Sleep Well Beast (Duerrisms for the Week of September 8th)
Gridiron Greetings and Sports Salutations One and All.
Hope you had a marvelous Holiday Weekend Everyone. This is DUERRISMS for the Week of September 8th and we are presented by our great friends at SLEEP TIGHT, whose patronage of the local sports scene is terrific. And in turn, I hope you will patronize their business to show your appreciation for all they do for our towns, our schools, and our kids.
The Duerr Family spent a little time on the road this weekend, visiting the fair city of Carbondale and eating some Quattro’s Pizza and restocking the fridge of our favorite Saluki. A fun trip to be sure, but all that windshield time ate into the writing window for this column, so we are appearing here in abbreviated fashion for this week. The column will return to its normal form next week. Thanks for your understanding.
A quick heads-up that nomination forms for the 2017/2018 Edition of KHQA STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE WEEK will be on the way soon to your favorite resident Athletic Director. We’ve actually already received a pair of nominations (huge thanks to those two individuals for being so diligent and helpful in advance) and those forms portend what Nico and I have been asserting since June: this is one amazing crop of High School Senior Athletes. So the sooner you can get your favorite nominee into the mix (minimum 3.5 GPA and participation in at least one sport) the better their chances of surviving the gauntlet of nominees were are anticipating. We are set to launch the program on Wednesday October 4th with 6pm celebrations of your favorite male and female high achievers. Our first nomination committee meeting will be October 2nd, which means we will vote on all candidates received before 3pm that day in that first meeting. This is a critical point. Every year we have deserving candidates who don’t get in the process because they are nominated too late. If you wait too deep into the year, we may have 20 really high caliber SAW candidates for just a dozen remaining features. Procrastination and human nature being what it is, that first meeting in October is typically the one where we are only considering 20 nominees for a dozen slots. Once the features start running, the nominations tend to flood in and the bar for inclusion becomes much higher in a hurry. So don’t delay and don’t risk getting deserving kids from your community into the process. You can print a nomination form from our KHQA Website, fill it out yourself, and as long as your Athletic Director and Principal sign it, it will be considered. You can save your high school staff the work and push the process along, all in one quick motion. So don’t delay my friends. And we can’t wait to start showing the Tri-States again what great young people are emerging through sports in our various Tri-State communities.
Hope you are enjoying the MCDONALD’S SATURDAY MORNING TICKET Show on WTAD Radio as much as I am enjoying hosting that thing. It’s an expanded looked back at the Friday Night gridiron goings-on as well as much longer form interviews with the coaches and players who make Tri-State Sports go during the Fall season. You can catch the show live at 8am every Saturday Morning either on WTAD RADIO over the airways (930AM) or via their live webcast at WTAD.com. And we are posting podcasts every week for you late sleepers. We’ve had some phenomenal guests so far and will endeavor to continue to give you insights that go beyond the limits of what we can do on TV due to time constraints of the format. Again, thanks for your patronage. And if you have not yet had a chance to check it, give us a listen sometime.
Lest I get myself in trouble here: Grandest Duerrisms Birthday Wishes this month to my Daughter Tayler, my mother Pat, my Mother-in-Law Diane, my Brother-in-Law John and Sister-in-Law Sara.
SEVEN BIG TAKEAWAYS FROM THE WEEK THAT WAS
1)Not sure we will see a better collective scheduling week at the top of the schedule than the one we enjoyed in Week Three. Four of the top five teams in our Power Poll received incredibly stern tests. And both Monroe City and West Hancock passed them in surprisingly impressive fashion. Granted, it wasn’t a huge stretch for me to have the Panthers and Titans ranked one and two in our preseason power poll; they seemed pretty obvious candidates for such accord based on returning talent and circumstance. Outscoring a pair of what looked to be terrific opponents by a combined 82-12 margin this weekend? Yeah, I didn’t think that was anywhere near possible. Even less so with West Hancock going on the road to face a Miller Career Academy squad that scored 22 first half points against Missouri Big School Superpower CBC. The Titan Defense holding that home-standing crew to six total points might be the single most impressive accomplishment that we see from any area squad this Fall. And it’s proof positive, that both squads are indeed legit, maybe beyond our most optimistic expectations.
2)Got a text from my “retired” friend Nile Thudium late Friday from The Bell Game. Now that he’s no longer coaching (a family-first life choice that hasn’t been easy for the life-long gridiron enthusiast) the Bulldog Football Team, Nile has taken up photography. He sent me a shot of the incredible ring of fans (estimated to be between 3000-3500) ringing the field for the showdown with Marceline. Outside of maybe the heyday of the Carthage/LaHarpe Northwestern rivalry, I’m not sure I’ve seen a more impressive show of fan interest for a high school sporting event in this region. Which again, speaks to not only how special this region is as a sports climate, but as well as to the uniqueness in 2017 of the Bell Game itself. Look, I know that Brookfield and Marceline are technically outside our “viewing area” but the second we post anything about those teams on our website or over social media, the number of clicks we gets explodes. It’s a region that is just unfortunately “under-served” by traditional media because of geography. But man it is a treasure still. There’s a reason USA TODAY crowned The Bell Game as the nation’s greatest high school rivalry contest a few years back. It’s not the football itself (though the game is traditionally phenomenal between two perennially tough opponents) or the huge populace bases in play. It’s the stewardship both schools and communities, from the very young to the very old have invested into the Bell Game that continues to power it thusly. In an age where high school sports seems to have suffered an attrition of participatory experience and fan interest nationally; the Bell Game is still a glimpse back into a simpler time when a Friday Night Football game was the best and only form of entertainement to be found for any community, whatever the size. We can sit in our homes in 2017, watch first run movies, shop for expensive shoes, play video games with cyberfriends in China with a click of a mouse. The world has enabled us to become more closed off from actual experience without ever leaving our doorsteps. The Bell Game experience itself, being there in the stands and cheering for a Bulldog or Tiger, just because they are from “our” community, is in many ways one of the few resonant experiences of old school interaction left to us. And to see it thriving so is still a godsend. When I retire from this job, many moons from now, I will have seen more high school football games in more places than most human beings alive. I will have likely sated that still insatiable enthusiasm I have for the game. But as a I said a few years ago, I won’t feel like my life’s experience with the game of high school football will be complete until I see my first Bell Game in person. And I will do exactly that when I am no longer fettered by the strictures of a 10:15 mega-Sportscast. I feel confident in the notion that even if that date doesn’t come for another 20 years, the experience the night I do step into either of those stadiums, will have been worth the wait.
3)Trying not to get too far ahead of myself here, but in similar game, the looming prospect of a meaningful Illini West/BWP Sparclones contest September 15th has me all up in my nostalgic feels here. And more and more, I am starting to get the vibe that both of these reinvigorated programs are legitimately good again. Fingers crossed moving forward through a tough “set-up” week for both programs. But if things go according to plan, you won’t have to guess where yours truly will be in Week Five with camera rolling on my shoulder.
4) SLEEP TIGHT SLEEPER OF THE WEEK AWARD: True story here. Ben Marth and I were having a wide-ranging, casual conversation about the High School Football season during the preseason. Coincidentally, we both made the exact same point about Monroe City from our preview stop, despite the fact that we were in Titletown on different days. That being: there was this kid named Nehemiah that neither of us had heard anything about prior to the season, who was playing Scout Team and tearing it up against the starters. That kid turned out to be NEHEMIAH BATSELL, the breakout star to emerge from the Panthers red letter win over South Shelby. The Junior is a transfer from Fort Zumwalt South who impacted Friday’s game in every phase. He made a big defensive tackle on South Shelby’s first series and contributed a pass break up at the end of the first half when South Shelby, down 22-0 at the time, was trying to take to deep shots down the field to get back into the game. He contributed an excellent return in special teams and at least one big tackle I can recall. And of course, the signature moment of Nehemiah’s coming out party was his spectacular “toes-in” touchdown catch from 24 yards out with just 30 some odd seconds left in the first half. It was a text book stretch grab that would be tough for even the most seasoned college receiver. This kid made it look effortless. Exhibit A: http://khqa.com/sports/content/sports-final-highlight-reelscoreboard-for-september-1st Let’s not also forget his terrific grab to keep the chains moving on the Panthers second scoring possession as well. So welcome to the party, Nehemiah. It’s not like Monroe City need another big time weapon. The Panthers already feel like they’ve got the deck stacked in their favor in that department. But clearly, David Kirby has another piece in play to chase that Clarence Cannon Conference and District Title with going forward.
5)It might be the most incredibly over-qualified Fifth and Sixth Grade Football Coaching staff on the planet…but no one in Centralia is complaining in the least. With young sons now cutting their teeth in organized football, both Erle Bennett and Matt Smith have teamed up to give their kids and their fellow teammates a football start that should be the envy of local players across the Tri-States. I am not sure there is a high school coaching staff in our region that can claim this kind of pedigree; having two different former head coaches on staff who won High School State Championships (Smith in 2008 with Clark County, Erle in 2003 with his Centralia Panthers) let alone Pop Warner/JFL teams. The theses dudes are going to be calling x’s and o’s against “volunteer Dad Defensive Coordinator” who boned up for the job by reading “Football for Dummies?” This seems like the least fair-and-yet-simultaneously joyous youth football experience ever. And I am now bewitched by the notion of these two gents (I famously recall Matt Smith-led offensive sessions at Clark County running 45 minutes over scheduled time and Q. Hamner can back me up on this) playing chess to other youth league teams checkers on the grid this Fall. All kidding aside though, what a great privilege for the young kids in Centralia to get their Football Start at the knee of two Hall of Fame Coaches and class gentlemen. And moreover, if it’s me, I am actively trying to get the 2024 Centralia Panthers off my playing schedule ASAP.
6)Look, I know for many of you it might be the least sexy sport on the Fall Calendar. And if you want nothing to do with Cross Country, feel free to stop reading this particular passage now and move on down the list. But if your mind is open, I’m here to tell you no sport in our area may be more top heavy with talent on the Autumn Calendar: both boys and girls. And look, we will talk plenty about the Kaitlyn Robbins/Maya Stovall/Lydia Kurfman/Kirsten Huffman dynamic in the coming weeks. I want to hone in on the gentlemen right here. I got a chance to watch the Jacob Bryan/Nathan Frazee head-to-head showdown in person at Keokuk on Thursday and it was incredibly revealing. Look, Frazee’s Freshman Year rise at Clark County was one of the great storylines to emerge last Fall and the dude is just a tough as nails competitor who runs his heart out every meet. For Nate, a Top 10 State Finisher in Missouri, to get beat by 36 seconds by Illini West’s Jacob Bryan is jaw dropping…and a credit to a kid who might be the most dedicated and hardest working athlete of his kind. Bryan’s Junior Year was undercut by constant health struggles with an iron deficiency. He’s apparently figured out the right alchemy to getting himself back to peak condition. And as previously mentioned, that recipe includes pushing himself to extremes in the quest for greatness. When I show up for IW Barnstorming visits for Football, Jacob would be out on the track working on his form and his condition. The latter would include him running with snorkeling gear on his face at times to simulate oxygen deprivation. Point blank, this is not a kid who is messing around. The 16:20 finish he dropped at the Elks Golf Course? My Cross Country folks tell me that it likely equates to 15:30 or better on a three mile course. I had one rival coach tell me he would be stunned if Jacob isn’t a 14:45 kid at Detweiller Park, which means a like Podium visit at State. He’s just a relentless competitor and that mindset translates to the way he attacked the second half of Elks Course on Friday, expanding a three second lead to 36 over the last half of the course. Incredibly feat. Bryan was 82 seconds faster than third place. Any other year, Holy Trinity’s Matt Hellige (don’t sleep on this kid either) could have posted 17:42 at Keokuk and skated out of town with a nifty title. Thursday, that really talented runner wasn’t even a radar blip on the finish line video by the time Bryan had cooled down. Jacob already has won State Relay and Team Titles during Track and Field. He’s clearly motivated for one of his very own. And I would not remotely doubt his volition in trying to run down that dream. And lest anyone forget, I wrote this whole blurb on Illinois Cross Country without even mentioning Pittsfield Force of Nature Eli Ten Eyck yet. Again, it may not be Monroe City/South Shelby level ticket fun for some of you. But I can’t wait to see Eli and Jacob wage war the rest of this Fall.
7)THINGS I LOVE MOST IN THE WORLD, AT LEAST FOR THIS PARTICULAR WEEK: The Payson Seymour Volleyball “flawless” streak. The potential of the brand new Knox County Softball Diamond and it’s homer inducing highlight value to us TV guys. The return this Thursday of the Quincy Soccer Civil War. The Flesner vs Flesner Sister Battle. The palpable rising enthusiasm of the rejuvenated Fort Madison Football Community. WIVC down-to-the-wire thrillers every single gosh darned week(told you so.) Undefeated Van-Far Football bucking the odds weekly. The Clark County Football comeback story that is just itching to right itself. Emily Box nightly kill totals. Getting random texts from Sports Parents watching OVERTIME coverage from Italy while they are on vacation. JJ Watt’s sense of community. 2017 Drew Lock. The pilot for HBO’s “The Deuce” and especially fine acting turns for James Franco and Method Man. A potential return to form for True Detective with a Season Three arch featuring the awesome Mahershala Ali investigating a murder in the Ozarks. “Hell or High Water” on high rotation on Showtime. Getting my heart ripped out by “A Monster Calls.” Canada Dry’s limited run Blackberry Ginger Ale, otherwise known as the Elixir of the Gods. Future Sacramento King Bogdan Bogdanovich profiling in Europe as an immediate NBA Star.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN FOR WEEK THREE
7)BRETT MONROE, WR, Scotland County
4 Receptions, 100 Yards, TD vs Paris
6)RILEY LANGFORD, RB/DB, West Hancock
2 Interceptions; 17 Carries, 100 Yards, TD vs Miller Academy
5)BASIL BUCKNER, RB, Rushville/Industry
14 Carries, 163 Yards, 2 TD vs Farmington
4)COLE PENNEWELL, FB, Monroe City
27 Carries, 153 Yards, 3 TD vs South Shelby
3)GABE WORTHINGTON, QB, Hannibal
10 of 13 Passing, 241 Yards, 3 TD, Interception vs Boonville
2)JACKSON PORTER, QB, Illini West
8 of 11 Passing, 244 Yards, 2 TD, 0 INT vs Mercer County
1)SHANCE REDD-DONALD, WR, Fort Madison
3 Receptions, 104 yards 3 TD vs Central Lee
KHQA PLAYER OF THE WEEK AS VOTED BY YOU THE FANS ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE
ALEX GULLY, RB/CB, FORT MADISON
Rationale: Honestly, we could have just as easily nominated Shance Redd-Donald or Lennon Barker for this award in the wake of Fort Madison’s stunning offensive onslaught. For as statistically impressive as the Hounds emerging Wide Receiver and Quarterback may have been against a Central Lee squad renowned for its defense; there’s little question through two games that Tailback Alex Gully has emerged as the straw that stirs the drink for this fast rising reclamation project. And he’s fast emerging as legitimate early season Player of the Year candidate to watch. The numbers against the Hawks were pretty eye-popping. Alex had 21 carries for 183 yards; which works out to a near nine yards-per-carry average. He found the end zone four different times, including on a long distance scamper of 43 yards. He also chimed in with seven tackles on the Defensive Side of the Ball at Cornerback, six of them solos. But those are just the numbers. For a team trying to re-write its losing culture on the fly, Alex has value as the face of transformation. He takes his job seriously, on both sides of the ball. When Nico was up filming the Hounds this week, he was quick to notice how attentive Gully was to the Defensive Coaching points of playing corner and how quick he was to ask for extra help on that side of the ball. We’ve interviewed Alex twice. He’s one of those kids who says all the right things when you talk to him, sure; but you can also tell pretty quickly those words are credo for him, not sound-byte lip service for TV. It’s also really hard for Alex to hide the chip on his shoulder, which I really like. I sense he was generally embarrassed by being a front and center guy on a winless team last year and he sounds almost apologetic talking about last season and almost defiant in talking about who Fort Madison isn’t “that team” anymore. And I’ll be honest with you, if I am an offensive lineman, that’s a guy I want to throw my body around for on the field. He’s legit, genuine, and a kid who will rise his level of toughness to match yours; or better yet make you raise yours to equal his if need be. I also like how he runs. There’s a little bit of old school Mark Twain-era Derek Wallace to him. He’s not a dancer or much of a dramatic juke guy. Alex’s basic m.o. is get to the hole as quickly and violently as possible, assessing threat levels along the way and adjusting on the fly to find the path of least resistence to daylight. In short, there’s an economy and reserve to the way he attacks a defense. Very little wasted motion. Very small, but by my estimation extremely savvy small body corrections on the fly to make defenders miss. It’s not anywhere as splashy as a Jirehl Brock stop-and-stutter mover or a Shamar Griffith body feint in real time, but it is a supremely workable model for success and one that really makes sense If you think about it. Gully’s go to move when it appears he is in danger of being tackled isn’t trickery. It’s lower the shoulder, finish the run, and maximize as many extra-inches as he can coax out of the run. And in that ethic, he’s won a fan here. Look, I have no idea how good Fort Madison really is relative to the real power players in Iowa Football. Clearly, all I can say with certainty to anyone is they are “better” and lets let the chips fall where they may. But I can tell you with certainty this is an easy team and easy player to root for moving forward. You all know my well documented love over the years of covering sports stories that are essentially: “the formerly meek inherit the Earth.” These guys in the Hound Unis have the best chance of doing that this Fall and they are clearly a feel-good story starting to rise. And in Gully again, they have the perfect front man to endear themselves to anyone who loves to see a long suffering underdog rise. So…continued happy hunting Bloodhounds. It’s been an exhilarating ride so far.
Week One-KEVIN CAMPBELL, RB/DB-Hannibal vs Helias
Week Two-DEVIN TYNAN, RB- Brown County vs West Central
KHQA WEEK FOUR POWER POLL
1)WEST HANCOCK (2-0)
Last Week: 44-6 win at Miller Academy
Up Next: at Clark County
KORN ON THE JOB: Look, I am still full tilt amped for the Brown County/Beardstown showdown on Friday; but a small part of me is greatly conflicted now about having to miss the now dynamite showdown brewing in Kahoka. Both the Indians and Titans significantly upgraded their profile in Week Three. In fact, I’d argue Clark County finally figuring out how to close out a win against a quality opponent was the second most salient football moment of a very telling week; behind only Fort Madison proving that the Hounds are indeed for real. We’ve hammered this point home since July: on paper, Clark County has all the tools to be one of the five most dangerous teams in all of Tri-State Football. The one missing ingredient for a squad with physical lines, multiple weapons, an emerging catalyst Quarterback in London Brunk, and a feisty, zip-to-it defense was confidence all along. The Macon win should give that Ethan Allen’s team in spades…just in time to face a West Hancock team that inexplicably raised its already sky high ceiling with the Miller Academy win. I found it amusing, in hindsight, that some of the West Hancock fans bristled that I picked against them last week in the prediction section of this column. Based on circumstance and not relative personal fan bias prior to last week, why wouldn’t I have picked against the Titans? West Hancock took two quarters to get untracked against a very pedestrian Putnam County Defense. And Miller Career threw darts for a half with a CBC squad that was ranked second in Class 6, the highest caliber of Missouri Football. It’s not personal. It’s business. And absent ever getting to see Miller Career Academy in person, that would seem a pretty compelling argument, no? To the Titans credit, Travis Cook’s crew really came back with a statement second effort. The best analogy I can make for what the Titans did on Saturday would be the Gennady Golovkin Boxing paradigm. GGG came into the David Jacobs fight believed to be the greatest pound for pound boxer in the world. Gennady won, but as unimpressively as any victory in his stellar 37-0 career. Which led to talk that when GGG faced an elite opponent in Canelo Alvarez in his next fight, the new “soft spots” Jacobs exposed in GGG’s game would prove his undoing. Saturday’s Titans win over Miller was essentially the equivalent of GGG rising to answer that talk by knocking Saul Alvarez through the ropes in Round One coming up on September 16th (End Duerr subliminal message to help save boxing and get you people to buy that fight) Two things happened very nicely on Saturday Afternoon. The Titan Defense stretched its legs in a way we didn’t know previously possible. The Front Seven proved it could overwhelm what was reputed to be one of the best small school Offensive Lines in St Louis. Look, you heard me ramble on all Preseason Long about the potential of the Titan Defense, how I loved the pieces here. How we liked the mix of fire/discipline/nastiness that on paper reads so well. Saturday’s win over the Phoenix was actually the perfect connection of that dots that so little of that preseason optimistic talk ever actually yields. These dudes gave up just 110 yards of total offense to Miller Academy. Read into this next statement very carefully but on face value that means Travis Cook’s Defensive Philosophy and Personnel were “better” than CBC’s in this particular matchup. That is a “wow” statement to attribute to a Class 2 team most St Louis folks had never even heard of until Saturday’s epic beat. That tease of how good Tyler Korn might be we got against Fulton last year? Kid was in full JJ Watt mode with eight total tackles, a quarterback sack, 2 TFL on the stat sheet and more saliently, the palpable sense of doom he brought to Miller’s Offensive Line. It was many, many moons ago but I still remember the one game in my high school career where two quarters into the game I realized that the kid I was playing against as an Offensive Lineman; that I couldn’t block that dude. Kid’s name was Guthrie and in quiet moments even to this day, that performance still kind of haunts “old man” me. That’s the impact Tyler Korn had in depressing a Miller Academy line that hit the field Saturday with every confidence. All the other pieces just fell nicely into place from there. Riley Langford asserted his reputation as the region’s best cover man with a pair of interceptions against an opponent that didn’t know enough not to test him. Chase Hartweg took that next step; had a career building day on both sides of the ball that proved he has the chops to be an elite level two-way talent. Making stops against Putnam County is one thing. Profiling this level of effort at Miller certifies that his current ten and half tackle per game work rare (and realize that the collective nature of Travis Cook’s defense is the least “personal stat friendly metric” ever) is legit. It was a heck of a show at the center of the greater team performance that was this defense. That other significant development I alluded to earlier? That was far more predictable here. It was simply a Jim Unruh offense better finding its rhythm and collective nature in Week Two. West Hancock’s Week One struggles are not rare for an Wing-T team playing its first game of the season. Timing and rhythm are a process, not a sprint. Granted, it was nice to have Bryce Wilson put a little lipstick on the affair last week with his monster game, but the Miller Academy effort was far more representative of what I think we see. Three backs flirting with 100 yards (Hartweg and Langford both had 100 on the nose) and multiple kids scoring touchdowns. That was the more predictable part of this equation and the one that I thought we’d see. The Titan Offense is going to be really good. Again, the stunner here is that the Defense is even better than we projected and that is the fun part of this equation moving forward into a really tough game. But based on last week’s “bar-raiser” its going to he hard to ever find reason to pick against these guys again this season. It’s a different profile now in Hancock County.
2)MONROE CITY (3-0)
Last Week: 38-6 win over South Shelby
Up Next: at Louisiana
NE’ JERK REACTIONS: The biggest single takeaway from this contest for me was simply just how productive the Panthers are were, against a very good defense, in converting “must have” situations. Two huge third down conversions on the games opening drive (a clever Gage Bottoms reverse pivot run and a Blake Hays to Dawson Shively hook up on third and long) to keep the chains moving in route to an eventual one yard Cole Pennewell conversion. If either of those plays are snuffed out, this might have been a very different first half. The Panthers also added a critical fourth down conversion on a nifty Hays to Nehemiah Batsell hook up to set up a second one yard Pennewell plunge on the first play of the second quarter. And of course, the big Hays/Batsell touchdown hook up that changed the polarity of the 1st half in spotting Monroe to a three possession lead. Monroe never punted the football in the first half. And that in a nutshell was the story, especially when South Shelby (which had some traction running the football, because, well Cody McKenzie and Brock Wood) was at the exact same time sputtering on those all important “must have” plays. An ill-timed fumble to kill their “answer” drive in the First Quarter. And missed blocking assignment that allowed Blake Hays to run free into the Cardinal backfield for that critical 4th and 3 possession in the Panther red zone that sent the Cardinals away scoreless. Honestly, I don’t think the talent disparity between these two teams is nearly what the final score suggested. Put simply though: playmakers win games. And Monroe City made the critical first downs (and stops) it needed. South couldn’t. And to be even more honest, there is not a worse opponent in Tri-State Football right now to have to play “catch up” against. Observationally, I thought the Monroe City defense exhibited a lot of the same big play chutzpah that is the Panther Offense’s signature. The Saxbury Sack. The Nathan Mehrer Fumble Recovery. The Hays hit that essentially was the first nail in South’s coffin. My other takeaway here, is that Cole Pennewell (159 yards, 3 TD) isn’t the only dude in that Monroe City backfield who is exhausting to tackle. While Pennewell’s physical gives are obviously at the core of his power running game; I was stunned watching Zach Osborn for the first time in person this season. He’s a home run threat guy. How the heck is someone with his slight “speed build” so good at “pinballing” his way off tacklers. He was a “run away from you” guy last year. His feet and balance are different/better this year. And lets not forget the nice “bridge” component Gage Bottoms brings to this backfield in giving teams that sell out on Osborn/Pennewell fits. And as I mentioned on Twitter, Blake Hays has become on heck of a maestro. Hard not to consider Friday’s victory the best win to date by any team in our area. And the Panthers show no signs of slowing down from there. Scary.
Last Week: 55-6 win over Louisiana
Up Next: vs Brookfield
SIMKINS CITY: We are on a short clock this week so I am not going to spend a lot of time here. Games like this are Exhibit A as to why Louisiana will be well served moving to the EMO and the Centralias of the World will be better aided playing teams with more than 17 kids on their roster. The Panthers took advantage of the Week Three window to clean up some nagging issues in the passing game, giving Clayton Simkins a freer hand to show off improved handle. The net result was a 105 yard passing night for the Centralia Signal Caller and two TD strikes via the air. Kaiden Davenport added a couple of touchdowns to the cause. Tyler Dorman and Trey Owens staked out their customary spots in the stat sheet. Beyond that, not much need be said. The other notable happening here was Centralia building a little Defensive Momentum for the showdown with Brookfield. The Panthers surrendered just 92 yards of total offense and allowed a microscopic total of just six rushing yards. Gus Stidham continues to shine in the early season on that side of the ball. He posted eight total tackles and recovered a fumble in the offing. Tougher tests lie ahead and a Brookfield squad in an uncustomary 1-2 hole right now will provide a more exacting measure I would think of just how legit this crew is. That said, so far/so good in the Jim Newsted Era.
4)BROWN COUNTY (2-0)
Last WeeK: 26-0 win at Greenfield/Northwestern
Up Next: vs Beardstown
MORE LIFE: The high-powered Hornet Offense has been an easy focus point for us media types on preseason patrol, and rightly so. Friday’s road win, however, was the coming out party for a Brown County Defense that was understandably under the microscope with six new starters in play and the loss of All State Linebacker Carter Lewis. Allow me to frame this for those of you who aren’t WIVC followers. The Tigers are a mid-tier South Division Squad at best. But they are a team with a very unique attribute: a 235 pound man-mountain of a fullback named Jacob Foiles who ran for 1500 yards and 26 touchdowns a year ago. So when you read the final stat sheet on what the Hornets did to Foiles and his teammates, on their home digs at Fleur De Lis Field no less, it puts neatly into perspective just how nasty the BC Defense was on Friday. Jared Hoots’ crew surrendered just 145 total yards, including a paltry 96 total ground yards in the shutout win. The Hornets forced four turnovers, with the operative word here being “forced.” Tanner Sussenbach set the tone with a hit from his linebacker position that popped the ball into the Secondary for his team to recover. Seth Fisher came in at the tail end of a long Tigers pass completion along the sidelines to rip away the football and spin his way 45 yards to a touchdown. And Skyler Moorman came screaming out of his Defensive End position (Tom Little told us Saturday on the Morning Ticket that he’s taken to calling Skyler BC’s answer to Clay Matthews) to level a G/NW back with one of the most forceful hits of the young season to create an easy recovery for Darian Drake. Three great splash plays on top of a relentless snap-to-snap effort aimed at never letting the Tigers establish any traction. It was a very tidy showing on a night when the Hornet Offensive didn’t exactly have its “best fastball” so to speak. BC ended the night just 1 of 10 on third down conversions. The Hornets had their own turnover issues and some unexpected execution issues as well in coughing up the ball six times and being held to less than 200 yards of total offense. Those things obviously won’t fly this week against an explosive Beardstown squad that lost a hard luck decision on the road to Carrollton. By the same token, it’s confidence inducing to be sure to know that this Hornet squad isn’t a one-trick pony and is gritty enough to win against type. Tremendously hyped to see this glamour pairing in Mount Sterling on Friday. This will easily be the toughest opponent to date for Brown County and one that has shown it’s offense to be far more than just The Pascal Guilvogui Show to this point. Anxious to see how the Hornets deal with the size and physicality of Beardstown’s lines. Anxious as well to see if the Tiger Defense has improved enough to keep Devin Tynan hemmed in. I still tend to think Friday’s winner will be your eventual North Champion. But head to head, I am just not sure which of these teams is the better of two very good squads. I suppose we won’t have to guess come Saturday morning.
5)ILLINI WEST (2-0)
Last Week: 34-12 win at Mercer County
Up Next: at Farmington
SARGEANT AT ARMS: Aside from a night terror inducing 38 second stretch to close the first half, Illini West’s impressive victory over MERCO was yet another sign that the Chargers have regained considerable program traction. Lyle Klein’s crew has opened a year 2-0 for the first time since 2014 and did so in emphatic fashion against their former Aledo rivals by roaring out to a 20-0 lead. Hard to quibble with 565 yards of total touchdowns at five touchdowns. The more impressive component of that statistical goodness is balance. The IW Coaching Staff afforded Jackson Porter eleven chances to throw the football on Friday and he rewarded their faith with a flawless day at the office: 8 of 11 passing for 244 yards and a pair of touchdown strikes, including a 74 yarder to Colton Sargeant. That kind of air cover, if the Chargers can continue to replicate it, only serves to make Sargeant and Nick Vorhies more dangerous in their traditional ground guise. The juniors each produced nearly 150 yards of rushing. Vorhies had 150 on the dot and a pair of rushing scores. Sargeant averaged nine yards and change per carry on his 11 totes for 147. Which begs the question: how do you as a defense account for all of this? And just what kind of job are the Chargers doing up front in clearing running lanes right now. Again the Chargers did have a stretch where they allowed a dozen unanswered points in less than 40 seconds at the end of the first half; the Dragons scored, IW fumbled the ensuing kick-off, and MERCO scored again to close the half. Again, I would have rather been anywhere else on the planet than in the film session when Coach Klein broke all that down for his players; but that was the small blot on an otherwise terrific night. The Defense was otherwise sensational, led by eight tackle efforts from both Sargeant and Bryce Payne. That tip we gave you preseason about Ty Jackson’s rise at Nose Tackle looks like a savvy one; he delivered six stops and a quarterback sack. Kennedy Gooding had four stops and a pair of tackles for loss. And the Chargers Secondary took advantage of the Golden Eagles trying to play catch-up the entire night, by snaring three interceptions (one each from Carter Boyer, Nick Vorhies, and the dandy we showed you from Weston Pollock on Sensational Seven.) And for their efforts, the Chargers earn their biggest test yet and a likely change to book passage into the State Rankings. If IW can win at undefeated Farmington Friday; against a defense that has given up just 41 points to date, I don’t you can mount much of an argument that this group is anything but for real. The Farmers struggled with stopping Basil Buckner in Rushville on Friday; I am guessing the dimensionality of the Charger Offense (especially with a Max-Q passing effort againt from Porter) stretches that group even further. Week to week, it’s becoming easier and easier to be sold on the Chargers potential. If we are writing about a 3-0 squad in this space next week, I am going to be downright giddy about the overall strength of the Top Eight Team in Tri-State Football. And I am not sure Illini West might not have an argument to be lording atop this list sometime soon at this current rate of week-to-week improvement trajectory.
THE NEXT LEVEL
He’s amassed 340 rushing yards in two games, so yes; it was inevitable that Nate Ferguson became a marked man defensively on Friday against Monmouth United. The emergence of Wes Rhoads then (133 yards on just 16 totes) was a necessary counterbalance and also a strong indication of why we’ve said from the outset that the Sparclones possess the most underrated Offensive Line in Tri-State Football. Friday’s bigger takeaway is that BWP needs to tighten the screws on its secondary before the big showdown with IW in two week.
7)FORT MADISON (2-0)
Did we oversell the Central Lee Defense? Undersell the Hounds revitalization? Both?? We will know better this time next week after Tony Shiffman’s crew hits the road for an even more stringent test with Oskie on Friday. By the same token, I am inclinded to buy here on this Cinderella commodity. No one accidentally rolls up 331 total yards with this kind of balance. Most defenses that were this down last year rebound to do as good a job as the Hounds did forcing key turnovers (4 interceptions including a pair by Tyler O’Tool) and rolling with the punches thrown by a back as good as Adam Rooney. There’s a lot of underlying, underpinning team stuff that suggests the culture change has taken root. And that’s a staggering flip of the script. But it’s only step one. And I am anxious to see what these guys can and will do with the new found advantage of a bit of wind in the sails. Because the talent here is indisputable.
If you were expecting me to back off my preseason belief in Beardstown because of a loss at Carrollton last week, you got the wrong guy. No tougher place to play in the WIVC. No harder way to lose than on a half-back option pass with 26 seconds left, capping a contest that was an absolute war between two clearly exception teams. And credit where credit is due: Nick Flowers team was down 23-21 with under three minutes left to play and showed its resolve in marching 76 yards to even have the opportunity to punctuate the victory. This is a Carrollton hallmark…and a mental toughness tenet a Tiger team just two seasons removed now from two straight winless seasons is still trying to incorporate into the Team DNA. Ultimately, this may prove a great teaching point for Robbi Howard moving forward on how to close in adverse circumstances. And better to lose against the Hawks in a crossover game than to drop a game in the North to Brown County this week. I am anxious to see what Beardstown responds with against the Hornets on Friday in what is clearly the most compelling game on the board.
I have zero idea how “good” the Mustangs are at this point. But I would put their volition and mental resolve up among the most impressive intangible outliers in our area. Remember when I told you last week West Central was still dangerous, even in the wake of that BC loss? The Cougars were up 20-7 on the Mustangs with 14 minutes to play. Conner McLaughlin’s team simply summoned that grit again and scored 19 unanswered points in a game that everyone else had essentially written them out of at that point; because they certainly didn’t look like the “better” team early. I absolutely hate the word swagger because it is so amorphous in definition but this team’s weird confidence in itself is the distillation of what I think people mean when they talk about having a swagger. Taylor Klusmeyer proved in basketball he’s a kid who gets better when the pressure rises. It translates to his quarterback play. His “little sawed off” Wide Receivers play the game like they think they are 6’4” MMA champs. And Dakota Ehrhardt…okay, that’s a separate issue because that kid is just an absolute monster bent on destruction (two pivotal sacks in the comeback) but I digress. Attitude is everything here with this program and it both scares and emboldens me about these guys. Are they as good on paper as Triopia this week? I don’t think so. Am I crazy enough to pick against this Mustang ethos, though? I don’t think so either…
10)SOUTH SHELBY (1-1)
The proverbial John Cafferty-styled “Things are Tough All Over” week for Rob Wilt and the Cardinals. Can’t help but think that South Shelby will have another crack at Monroe in the District and if you squint real hard looking at the first half highlight on Friday, a good Cardinals fan could probably convince him or herself that their team was an ill-timed fumble, a pair of spectacular catches by Dawson Shively and Nehemiah Batsell, and great defensive play on 4th and 3 by Blake Hays from a stalemate. Okay, it’s a stretch but in truth, if South had zero rhythm at any point on either side of the ball Friday. And this is a team that has looked as good as any when it is in rhythm. Don’t write these guys off yet. But Friday’s return grudge match with a Palmyra team that South whipped last year will be telling.
THE BEST OF THE REST
11) QND (1-1)
12) HANNIBAL (2-1)
13) CENTRAL (1-1)
14) VAN-FAR (3-0)
15)CENTRAL LEE (2-1)
17)CLARK COUNTY (1-2)
20)QUINCY HIGH (0-2)
22)BOWLING GREEN (1-2)
23)WEST CENTRAL (0-2)
24)SCOTLAND COUNTY (1-2)
25)KNOX COUNTY (1-2)
26)PLEASANT HILL/WESTERN (0-2)
27)NORTH SHELBY (1-2)
31)MARK TWAIN (1-2)
FEARLESS DUERRISMS PREDICTIONS FOR WEEK FOUR
Week 3 Predictions: 21 of 28 Correct (75%)
Season to Date: 49 of 65 Correct (75.3%)
DAVIS COUNTY 14
CENTRAL LEE 38
FORT MADISON 35
SOUTH SHELBY 18
MONROE CITY 52
MONTGOMERY CO. 22
CLOPTON ELSBERRY 24
BOWLING GREEN 48
MARK TWAIN 14
WRIGHT CITY 22
SCOTLAND COUNTY 30
SCHUYLER COUNTY 20
KNOX COUNTY 15
NORTH SHELBY 54
QUINCY HIGH 18
WEST HANCOCK 35
CLARK COUNTY 24
BLUE RIDGE 28
ILLINI WEST 35
BROWN COUNTY 22
NORTH GREENE 18
WEST CENTRAL 28
NORTH MAC 32
The loss at Alton Friday certainly seems to change the calculus of Quincy High’s Football Season. The Blue Devils travel to Geneseo on Friday, playing in the second ever game at the Maple Leafs palatial new stadium and very much at risk of falling to 0-3 on the year . Larry Johnsen’s (one time Pittsfield Coach back in the late 1990’s) Geneseo crew is 2-0 to open the year and has been incredibly stingy on Defense this year, allowing just 20 points in their first two contests. Obviously, injury issues have played into the Devil’s poor start but giving up 48 points to Alton with the healthy bodies the Devils do have is cause for alarm well beyond that. On paper, the Maple Leafs appear to be a much better team in all phases of the game than Alton. And while the Western Big Six has been collectively very pedestrian in the non-conference portion of the scheduling slate to this point (5-7 as a collective, thanks largely to Alleman’s hot start) an 0-3 Quincy High Squad would have to finish the year no worse than 5-1 to have a shot at a return to the playoffs. Certainly not an undoable scenario, but a tough one by my projections seeing as the Devils would essentially have to win out on the road the rest of the way (at Rocky, at Moline and at United Township) given the perspective difficulty presented at home by Alleman and Quincy Notre Dame. Put simply, a Blue Devil upset at Geneseo on Friday would be nice stroke of serendipity and alleviate some big time pressure on this program into October.
Through three games this season Paris Linebacker Breck Hancock has amassed 33 total tackles and six stops for loss. In a loss to Scotland County on Saturday, Hancock officially joined the nine-man 400 career tackle club in Missouri High School Football history. His 408 career tackles now makes him the eighth most prolific tackler in MSHSAA history. Breck is also now just a dozen tackles for loss (52 in his career and counting) from supplanting Slater's Colter Doherty (64 career TFL) as the All Time MSHSAA Leader in that statistical category as well.
Speaking of Landmarks: Scotland County's Troy Carper picked up career coaching victory Number One in the Tigers victory over Paris this week. And Kevin Krietemeyer earned his first career win at Bowling Green in a lopsided takedown of formerly unbeaten Clopton/Elsberry.
The Tennessee Tech game, was in essence, a sparring session for Western Illinois on Thursday. The real litmus test of just how good this Leatherneck squad is/may be comes Saturday night in Flagstaff, Arizona against offensive juggernaut Northern Arizona. The Lumberjacks dropped a 62-24 decision to the Arizona Wildcats in the opener, but it is worth noting that NAU did score 14 points in the first half on Zona’s first team Defense. The Necks started slowly on the road on Thursday in Cookeville, but got a breakout effort in the opener from Running Back Max Norris, who rushed for 135 yards on 19 carries as the workhorse for a squad that exploded for 24 third quarter points. Beyond that, Western played a lot of different guys/profiled different looks but really didn’t have to rev the offensive engines too much in a reasonably easy win. Linebackers Quentin Moon and Brett Taylor spurred the defensive charge with 10 tackles each. I think we will know much more about this team by Sunday morning.
Culver Stockton (0-2) and Quincy University (0-1) have gotten off to inelegant starts against difficult opposition. It’s going to take some time for both new coaching staffs to find traction. Both are home this weekend. C-SC hosts 2) Baker in the 11am Heart of America Television Game. Quincy University welcomes Alderson Broddus, a 42-24 loser to Saginaw Valley State in their opener at 1pm. It’s an interesting test on paper for the Hawks much touted (and greatly improved) Secondary as Battlers Quarterback Ryan Conklin comes in on the strength of a 10 of 14 passing performance against SVSU that saw him distribute three touchdowns in the offing.
After leading the nation in Division 3 rushing yards a year ago, Jacksonville product Chazz Middlebrook picked up right where he left off in MacMurray’s 22-14 season opening win over Rockford. Middlebrook finished the day with 288 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns in the win. Quincy High alum Cooper Bowles was credited with three tackles in the win as well.
Illinois College Kicker Zach DeWitt is your reigning Midwest Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. DeWitt drilled four field goals, including a school record 50-yarder with less than two minutes to go in the game in a 33-32 Illinois College loss to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He was also 2-for-2 on extra-point attempts. DeWitt connected from 44 and 29 yards in the first quarter, as well as from 40 yards and 50 yards in the fourth quarter. The 50-yarder tied the game at 26-26, though the teams would go on to score two touchdowns in the final two minutes to reach the final score
Quincy High’s Sierra Erke delivered 56 total kills Saturday in the Blue Devils charge to a second place finish in the Early Bird Tournament. She had 18 kills alone in a QHS win over 2016 Sweet Sixteen Qualifier Pekin.
Payson’s Josie Stanford was named Most Outstanding Player on Saturday Night for her efforts in leading the Lady Indians to a perfect run to the Suns Classic Title. Josie was joined on the All Tournament Team by teammates Kamryn Flesner and Riley Epperson. The honors squad also included Beardstown’s Olivia Dour, Rushville/Industry’s Ashley Chancy, Southeastern’s Lauren Glick and Alivia Lantz, Unity’s Addison Miller and Amanda Schrader, Illini West’s Gracie McDowell, Brown County’s Mariah Markert, and Liberty’s Paige Knuffman.
South Shelby Junior Autumn Blackford has one of those old “Baseball Digest Game I will Never Forget” afternoons in Edina at the Knox County Softball Tournament last Saturday. Autumn blasted four total home runs on the day, including two in one game in an 8-4 loss to Monroe City.
Quincy High’s Hannah Fuglaar made official her pledge to join the Westminster Softball program in Fulton, Missouri this past Saturday. Hannah like the academic prestige of the institution as well as the opportunity to make an immediate impact with her bat for the Bluejays in 2018.
He has had to fill the biggest shoes perhaps of any kind in Tri-State High School Sports this Fall, so credit QND Keeper Griffin Kirn for his exception early season play in goal for QND Soccer, which heads into Thursday’s Showdown with cross-town rival Quincy High at a tidy 7-1 record working on the year.
Apparently there is indeed life after Murphy Domitien for Beardstown Soccer. Absent their 147 career goal scorer (now at Lincoln Land) the Tigers have roared out to a 5-1 start season, with only an opening night loss to 3A Quincy High as a blemish on the record. The Tigers defeated Riverton Saturday 3-2 to claim the Four Corners Title at Williamsville.
Quincy High Stretch Forward Sarah Nelson’s recruiting stock appears to be on the rise. The Junior-to-be has received interest from Truman State and Quincy University, along with a far-flung list of Division 2 and NAIA schools after a strong showing on the AAU/Summer Circuit. She’s also had at least one low level D-1 Feeler from the East Coast, but at this point, is leaning towards playing much closer to home. Expect Sarah to elevate her profile for the new look Blue Devils this winter.
Brown County Native Cody Llewellyn has been promoted at Lindenwood University in St Charles to a full-time Womens Basketball Assistant under Tony Francis for the 2017-2018 campaign.