In Spades (Duerrisms for the Week of October 13th)
This is Duerrisms for the Week of October 13, 2017 and we are presented here for your enjoyment by our faithful patrons at SLEEP TIGHT, who have every solution for your restless nights with locations to serve you in Quincy, Macomb, and The Ville. If you enjoy reading this column as part of your weekly sports ritual, be sure to thank the people who make it possible with your words and your business.
Bittersweet times here around the KHQA Sports Department. Our man Nico Haeflinger, through all of his diligent hard work and tremendous service to the course of Tri-State Sports, has gone and gotten himself promoted. Nico leaves us November 10th to become the new Sports Director at WCCU-TV in Champaign. It’s quite a sizeable promotion for the lad and while we here in the Tri-State’s are losing Nico, the Sinclair Broadcasting Corporation (our parent company) gets to keep that talented devil in the fold and I get to hit Nico up for Gabe Megginson Interviews weekly. So it’s a win for all involved. If you get the chance to see Nico out and about over these last few weeks, be sure to shake his hand in congratulations and thank him for all his fine work on behalf of your kids. Someday, that might even get you a personal tour of ESPN, if you play your cards right. Very proud of him and his accomplishments. I’ve been very blessed over the years to be able to hire some incredibly talented people in this business, so many of whom have gone on to great success in the industry. To a man, they have all worked hard, learned, and bettered themselves and you really can’t ask for more than that. My philosophy has always been to hire great potential, give those kids the freedom to find their way, and to offer small advice along the way. As evidenced by Nico most recently, cream rises to the top. We will miss him and can’t wait to see how his career blossoms at the next level. In the interim. If you can read a teleprompter, give me a holler. I may be in need of your help (and a day off) come mid-November.
By offering up the likes of Sierra Erke and Eli Ten Eyck as the first SAW honors of the year, I know what you are thinking. Duerr is loading up his punches here early to make a statement with such incredible candidates right out of the gate, trying to get our attention. That’s fair based on resume but I swear to you this first dozen honorees has zero fall of in it. In fact, our SAW committee could have reasonably pick all 36 of our honorees out of this first pool of 41 kids and I would have been perfectly satisfied. We’ve gotten six new applications since the first segment on Miss Erke ran Wednesday, however, and I suspect the decisions are going to grow even more difficult as the pool grows. Our committee is very savvy with this first vote, trying to draw as broad a group of representatives as possible. We’ve got an equal number of boys and girls. Representatives from all three states. And we covered a broad swath of different sports (One Soccer, Two Basketball, Two Baseball, Two Volleyball, One Cross Country, One Wrestling, and four football kids) That’s great balance. The vote in January, however, all restrictions are off. If we have six kids from one school who are the most deserving, all six may make it. If all dozen of the next kids come from one region or play the same sport, we rank blindly on merit. So keep sending those resumes and keep making this process hard for our committee (that’s why I pay them the big bucks) and If your favorite High School Senior Achiever didn’t make the first ballot, rest assured their due and proper will be soon at hand.
Join us Saturday at 8:00am at AM 930 WTAD for the MCDONALD’S SATURDAY MORNING TICKET where our special guest will be new Quincy University Mens Basketball Coach Ryan Hellenthal. Plus, an extended wrap up of Monroe City/Palmyra and all of the other Rivalry Week gridiron goings-on. You can access the podcast for the Morning Ticket at WTAD.com. Thanks as always to our friends for your 13th and Broadway for giving us this platform.
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
Week Two-ELI TEN EYCK, Pittsfield Cross Country
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)He first started receiving high caliber Division One College Baseball recruiting interest as an Eight Grader, so I think it’s fair to say Rushville/Industry Sophomore Briar Stinson is more than a little bit precocious as Diamond Talent. He also wasn’t on the recruiting market for very long. Stinson ended all the drama early last Wednesday, announcing on social media his verbal pledge to the University of Kentucky, over a host of suitors that included (most competitively it seems) the University of Missouri. And in so doing, Briar told me he was extremely comfortable with the fit with not only the UK Baseball Staff and Roster, but the Academic Environment which will allow him to excel on that side of the ledger as well. More candidly, Briar also added that the ability to eliminate a distraction (the recruiting process itself) from his life allowed him to focus on the more important task of getting better as a baseball player. The Kentucky Baseball folks seem him as a Centerfielder initially, but hope a looming growth spurt and continued work in the class room make him an ideal candidate in Right Field. If you’ve seen Briar pitch, you know he doesn’t lack for arm strength (or any other of the five tools on the board either, for that matter) He’s a tremendously grounded kid and you could tell even as Ninth Grader playing varsity ball last season (he batted a team high .459 with 3 home runs and 21 RBI in 25 games) that there was a real preternatural maturity and poise to the kid, not unlike watching Joey Polak at QND. They are obviously different type players in construction and body type, but that same serious, unflappable approach is clearly there. As someone who has worked in this market for almost a quarter century now, I find this recent SEC Baseball and Softball recruiting binge a wonderful change (man, SEC Coaches sure love to lock kids in early, don’t they?) from the days when kids like Paul Rice and Jacob Bunten had to fight to get even small school D-1 programs to take a look at their talents. With Canton’s Lance Logsdon (Mizzou), Palmyra’s Nolan Wosman (Arkansas), and Bowling Green Softball’s Gabi Deters and former Calhoun Softball star Grace Baalman paving the path a bit for Stinson’s diamond arrival in Lexington in advance, our region has become a real SEC Cottage Talent Industry. That’s pretty darned cool feather in this region’s (baseball/softball) cap, no?
2) While I was in Schuyler County to interview Briar Stinson on Thursday Morning, a host of Western Illinois High School Athletic Directors including Macomb’s Dave Bartlett, West Hancock’s Travis Cook, Illini West’s Zak Huston, and Pittsfield’s Brad Tomhave all filled through the front doors for an apparent meeting. Rumbles are that it was an exploratory meeting to see if a potentially new conference could be formed from old rivalries that have since been carved up from the Conference Realignment frenzy that has essentially left West Hancock, Macomb and QND now as Football nomads. Was also told, vaguely, that the Macomb folks were encouraged by the first meeting and that there is a subsequent meeting to follow. Beyond that, I know no more than that at this point, but certainly a plot point that bears watching if something arises in the way of an elegant solution the untenable current football climate in the West Central Conference.
3) Looks like Marceline might be the front runner to replace Louisiana within the Clarence Cannon Conferences per multiple sources around that league. From both a geographic and positioning standpoint, that would make sense as well as naturally fold “The Bell Game” into the Conference’s tapestry. Obviously, Marceline’s reputation only further serves to enhance the difficulty of an already difficult league and gives the better teams in the Cannon a far sterner test than It received in recent years from Louisiana. Not sure, that plays as favorably for Highland as it does for the Monroe City, but we will see what shakes. I talked to a source earlier last week who indicated that there rumblings of a potential union with Kirksville. On deeper dig, there was absolutely no traction there whatsoever.
4) As if the Pirates non-conference schedule wasn’t hard enough already, KHQA has learned that Hannibal has a deal in place to play the bellwether program in Missouri High School Football for 2018. Athletic Director Clint Graham has contracted with Jefferson City High School for a game next fall, largely because his program can’t find another team that fits that date to this point. Hannibal does have a gentlemen’s agreement in place with Jeff City that would allow the Pirates to back out of the contract, to a certain date, if a more like-sized opponent can be found. Otherwise the Pirates will be playing the Jays, eight time Missouri State Champions and one of the nation’s most historically successful programs along with Jeff City Helias, Battle, and Bolivar in a murderer’s row of non-conference contests.
5)SLEEP TIGHT SLEEPER OF THE WEEK: In this era of video-game high spread offenses, we sometimes tend to take the throwing skills of the humble Wing-T quarterback for granted. Yet on Saturday, we were reminded again (in a swirling wind, no less) just what West Hancock’s BRYCE BUCKERT brings to the table for his team as a play action passer. His Saturday stats against South Beloit aren’t that shiny, just eighty yards of offense on three completions….until your realize he only threw four passes and ended up with three scoring strikes to show for his efforts. His efficiency and efficacy have been sublime. He’s thrown just one interception all season, in 26 passing attempts, and has not thrown a pick in six straight games now (since the season opener against Putnam County) His QB Rating has been 135 or better in the last four games. He’s the real rub: Bryce is 13 for 26 passing on the season for 476 yards and nine touchdowns. That means that 69% of his completed passes have resulted in touchdowns this season. That is insane production and a big reason why Jim Unruh has no qualms about letting his Quarterback wing the football against opponents who dare to pack the box against the Titans formidable run game. That’s one heck of a weapon for a team already so well healed in other areas of traditional strength.
6)It certainly wasn’t the happy ending they were looking for, but a walk-off eighth inning loss to Mexico in the District Finale on Monday shows great growth in the Hannibal Softball program under Kendra Murphy. For the Lady Pirates to hold a potent Mexico lineup scoreless for seven innings, split between two different pitchers, is quite a step forward in the culture of this program. In fact, Desarae Garcia retired 13 straight Bulldog hitters at one juncture in her relief stint. And while the remaking of the Pirate Offensive Lineup isn’t complete yet (especially with the looming loss of Senior Catalyst Olivia Pfeifer to graduation) Hannibal has shown great forward progress there as well as collective. 14-12 may not sound “groundbreaking” on first blush, but considering how far this program has come back to respectability under Kendra Murphy, it certainly merits a mention among the better Fall coaching jobs turned in around our area.
7)THESE ARE MY VERY FAVORITE THINGS IN THE WORLD…AT LEAST FOR THIS WEEK: The tantalizing prospect of a Payson Seymour/West Prairie State Championship Volleyball showdown. Alana Comstock’s fast-rising rise ball. Trying to figure out what to call “The Chair Game” now that the Chair is off the table for Pete Claas and Jim Newsted. High drama road wins at the UNI Dome. The Gavin Frese Phenomenon, whereby a Number Six Golfer goes low and earns your team passage to a State Golf Tournament. The Lafferty Bowl in Rushville on Friday. The play-calling gamesmanship that makes Brown County/Central Football Games such a compelling football chess match. The compelling Volleyball Future of Maggie Marable. The Cannoli at Viva Italia in Hannibal. Pinegrove. The weird tease that is “The Last Jedi” Trailer.
THE MAGNIFIENT SEVEN FOR WEEK EIGHT
7)MICHAEL LORD, RB, Illini West
13 Carries, 117 Yards, 2 TD vs Havana
6)CHAYSE HOUSTON, RB, Central
5 Carries, 112 Yards, 2 TD vs Brown County
5)BRADY GILLILAND, TE/DE, QND
2 Catches, 64 Yards, 2 TD; QB Sack vs Macomb
4)JAQUEZ “LITTLE MO” MAGRUDER, RB, Hannibal
14 Carries, 112 Yards, 3 TD vs Marshall
3)ZACH OSBORN, RB, Monroe City
7 Carries, 153 Yards, 3 TD vs Centralia
2)LINCOLN TALBOT, QB, Mark Twain
23 Carries, 190 Rushing Yards, 3 TD vs Van-Far
1)JARED BRISBY, LB/RB, Central Lee
15.5 Tackles, 4 TFL; 78 Rushing Yards, TD vs Clarke
KHQA/SLEEP TIGHT PLAYER OF THE WEEK (AS VOTED BY YOU THE FANS ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE
GABE GOODWIN, LB, Palmyra High School
Rationale: Big voting charges from Pleasant Hill/Western’s Kodiak Rogers and Lincoln Talbot made this a most interesting, down to the wire affair but Palmyra’s Gabe Goodwin gets his due and proper. There’s not a defense in our area playing any better than Palmyra’s at this particular moment in time and Goodwin’s crescendo of play on the edge has certainly help add a big play edge to that unit. On Friday against Brookfield the 6’3, 190 pounder (cut straight from Central Casting for what the Panthers have sought to project in the Kevin Miles-era at OLB) enjoyed his most visible dominance yet. He led P-Town in tackles (10.5) solo tackles (7) Assists (7) and tackles for loss (3.5) while also being credit for half of a quarterback sack. Realize this production comes at the expense of Brookfield Line that doesn’t lack for imposing tackles. Goodwin doesn’t pursue. He knives to the action. And there seem to be California Condors with lesser wingspans than Gabe these days, the quintessential “impossible to escape kid” who cuts off avenues to the sidelines and turned back to the middle with equal aplomb. Kid is really good with his hands, too. I watched him last week against Centralia and he doesn’t just generate his own tackling opportunities, but his ability to trip up or knock backs off their axis point with his reach creates a host of easy gets from the guys around him. It’s not hard to get overshadowed playing alongside an All Stater like Peyton Plunkett, but if you do more than just fix your gaze on the Panther’s most visible target, you quickly learn that the collective here has been significantly elevated over the last nine weeks. And Goodwin is as much to credit for that as anyone.
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)
KHQA POWER POLL FOR WEEK EIGHT
1)WEST HANCOCK (7-0)
Last Week: 46-8 win over South Beloit
Up Next: at Ottawa Marquette
PEYTON’S PLACE: The performance comes against an admittedly struggling South Beloit program but I sure like how the Titans handled their affairs on Saturday afternoon. Offensively, the Titans felt like they were trying to end this thing as quickly and efficiently as they could, rolling up 32 points in the first quarter in very short order. They put six scores on the board in just a dozen plays. All three of Bryce Buckert’s pass completions (on just four attempts) netted touchdowns; all in the first quarter. Trenton Rooney had a pair of scoring catches. Quinn Dupree opened the affair with a 28 yard TD. Riley Langford had just three carries on the day….and still netted 156 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. (Heck, I thought his non-scoring carry was actually his most impressive tote of the day, as he put on juke in space on a Sobos Linebacker that might be the year’s best-not delivered by anyone named Jirehl.) Bryce Wilson had a wonderful 30 yard…well, Bryce Wilson run that carried the scoring over. Langford ended the first half with an 86 yarder and basically that was that. It was a standard issue Titan performance on that side of the ball in a game that was decided before the coin toss, essentially. What I took more joy in watching was the spirited effort of the West Hancock Defense. This looked like a group having a ton of fun, more so than you would think from a state power playing a 1-6 football team on a lazy Saturday afternoon. And it was a collective, all-hands-in vibe where it really looked like the Titan players were trying to really get after it and put boot to throat. Keaton Koltzenburg delivered a really strong first quarter that included a tackle for loss and constant shedding of his blocker. Kolton Johnson made one of the best open field hits I’ve seen all year to snuff out a South Beloit “Fake Punt” and turn the ball over on downs. Andy Bird had a quarterback sack and a pair of tackles for loss, one of which found him throwing the kid he tackled backwards like a rag doll (see also our video highlights) Andrew Harris delivered a fantastic hit in the backfield. He didn’t really do anything spectacular enough to merit a highlight but Peyton Dooley really brought phenomenal energy and cleaned up nicely on a pair of South Beloit positive plays; sending a message at the end of those yardage pick-ups with brutish finishes that there would be a price to be paid for moving the ball downfield. My favorite hit of the day actually came from Riley Langford in the second quarter on third and long. The Sobos had an enormous Tight End type who could the ball and seemed to be careening towards the first down marker. Riley came hurdling out of nowhere and knocked a dude who looked to be twice his size short. And on the ensuing fourth and one, Chase Hartweg beat the snap count (and nearly the CQ exchange) to snuff out the South Beloit play before it even happened. It was a fun, energetic performance. And it came in the last “gimmie” the Titans will have all season. Travis Cook certainly has enriched his team’s finishes the last two seasons with difficult end of year foes in the interest of pushing the playoff narrative forward and this might be the best examination yet that he has offered his team: longish road trip to Ottawa Marquette (6-1) and home finally against Bismark-Henning (5-2) to cap the regular season. If the Titans are 9-0 at that point, they will have earned it. And if they are 8-1 or 7-2, they are still going to be far better heeled for first and second round competition in the 2A Playoffs than they would have playing no one in October. I like the measuring stick here. And based on Saturday’s business-like performance, I like the momentum with which the Titans roll into this challenge.
2) MONROE CITY (8-0)
Last Week: 38-21 win at Centralia
Up Next: vs Palmyra
THE WIZARDRY OF OS: If I have to tell you what week this is, you clearly know nothing about Northeast Missouri Football and I pity you that ignorance. Because you are missing out on all the fun. Once the Tri-State’s best and bitterest rivalry, Palmyra/Monroe City for the Mayor’s Cup; a red letter game historically that has been revitalized and restored in recent years and is reaching its true renaissance moment here thanks to the coaching acumen that Kevin Miles and David Kirby and their staffs have brought in restoring the luster of programs that had both fallen into weird malaises prior to their arrival. That’s the past. Now, this game is back to Bouchard vs Labuary era stature with a pair of state ranked teams (one of them sporting the glittering #1 spot in its respective class) battling for a Cannon Conference crown, lifetime bragging rights, and a springboard towards state championship goals. Speaking more plainly than I should, those of us who were around for the Glory Days of this rivalry, no longer have to squint nostalgically at some lesser incarnation of this game, hoping to awaken even a moment of déjà vu to the days when this thing was so important Fred Bouchard used to think any plane that flew over/around/near the Palmyra practice fields was a greater spy plot hatched by the legions of Labuary. Even those of us with no allegiance either way to schools or alma maters miss that passion and energy and resonance. That it is here again (in whatever neat derivation this is) warms the heart and makes Northeast Missouri Football “great again” to steal from modern American politics. If you love high school football, Friday is an important moment; especially against the backdrop of 20 man varsity rosters and sparse crowds elsewhere that have seem to become far too common. And the hype and fun that is to come is glorious, from every corner. Monroe City kept up its end of the bargain Friday by marching into Miller Field and handing Centralia its third straight (and least surprising) loss by way of a mightily impressive 38-21 decision. It took the Panthers all of 50 seconds to score as Nehemiah Batsell went 61 yards in a blink, in an early and small glimpse of the Panther passing game that has been kept largely under wraps this season. Zach Osborn dropped a 48 yard touchdown rumble on the Panthers five minutes later. And like clockwork, Osborn hit Centralia again from long distance to extend the lead to 20-0 before time had run out in the first quarter. Trey Owens hit the Monroe City Run Defense with a rare big play (48 yards) to get Centralia back within 12 points before the second quarter devolved into a stalemate; like the middle rounds of a heavyweight title fight that started with each team trying to TKO the other before realizing this thing was probably going to go the distance. Centralia and Monroe exchanged touchdowns in the third (credit to Jim Newsted’s crew, which took the opening round knockdown of being down 20 in stride and fought back hard) before Monroe started thundering away with a withering combination of Cole Pennewell thunder and Zach Osborn lightning. In the end, 313 rushing yards worth of goodness. On the road at Centralia. A clearly indication from this vantage point that it is good to have Jonathon Saxbury back in the fold up front, even at 80% or so. And to couch this even differently, Jim Newsted told the Centralia Fireside Guard after the game; “If (Centralia) would have played this hard last week (vs Palmyra) we would have won. That is a darned good football team and we knew they are. That team is better than Mexico” That would seem a clear admission of that which left us puzzled about Centralia a week ago: the weird third quarter no-show from a team that had so much to play for yet got laid out by Palmyra. Monroe City busted up the better version of Centralia, but the Centralia head coach’s own admission. The unspoken (barely) implication there is that Palmyra did not. Which I think if I were Kevin Miles, would be the only thing I would need to leave on the bulletin board all week for my team to see. Not that may even need be the case. I don’t know for sure how talented Palmyra is relative to Monroe City. I tend to think there is a differential in favor of David Kirby’s team. I don’t think that is unfair given the circumstances of this season. But how they hit each other head to head? No one knows that right now and anyone who does is selling you something. Palmrya is a different animal right now. Rangy as all get out and brimming with confidence. And assuredly, the Panthers in Orange and Black will give Monroe City if not its best opposition to date (though I would argue they do on paper right now)…their most fervent. We know what this rivalry means to both communities. More importantly, we all know what this game means to both teams in the last week of the regular season. And I’d be the farm that neither team is no-showing this one on Friday. I expect nothing less than the fight of the year at Lankford Field on Friday and I am damn sure we get it.
3) PALMYRA (7-1)
Last Week: 28-2 win over Brookfield
Up Next: at Monroe City
GOOD WIN: Much like with Monroe City/Paris a week ago, this felt a lot like the “game before the game” for Palmyra. Or perhaps more accurately, the game sandwiched between the games. Palmyra certainly wasn’t as impressive (at least offensively) as it was a week prior in the jaw dropping win over Centralia. Some credit here as well to a Brookfield Defense that will knock your block off (see also Peyton Plunkett’s bruise count this week) when afforded the opportunity. Again, I am willing to play the human nature card here as well on behalf of Palmyra’s offense. Certainly, the Panthers overall offensive performance didn’t rise to the level of that third quarter against Centralia. Realize, that was an epiphany moment; a freakish feat of strength performed under extreme circumstances, as if fueled by adrenaline and the moment. That’s not the normal standard. So yes, Palmyra looked a bit more mortal on offense this week. Didn’t complete a pass. Didn’t amass 300 yards of total offense. Made some uncharacteristic penalty mistakes. I don’t find anything more to that than the week-to-week ebb and flow that takes place with 16-18 year old kids. Coaches can couch it however they like. Every kid in a Palmyra uniform knew what Brookfield’s struggles were this season and what game lie a week ahead. In a private moment, away from the ears of his kids, I’d bet Kevin Miles would even admit that sometimes you get that valley, particularly following such a high peak the week prior. Nico, who staffed this game for us, made some crack about being a week too late to the Panther party for highlights and it got me to thinking over the weekend about that being kind of like the dude who picked up Scooter Gennett in his fantasy baseball league one day after his four home run game. So again, not peak Palmyra on offense. Still, what I walk with from this contest is the shutout and the quality of the Panther Defense. It’s literally the football embodiment of what every basketball coach you’ve had in your life, at every level, has probably told you. You can’t control whether the shots are falling. What you can control is you and the way you are working to stop your opponent. The Pirates forced four turnovers on Friday, including two more interceptions by the region’s most opportunistic ball hawk Braxden Neil. Gabe Goodwin delivered his statement game. Peyton Plunkett put up, well, Peyton Plunkett type tackle contributions. Brady Barnett bagged another eight stops. Parker LaFoe had 2.5 stops for loss. And the Panthers essentially just made plays all of the field and buzzed around with an aggressiveness that suggests that this D might be playing as well as any in our region at this very moment. Obviously, that’s well timed given Monroe City’s outlier explosiveness; but the Orange and Black first team defense hasn’t allowed a score since the Clark County game. Heck, you can go back even to the second half of the Macon game and Palmyra has profiled impressive on Defense ever since. This is the exact head-to-head we need right now: Monroe City’s Offense vs Palmyra’s Defense in a battle of Tri-State outliers. Not just for a fan’s curiosity standpoint, but so that David Kirby and Marty Smyser can see exactly what fine tuning is need on these two awesome units headed into the Postseason. For my money, however, this game is probably won with the inverse of that equation. The battle between Monroe City’s Defense, which has been spotty at times even up to now in pass defense, against an evolving Panther attack (the I-Formation stuff has been a needed and fun wrinkle) that isn’t fully formed at this point either. Jacob Kroeger is going to need to make some plays in the passing game if Palmyra is to win here. He’s shown incredible flashes at times and is uber-athletic. This is probably the week his team needs him most to make that next step. Ditto for that speed Offensive Line Kevin Miles has employed because Palmyra must contend with a pair of All State caliber defenders in Saxbury and Pennewell in the Front Seven and this is the best read yet on that unit since Smoot/Levett. That frustrating night is way back in Palmyra’s rearview mirror. But this challenge is even more daunting, I would argue. And the best part of Friday is that win or lose, the Mayor’s Cup game is “fatal” to no one. Both teams are going to come off this contest better for the experience and better heeled to make a playoff run in their respective class. The smart money here says to take Monroe City heads up in this contest. But I have been wrestling with this nagging voice in the back of my head all week that keeps screaming that Palmyra is the one team on the slate that isn’t an ideal fit for Monroe; especially given Palmyra’s ability to clog the middle and cut the edges off the field for an offense with equal effect. It’s hard to do much for anyone against Palmyra’s Defensive Fronts and that is vexing me in trying to project this game. Apart from maybe Clark County, we have not seen Monroe City put in a tight spot yet, I love what the Panthers did against South but that wasn’t a fully armed Cardinal team or one in the best mental place that night. Palmyra will be both Friday and I think the punches to the jaw that both teams take Friday will considerable. But again, you don’t know who you are in this world until you get hit and figure out how you respond. Seeing as how this Palmyra team rebounded so resiliently from the Macon “sucker punch” on opening night, I have a hard time doubting this team’s volition.
4) BEARDSTOWN (5-2)
Last Week: 10-0 win over Triopia
Up Next: at West Central
DRAKE AND…GOSH: I think it’s fair to project Beardstown as shoo-in for the IHSA Playoffs for the second year in a row at this point and I’d say that is an incredible statement on just what the hire of Robbi Howard has meant to this program. And without directly saying it, I’m just going to allude to the fact that Howard has achieved this in Beardstown coaching around some personnel deals that no other coach in our area encounters. That’s a testament to him and the toughness of the kids who were on the field as well on Friday Night. You won’t find a grittier win on the books this season than the one the Tigers ripped out of Don Kemp Field this week. This wasn’t just a shutout. This was a shutout of a team with some of the most capable weapons in Tri-State Football…on their home digs no less. And it was a blanking engineered by a team that was at this time last year, the second most generous defense in the WIVC North. I can’t tell you enough how much I love Beardstown’s linebackers. They sometimes feel like the less vestiges of old school football in a new school world and their toughness is just sublime. They hit you and the like to do so. And they work their tails off every single dang play. And Drake Wrobleski does so even though he’s also carrying the water Friday on Offense with a 24 carry, 118 yard workload. Brady O’Hara also delivered on that side of the ball as well, but it hampered not one bit his All State caliber presence on defense. This is a team that won Friday with just 204 yards of total offense to its credit. That’s insane but there’s no way last year this team comes close to doing that. So what’s changed? I’d argue the Beardstown Defensive Line might be the most improved singular unit in Western Illinois High School Football. The Chad Grimm transition up front, as it turns out, has proven a brilliant and paradigm shifting move. That said, Grimm is just part of the unsung collective that allows Drew Drane, O’Hara, Wrobleski to just feast back there on anyone who crosses their radar. Look, I have no idea what kind of 3A Playoff Team Beardstown ultimately makes. I just know that at its heart and soul, this Beardstown team is really tough both physically, but especially mentally with some of the curveballs it has been thrown in big games (or before) this season. I like who they are and how they fight. And success in this world in any endeavor is born of little more than that. It’s showing up. It’s gritting through. And it’s believing in yourself and the guy next to you working to the same basic goal. There is a lot of “get it” with the dudes who were on the field of Robbi Howard on Friday Night in Arenzville and I am not betting against their determination ever.
5) CENTRAL (5-2)
Last Week: 28-8 win over Brown County
Up Next: at Greenfield/Northwestern
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM: I had to pull double duty on Friday Night, splitting the distance between Macomb and Camp Point, because we were down a photographer on Friday. My rough estimate was that I would shoot a pair of series between the Bombers and Raiders and hightail it to Central, figuring the nature of the Panthers and Hornets offenses would make for a quick first half and that the parity between the two teams talent wise would make it adhere to the maxim that all WIVC fourth quarters are essential viewing. Weirdly, however, I arrived in Camp Point at 8:09 and the first half had just ended. On my way down, I had listened to the radio broadcast from Ryon McNeff and caught the game right after Brown County had fumbled away a potential game tying touchdown opportunity at the goal line. Listening to McNeff for the duration of the half and then observably in the second half, I don’t know that Brown County collectively ever recovered from that blow. Chayse Houston exacerbated Brown County’s issues by piling a 72 yard touchdown run on top of the turnover and giving his team an unlikely 14-0 lead at the break. Okay, fair enough, I thought. Rough half. I fully expect a standard issue second half statement from the Hornets in response. It just never, ever materialized. While I think you can argue that BC was strangely flat Friday, I subscribe to the alternate view that the Hornets ran into a team that had a greater game plan and greater desire to win on this given night. I’m not sure the more talented team won Friday. But if you watched the game, you sure walked away thinking the hungrier, more resilient group did and that’s quite a testament to the Panther kids. I alluded to game plan earlier and I would tell you that getting an early lead on BC was the self-created perfect “break” the Panthers needed to win this game. The Hornets typically play with a deliberate, poised nature that works well for them. On Friday, it was like they were stuck in that mode down 22 points in the third quarter and unable to find a sense of greater urgency. Weird delay of game penalties from not being able to get plays into the huddle on time. On their defensive reactions as Central attacked offensively from odd angles. In short, BC looked a step behind for the entirety of the second half. Central’s uber-aggressive run defense feasted here against an opponent whose tendencies had been almost perfectly diagnosed by Brad Dixon. Arguably the best balanced Offense in Western Illinois looked unbelievably uneffective both running and throwing the football. I credit that again to aggression from the Central Defenders, who were flying around the field with a tangible sense of purpose and extraordinary commitment to cause. I am not sure there is a diplomatic way to say this but Central’s Offensive Line does not profile getting off the bus as the quickest, most athletic group in our area. They are big, one-gap kids. But watching Kollen Hughes and Brandon Welty and Remington Buehler apply pressure to the Hornet pocket was just eye-opening. Those dudes may not win many 40 yard dashes but Joe Hendricker might as well have been the last plate on the buffet table Friday night, the way those dudes went after him and closed ground. There’s athleticism there that deceives the eye. More importantly, there is hunger. And nowhere is that more endemic of Central this year at Linebacker, where your potential All State contributor is a 5’8” 150 pound linebacker who plays at pace that would make Ryan Shizer envious. And Noah Strohkirch’s zeal is contagious and tone setting. You build a defense around Noah and Reed Olsen and Bryce Flesner, and you may not wow anyone watching your team get off the bus; but you sure can leave their jaws hanging agape when you watch these undersized dudes cleaning everything with the impact of much bigger men. It’s the fun dynamic here and clearly it is Dixon playing the hand he has been dealt and playing it to its strengths. Central has speed and fearlessness in the back and that is the persona this unit has effectively taken on. If you told me there would be a team this season that held Brown County to just eight points, I would have laughed in your face. And these guys did exactly that. Your stat of the night: Brown County made four red zone visits against Camp Point and came away no only empty in the scoring column on all four, but delivered just one play of positive yardage in that 16 play stand. Wow. Credit as well to Casey Rhea’s offense, which made seemingly every relevant play it needed to push the Hornets off their axis. The Cole Williams touchdown catch was a thing of beauty from my angle; the best use of dexterous fingertips this side of Dave Brubeck. And the call itself seemed to completely catch BC off guard. The final scoring margin could have been worse, if not for a late fumble by the Central at the BC 5 yard line. Still, Chayse Houston got that one back for his second score of the night to drop the final hammer. And the Panthers reward here is a share of the WIVC North Title, when everyone outside their camp had long written them off for such a goal. Statement wins don’t come much more powerful than this. This is a character team and it’s character dictated outcome on Friday. Central, again, may not look the part but this team’s internal makeup and Dirty Harry styled-approach to knowing their limitations could carry this group a long, long ways.
THE BEST OF THE REST
6) BROWN COUNTY (6-1)
As noted directly above, just a very weird, uncharacteristic in every way, off-key week for the Hornets. Statistically, Tom Little’s crew won the battle outside the Red Zones, but clearly that doesn’t win you games unless you can finish drives. Brown County just felt a step slow all night long on Friday, and that’s really weird. The upshot here is that the Hornets wounds Friday are far from fatal. Had more than a few folks around the program and from the periphery suggest that maybe this loss was a blessing in disguise. The Coaching Staff should have everybodies full attentions in practice this week to ratchet up the sense of purpose and urgency. And Tom Little gets the chance to tinker with the niggling issues Central exposed that undid his team Friday. Taking on a Pleasant Hill/Western Squad fighting for its playoff life will certainly add to the intrigue in Mount Sterling.
7) SCOTLAND COUNTY (5-3)
Troy Carper told me on The McDonald’s Saturday Morning Ticket that the upshot of Friday’s 51-25 win in Harrisburg was building confidence in his ground game. With both Jaydan Payne (101 yds) and Gage Dodge (118 yds) breaking the century mark, the Tigers profiled a balance that should better compliment star Quarterback Will Fromm moving forward. Tigers Defense has been sublime the last few weeks but a visit from Cody McKenzie and the South Shelby Cardinals is just the kind of pre-district test this group needs to really turn things up to eleven here.
8) QUINCY HIGH (4-3)
It cost them a chance to repeat as undisputed WB6 Champions (my guess is that the Blue Devils won’t even come away with a share of the strap) and a likely a Playoff Home Game, but it’s hard on this list to penalize the Devils much more than this for losing at red hot Moline. The Maroons scored last in a game that saw nine different lead changes; making a superb play when it had to without leaving Rick Little’s crew much time on the board to left to answer.) Sometimes in this game, you just tip your hat to the other guy. Jirehl Brock delivered another superhuman effort (31 Carries 249 yards and 3 Touchdowns) though I suspect he was also plenty bruised up after that physical contest. Devils face United Township on the road (QHS needs a win and a Moline loss to Alleman for a split title) and QND to finish. The Devils need to win both to avoid the pitfalls of drawing a 9-0 or powerhouse 8-1 squad in round one. There is a lot riding on these next two games.
9) BWP (5-2)
Trenton Teel and Devin Yocum jumped Quest passing attempts for long pick six interceptions. Tyler Donaldson delivered a pair of rushing scores. Nate Ferguson had a run and a pass reception for TD. And everything just kind of feel neatly back into place for the Sparclones after a rough two-game skid against terrific opposition. If the Sparclones can run the table against South Fulton and a much improved North Fulton (5-2) the next two weeks, David Roddis’ crew is in line for a shot at home playoff date in Week Ten. Good to see this Defense regain traction after a tough slog through Farmington and Elmwood/Brimfield.
10) CENTRAL LEE (5-2)
Central Lee’s playoff hopes hinge largely on winning Friday’s home date with Centerville. The Hawks are coming off a largely workman effort against Clarke, pitching a shutout behind Jared Brisby’s defensive opus (15.5 tackles and 4 stops for loss is a solid month for some linebackers) Nothing spectacular offensively as Brisby delivered 78 ground yards and a score in compliment to Adam Rooney’s 90 yard effort. Austin Gaylord scored on a pair of quarterback keepers as well. The Big Reds ride a three game win streak into Donaldson Friday.
11) QND (4-3)
Admittedly, it came against a one-win team but I probably enjoyed this QND overall performance more than any of the three I have seen in person this Fall. It felt like the best balanced and smartest Raider win to date. The Defensive Line was incredibly Friday, with big time pressure from Hunter Smith, Jonny Bottorff and Brady Gilliland putting Jacob Burg in constant duress. The Linebackers cleaned up nicely off that pressure, particularly Simon Holtschlag who delivered a couple of early tackles and a monster hit in the First Quarter. When Macomb did a good job early taking away Reed Hyer, Nick Wellman did a nice job checking down to Gilliland, who scored a pair of early touchdowns. And the Raiders then nicely followed suit by pushing the margins with the run game, getting both Dalton Venvertloh and Johnathon Ohnemus some of the best traction they’ve seen all year. Again, best two-way line play I’ve seen from QND to date, Hannibal win included.
THE BEST OF THE REST
12) CENTRALIA (5-3)
13) HANNIBAL (5-3)
14) MACON (5-3)
15) CLARK COUNTY (4-4)
16) KNOX COUNTY (5-3)
17) ILLINI WEST (4-3)
18) TRIOPIA (3-4)
19) SOUTH SHELBY (3-5)
20) UNITY/PAYSON (3-4)
21) PLEASANT HILL/WESTERN (3-4)
22) FORT MADISON(3-4)
23) BROOKFIELD (2-6)
24) BOWLING GREEN (3-5)
25) VAN-FAR (3-5)
26) NORTH SHELBY (3-5)
27) PARIS (2-6)
28) MARK TWAIN (2-5)
29) RUSHVILLE/INDUSTRY (1-6)
30) CLOPTON/ELSBERRY (2-6)
31) WEST CENTRAL (1-6)
32) ROUTT (1-6)
33) MACOMB (1-6)
34) HIGHLAND (0-8)
35) KEOKUK (0-7)
36) JACKSONVILLE (0-7)
37) PITTSFIELD (0-7)
38) LOUISIANA (0-8)
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTIONS
Last Week: 21 of 25 correct (84% Accuracy)
Season to Date: 154 of 195 correct (78.9% Accuracy)
CENTRAL LEE 18
FORT MADISON 18
MONROE CITY 28
CLARK COUNTY 27
SOUTH SHELBY 26
SCOTLAND CO 20
KNOX COUNTY 14
WRIGHT CITY 35
BOWLING GREEN 28
MARK TWAIN 30
SO. CALLAWAY 40
NORTH SHELBY 39
QUINCY HIGH 42
UNITED TOWNSHIP 12
WEST HANCOCK 32
OTTAWA MARQUETTE 14
NORTH GREENE 7
BROWN COUNTY 32
ILLINI WEST 20
SOUTH FULTON 14
Central Lee alum Ben Rooney had six catches, 54 yards, and touchdown in Ellsworth Community College’s triple overtime 44-38 loss to seventh ranked Independence CC on Saturday.
With 1132 yards in six games, Jacksonville’s own Chazz Middlebrook continues to lead all of NCAA Division III Football in rushing yards. His MacMurray Highlanders, despite a 6-0 start, continue to be ignored in the D3 National Football Polls, receiving nary a vote this week.
The Merle Jones Era of John Wood Softball appears to be off to a promising start. The former Keokuk High Skipper led his team to an 11-5-1 mark in the Fall campaign. He’s also managed to ramp up the recruitment campaign this Fall and is in on a couple of the top names in NEMO Softball.
Culver Stockton announced a reorganization of its Volleyball program this week, essentially making Caren Kemner the Czar overseeing both the Mens and Womens Programs in assuming head coaching duties of both. Former Wildcat Mens Coach Peter Coley will remain with the program as an Assistant to the Mens Program. Daniel Cabrera will continue to assist with both programs as well. C-SC Athletic Director Pat Atwell cited the rationale for the move thusly: “Naming Caren the director of volleyball operations will allow us to best utilize the talents of our coaching staff,” said Atwell. “With Caren overseeing the entire volleyball operation, we feel it sets us up for long term stability and a quality student-athlete experience for both programs.”
KHQA coverage from Quincy University Hawk and Lady Hawk Media Days this Week will run this Weekend as part of our Saturday/Sunday programming.
No guarantees as to his ability to return yet from knee surgery for basketball season, but heard back from Noah Mendenhall’s dad that everything went well for that young man on the operating table and that he was up and moving around well on crutches after the procedure. We wish him a speedy and complete recovery.
Continue to hear a lot of positive recruiting vibes flowing between Illini West Track and Field star Jacob Bryan and Southern Illinois-Carbondale. Bryan has received considerable interest from the University of Iowa but the scholarship leverage the Salukis could offer may be tough to beat. With Jace Norman already at Western Illinois to High Jump and Long Jumper Connor Artman being wooed with Big Ten Attention (and reportedly absolutely killing it with his off-season jump gains) it’s little wonder that IW is your defending State Champion (and likely poised for a run at a Repeat Title in Charleston this Spring even absent's Norman's talents.)
The Palmyra Boys Cross Country Squad claimed the Centralia Invitational Team Title on Tuesday, the first such victory in Program History
Fort Madison Volleyball claimed its second straight Conference Title on Tuesday, this year with a perfect 10-0 run to the strap.
Holy Trinity Volleyball honored Melissa Freesmeier for her 25th Year of Coaching at Senior Night Ceremony on Tuesday. All that was missing was a Cubs NLDS Victory to make the night complete for the Southeast Iowa legend.
QND's Rich Meyer claimed his 800th Career win in Macomb last Week, just the 17th Volleyball Coach in IHSA History to do so. According to the IHSA records page, there are just six active coaches in IHSA Volleyball in the Elite 800 club. Two of them, ply their skills here in the Tri-States in Meyer and West Prairie's Teri Paul.
Cory Allensworth's 27 Assists and 97 Points this season (and counting) are new Program High Water Marks for Hannibal Pirate Soccer.