Tear Up this Town (Duerrisms for the Week of September 15th)
It’s is bright and early on Sunday Morning as I sit down to begin penning this column and all I can think is, man, I am not sure I am ready to turn the page on Last Week. What an absolute thrill ride, highlighted by what might just have been the most entertaining version of the Quincy Soccer Civil War I can remember and a host of Friday Night matchups that more than lived up to the bill/went down to the wire. If every week around here was like last week, my life expectancy would likely shorten. But hey, at least it would be a fun, short ride…
This is Duerrisms, everybody. Brought to you by our fantastic patrons at SLEEP TIGHT and working hard to arm you with all you need to know about the subplots and subtext that is Tri-State Local Sports. As ever, we appreciate your interest and your indulgence in this column and in our local kids and schools. A reminder that the fun here extends to Social Media as well. If you aren’t following us on Twitter (@ChrisDuerr) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/KHQAChrisDuerr) you are missing out on a lot of the fun. Twitter is your instant source for scores, scoops, Snap Judgments and whatever pop culture flotsam fills this vacant mind at any given time. And we run a pair of weekly polls on the Facebook Page that allow you to vote for both the SLEEP TIGHT Player of the Week, honored both in this column and in our Tuesday 6pm Sportscast, as well as let you pick the Week’s Top Highlight to be aired during our long-running Monday Night plays of the week segment: SENSATIONAL SEVEN. Those polls tend to open on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively and run until Tuesday, so you have only a limited window to take part. We’ve been overwhelmed by your participation and encourage you to tell a friend and let them join in the fun as well. And again, if you have trouble seeing the “bubbles” to vote on your computer when you go to vote, you are probably using an older browser that is not compatible with Facebook’s Poll app. It’s a simple fix: you need a newer browser. It’s a very simple upgrade process and lets you fully participate in the fun as your preferences will be heard.
Be forewarned: I am already bitter and angry and understaffed this Friday. Former KHQA co-worker Jack Pluta is getting married. On a Friday. In Football season. Despite all that time spent around me specifically telling him never to do any of those things. I mean really…where are the priorities in this horrific logistical decision? How can I staff High School Football games if half my staff is off taking advantage of the open bar policy at Nuptials Ala Pluta? It’s like he intentionally did this to hurt me. And thusly my wedding gift will be commensurate in scale and savagery. But good luck to he and his lovely new bride any way….the jerks.
We posted the application link on our website this week for KHQA STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Nominations here: http://khqa.com/sports/student-athlete-of-the-week/2017-student-athlete-of-the-week-recommendation-form This should make things very easy. You can fill out the paperwork yourself to nominate your favorite deserving High School Senior Athlete with a 3.5 GPA or better. Remember though, you do need your Athletic Director or High School Principal to sign off on the bottom of the form, so as to ensure that our nominees are all in good standing with their administrations. Our first Nomination Board meeting comes October 2nd and we begin the Wednesday Night Features on October 4th so get cracking on this quickly. This first meeting is always the best window for consideration, seeing as how we are always flooded with recommendations after the program starts hitting air again on Wednesdays. We don’t want to miss out on a single deserving candidate from any school.
Hope you get a chance to check out the MCDONALD’S SATURDAY MORNING TICKET on WTAD Radio, proudly hosted by yours truly. Granted, I understand some of you prize your sleep and the 8am air time on Saturday (930AM on your radio dial or streaming at WTAD.com) is a tad early. So we are posting podcast versions of the show at WTAD.com for you late risers. I’ve tried to include them on the KHQA Sports Facebook page as well so you can hear our long-form interviews with Tri-State Coaches and Players. It’s a fun show to do and I am really enjoying the experience of interviewing some great people (this past Saturday we had Rick Little, Kevin Miles and Jared Schmidt fill us in on the finer points of Quincy High and Palmyra Football as well as Liberty Cross Country) in a more casual way than you typically see on television. Man, I have new respect for the folks who do talk radio for a living. It sure is fun but the minutes go flying by in no time at all. Give us a listen and tell us what you think.
A special Duerrisms Tip of the Cap this Week to WIVC Football/Brown County Superfan Justin Ford and his lovely new Bride Emily on their Wedding. Justin is one of a kind and clearing the very definition of “outkicking his coverage” in life to boot. Wishing you both a lifetime of happiness and good Hornet games.
Last but not least this week: get yourself out to a college or high school sporting event. I got a chance to witness both the Quincy Soccer Civil War on Thursday and the Brown County/Beardstown thriller in person on Friday and I can’t think of a more thrilling return, in both cases, on your entertainment dollar. Go make yourself part of the action people. These hard working kids deserve it and I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Yours in Sports,
SEVEN TAKEAWAYS FROM THE WEEK THAT WAS
1)With a terrifically gritty win in hostile climes on Friday, the Quincy High Blue Devils changed the calculus of their entire season at Geneseo. Logan Ross’ pushed over a two-yard touchdown with 38 seconds to go to cap a furious late rally that powered QHS to a 21-17 victory and a now much more tenable 1-2 rather than 0-3 record through three weeks. Look, it’s high school football and nothing is set and stone, but it is my firm belief that a Blue Devil squad entering conference play winless and absent any kind of traction or momentum whatsoever was going to have a very hard time finding the five wins necessary to make the playoffs. The remaining schedule is tough, especially with Alleman’s star on the rise. The Blue Devil squad has already shown a propensity for poor luck in the injury department. And let’s be honest, 0-3 would have been a position rife for a crisis of confidence to creep in. Moreover, the Blue Devils would have been thrust into an essentially must-win Week 4 scenario against a red hot Galesburg squad (Steaks didn’t allow Sumner to cross midfield on Saturday) on Friday at home with the wherewithal to drop QHS to 0-4 in a zero margin for error game. By winning Friday, Rick Little’s team not only avoids that bleakish scenario, it reverses all the negative polarity and reinforces some very base tenets of Quincy High model of recent success. Obviously, when you get a kid of Jirehl Brock’s talents back in the fold after a shoulder injury, that’s a huge plus. And even at something Rick Little admits was less than 100% health-wise, Jirehl was able to amass 130 rushing yards and game saving 4th down reception that bailed the Devils out of a 4th an 16 scenario in the game’s final minute with 38 yards of special. That’s the surface contribution here but I think Jirehl’s presence serves a more oblique purpose as well in raising the level of confidence in those guys around him on offense. An Offensive Line that had struggled the first two weeks got some of its swagger back. The attention and pressure goes off lesser proven shoulders and back onto Jirehl’s pretty comfortably. And as a fringe benefit, this nicely emerging storyline of Quarterback Logan Ross becoming a real swashbuckling field leader here the last two weeks spins the narrative further even forward. In short, the Blue Devil Offense profiles more the way we envisioned it, with the back-of-mind knowledge that if need be, Mister Ross can wing it for 300 yards in a game and that QHS can potentially go against type to win a game. There’s a lot more “uplift” here on this side of the ball with both Jirehl and Logan in alpha roles, and both of those guys are fit for that duty. Moreover, after six really tough quarters of football, there’s traction for the Blue Devil Defense again as well. Holding a talented Offense like Geneseo’s to just 17 points and 325 total yards is a significant leap forward from what happened at Alton and more in tune with high energy approach we saw in the first half against Belleville West. Rick Little talked with us on the Morning Ticket Saturday about one of the inherent problems his team had in the first two weeks of the year was the lack of identity. I think the defense really reinforced who it is as collective, beyond just say Brock Baird, on Friday and that should be of benefit the rest of the way. Plus, having dueled very effectively in run defense with Kriston Davis in the first half in week one sets this group up with some swagger to attend to Streaks star Kobe Ramirez, who is coming off a 4 touchdown effort against Sumner. Granted, QHS certainly isn’t out of the woods yet as they Devils still have some digging to do. But I do think we see a team Friday against Galesburg that comes in for maybe the first time this year with all the oars in the water and everyone rowing in the same direction. Based on the talent on this roster, that team with that directive becomes very easy to like again.
2)Got my first chance to see the new look Tom Salley and Gary Bass coaching regimes in person at Culver Stockton and Quincy University respectively on Saturday. Salley’s debut in Canton, unfortunately, came against second ranked Baker and could not have started more nightmarishly. Baker opened with a long kickoff return, scored a 36 yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage, flipped a C-SC fumble into a safety, then scored a 81 yard touchdown strike on its first play of the next drive after getting the kick-off back. Essentially, the Wildcats were behind a 16-0 eight ball before the crowd had settled into its seats. Look, the Culver Stockton Defense is a long ways from being what it needs to be; no surprise as bad as it has been the last two years and no coaching change is magically going to erase that overnight. That established, if you are a fan of football and have no vested rooting interest, it’s an absolute treat to watch the Baker Offense at work. Their tempo running plays and outlier speed with which they attack at specific apex point in a defense and get everyone there to build and exploit a running lane is pigskin porn, for lack of a better term. Baker amassed 781 yards of total offense in this contest. That’s a good season for some schools. Heck, I could watch that team run the stretch running plays all day long and in that regard, this was not the test a rebuilding program wanted or needed for its “TV Game.” There were a few things though that I think are landmarks that Culver can build from. New Quarterback Jalen Jones is a really terrific athlete and at least twice while I was there for the first half on Saturday may plays on third and fourth down that moved the chains when he needed to, both via his feet and his arm. Given time to throw, he can find the right target and he’s a huge threat when flushed from the pocket. He’s playing behind an essentially all new Offensive Line, which at times did a nice job moving people around and allowing windows for plays to get made. You have to squint a bit now to do it but looking into next season and envisioning another good recruiting class, it’s not hard to see some light at the end of the tunnel for this unit moving forward into Jones Senior Year running the offense. Again, this will be a process of rebuilding measured in years, not days.
Meanwhile, QU bounced back from that rough opening night performance against powerhouse Midwestern State to roll up close to 500 yards of total offense in a 50-21 win over Alderson Broaddus. Look, I wasn’t sure what to expect way back this Summer when Gary Bass told me to expect an announcement in the next few weeks that he was moving then Defensive Boss Khanis Hubbard to Offensive Coordinator. His rationale being that Khanis was so good at knowing how to attack offenses from the other side of the ball, that said knowledge would lend itself to the QU Offense in more creatively being able to exploit defenses. If Saturday’s contest was any indication, I think that line of logic may prove sage. More than any other takeaway I can give you from Saturday afternoon, I really was enamored with Hawks game plan. Sure, the team’s execution and performance sagged at times in the early second and third quarters and not every drive was a work of art. They never are. But here’s what stood out. The Hawks play calling fit into no predictable pattern, which I think is telling. They’ve given Quarterback Andrew Rund licenses (and impetus) to run and make things happen with his feet, which I think felt organic. Hubbard made a dedicated decision to make use of Tight End Owen Schonenenberger in space, rolling him out into space on reverse pivot screens that let the kid channel his old school Jay Novacek. They attacked at different angles from the Run Game. Sure, that was made easier by the fact that Chris Harris reeled off a 55 yard touchdown run on his first touch from scrimmage and had 100 yards rushing and two TD before the end of the first quarter. Still, the Hawks mixed up the way they went after the Battlers with the run game. At least in the first half, I don’t think I saw QU run the same run play twice. The Hawks should be commended for not falling into the easy pattern of getting up two touchdowns and just predictably force feeding the ball to Harris either. I was suitably impressed in the overall creativity and craft of the game plan, I guess for lack of a better word. Sure it wasn’t the most stringent opponent and there were some execution lapses but the working marching orders here, as much as any one individual effort were the high point for me. Defensively, I thought QU showed better discipline in staying at home (some great plays there by Cody Leonard and TJ Daniels and Nate Rueckemann to force tackles for loss) and waiting out plays to develop against Broaddus. Obviously, watching Adehkeem Brown (2 Interceptions) lock down receivers is a nice penance for a lot of previously unwatchable years of Hawk Secondary Play and he’s a real field tilter for this squad who makes plays, both the needful simple ones as well as the spectacular. In full candor, this program’s inability to root out Personal Fouls still drives me up a freaking wall, but again the rest of the process seems to be nicely evolving. Saturday’s showdown with Lincoln represents a much grander step in that process but at least upon initial blush, I thought this one game snap shot indicates the Hawks future appears to be in smart, capable coaching hands. Certainly worth checking them out Saturday Night. Lincoln has had a boffo recruiting year, spearheaded by current Defensive Coordinator and former Helias Star Phil Pitts and like QU, is a program trying to infuse new blood into the scenario to enliven a long dormant tradition. I’d say this probably a must have win for both squads Saturday in bolstering that narrative of ascendency. I think that is going to equate to the best fight this side of the GGG/Canelo on Saturday, for a far more reasonable price point.
3) SLEEP TIGHT “SLEEPER OF THE WEEK” AWARD: He tends to get a bit overlooked on a Defense laden with outlier talent at all three levels, but JAMES CORVAIA can flat play. And on a lesser squad than West Hancock, he’s probably getting three times as much ink and splash as he has received to date. That established, the Junior Linebacker was an instrumental cog in Friday’s hard-fought Titan victory at Clark County and it needs better mentioning here. Corvaia delivered 11 tackles on Friday, two stops for loss, and a Quarterback Sack in helping his squad power past the Indians. And he’s just starting to really come into his own; harnessing the hard earned strength gains he made this offseason and turning them into tangible production. I think also speaks to the best part of this celebrated Titan Defense: an all hands in approach. For my money, the top two performers on this unit against Clark were two kids you’ve probably heard the least about this preseason/season-to-date: Corvaia and Korey Van Fleet, whose 12 tackle effort up front went largely overlooked as well. The point here is that everyone is working here and feeding off each other; that West Hancock isn’t just beating you with their “name guys” at this point. And that there’s a real possibility that this time next season, James and Korey are going to fit really nicely into “name roles” for themselves.
4)David Roddis knew that eventually he’d have to part company with talented young assistant coach Brian Lafferty, when that right first head coaching job came calling. And that is exactly what happened this Spring when Rushville Industry hired away the fiery young BWP Assistant. The strange serendipity of watching a valued talent/friend leave the nest however was that Lafferty’s departure created a vacancy for Roddis to reunite with his former boss and lifelong friend, John McCormick. The two served together on McCormick’s successful 14 year run coaching BPC; a tenure that ended with the BWP coop and John being passed over in favor of Roy Gully to lead the new fused program. When Gully left BWP to take of Springfield High, Roddis returned to the Bushnell coaching fold in 2015; just in time to find that his old friend Coach Mac had taken the head coaching job in conference at Havana; putting two guys who had known each other since grade school on opposite sidelines for the first time. The twist here is that after just two seasons, the struggling Havana program opted to part company with McCormick. And thus David Roddis found the very over-qualified staff member he needed to replace Coach Lafferty.
Now that you understand all the dynamics at play here, this seems a good time to mention that the newly reunited Sparclone Coaching Staff traveled to Havana on Friday and dropped a 55-12 decision on the Ducks to improve to a robust 3-0 on the season. I’m just going to take a wild stab here and say that is was a most enjoyable weekend for the McCormick Family, post victory on Friday Night. Granted, John would be the first to deflect all that and tell you he didn’t play a single down and that all credit goes to his kids, who are fast building on last year’s breakout campaign and becoming a power player (the next three weeks could prove that for certain with trips to Illini West, Elmwood/Brimfield, and then a home date with Farmington) And he’s certainly right about that. But let’s face it: who in this world doesn’t deserve a little professional validation as to their given field of endeavor. I suspect in some corner of his heart, in helping his friend David Roddis raise the BWP bar, John McCormick got to experience the sweetest variety of that Friday on the trip home.
5)Not sure I have a better compliment to hand out but there is a lot in the floor demeanor of this Hannibal Pirate Volleyball squad that reminds me of the very best-coached Teri Paul Colchester/West Prairie squads. Not the most talented per se, but the ones that the legendary Miss Paul cobbled together every year out of disparate pieces that over-delivered on everyone else’s expectations. Again, that is not a comparo I throw out lightly but I adore the work ethic of this squad and the sheer effort Kelsey Whitley is able to coax out of her girls on the Defensive End. Speaking plainly, the Pirates aren’t blessed with a lot of prototype size up front. You won’t see many splashy kills or highlight reel moments or bloated personal stat sheets. The Lady Pirates counter, however, with this mentality that they are going to dig absolutely everything you try to hit at them off the floor and frustrate you to death with a defense that just won’t quit. And its court-leveling. On paper, there is no way Hannibal should be to match the hitting artillery Payson Seymour (with two Division One pledges no less) brings to bare but there were the Lady Pirates on Tuesday handing the Lady Indians their first set loss of the season (27-25 in Set Two) and extending Payson to three sets for the first time this year. And the Lady Pirates respond to seemingly every haymaker punch thrown their way. Prior to the Payson game, I had a conversation with legendary QND Coach Rich Meyer about area volleyball and I told him point blank the most pleasant surprise I’ve seen in any sport this Fall so far had been Hannibal Spikes. And in his very Coach O-way, Rich just shot me a glance and said “I’m not surprised in the least because I know who coaches them.” That speaks volumes Kelsey Whitley; and the regard in which she is held even by the old guard of Tri-State Volleyball. And I think it speaks incredibly well for the future of Pirate Volleyball. You folks in America’s Hometown have yourself a terrific group of young ladies working hard together and a gem of a coach. And far more intelligent people than yours truly are saying it.
6)You’d probably expect this from a dude who introduced himself to the Tri-State Television Viewing Audience as a Freshman by telling our camera his race mantra was “Don’t be a Pansy today.” Still, Clark County’s Nathan Frazee sets a high bar for personal toughness and grit in the world of Cross Country. On Saturday at the Palmyra Invitational, Frazee was running neck and neck with Hannibal’s Ayden Nichols in trying to defend his individual title. The two front runners disappeared into the hinterlands of Flower City Park not to be seen again for another seven minutes, when only Nichols emerged in route to a victory and new meet record (17:01) to cross the finish line. Fifty seconds later, and still somehow comfortably in second place all by himself, Frazee came running to the line clearly not himself. There was a weird gait to his usually unflappable stride and a strange ashen look on his face. And yet there was Frazee bounding forward to the finish line because that is what you do as a runner. You finish. No matter how long it takes and without excuses. Frazee collapsed just as he crossed the line and had to be taken from the event by an ambulance. We saw a similar scenario play out last year at the Running Raider Classic with Jacob Bryan. Point is, there’s all kinds of toughness in the sports world. It may not be celebrated in Cross Country Runners like it is with Middle Linebackers and Hockey Enforcers, but it takes an incredible amount of fortitude to keep moving forward when your body is fighting you and telling you simply to go down. So here’s to the kids who throw themselves into this sport with such fervor and passion because it is not for the faint of heart. And because such toughness and dedication in all endeavors should commands our respect.
7)THINGS I HATE MOST IN THE WORLD…AT LEAST FOR THIS WEEK: Having to leave Friday Night Football games at halftime that turn into instant classics at the final horn. Sunday Nights without Game of Thrones until at least 2019. Having to work during GGG/Alvarez fight and being doomed to hear the result on Social Media before I get home to see it for myself. Friday Night Fall Weddings by former co-workers turned betrayers to the cause of Tri-State High School Football Coverage.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN FOR WEEK FOUR
7)MICHAEL BURNS, RB, Concord Triopia
23 Carries, 136 Rushing Yards, 4 Touchdowns vs Unity/Payson
6)PEYTON PLUNKETT, LB/FB, Palmyra
19 Carries, 114 Rushing Yards, 2 Touchdowns; 10.5 Tackles, Safety vs South Shelby
5)JARED BRISBY, RB/LB, Central Lee
10.5 Tackles, 2 Quarterback Sacks, 2 Tackles for Loss vs Davis County
4)NOAH PAFFORD, WR, Bowling Green
10 Receptions, 159 Yards , 3 Touchdowns vs Van-Far
3)CHARLES HENSLEY, QB, BWP
3 of 4 Passing, 107 Yards, 2 Touchdowns; 6 Carries, 35 Rushing Yards, 2 Touchdowns vs Havana
2)JUSTIN SHIREMAN, FB/LB, Pleasant Hill/Western
3 Carries, 71 Rushing Yards, Touchdown; 6 Tackles, TFL, 2 Pick Six Interceptions vs North Greene
1)AUSTIN CALLAHAN, QB, Bowling Green
25 of 43 passing, 442 Yards, 7 Touchdowns, 2 Interceptions vs Van-Far
KHQA/SLEEP TIGHT PLAYER OF THE WEEK (AS VOTED BY YOU THE FANS ON OUR KHQA SPORTS FACEBOOK PAGE)
JOE HENDRICKER, Quarterback, Brown County High School
Rationale: Quarterbacks are, and should be, defined by their performance in big games. If that is the rubric, Joe Hendricker certainly certified his legitimacy in the win over Beardstown on Friday; arguably the most impactful force on the field on a night when there were no lack of impressive performances in both uniforms. The final stats were tidy. Hendricker completed seven of eight passing attempts for 154 yards and two touchdowns, but they are almost golf scorecard misleading in telling the scope of the story. Hendricker’s got a lively arm, no question. What you don’t understand until you see him in live bullets is just how creative he can be in finding windows for his spirals. Or how unorthodoxly mobile he is, almost Roethlisberger-esquely so, with his escape ability for a guy who doesn’t look traditionally mobile. That first touchdown he threw against Beardstown, with pressure bearing down on him from Adam Kirchner was just a thing of joy. How Joe got that off with a full armed/full strength delivery in that nanosecond window before Kirchner collapsed on his throwing shoulder is a mystery. And yet he found Devin Tynan literally in stride behind four (!!!) Tiger Defenders. Joe puts the ball on the money in high pressure situations very well; his third down conversion to Tynan in the second quarter to set up the Hornets second touchdown was perfectly on the money; a blind throw off a really quick herky/jerky play fake no less. He also pulled off a perfectly exquisite naked bootleg to cap the drive; one which Tom Little quipped afterwards was the longest carry of Joe’s career (13 yards) And obviously, a clutch game winner to Tanner Sussenbach in OT to win the game speaks to the icewater in his veins. Here’s the thing with Joe. He’s a very good natural athlete, even if at times he looks ungainly in being so. I am told he might be the most freakishly natural golfer in Mount Sterling. He’s nimble and mobile in a way that belies that he looks more like a good Middle Linebacker in his uniform than a Quaterback. He has great cover ability and break on the thrown football on a Defense, against for a guy he profiles like he is playing out of position. And on top of all of that, he’s smart and poised in all that he does. He’s a tremendously fun player to watch and for my money, the best of a rising group of Quarterbacks that is delivering far more than anyone realized going into this season. More than that, Joe Hendricker is a winner and it that intangible gene goes a long way in fueling the drive that is pushing his team to be same. If I am Tom Little, there’s not a kid in the area I would trade him for at this point. He has an outlier talent for making good things happen; a rare gift but on that elevates everyone around him. And with him, that BC Offense is clearly a really tough proposition to try and control.
Week One-KEVIN CAMPBELL, RB/DB-Hannibal vs Helias
Week Two-DEVIN TYNAN, RB-Brown County vs West Central
Week Three-ALEX GULLY, RB/DB-Fort Madison vs Central Lee
KHQA POWER POLL FOR WEEK FIVE
1)WEST HANCOCK TITANS (3-0)
Last Week: 32-26 win at Clark County
Up Next: vs Schuyler County
THE THRILL OF THE CHASE: Two things I think I know after four weeks of high school football: Clark County is the best 1-3 team in the state of Missouri and playing the Indians at their place is no picnic for anyone. Ethan Allen’s crew has the unique distinction here of having traded punches with the top two teams on this Power Poll and his Indians gave both resident powerhouses (Monroe City on opening night and now the Titans on Week Four) all they could handle. On Friday, the Indians fought back from a one-time 20 point second half deficit to get within a single score of West Hancock at 32-26 with just under 90 seconds remaining. Chase Hartweg snuffed out any further comeback talk by pouncing on Clark County’s onside kick attempt and securing his team its third straight win. Look, I am sure letting a 32-12 margin nearly evaporate doesn’t sit well with the Titan coaching staff and I am guessing Travis Cook’s kids will hear a lot about the “boot to throat” theory in practice. It’s a good “keep-your-head-on-straight” moment that talented teams often need, especially when coming off the high of a win like the Miller Academy blowout that set tongues wagging in two different states (got a text from my old TV partner in crime Kurt LaBelle this week, who now lives in St Louis remarking on the rarity of anyone handing the Phoenix a beat like the one the Titans doled out last Saturday. Kurt is doing great by the way. The LaBelles just had their second adorable child. Thank God for his lovely wife’s DNA making that chasm leap.) West Hancock was feeling its oats a bit too much perhaps and maybe Clark County’s late surge was the best teaching tool the Titan Coaching staff could have asked for at this juncture; that you can’t let your foot off the gas pedal ever. When Travis Cook was on the Morning Ticket with me a few weeks ago, he did make a rather interesting point about the learning process of his kids dealing with the hype and the challenges therein. We all tend to forget that when these Seniors were Freshman, this program was in repose. So yes, even with immense talent, growing pains are even still a necessary part of the process. And look, there’s no denying the talent of this team. Looking at the best moments of Fridays win, again against a really salty opponent with a Quarterback in London Brunk who is playing at an insanely high level, it’s clear that Max-Q West Hancock is a world beater. (And in the second half, against same, we saw that “meh” West Hancock is vulnerable to upset.) The Titans essentially scored 40 points (Zeb Riney’s incredible chase down/strip fumble at the goal line wiped an otherwise certain TD off the board) in three quarters against a very good defensive squad. Looking back at the highlights, I thought Andrew Harris and Andy Bird deliverd some of the best Offensive Line play I’ve seen from them in the first half. Jim Unruh’s reputation as the best in-game play-caller in Illinois is only getting augmented by having the ability to go Hartweg/Wilson/Langford/Buckert at a given time behind that O-Line, and it seems like the ball is always ending up in the right hands for the right moment. Look, 411 rushing yards against that defense (without benefit of a single completed pass) is a testament to the power of this offense to impose its will. The Titans defense posted seven tackles for loss against Clark, which shows just how aggressive and explosive it can be. Tyler Korn and Andy Bird continue to power the Defensive front. The Linebackers continue to rack up tackles, both spectacular and quietly effectively depending on the kid. And Riley Langford continues to prove that throwing in his direction is a fool’s errand, with yet another spectacular interception (he tipped the ball one handed to himself in the end zone) to take away points from Clark just before the half. It might not have been as clean or elating as the victory a week ago, but this was still a very quality win in its own right for West Hancock. And degree of difficulty points for that W is probably the reason this week I still hold West Hancock in the number one slot on this power poll ahead of Monroe City. I did have an enlightening exchange with Ethan Allen this weekend about the whole “who’s better” question in regards to the Titans and Panthers that I can’t share, but I do find it interesting that Allen is quick to point out just how much commonality there is between Monroe City and West Hancock in terms of strengths, approach and even the way their personnel profile on the field. Obviously, the connective tissue between those two programs is so strong given the Brock Edris Factor but I just found it telling that those teams only common opponent emphasized that playing Monroe and playing West Hancock is kid of the exact same animal. Beyond that, it’s onward and upward for the Titans in their final Show Me State Game of the year, hosting (for the first time this year) 1-3 Schuyler County before the biggie with QND looms in two weeks.
2) MONROE CITY (4-0)
Last Week: 60-0 win at Louisiana
Up Next: at Highland
COLE POWERED: Much like with Centralia in this same spot last week, I am not going to devote a whole lot of time to the Panthers Week Four showing. A half dozen different Monroe City guys scored touchdowns in the 60-nil win over Louisiana, including four end zone visits of the Pennewell variety (two for Cole, two for Noah who amassed 67 rushing yards on just five touches) Zach Osborn touched the football twice, scored a touchdown and averaged 36 yards a carry on Friday before effectively shutting it down. Gage Bottoms scored. Blake Hays had a long touchdown run of 46 yards. And Gatlin Bichsel did the scoop and score thing in the fourth quarter. It was just that kind of thing in an unfortunate mismatch of disparately talented squads. And the way Monroe City’s Offensive Line is playing, five across right now, I am not sure it matter Friday who the backs were; this team still could have named its final number. Candidly, I am not sure Highland (giving up 41 points per game on average to this point to a slate of less explosive opponents) can put up any better defensive resistance this week. Monroe is just a finely tuned offensive machine at this moment in time and it is going to take an extra special defense to hold them under 40 on a given night. More importantly to this storyline however and as we saw against South Shelby, the defense is starting to round nicely back into shape too. Monroe surrendered just 52 total yards of offense and just two first downs on Friday and much of that came long after the game was decided. That said, I do think with Centralia and Palmyra looming next month, sustaining that trajectory of progress on D is critical. In that sense, these next three games with Highland, Brookfield and Paris have value for David Kirby’s crew. And look, for whatever their struggles to date this season, it’s not like the Cougars don’t offer some big play danger in a quarterback center offense with a kid there who when healthy in Chance Newton, can make plays. I’d suggest then it is on Monroe’s D to continue tightening the stranglehold; aiming to deliver a similar clean sheet Friday against the Cougars as it did to Louisiana. Sometimes in this world, you have to motivate yourself with self-actuated challenge to stay sharp and prove you are about your business. This is such a week for the Monroe Defense. And as such, a chance for those kids to prove their maturity and dedication to the purpose of winning a state title. You either get better or you step backwards in this world. This is a chance for the sharks to show just how savage they can be as hunters.
3) CENTRALIA (4-0)
Last Week: 48-7 win over Brookfield
Up Next: at South Shelby
A MONSTER CALLS: For the first time this season, I think we truly saw the ceiling of what Centralia can be or may be this season. Granted, it was largely a three quarter glimpse but what the Panthers did to Brookfield after a largely pedestrian opening frame should have everyone’s attention in Class 2 Football right now. It seems like Jim Newsted’s crew found its offensive rhythm Friday and as such, rolled up 533 total yards against a Bulldog Defense that have been fairly stout in allowing just 20 points per game in the early part of the slate. Yet the shredding Brookfield received Friday bore no resemblance to some of the better work it had done against the run. At the risk of overstating this from the outside looking in, Friday seemed like the night that Centralia finally got the interior component of its run game in synch with all that Wing Back speed. In short, we may look back at what happened down the road and simply refer to this as Tyler Dorman Week; the moment when the Panthers combo fullback fully unleashed himself about the Cannon. On his 18th Birthday, no less. He finished the night with 198 rushing yards and three touchdowns, a capable mix of toughness with a bit more initial burst than we have come to expect from your typical Centralia bruiser at that spot. Maybe Jim Newsted had just been playing possum with Dorman to this point; poisoning the well in the early season for future opponents by profiling so much of the Trey Owens/Kaiden Davenport “to the edge” component while trying to also establish Clayton Simkins versatile skills at Quarterback. On Friday, Centralia got back to its roots between the tackles and credit not only Dorman, but a fast rising Offensive Line for just churning earth at Brookfield’s expense. It’s not like Brookfield doesn’t have size up front or great sideline-to-sideline speed on Defense. And yet, the Bulldogs just go overrun on Friday, guessing wrong on misdirection in the backfield or letting Dorman churn off initial contact. To some degree, I think Trey Owen’s opening frame 75 yard salvo got in everyone’s head. That’s an embarrassing moment for a defense, one you don’t want to give up again and it feels like from that point on, some of the game plan discipline went flying out the window. The basic fundamental flaw here; perhaps the most axiomatic against this type of Offense is this: If you aren’t putting the Fullback on the ground on every snap, there’s danger. That mission went out the window quickly and Tyler Dorman is suddenty a dude in the Cannon with as much momentum as anyone. Couple him with Owens (158yds Friday) and Davenport and that’s now as hard an offense to defend as exists in our area. And while it’s easy for us to get caught up in all that goodness, let’s not forget that the Centralia Defense essentially pitched a shutout against an explosive Brookfield offense as well. Brookfield’s only score Friday came on a 75 yard kickoff return. The by-committee approach continues there as Grafton Littrell got his chance to shine with a dozen tackles and an interception to lead the charge. To put a finer point on it, Brookfield’s got a nice balance of offensive weapons, from Castor Dodd’s accomplished passing poise to a couple of really good backs. To keep that group out of the end zone is really impressive. Friday, we get to see Centralia in Shelbina, against what on paper just two weeks ago, looked to be the Panthers toughest test of the early season. And yet, some of that initial “let’s find out just how good these two teams are” intrigue has dissipated with Cardinals stuck in a weird malaise born of self-inflicted wounds on the field and off. In that sense, I honestly don’t know what to expect Friday. What South team shows up? And looking back, the Panthers crushing win over Clark County gets better by the moment. Could this actually be the best team in Tri-State Football right now? For the first time this year, that thought is starting to creep front and center.
4) BROWN COUNTY (3-0)
Last Week: 25-19 OT win over Beardstown
Up Next: at Routt
JOE COOL: Do we know definitively if the better team won on Friday? Hard to say given the Pascal Guilavogui DNP. You’d think a healthy version of that kid would yield more yardage and more results for Beardstown than we saw Friday. And it’s unfortunate that the injury he suffered against Carrollton clouds our take on this game. Here’s what I know definitively about the Hornets vs Tigers showdown Friday: I came away with raised impressions of both squads. I was only there for the first half of this game, sadly. What struck me initially was the power of Beardstown’s Offensive Line. The Tigers marched the ball straight away into the Brown County Red Zone running nothing more complicated than basic dive plays. The Tigers lined up foot to foot, absent its one game breaker, and pounded away at BC’s Defense. And yet, Jared Hoots crew bowed its neck and made the play It needed most; a Lars Reische tackle for loss on 4th Down that killed the drive. Two plays later, Joe Hendricker made the best Quarterback play we’ve seen this regular season (Highland’s Chance Newton on the run vs Bowling Green in the jamboree is still the standard to this point, whether it counts or not) by avoiding a sure Beardstown sack, ,throwing weirdly across his body to hit Devin Tynan for a 77 yard bomb that instantly changed the polarity of this game to the Hornets favor. And that was really the story of this contest. I am not sure if Brown County won this game, in boxing parlance, by compu box numbers. They won it by hitting the biggest power punches of all at the most opportune times. Both run defenses excelled for most of the rest of the half, until BC’s late drive to take a 12-0 lead led by Tom Little’s most sublime play call in years; a naked bootleg touchdown rumble for Hendricker that put the Hornets up 12-0 at the half and by as much as a 19-0 margin in the third quarter. The story could have ended their, but man is this Beardstown team of gritty resolve. If you didn’t walk away from Friday Night with respect for kids like Ike Riddle, Brady O’Hara, Drake Wrobleski et al, I can’t help you. They just fought their hearts out to get back into this game. Riddle might be the most improved kid over four years I’ve seen play the Quarterback position. And the Bill Cramblitt/DJ McWilliams Wide Receiver gave BC the kind of fits that will make future Hornet Opponents consider trying to stretch the field over the top. Also, Beardstown’s run defense held the Hornets to just 116 yards of rushing. That’s a yeoman’s effort and indicative of just how good that Beardstown Linebacker core has become; led by the dude who should be the Tiger’s All State Candidate: Brady O’Hara. All three of those Linebackers were everywhere, but O’Hara is a true closer of the highest order. And again, Riddle finding DJ McWilliams wide open in the end zone as time expired to tie the game is tremendously clutch. Yet somehow, Brown County bounced back from that punch in the jaw was telling. Daniel Ryssman makes the key play of the night, blocking the PAT (again, Guilavogui’s presence may have been missed in special teams more than anywhere else. No PAT. No FG on the initial drive) and forcing OT. The Defense roars up to finally shut down Beardstown in OT (at the exact moment my radio signal died by the Quincy Airport) and Tanner Sussenbach and Joe Hendricker seal the deal with their game winning strike. What a phenomenal contest. To think…I’ve now lived long enough to see a potential WIVC North Title showdown in Wing-T heaven decided by “best passing team win” philosophy is truly paradigm shifting. But here we are. Sadly, there will be no rematch. But this was the rare game that proved better than adverstised and I think both teams emerge better for it. Most importantly for Tom Little’s crew, the Hornets emerge undefeated from it as well.
5) BWP (3-0)
Last Week: 55-12 win vs Havana
Up Next: at Illini West
THE ART OF THE TEEL: Are the Sparclones for real? Again, we will better be able to answer that question over the next three weeks. That said, I think it’s fair to assert that the Sparclones are pretty darned good. I don’t care who you are playing; if you come out of a night with no penalties and no punts, you’ve done something right. The Sparclones scored on their first six possessions on Friday at Havana’s expense in building a 41-0 lead; again a reinforcement of the notion I’ve been trying to convey since the preseason: this is one heck of an offensive line. They aren’t the biggest group in the world and may not pass the eye test the way some groups do, but let loose the Sparclones up front and they are a blur of motion and fury. They fronted for 275 rushing yards from six different backs. They pull and get to contact as well as any group we’ve seen this year. And they are the dudes who to this point have made all this success possible. That includes paving the way for some of the interesting tinkering David Roddis has done with his offense, moving Devin Yocum to Wide Receiver with great effect (3 Receptions, 107 yards 2 TD) and installing Charlie Hensely at Quarterback. That dynamic, weirdly timed as it seems, is yielding dividends. Hensley completed 3 of his four passes and rushed for 35 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wes Rhoads continues to shine at running back and scored another touchdown. Tyler Donaldson got some extra shine this week and responded with 85 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown late in the game, showing how deep the skill position wells might be here. And the Sparclone Defense is feasting right now. Trenton Teel was all over our video Friday making hits. Jax Hiel and Carter Weaver are two incredibly fast rising blitzing Linebackers. There’s a ton to like here. Friday we find out just how for real all of this turns out to be with a trip to Fuzz Berges Field against an Illini West squad that is a wounded animal after last Friday’s embarrassing loss to Farmington. There may be no telling contest for both teams on the Week Five slate than this thriller; which is where yours truly is headed this week. Anxious to see what shakes on both side.
THE NEXT LEVEL
6) TRIOPIA (2-1)
Welcome to the ledge, where things get much murkier in our power poll after the Top Five. I’m playing a hunch here with a young, talented Triopia squad that has posted two epic finishes the last two weeks (vs Pleasant Hill and vs Unity/Payson) to climb to this perch. Michael Burns was the big engine in Friday’s thrill ride victory with 136 rushing yards and four touchdowns, including the game winner with under forty seconds left in regulation. A week ago, it was Zach Thompson 186 all-purpose yards, 4 TD and an interception on Defense. Shawn Bell has been good at Quarterback. These guys are just laden with weapons, and now confidence. Friday’s date with Central intrigues me greatly on both fronts. There will be a lot of weaponry on that field.
7) CENTRAL (2-1)
Weird dynamic on Friday as I drove from the game with the fastest first half (BC/Beardstown) to the game with the slowest first half (Routt/Central) just in time to hit halftime in Camp Point. Sports directors, luck, I suppose. I believe Brad Dixon employed something like 14 different running backs in the short time I was there Friday Night. In the end, it was actually just five, but the rotation and variance with which Cole Williams, Wilson Stotts, Noah Strokirch, Chayse Houston and Chase Norfolk received the ball was impressive. Williams led the assault with 161 yards and a touchdown but really all of those guys looked pretty salty. Wilson Stotts has nice vision and I love the kind of connect-all-the-dots versatility Norfolk brings to this loaded mix. Offensive Line looked good. Saw two series of Defensive plays where just about every tackle was made by Noah Strokirch. I think we will know a lot more about this group after their trip to Don Kemp Field.
8) UNITY/PAYSON (2-1)
The Mustangs are one late Defensive stand from being 3-0, so yes, the WIVC North love in this part of the poll is justified. Taylor Klusmeyer had three passing touchdowns and a TD scamper on the ground against the Trojans, but was also beset by a trio of interceptions. More than anything, a Mustang Defense that has been so solid in fourth quarters this season seemed to wear down under the versatility of the newly diversified Triopia attack and thusly couldn’t close down shop after a Michael Pratt TD reception had given them the lead with 4:30 to play. It was a great game, unfortunate that someone had to lose. And there’s an even tougher test on the immediate horizon with a road trip to Beardstown on Friday Night.
9) FORT MADISON (2-1)
It’s the old Mike Tyson axiom: everyone has a plan until they get hit. The upstart Bloodhounds took a Sor Rungvisai sized cross to the jaw at Oskie on Friday, giving up 58 points while struggling to contain a speed and size laden spread offense. Tony Shiffman’s challenge is no preventing a crisis of confidence for a team that was sky high in that department this time a week ago. The psyche of rebuilding teams trying to elevate after years of dormancy is always tricky after these kind of losses. The Ft Madison staff has had all the right answers to this point. Bridging this crossroads back into a winnable game against West Burlington/Notre Dame squad seems a critical crossroads moment here.
10) ILLINI WEST (2-1)
No amount of lipstick can gussy up one of the most bizarrely disappointing performances by a good team in recent memory. I spoke with a colleague who was on hand for the much-anticipated IW/Farmington showdown and I asked that person if the farmers were really that good in posting a 50-0 win. The take I got was that the Chargers, instead, simply no-showed this game, which is equal parts disturbing and weirdly reassuring, I suppose. I can’t fathom how a team that had played so well to date and that had so much to play for would simply come out flat in its first real test of the season. IW has had bad quarters over the years in which it has still generated 93 yards of total offense. Incredulous that said outcome was their game total? With that offensive line and those weapons? Dumbfounded. Same token, the Chargers failures were not the result of a talent disparity and if Lyle Klein can getting the synapses firing that was so badly missing last week, maybe this thing can be rekindled. BWP is a pride game this week and the Chargers have some serious questions to answer about themselves. How they attend this week is also very much a crossroads moment for this program this season.
11) CENTRAL LEE (2-1)
Nice bounce back win for the Hawks after having their reputation as a Defensive power diminished by the Fort Madison loss a week earlier. Monster game for Jared Brisby, who delivered eight solo stops and a pair of Quarterback sacks in the win over Davis County. The Central Lee run game asserted its power as well with Tyler Hopp running for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns and Adam Rooney doing his thing to the tune of 116 yards and three scores, including a 63 yarder. Hawks host winless Albia Friday looking to continue their crescendo of momentum.
12) PALMYRA (3-1)
Bully for the Panthers, who have found their footing after that ugly opening night loss in Macon. Best info-stat of the year to date: with two more interceptions against South Shelby, including a pick six, Braxden Neil now has seven picks in just four games. He’s on the Luke O’Laughlin trajectory at the rate of thievery. Nice revenge win for the Panthers; a game that was almost exactly inverse to what the Cardinals did to Palmyra in Shelbina a year ago. Peyton Plunkett continues to feast on both sides of the Football. Jacob Kroeger added 116 of his electrifying yards on the ground on just 15 totes, further cementing the danger factor in his quarterback play (boy that head to head with London Brunk Friday is fun) And the up and comers on this Defense (Tristan Gottman, Gabe Goodwin, Brady Barnett) ponied up their best collective effort of the year. Win Friday in Kahoka and Palmyra becomes the most interesting riser in the Cannon all of a sudden.
THE BEST OF THE REST
13) MACON (2-2)
14) QND (1-2)
15) BEARDSTOWN (1-2)
16) HANNIBAL (2-2)
17) PLEASANT HILL/WESTERN (1-2)
18) SOUTH SHELBY (2-2)
19) SCOTLAND COUNTY (2-2)
20) QUINCY HIGH (1-2)
21) KNOX COUNTY (2-2)
22) CLARK COUNTY (1-3)
23) BOWLING GREEN (2-2)
24) VAN-FAR (3-1)
25) BROOKFIELD (1-3)
26) CLOPTON/ELSBERRY (2-2)
27) PARIS (2-2)
28) MACOMB (1-2)
29) ROUTT (1-2)
30) MARK TWAIN (1-3)
31) NORTH SHELBY (1-3)
32) RUSHVILLE/INDUSTRY (0-3)
33) WEST CENTRAL (0-3)
34) KEOKUK (0-3)
35) JACKSONVILLE (0-3)
36) HIGHLAND (0-4)
37) PITTSFIELD (0-3)
38) LOUISIANA (0-4)
FEARLESS DUERRISMS PREDICTIONS FOR WEEK FIVE
Week 4 Predictions:18 of 26 Correct (69%)
Season to Date: 67 of 91 (73.6%)
CENTRAL LEE 42
FORT MADISON 35
CLARK CO. 20
SOUTH SHELBY 14
BOWLING GREEN 35
MARK TWAIN 14
WRIGHT CITY 30
N CALLAWAY 30
KNOX COUNTY 39
SCOTLAND CO. 28
SO NODAWAY 47
NORTH SHELBY 22
QUINCY HIGH 27
LUTHERN ST PETERS 28
SCHUYLER COUNTY 7
WEST HANCOCK 42
MT ZION 40
BROWN COUNTY 40
WEST CENTRAL 27
NORTH GREENE 12
ILLINI WEST 38
NEW BERLIN 30
Palmyra’s Ben Althoff finished second on the team in tackles with seven in Northeast Missouri State’s 20-14 win over Washburn on Saturday, extending the Bearcats current win streak to 34 games. Althoff also had a tackle for loss. Macon’s Trey Kothe has started for the Bearcats at Left Guard in both of their first two games.
Quincy University’s Chris Harris is the GLVC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time in his career, powered to the honor by his 157 yard, 3TD performance against Alderson Broaddus on Saturday.
West Hancock’s Andy Bird announced via Social Media this week that he will be continuing his academic and athletic career at the University of South Dakota, pledging for Track and Field. Bird finished second in the state as a Junior in the Shot Put and seventh in the Disc.
The very talented and resilient Sarah Harness announced this week that she has pledged Southern Illinois to continue her High School Softball Career. The Bowling Green Pitcher, who has rebounded wonderfully from major off-season back surgery, has been dynamite in the early part of this season and becomes the second D-1 pledge on her team, joining Kentucky bound Catcher Gabi Deters.
Dynamic Keokuk Point Guard Michaela Davis received her first college offer last week from Missouri S&T.
West Prairie Volleyball stars Peyton Bowman and Cora Vyhnanek have de-committed from Western Illinois and reopened their recruiting processes.
She’s already starting to ping radar in Volleyball, but just wait until you see Central Lee 6’1” Freshman Mya Merschman on the basketball court. I am told reliably on a couple of different fronts the gifted wing is the next big splash player in Tri-State Girls Basketball.
Junior Adam Albright scored six goals (three in each half) on Tuesday in a 10-2 Hannibal win over Moberly; tying the program record for single game scoring. Eric Hill’s crew certainly doesn’t lack for firepower. If the Pirates ever calibrate their consistency game to game or even half to half, this could be a very dangerous club come postseason.
The events of the last two weeks (a Hannibal Tournament Consolation Championship, a hard fought loss to 2016 State Qualifier Jacksonville) have only served to prove the scuttlebutt we’d been hearing during the Summer: Macomb Soccer is very much improved relative to what they have been the last few seasons. I’m not saying this is a team ready to win Regional titles yet, but there is clear improvement here in the level of ball skill and unselfish play. Having seen them twice now in person, I’d dare say Macomb is a fun watch. Junior Midfielder Tanner Buchanan is a particularly skilled talent; almost the soccer equivalent of a really charismatic, pass first point guard. There’s only five seniors on the Roster, so I don’t think it is unfair to think Jose Galvan’s crew is at the beginning of a nice upward trajectory.
Illini West Cross Country and Track and Field star Jacob Bryan is garnering Division One recruiting attention for his talents in the 800 meter. Southern Illinois has been most active so far, but the Charger Senior (who plans on being an Education Major) will also consider Nebraska, Iowa, and Iowa State as potential avenues.
Sarah Harness twirling one-hitters at Palmyra’s expense pretty much cements Bowling Green as the softball team to beat in Northeast Missouri right. That established, still hoping we get a make-up date on the washed out Highland/Bowling Green contest from week one of the Fall Season. Watched the Lady Cougars in comeback mode again this week as they rallied from a 5-0 deficit to beat Canton. I don’t know that Highland is as talented 1-9 as Bowling Green (actually, there might not be a small school team in that state that is, for that matter) but Paul Scifres’ crew has a puncher’s chance to beat anyone, given the really gifted hitters populating that line-up, especially 1-6. And Becca Scott’s ability to turn a game with a single swing (she is scary powerful) has really proven a nice catalyst for that squad. Again, I would think Bowling Green the favorite in that contest but I’d sure like to see it play out for myself.
This slid a bit under our radar but former KHQA Basketball Player of the Year, Canton Basketball star, and eventually Western Illinois University Leatherneck Tori Niemann has taken the next step in her career in Collegiate Sports Administration. Tori! Tori! Tori! has left her position at WIU to become the Assistant Director for Student Athlete Development at Clemson. That’s a pretty impressive job leap but no surprise to any of else luck enough to have gotten to know the talented Miss Niemann both from the Athletic and Academic fields of endeavor over her career. We wish her all the best.