounter with Laken Hugenberg’s cleats. Brooke Wilson also playing a game 48 hours later and collecting two hits. The Family Bragging Rights dynamic between Bowling Green Catcher Gabi Deters and her Cousin Pitcher Harper Thomsen in the North Callaway/Bowling Green Softball Rivalry. Conner Bross rocking the "Territorial Fuscia" Regional Pants, ala Tiger Wood's wearing Red on Sundays in his heyday. The looming prospect in December of getting to scratch the Army/Navy Game off my bucket list thanks to the great Jack Lucie. Moses Sumney’s Falsetto. Shrimp Tacos from the Lonchera Arandas Taco Truck.
7) Repeat after me: Sports and passion for them is not an excuse, enablement, or in any way justification for hurling torrents of abuse at the men and women who volunteer to officiate them at the high school level. I am not sure why this ever became a socially acceptable norm or in any way tolerated in our society but it needs to stop. Control yourselves. Be adults. Your misdirected passion does not in any way make you a better fan than someone else. Making a spectacle of yourself over blown calls is not acceptable. It debases not only you but your school and community. And we in the stands who stand idly by and say nothing to these morons who cross the lines only give them tacit approval to continue to ruin all our reputations by association. Calls are going to go against you. Officials are going to miss them. It’s okay for you to be disappointed by those instances. Spoiler alert: it’s going to happen in just about every game you watch. We had an incident at a game this past Friday where a “fan” allegedly took to hurling racial slurs at a volunteer official who was taking time out of his life and away from his family to help that same “fans” kid have a high school sports experience. You think that poor man is rethinking that decision to give officiating a go? That it might be a fun way to stay in shape and stay around sports?? And he gets called the N-Word by some despicable excuse for a human being who now becomes the face and reputation of an entire high school fan base because of his actions That is, of course, a rare and extreme example and I would hope the high school in question would ban said racist from attending any sports event for life. But the bar doesn’t necessarily have to dip that low for the atmosphere for you to be in the wrong abusing your neighbor who wants to do right by High School kids. And we wonder why there is such a shortage of people who volunteer to officiate games. Think before you shoot of your mouth. If some of these people ever heard the ignorance (most of your sports complaints I hear from the sidelines are embarrassingly ignorant of the sport which you ascribe to be a fan of) or venom of what came out of their own mouths, they might learn to better couch their reactions. And some are just too ill-mannered to care. But you should care because they all reflect on you as a fan base and the way you are viewed as a community. And all it takes from you is a simple “come on, man” to the loud mouth in question or a word to the administrator on site to clean up and modify this behavior. Let’s be better sports fans, people.
THE MAGNIFIENT SEVEN FOR WEEK FIVE
7) ADAM ROONEY, RB, Central Lee
21 Carries, 115 Yards, 2 TD vs Eddyville/Blakesburg
6)CODY MCKENZIE, RB, South Shelby
8 Carries, 140 Yards, 4 TD vs Highland
5) COLE WILLIAMS, RB, Central
15 Carries, 174 Yards, TD vs Unity/Payson
4)BRADY O’HARA, RB/LB, Beardstown
6 Carries, 104 Yards, 3 TD vs Routt Catholic
3)JIREHL BROCK, RB, Quincy High
18 Carries, 218 Yards, 4 TD vs Alleman
2)JAROM ALEXANDER, RB, Palmyra
20 Carries, 221 Yards, 2 TD vs Centralia
1)JACKSON CONNELL, RB/LB, QND
8 Carries, 89 Yards; 43 Yard Touchdown Reception; 42 Yard Pick Six Interception; Fumble Recovery in the End Zone vs Mater Dei
KHQA/SLEEP TIGHT PLAYER OF THE WEEK (AS VOTED BY YOU THE FANS ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE
DARIAN DRAKE, Brown County
Rationale: You can’t fairly pin all of Brown County’s outlier grit, determination and volition on a single player. But I would be remising if I didn’t at least point out that no single Brown County Hornet more personally embodies those characteristics than Senior Fullback/Linebacker Darian Drake. And he was, as our voters rightly pointed out this week, the engine that drove BC past a tough Triopia club when it mattered most. He scored three touchdowns against the Trojan, two of them in the pivotal second half and rolled up 88 rushing yards in the offing. He also, as ever, set the tone for this Defense with his unrelenting fervor to the football. Hard to imagine a more confidence inducing, inspirational leader to play around and Darian spearheaded a charge Friday that limited a very explosive Trojan club to under 200 yards of total offense. He is just, in so many ways, the center of gravity for one of the three best teams in Tri-State Football. And as such, he’s kind of become Alex Ebbing 2.0 along the way. Outsized production in a bit of an undersized package. Play making ability when it matters most. And a set of legs that just never stop churning. He’s a top notch kid by every metric and there’s no way this team is still undefeated without him.
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)
KHQA POWER POLL FOR WEEK EIGHT
1)WEST HANCOCK (6-0)
Last Week: 68-20 win over Macomb
Up Next: vs South Beloit (Saturday)
BOMBING AN EXAM: Anyone else remember a time when Macomb was that one vexing stumbling block that had West Hancock’s number? Those days are clearly long gone as the Titans roared Friday in smothering the Bombers and eliminating them from playoff consideration with a 48 point margin of victory. That West Hancock Offensive Line earned its supper by putting three different Running Backs over the century mark. Bryce Wilson had 129 yards and three touchdowns on just six totes. Riley Langford had 114 yards and two scores on a half dozen touches. And Chase Hartweg averaged 51 yards per carry, scoring on both of his running plays while bloating his resume with another 102 rushing yards on the night. Bryce Buckert hooked up with Quinn Dupree on a scoring strike. And basically the Titan Offense did whatever it wanted to an opponent that was powerless to stop them. Defensively, Ryan Adams led the brigade with 10 tackles. Chase Hartweg posted two tackles for loss. And the Titans ripped away four interceptions, none of them amazingly enough by Riley Langford. Dominance doesn’t come any cleaner or clearer than that. And the end game probably won’t look a whole lot different on Saturday afternoon when a struggling South Beloit squad treks to Hancock County to take its lumps. After that, however, Travis Cook’s crew has some really heavy lifting to do in advance of the playoffs against a pair of quality opponents in Ottawa Marquette and Bismark-Henning that are a combined 10-2 on the season.
2)MONROE CITY (7-0)
Last Week: 54-0 win over Paris
Up Next: at Centralia
THE CHASE IS ON: Friday’s showdown with Paris had all the typical earmarks of being “the game before the game.” Or in Monroe City’s case, game before “the games” plural. The Panthers weren’t particulary sharp on offense for an opponent they were heavily favored to beat. David Kirby had a handful of guys out of the lineup, trying to get healed up in advance of the Centralia/Palmrya double dip that will ultimately crown a Clarence Cannon Conference Champion. (Jonathon Saxbury walked over to me in Street Clothes before kick-off to say hello and told me essentially he wouldn’t miss next week’s game with Centralia even if his shoulder was falling off) And to their credit, the over-matched Paris Coyotes (all 18 of them) put up nice fight in the first quarter. Devin Brandl’s monster hit on Blake Hays. Trenton Morgan’s forced fumble. Breck Hancock just generally being the unblockable Breck Hancock. The Panthers took just three plays to score on their first drive. Paris adjusted a bit defensively, forced a turnover, and kept Monroe out of the end zone the rest of the first quarter. It didn’t hurt the Coyotes either that Monroe City had a rare drop in the end zone from the Wide Receiver with the best hands in the Conference, either. Again, any other week Dawson Shively makes that catch. In a pressure situation against Palmyra or Centralia, he probably makes in triple coverage. He certainly made up for it with one of the best blocks by a Wide Receiver we’ve seen this year in a prior series, but again, I just think Monroe was a little flat to open for this game given what is ahead. Human nature, I suppose. And to his credit, Coach Kirby got his kids re-engaged by the second quarter. The sluggishness went away and Monroe was able to do some fine tuning, especially on the Offensive Line with kids who were pressed into more prominent roles (against a good Linebacker like Hancock too, which was probably an invaluable teaching tool) and who may be needed down the road if injuries crop up again. A Cole Pennewell plunge into the end zone on the first play of the second quarter seemed to be the wake up moment for the Panthers and they spent the rest of the second quarter looking more themselves. Defensively, even without some missing pieces, I like what I saw from Monroe from the jump. I don’t know that I have talked about it enough, but the most unsung asset this Monroe team may have is the quality of its collective tackling. These guys as a whole are very technical as tacklers, which in this day and age of shimmy tackling drills and limited contact during practice seems to have become a lost art. Sure, Cole Pennewell is an All State caliber Linebacker and he’s really good to the football, but the thing I noticed Friday is that the vibe isn’t necessarily carried on this defense by any one guy. The Panthers get a lot of hats to the ball, constantly. And this is a team that makes first contact count. You don’t see a lot of yards after contact. I think that serves them well against both Centralia and Palmyra, for different reasons. Centralia, absent Tyler Dorman, is going to have to get to the edge to do damage. Owens and Davenport are tough kids, but they aren’t going to find much daylight inside on this unit. And getting to the edge on Monroe, given the way their secondary flies up, is a hard bargain. So much of Centralia’s hopes this week are going to be pinned on getting Gus Stidham established inside and no one yet has been able to do that on Monroe because again, this defense meshes so well and blots out daylight between the tackles with bodies. Palmyra, especially if this Jarom Alexander vibe becomes a trend, would seem to match up better with Monroe’s defense because it now has two backs who can pound the ball from tackle to tackle and because Peyton Plunkett would test Monroe at a level inside it has seen. Moreover, Jacob Kroeger matters a ton here because athletic, multi-dimensional Quarterbacks have been the only real kryptonite Monroe’s defense has seen this season (see also London Brunk,) The counterpoint however, is that Palmyra is smallish up front and I am not sure how well that works against Monroe’s Defensive Front. Palmyra’s offensive line looked sensational in the second half on Friday against Centralia, as good as I have seen them at any point this year. But Monroe City is a much more imposing team up front than Centralia was (No idea what was up with Centralia’s Defensive Front first half vs second on Friday, but man the Panthers in black did not and could not get off Palmyra blocks in that third quarter Friday and that is not something I am accustomed to seeing from a CHS Defense at all) and more in line with the Macon profile that gave P-Town’s blockers absolute fits in Week One. Point blank, I think Monroe City is the favorite in both of these games. Not that it means anything, but I think if the Panthers play to their ability and avoid self-inflicted mistakes, these guys at Max-Q are the best team in the Cannon. Again, the variable is 16-18 year old young men and how they perform on a given night, which is a huge X-factor in every game. Still, if Monroe plays well, I am not sure anyone can stop them from winning the Conference. Or maybe any other goal on their hit list either.
DUERR ASIDE: How cool is it that Chase Buckman got to live out the ultimate dream for Monroe City on Friday Night as both Homecoming King and Touchdown Hero? I’ve seen that kid on the sidelines and at practice for the last few years dutifully serving as team manager and making himself a vital part of the framework of the success of this team, even if he never created a single football “stat” until this week. He’s living a life without limitation and you can just tell how much he loves being around the guys and how much he is valued. The coaching staff engages him at every turn, even in intense practices. And Friday he got rewarded for all of his efforts by getting to score a 39 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of a long decided game. You can see the video in OVERTIME and just how cool it was that every kid on the field, Panther and Coyote alike, showed him love after his end zone visit. What a classy moment for two communities and one outstanding young man. Hard not to be proud of Chase, his teammates, and his Paris opponents on a night like that all showing the true meaning of Class. Way to go, Chase and that was my favorite touchdown of the season so far, hands down.
3)BROWN COUNTY (6-0)
Last Week: 34-20 win over Triopia
Up Next: at Central
STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE: All they do is find a way to win. The words we typed here last week proved prophetic. Brown County doesn’t flinch in pressure situations. And the Hornets pounce and take advantage when you do. Give Triopia credit. They stalemated the Hornets at their own house in the first half. Then unraveled a bit after a fancy looking Joe Hendricker to Devin Tynan TD netted BC its first lead of the night. Triopia made a run back at the Hornets and closed the gap to a single score at 26-20 on a Michael Burns TD rumble. This Brown County squad, however, has learned its lesson from the near disaster against Beardstown and closed effectively by relentlessly moving the chains and feeding the football to guys who excel when the pressure is on. When BC is doing things right on offense, it’s almost like death by a thousand cuts for their opponents. There’s generally not anything flashy or spectacular about what they do. They just play keep away and dictate the pace and structure of the game in a manner you are powerless to effect. There’s almost an inevitability about it. They aren’t going to hurt themselves. And you are pretty much guaranteed to concede them 3-5 rushing yards a play. A time honored Tom Little m.o. There may be no tougher team in our area to play catch up against. Give the Hornet Defense a lot of credit here. Triopia’s Offensive Weapons are considerable. Zach Thompson and Michael Burns are threats to go from anywhere on the field. Shawn Bell adds a nice dimension at Quarterback. And BC’s defenders just kind of slowly deprived the Trojans of the oxygen needed to kindle the offense into what it has been on its better nights. And if they can replicate that scenario against Central, BC will be your WIVC North Champs. I tend to think it’s a little tougher go of things this week. Central clearly has more size up front than Triopia and as good as Jared Hoots Front Seven has been this season, they haven’t really seen a team that can mash like this other than Beardstown. You may remember that the Tigers didn’t have Pascal Guilavogui that night. Central will most certainly have Cole Williams. Not to mention that plethora of contributing cast members that makes the Game of Thrones Ensemble look small in scope by compare. Panther Offensive Coordinator Casey Rhea understands the BC defense better than anyone and he understands he has the ability to try and wither it away between the combination of Beefy Lineman and a constantly revolving wheel of fresh legged backs with which to attack. The strategy plot points in this one are as good as they come, a game of high level chess that will likely hinge on one or two assignments that either get executed in the moment…or don’t. The line is that thin. I’d tell you to expect a tight finish but that almost goes without saying in the North anymore. BC would love to close out a perfect run through the North. Central has a chance to spoil it and grab a share. You know where I will be Friday.
4) PALMYRA (6-1)
Last Week: 35-0 win over Centralia
Up Next: vs Brookfield
HE WENT TO JAROM: I still think West Hancock’s road win at Miller Career Academy is the most impressive victory any area team has posted this season. What Palmyra did to Centralia on Friday, and specifically in a seminal third quarter, ranks as a close second. Regardless of which way you were leaning in predicting this game (and there were valid arguments to be made on behalf of both squads given what they had done in the prior six weeks) I don’t think anyone projected one-side blowout as a potential net result either way. For the first half, anyway, Centralia/Palmyra was exactly the game we thought it would be. I opted to start my night at Monroe City. I justified that choice to Nico by saying that all Palmyra/Centralia games are generally low scoring defensive slugfests decided by fourth quarter touchdown and that in probably behooved me more to be in the Flower City at the end of the game more than it did at the beginning. And the first half of this game played out exactly how I described it: two great defenses forcing a whole bunch of three-and-outs and essentially one long run (Peyton Plunkett’s 29 yarder) providing the 7-0 margin in a warp speed first half. I actually got to Palmyra just in time for the last minute of the first half, as Palmyra was trying to drive into field goal range. I was immediately struck by the fact that Kevin Miles team was lined up in the I-Formation, a complete departure from their usual spread/one-back look. More immediately I was struck, based on what I was seeing the game I had heard on my radio driving over, by the way Palmyra’s offensive linemen were getting off the football and picking off Macon defenders in pushing the ball into the red zone. Centralia blocked Noah Mencer’s Field Goal attempt to end the half but I thought, based on what I saw from the P-Town line, that they probably had another potential score in them somewhere. I did not expect to see Palmyra come out in the third quarter and drop 21 points and so thoroughly dominate the point of attack. Jarom Alexander had a marvelous return to kick start the frame, than busted off a huge run down the Palmyra sideline that was further augmented by a Centralia Face Mask penalty. This was a kid with six carries coming in to this game, who all of sudden had become the epicenter of the Panther Offense in a blink. Peyton Plunkett dove in from four yards out to make it a two score game. The Palmyra Panther Defense delivered a turnover on downs, popping the ball away from Trey Owens on 4th and 1 and Alexander went to work, with a 37 yard touchdown. He added a 32 yard scoring scamper after a Jacob Kroeger Interception to cap off a stellar 221 rushing night. Alexander was flat eating. He’s a tall, deceptively fast kid with a great stiff arm and strong upper body strength. Tackling Alexander high is about as much a fool’s errand as trying to do same to Plunkett. What stands out even more about Jarom, however, is his great use of hesitation during his longer runs. The start/stop on a dime stuff that left Centralia defenders flailing at him and Jarom running through arm tackles. And as previously mentioned, Palmyra’s Offensive Line did a magnificent job getting on blocks and staying on them in that third quarter. And if Peyton Plunkett is now officially a fullback, he might be the best blocker of that ilk in our region. Peyton put those long arms to good use engulfing and manhandling Centralia’s Speed Linebackers, giving Alexander easy corners to turn. Plunkett is the equivalent of having an extra guard to employ and clearly that paid huge dividends. And while we were all marveling at Alexander’s star turn, we very quietly missed the fact that Marty Smyser’s Defense not only shut out a state ranked team, but held the Panthers to just 144 yards of total offense and forced them into three turnovers. Clearly, the absence of Tyler Dorman hurt Centralia there but more than anything, Palmyra just pure out-quicked their Panther foes on that side of the ball. Brady Barnett and Peyton Plunkett got a lot of free run to the football, due to the efforts of the guys in front of them. From my vantage point, I thought Michael Frankenbach had a nice night. And I thought Gabe Goodwin never once got blocked in this game. His was an All State level performance against the Panthers and one that I think will cause a lot of consternation in the Centralia film room this week. So there you have your answer: Palmyra’s win streak is very much legit and this is in no way the same team it was in Week One. And for all the hand wringing we did over that performance against Macon, these guys still hold their own Conference Championship fate in their own hands. Beat Brookfield and Monroe City and we are looking at team that might well be around a long time in the Postseason March. Again. Kevin Miles Football, my friends.
5) BEARDSTOWN (4-2)
Last Week: 48-9 win over Routt
Up Next: at Triopia
RIDDLE ME THIS: The Routt Rocket Secondary limited Beardstown to just one pass completion in five attempts on Friday. Seems positive, no? The dark cloud to that silver lining is that Ike Riddle’s lone completion went for a school record 99 yard touchdown to Bill Cramblitt. Well, that and the fact that the mighty Tiger Offensive Line paved the way for Beardstown to run roughshod for 409 yards as well. And therein lies the rub of it all. Robbi Howard’s team is a dangerous proposition these days. Who do you try and take away? The Stripes scored nearly 50 points on Friday and didn’t get explosive Receiver DJ McWilliams a single touch. Pick your poison here. Pascal Guilavogui rolled up 131 rushing yards and a touchdown on just six carries. Brady O’Hara scored on half of his six totes and also rolled the odometer over the century mark with 104 yards. Drake Wrobleski had 88 on the ground and a score as well. Chad Grimm chimed in with another 44 yards and Mister Riddle added a rushing touchdown as well. It’s just what these guys do. And if they can continue to do so for the next three games (none of which come against opponents with a winning record) Beardstown has a very good chance at hosting a playoff game. The Triopia Road Trip this week looms largest among the remaining squad, against a dangerous Trojan squad that can score in bunches, Not to mention that Rich Thompson’s crew is essentially playing for its playoff lives right now with a 3-3 record and a cross over game with Calhoun on the slate. By the same token, this is also a head to head battle between the biggest and smallest lines in the Conference and Beardstown holds all that advantages in that department. Triopia’s inability to defend the field consistently would seem to be a bad omen against a Beardstown Squad that leads the WIVC North with 218 points scored this Fall.
THE NEXT LEVEL
6) QUINCY HIGH (4-2)
Nothing like a four game win streak to put some shine back on the scenario. By virtue of their most complete win of the season (and best defensive effort this year in assignment footballing the bejeezus out of the Alleman Option) the once 0-2 Blue Devils have positioned themselves nicely for back-to-back Western Big Six Conference Titles. Jirehl Brock did his thing, as per usual. Much of the buzz I heard from this game however was about the spirited play of Linebacker Mason Cannady helping to sharpen the overall tone and tenor of the QHS Defense. That unit has collectively made a quantum leap forward from where it was just four weeks ago. And that more than anything is why the Blue Devils have been reinvigorated. And that group will be the dividing line on Friday in hostile climes against a Moline Squad whose own season has mirrored that of the Blue Devils with two early losses and a four game win streak through conference play bringing new light. Moline is no easy place to place. And the Maroons have put up 43 points per game over this impressive run back to relevance.
7) CENTRAL (4-2)
There’s been a lot to like about this Central Squad this season. Growth in the usual Panther touchstones (Linebacker Play, Running Back depth) as well as the quiet emergence of pretty good Offensive Line. But the positives to this point don’t cover two very important realities about CHS at this juncture: the Panthers don’t have red letter win yet and they have struggled to make “the play” in a close out situation. Brown County’s visit provides opportunity to dispel both notions. No team on this list more needs to find that next gear. I suspect it is there and that these Panthers have the weapons and defensive fortitude to beat upper tier teams. Now it’s a matter of going out and do it.
8) CENTRALIA (5-2)
A confounding, befuddling loss for the Panthers who seemed never to answer the halftime bell at Palmyra in a 35-0 shutout loss. Can shine that one up much, it was a bad defeat for a good team. But not necessarily a fatal one. Beat Monroe City this week and CHS can throw the top end of the Cannon into turmoil.
9) CENTRAL LEE (3-3)
Not one you see very often but Eddyville/Blakesburg and Central Lee were tied near the end of regulation at 14 all. E/B was backed up against its own end zone and had disaster befall, fumbling the exchange between Quarterback and Running Back and allowing Skyler Schau to deliver the first ever “Walk-Off Safety” to win a ballgame I can ever remember. Appropriate, I suppose given the overall quality of defense the Hawks played all night long. Adam Rooney led the offensive charge with 115 rushing yards and both touchdowns. Doing the schedule math, Friday’s win was a must have. As is this week’s game against winless Clarke.
10) SCOTLAND COUNTY (4-3)
What a stellar win (and outstanding Defensive Effort) last week for the Tigers in limiting Knox County’s potent attack to just six points and 171 yards of total offense while forcing the Eagles into six giveaways. Gage Dodge had a pair of interceptions and force a pair of fumbles. Mason Kliethermes, for my money one of the most underrated linebackers in our area, had a pick and seven stops. And Jaydan Payne lived up to his name in posting eight stops and fumble recovery. We’ve spent a lot of time praising the growth of the Tiger Offense and going gaga over Will Fromm’s Quarterback talents. Credit where credit is due this week. The Tigers are fast on the ascend here.
11) BWP (4-2)
Two really talented opponents. Two back-down-to earth losses. The question for the Sparclones isn’t what’s in the rearview mirror, but rather how they respond from here after getting punched in the mouth. This team can still secure a home playoff berth by winning out. It still has oodles of ways to attack you and one of the area’s best Offensive Lines to do so behind. Friday is very much a crossroads game for BWP. The Sparclones need to respond big against South Fulton and regain equilibrium/get their swagger back.
12) QND (3-3)
Jackson Connell’s heroics (three touchdowns, including a pick six and a fumble recovery in the end zone) power the Raiders to a must have win in the most hostile of climes. And that’s why he’s gotten so much acclaim and attention from college recruiters. The schedule sets up nicely for Bill Connell’s crew the next two weeks, but the Raiders still have to attend their business because a slip in either game puts them in the unenviable position of having to play and beat Quincy High in Week Nine to stay alive. And the way the Blue Devils are rolling right now, I would not wish that task on anyone.
THE BEST OF THE REST
13) FORT MADISON (3-3)
14) MACON (4-3)
15) HANNIBAL (4-3)
16) TRIOPIA (3-3)
17) CLARK COUNTY (3-4)
18) KNOX COUNTY (4-3)
19) ILLINI WEST (3-3)
20) PLEASANT HILL/WESTERN (2-4)
21) UNITY PAYSON (2-4)
22) SOUTH SHELBY (3-4)
23) BOWLING GREEN (3-4)
24) VAN-FAR (3-4)
25) BROOKFIELD (2-5)
26) PARIS (2-5)
27) CLOPTON/ELSBERRY (2-5)
28) NORTH SHELBY (2-5)
29) WEST CENTRAL (1-5)
30) ROUTT (1-5)
31) MARK TWAIN (1-6)
32) R/I (0-6)
33) MACOMB (1-5)
34) HIGHLAND (0-7)
35) KEOKUK (0-6)
36) JACKSONVILLE (0-6)
37) PITTSFIELD (0-6)
38) LOUISIANA (0-7)
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTIONS’
Last Week: 22 of 25 Correct (88% Accuracy)
Season to Date: 133 of 170 (78.2% Accuracy)
CENTRAL LEE 21
FORT MADISON 30
QUINCY HIGH 32
SOUTH BELOIT 6
WEST HANCOCK 52
BROWN COUNTY 24
ROUTT CATHOLIC 12
SOUTH FULTON 19
ILLINI WEST 28
MONROE CITY 28
SOUTH SHELBY 24
CLARK COUNTY 42
KNOX COUNTY 27
SCOTLAND CO. 27
SCHUYLER CO 18
NORTH CALLAWAY 36
BOWLING GREEN 18
MARK TWAIN 20
SOUTH CALLAWAY 49
NORTH SHELBY 57
What a rough, emotionally charged week both nationally and locally. In that spirit, our deepest condolences and prayers to the Wrieden Family and the extended Keokuk Community after Kirsten’s Wrieden’s tragic death. There’s a special place in heaven for teachers. Deeply saddened for her wonderful family and the tight knit community of teachers in the Keokuk School System that she goes there way too soon. Also, our condolences as well to the Labuary Family. Monroe City Coaching Legend Dale Labuary lost his brother Geary this week, a similarly accomplished high school coach who worked his sideline magic for years in California, Missouri. I got to know Geary a bit over the years through Dale and he was a fine man. He too shall be deeply missed.
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of two players from a losing team sweeping Conference Player of the Week honors on Offense and Defense, but I certainly think the rational for Western Illinois’ Brett Taylor and Jaelon Acklin taking Missouri Valley Conference Plaudits for their statistically ridiculous performances on Saturday is justified. Acklin posted 19 catches for 343 yards and 3 touchdown. New program records for receptions and yards in a game, the latter of which ended up being the fourth highest receiving total in FCS history.
Quincy High product Cooper Bowles notched a pair of Quarterback Sacks in helping MacMurray improve to 5-0 on the season last Saturday at Greenville.
Central Lee alum Ben Rooney had 5 receptions for 38 yards in Ellsworth's Community College's win on Saturday.
The much discussed Payson Seymour/Western Girls Basketball Alliance is officially a go for this winter. Elizabeth Seals, who helped direct Western to a 20 win season last Winter now gets a great talent pool and the needed benefit of depth to graft onto her program, especially at Guard. Do the roster math and this union looks plenty formidable, as fronted by reigning KHQA Player of the Year Blair Borrowman. Could be a very fun Winter in the intersection of Pike and Adams County.
Palmyra’s Kendra Maples and Emmy Griesbaum punched a ticket to the Missouri State Tennis Meet on Tuesday with a 6-0, 6-3 win over St Dominic’s Doubles Squad.
Reis Dreyer fired a 73 in the 2A Regional at Belk Park on Tuesday in helping QND to a runaway team championship and did so while playing with a “knife wound” on his right hand. Okay, that may sound a bit more gangster than it is. Reis had a hunting mishap, but did a real number on his finger; so much so that none of the tricks or medical remedies he tried would stop his finger from bleeding again when he swung the club. I don’t know if we are talking Curt Schilling Territory here, but after watching Reis lash a monster drive on the first hole and then birdie one of the toughest greens on the course (while playing into a head wind out of the South) I am tempted to slit my own index finger on my next round at Westview to see if this is thing.
Speaking of QND Golf, how about 14 year old Alex McCulla winning a Regional Medalist honor as Freshman competing in the biggest event of his high school career to date. The interesting thing is that Alex’s round could not have started more disasterously as he pushed his first drive so far left it flirted with the fence line and street separating the course from the practice facility. He was deep in the soup and surrounded by tries…and yet somehow calmly stepped up a hit about a perfect 170 yard approach to within six feet. Kid’s iron play is amazing, but more so his ability to play out of trouble. He’s going to be awfully special the next four years.
Strikes me as odd that the IHSA would farm out a 3A Golf Regional to a course that apparently in in receivership, but I guess the giant Public Auction Notice outside Clinton Hills Golf Course, where Quincy High won its Title on Tuesday adds a certain, um, atmosphere to the affair. I don't think any of the kids who play the course are particular fans of the gimmicky layout or clearly in need of TLC facilities. Not sure what consistutes the parameters for getting to host a Postseason Golf Event but it would seem to be a very hit or miss endeavor.
A few weeks ago in the column I pushed the notion that Macomb Soccer might be a sleeper program on the uptick. Just a heads up that the Bombers have won eight of their last ten matches. See, I am not as dumb as I look kids.