The 2012 KHQA ALL DO OR DIE Football Team


Gridiron Greetings and Happy Holidays my friends. Celebrating seventeen years now of Tri State Pigskin Coverage, this is your KHQA All Do or Die Football Football Team for 2012.

Obviously, we launched a new format for these awards this year, absent the one hour show. In full disclosure, it has become harder and harder to find a meaningful hour of time in which to blow out network programming and put the physical Do or Die Program itself into the hour long time slot it demands. Thus, this new experiment with the "Awards Week" Format. If you missed any of those features, you can find them all here on the Website. (We started on December 9th with our Breakout Award winner and wrapped up with our POY on OVERTIME on December 15th) The extra time I have been afford this year in not having to physically edit the show itself has allowed us a little more time to devote to this column. If you have any thoughts, recommendations, criticisms on this front, please e-mail them to me at as I would certainly be interested in hearing you all out in trying to find the right way to continue to do these awards in the coming years ahead.

Time now for our annual disclaimers: these awards shows, more than anything else we do all season, are based on nothing but our subjective opinion and are intended purely as entertainment. Our decisions carry little to no weight with college scouts and rarely end up being anything more than scrapbook material for your memories in later life. In essence, don't take this stuff too seriously. It's all done in fun and I hope you will enjoy our subjective, non-expert opinions as such.

Also, a quick reminder of our rules, since they seem to inspire confusion every year. You are only eligible for Do or Die Team honors on one side of the football. We pick what we feel is the skill set that best serves our purposes and draft you here for that reason. If you are a first team pick on offense, you will not be represented on any of our defensive teams, no matter how many All Conference/All State/All Universe nods you may have gotten there. Also, any player who received an honors code type violation and missed football games is ineligible for First Team and Player of the Year consideration. Our rationale is that if we put you on the roster, we want to be able to rely on the fact that you will make good choices to stay on the field.


2012 KHQA Football Player of the Year


Concord Triopia High School

Rationale: The Concord Triopia All Stater won the Fan Vote for this award on line, but truth be told, he didn't even need that added 20% in the process to secure this honor. He very early in this process, Schone emerged as the consensus leader among the members of the KHQA Sports Team; which is pretty impressive given the quality of the field of finalists. Was he the flashiest pick or the biggest name in the mix? No. But on balance, when you look at overall impact on a football team, Schone's accomplishment both tangible and intangible, were such across the board that he emerged as the kid whose contributions were the most impossible to ignore. To wit: I am not going to argue that Schone was the area's very best running back, but he was a top five choice there in our final rankings and I am not sure that anyone would argue he was among the area's elite backs or Top Ten Offensive Weapons. Subjectively, I also had Schone ranked as the number two overall Defensive Back in Tri State Football at season's end and the seventh best overall Defensive Player anywhere in our region. Top that of with this: we had Derrek as the number one overall Special Teams Weapon (thanks to his ridiculous ability in the return game where he averaged nearly 40 yards and attempt and added three touchdowns) in Tri State Football. On balance than, Derrek Schone was the only prospect in Tri State Football that we had ranked in the Top Ten individually in every phase of the game. That that said contributions helped power his team to the Class 1A Final Four underscores just how much relative value he tangibly brought to the table for Concord Triopia this season. What it doesn't measure is this: the size of the kid's heart and his quiet leadership to a young team that really needed a tone setter. As we've already documented, Derrek lost his step mother Pam Schone to cancer in August and played this season with an incredibly heavy heart. Someone close to the Triopia program relayed the story to me about Derrek's refusal to come off the field during the second half of his team's only regular season loss at Camp Point. Schone had essentially blown up a shoulder in that game and could barely lift his arm up to receive a hand-off. But his team was losing and Derrek had vowed to do everything in his power to make this season a memorial to Pam. He wanted to make a masterpiece in her honor, I am told, and could not bare the idea of not being out on the field, even in pain, to try and get the Trojans a comeback victory. My source on that story told me it was one of the most inspired/inspiring things they've ever seen on a football field...and it came from a 18 year old. Well, Derrek Schone may not have gotten a perfect season or a state championship, but his heart and his relentless effort and the high standard of excellence he set on every single play for Concord Triopia is as fighting a tribute to Pam as any human being could possibly have hewn. No one in Tri State Football left more of themselves on the field in the pursuit of excellence and I think it's fair to say this award signifies what a truly mature and incredible young man Derrek Schone has become within the annals of a great high school football tradition. Just and unbelievably inspiring and esteem-worthy kid. And his inclusion here on this award honors us far more than we could ever honor him.


Runner-Up: Brett Taylor, Macomb


Past Winners:

2011: Chris Jackson, Macomb

2010: Ser Whitaker, Illini West

2009: Michael Lafferty, Illini West

2008: Javis Vineyard, Clark County

2007: James Vandenberg, Keokuk

2006: Andrew Bergeson, Hannibal

2005: Tony Hall, South Shelby

2004: Trevor Frericks, Quincy Notre Dame

2003: Cliff Bumgarner, Concord Triopia

2002: Cody Grotts, Carthage

2001: Jensen Jones, West Prairie/LaHarpe

2000: Wyatt Green, Carthage

1999: Matt Paris, Monroe City


2012 KHQA Football Coach of the Year

BRAD DIXON, Central-Southeastern


Rationale: The easiest of these award races to sort out this season. Not only were Dixon's Central-Southeastern Panthers one of the last two teams standing this Fall, but the CSE Boss beat his chief competition (Concord Triopia's Rich Thompson) for this award, heads-up, back in Week Six. The smart money back in August was that CSE would take a step backwards in 2012 given the quality of the programs graduation losses. And on paper, the WIVC Newcomers appeared to be both less gifted and less experienced than Concord Triopia on paper. Goes to prove what us "experts" know. The Panthers ran the regular season table, including that impressive win over the Trojans, to seize a WIVC North Title in their first year in the league. And then they jumped into the IHSA 2A Playoffs, facing a loaded bracket, and made the schools first ever run to the State Semifinals before succumbing to a Belleville Althoff squad that quite honestly, had no business being slotted down to 2A. In short, this was truly another breakthrough, set-an-new-echelon season of CSE Football; the third the program has enjoyed since Dixon joined it as an assistant a few years back. While he first made his mark as a creative Defensive Mind, Dixon has really taken to the head coaching position about as well as anyone in recent memory. His team is now 22-2 in his tenure as the Panthers Head Coach and has yet to lose a regular season game in his tenure. As a colleague of mine remarked, Brad Dixon is now the hire every high school football team tries to make: class act guy, high caliber motivator, great with the media/fans, and a winner who teaches young men how to carry themselves and achieve, on and off the gridiron. This area has cultivated a lot of those type coaches but few risen this quickly. And to his credit, I think the one strength for which Brad Dixon hasn't gotten enough credit is in cultivating a staff and trusting those assistants to manage their position groups and contribute to the overall whole within this program. Bottom line: Central-Southeastern is luckier than can-be to have this guy. He is the total package.


Runner-Up: Rich Thompson, Concord Triopia


Past Winners:

2011: Rob Wilt, South Shelby

2010: Tom Little, Brown County

2009: Jimmy Tucker, Bowling Green

2008: Rich Thompson, Concord Triopia

2007: Jayson Campbell, Keokuk

2006: Mark St Clair, Hannibal

2005: Kent O'Laughlin, South Shelby

2004: Pete Claas, Macon

2003: Randy Dickens, Quincy High

2002: Jim Unruh, Carthage

2001: Mark St. Clair, Hannibal

2000: Par Pitts, Palmyra

1999: Jim Unruh, Carthage

1998: Tony Merryman, Pleasant Hill

1997: Jay Wessler, Concord Triopia

1996: Dale Labuary, Monroe City

1995: Kent O'Laughlin, North Shelby (Missouri Winner)

Jim Unruh, Carthage (Illinois Winner)


2012 KHQA Missouri/Iowa Offensive MVP

AUSTIN EGLEY, QB, Clark County

Rationale: It wasn't exactly an orthodox football approach, but Clark County Offensive Coordinator Scott Murdoch isn't one to get too terribly caught up in convention. Or labels.

His bottom line: making the Indian Attack as productive and explosive as it could possibly be.

In so doing, Clark County would turn the definition of the term "feature back" on its ear; a phenomenon that perfectly underscores the uniqueness and impact of Austin Egley in the Fall of 2012.

Though he was technically the Indians "quarterback" this season, that label seems limiting and somewhat misleading as to the role Austin would fulfill for his team. Consider it telling that Clark County Coach Quentin Hamner referred to Egley as Running Back plus on more than a few occasions. To wit, your typical high school signal caller merits somewhere between 20-40 designed run plays a season, depending upon their athleticism. The Indians called Egley's number just shy of 200 times this season. Why the atypical rushing workload for a quarterback, you ask? Because Austin was such an atypical talent. Blessed with blazing speed, a remarkably sturdy frame, and one of the highest IQ's, football or otherwise, in the region, Egley emerged as the most lethal ground weapon, per rep, in Tri State Football. He averaged north of nine yards per carry, scored 19 rushing touchdowns, and amassed 1855 ground yards alone. That was All State level Tailback production from a kid who would have been entirely limited by lining up in the actually tailback position.

There might have been no more daunting truth in Northeast Missouri Football this season than this: every Clark County Offensive play would start with the ball in Austin Egley's hands first...ith a running start at the line of scrimmage, a clear view of the field, a chance to read a defense....

But also the proposition that the kid might well burn you by getting rid of the football as well. He threw for better than 11 hundred yards this season and 14 touchdowns, just enough conventional quarterback punch to keep opponents honest. That mix of attributes would net Clark County 12 straight victories to open the year, 424 total points, and a Clarence Cannon Conference Title victory in Centralia that ended the Panthers seven year league stranglehold. And it would net Austin Egley himself a pair of All State Nods and honors as your Clarence Cannon Conference Offensive Player of the well as a well earned nod here as the most dangerous football weapon in our area West of the Mississippi in 2012.


Past Winners:

2011: Scott Kroeger, Clopton/Elsberry

2010: Mark Nemes, Hannibal

2009: Justin Alderton, Clark County

2008: Shawn Maloney, Monroe City

2007: James Hurt, Keokuk

2006: James Vandenberg, Keokuk

2005: Josh Roberts, Clark County

2004: Jared Bichsel, Monroe City

2003: Aaron Bergeson, Hannibal

2002: Clint Carroz, Mark Twain

2001: Wentric Williams, Hannibal

2000: Will Clayton, Hannibal

1999: Matt Paris, Monroe City

1998: Craig Lewis, Keokuk

1997: Ryan Watson, Monroe City


2012 KHQA Illinois Co-Offensive Players of the Year

DALTON HEUBNER, RB, Central-Southeastern

DALTON KEENE, TE, Jacksonville

It's not something were are typically prone to do...but when it came to declaring a Most Valuable Offensive Player this Fall in the Land of Lincoln, we succumbed to the logic that two Daltons are better than one.

And so it is that Jacksonville's Dalton Keene and Central Southeastern's Dalton Heubner share top Land of Lincoln billing here; a pair of unique, irreplacable talents that we simply could not...well replace.

One one hand you have a Tight End the likes of which the Tri States has never seen before. All 6'6 and 250 plus pounds of Dalton Keene burst on the scene in Jacksonville two years ago and promptly became a lynchpin in Mark Grounds spread offense; an almost indefensible mix of size and mobility who snared 664 yards worth of passes and hit national radar as Sophomore All American. And that was just the beginning. Some 129 receptions, 2117 yards, and 25 touchdowns later, Dalton Keene closed the book on a remarkable high school career, one that saw him snare first Team Class 5A All State Honors and cement his Division One recruiting pedigree with a pledge to Illinois State.

Dalton Heubner's rise to prominence started on a very different path. He too broke through as a sophomore, but it was Dalton's talents as a Defensive Back that first put him on radar. A master thief who would eventually become the all time interceptions leader in Central-Southeastern history. But it really wasn't until his Senior season that we saw what the Panther speedster was truly capable of. Considerable graduation losses in the CSE backfield made Dalton's evolution from complimentary to feature back the tipping point of the Panthers season offensively. And he delivered in a manner which did his predecessors more than proud. Fusing a dimension of speed to the equation that Central has rarely ever enjoyed, Dalton established himself quickly as the Tri State's biggest home run hitter. He averaged better than 10 yards per carry this season in route to 1507 total rushing yards. He proved nearly impossible to corral, with 22 rushing touchdowns, four more thru the air, and a Kick Off Return for touchdown as well. He was simply explosiveness incarnate. And it was upon his incredibly quick feet that football history was authored in Camp Point this season, the engine which delivered the Panthers the most successful campaign in school history.


Past Winners:

2011: Garrett Kestner, Central-Southeastern

2010: Daniel Weiman, Quincy Notre Dame

2009: Daniel Weiman, Quincy Notre Dame

2008: David Arendt: Concord Triopia

2007: Taylor Joehl, Concord Triopia

2006: Myers Hendrickson, Macomb

2005: Dustin Jacoby, Concord Triopia

2004: David Watts, Carthage

2003: Ashton Gronewold, Carthage

2002: Ashton Gronewold, Carthage

2001: Jensen Jones, West Prairie/LaHarpe

2000: Wyatt Green, Carthage

1999: Wes Lundgren, West Prairie/LaHarpe

1998: Ryan Miller, Concord Triopia

1997: Dom Tamberelli, QND


2012 KHQA Missouri/Iowa Defensive MVP


Where exactly Caleb Bieniek belongs among the Brad Griffes and Andrew Bergesons and Wentric Williams in the Pantheon of All Time Great Hannibal Pirates is largely subjective.

That the man deserves a place of honor in that discussion, however, is downright indisputable.

His career, or reign of terror as Pirate opponents might better call it, is now history. And what a sizable chunk of history Caleb carved out for himself. He debuted spectacularly in the back of the Pirate Defense with an All State Campaign and just never relented in hitting whatever crossed his sights. Three years, two more All State nods, 300 total tackles and 13 interceptions later and you have career that is now splashed all over the Hannibal record books. During his three year tenure as a starer, Caleb Bieniek led defenses held Pirate opponents to a miniscule 13.7 points per game on average. By his senior season, Pirate opponents had wisely done everything in their power to avoid him. Bieniek still managed to rack up 85 stops and a pair of interceptions to polish off his career; a campaign that amassed him another round of unanimous All NCMC picks and All State nods from both the Missouri Coaches and Sportswriters Associations.

And while this may serve as a Defensive Award, no candidate for this particular honor had a more wide reaching impact on their respective program, which proved to be the deciding factor between Bieniek and two very worthy Defensive Line prospects in Palmyra's Bobby Gruenloh and Clark County's Kyle Kovar. Though Bieniek's role in the Pirate Offense was tweaked somewhat thanks to the emergence of other credible weapons, Caleb still generated 778 rushing yards, 236 receiving yards, and 16 total touchdowns. Bottom line, he was an unstoppable force for good, in every conceivable fashion in America's Hometown as evidenced by the 27 victories Hannibal amassed over his starting career and the second straight KHQA Missouri/Iowa Defensive MVP Award he takes home for his efforts in doing so.

Past Winners:

2011: Caleb Bieniek, Hannibal

2010: Matt Brown, Bowling Green

2009: Geoff Correnti, Bowling Green

2008: Bryce Johnston, South Shelby

2007: Javis Vineyard, Clark County

2006: Luke O'Laughlin, South Shelby

2005: Andrew Bergeson, Hannibal

2004: Sean Kite, Clark County

2003: Alphonse Dames, Palmyra

2002: James Branch, Hannibal

2001: Keith Painter, Monroe City

2000: Derek Wallace, Mark Twain

1999: Jonathan Simpson, Hannibal

1998: Derek Minter, Monroe City

1997: Adam Crowe, Monroe City


2012 KHQA Illinois Defensive MVP


Rationale: You would probably have a hard time selling Macomb opponents of this concept....but there was in fact less of Brett Taylor on the field for the Bombers this season. Nearly 30 pounds less, to be exact, thanks to a rigorous off-season conditioning program that helped imbue the standout linebacker with more stamina and more sideline to sideline mobility. Which I think says a lot about Brett Taylor himself. That a kid who might well have been the best linebacker in this half of the state as junior, would work so on his own craft, coming off a ridiculous 170 tackle season...

And yet pay did. Brett Taylor went from superstar to darn neared Super Hero-esque production. To the tune of 40 more total tackles than he had a season ago. That's a mind numbing 210 stops in all or a rate of 19 tackles per game. To put Taylor's senior season into perspective, he had more solo stops (195) than any other area player had total tackles. And along the way he shattered every career and single season mark in school history...not to mention one unfortunate opponents ear drum from the sheer force of one of his hits. By every statistical and observable measure, Brett Taylor was nothing short of an implement of Offensive Destruction...going so as far one play, no immortalized on You Tube, to hurdle and opposing Offensive Line to make a tackle for loss.

And speaking off Offensive Lines, while it bears no real relevance to this award, it does bare mentioning that Taylor proved his worth as a blocker on the other side of the football as a standout as well, fronting for a rushing attack that generated 2951 ground yards and a pair of thousand yard rushers in Jarrod Rockhold and Eli Cousins. Considering his work rate on the other side of the football, you wonder how he found the energy...

In short, Brett Taylor proved himself every bit the All Stater and finished 2012 as the runner-up for overall Player of the Year award. But as pure defensive resumes go, I'd argue no one in Tri State Football, on either side of the river, comes remotely close...


Past Winners:

2011: Austin Gooding, Brown County

2010: Jack Carlisle, Illini West

2009: Nathan Goudschaal, Brown County

2008: Zack Burling, Illini West

2007: Phillip Smith, Quincy Notre Dame

2006: T.J. Taylor, West Hancock

2005: Alex Ebbing, Brown County

2004: Les Hammers, Jacksonville

2003: Terry Comiskey, Beardstown

2002: A.J. Huston, West Prairie/LaHarpe

2001: Blake Bainter, Macomb

2000: Chris Rogers, Carthage

1999: Willie Thompson, Carthage

1998: Luke Wessel, Carthage

1997: Ryan Cramer, West Prairie/LaHarpe


KHQA 2012 Breakout Player of the Year as voted by you, the fan

DOUGLAS WEESE, Central Southeastern

Rationale: Douglas Weese may have been an internally valued contributor for the 2011 Central Southeastern Panthers, particularly at Defensive Back. Outside the program, however, he was generally viewed as a complimentary contributor, overshadowed by program centerpieces Nathan Knuffman and Garrett Kestner. And given the limited windows of opportunity afforded Weese behind those senior stars, no one quite had any idea of what the ceiling on his talent might be. Or how he might respond when thrust from supporting to starring role.

To some degree, Central-Southeastern's 2012 season can be viewed as referendum on Douglas Weese, as his ascent as an overall player may have been the biggest lynch-pin to the entire Panthers Season. Consider for a second, the two roles he was asked to assume. Offensively, the Panthers had to develop a legitimate, dangerous alternative offensive option to pair with Dalton Heubner, their one proven returning weapon and a kid who was destined to garner considerable game plan attention from Panther Opponents. And Defensively, Weese was asked to transition from Defensive Back to Linebacker, to erase the sting of the graduations of Knuffman and Kestner and sure up a very young position group that quite literally is the crux of everything Brad Dixon attempts to do schematically.

Suffice it to say, there was a lot riding on Douglas Weese's shoulders....

And all that happened on his watch is that the Panthers produced the single most successful season in school history and made a first ever Final Four appearance.

Weese not only replaced the missing production of his graduated predecessors, he added to it, particularly on defense where his speed and energy were a revelation. He posted a team high 126 tackles, putting significant teeth in the Panther run defense. And given his previous job, its no surprise that Douglas was as impactful a weapon dropping into coverage as any linebacker in the last ten years. He snared two interceptions and had a hand in creating nine total turnovers on the year; the unquestioned rainmaker on one of the most productive defenses in Class 2A.

And clearly he had energy to spare. Weese got more than 150 carries at wingback for the Panther Offense and ground out 11 hundred 36 yards, at a clip of better than seven per carry, and finished with 18 rushing touchdowns and three more through the air. In short, he became everything he needed to be in 2012 and Central-Southeastern's watershed season became possible because of that vary emergence. It was you, our viewers, who voted Douglas Weese the 2012 KHQA Breakout Player of the Year and I am not sure you could have picked a more deserved recipient.


Past Winners:

2011: Clay Finklea, Quincy High



ALEX APPEL, Illini West vs Macomb Kick Off Return


2012 KHQA ALL DO OR DIE TEAMS....Position by Positionã??



First Team Selection:

COY DOROTHY, West Hancock

Rationale: Speaking plainly, I would ordinarily have a really difficult time finding room for a Quarterback from a two-win team on my Honorable Mention list, let alone our First Team Honors Squad, regardless of what kind of stats they posted. After all, the ultimate job goal of a QB is after all to win football games. Here's the very-specific Coy Dorothy Caveat: I watched enough Titan Games to realize this season that winning two games this year at West Hancock was the ultimate football parlor trick given some of the inherent flaws in construction of this roster (lack of legitimate varsity size/depth otherwise on this team) and that Coy's herculean contributions were the primary vehicle to that end. It's easy to be dazzled by the numbers (2581 passing yards, 36 total touchdowns, 27 of them through the air and a tidy 57% completion ratio) Coy put up. It's also easy or for the cynic to dismiss them out of hand as inflated "system" numbers or a product of exceptional wide receivers. Neither of those are really the reason why he has my vote of confidence. What I saw and admired in Coy Dorothy was the manner in which he made his team better every single snap. My single favorite play of the season may have been the one Coy engineered against Macomb where he literally channeled Ben Roethlisberger and bought three extra seconds of time while his Offensive Line disintegrated around him (under the withering attack of one of the area's most ferocious front eights, no less) and he hit Austin Hardy with a 40 some odd yard bomb. In that position, given all the circumstances, there wasn't another QB in Tri State Football who could have made that play. And there is no way, talent for talent, this West Hancock team had any business playing a superior Macomb squad as well as it did. Coy Dorothy was the difference maker. A band-aid for a program that desperately needed one. A mix of toughness, savvy, and optimism in the face of the years of malaise his program had undergone, I would argue that Dorothy would have been a worthy All State honoree for all he helped the Titans achieve in 2012.


Second Team Selections:

TANNER HUDDLESTON, Concord Triopia (tie)

Why He's Here: The ultimate winner under center. Stats weren't dazzling in Trojans "run-first" scheme (799 yards, 12 passing TD against just 4 interceptions) but under THudd's command the Trojans went 25-3 the last two years. Tougher than scrap metal kid who also rushed for 13 touchdowns and orchestrated Rich Thompson's offense to near perfection.

DALTON POWELL, Hannibal (tie)

Why He's Here: Field General of incredible intelligence and versatility. Best read option diagnoser I can remember in my tenure. Possessed the ability to beat people with both his feet and his arm. Completed nearly 55% of his passes and hit on 9 touchdowns. Good for over 1400 yards of total offense. His tour d force in the Quincy High Comeback may have been the single best Offensive effort by anyone this year.


Third Team Selection:


Why He's Here: Efficient Explosiveness. Chief senior completed a scintillating 63% of his passes in route to 2370 passing yards and 24 touchdowns this season, a tribute to his superb arm strength and cool pocket demeanor. Arguably the Tri State's best pure passer, Vandenberg helmed the Chiefs to back to back playoff berths with the ability to put the ball on target, be it or short or intermediate routes or when called upon, with the deep ball equally well. Mobile, smart kid who, despite the lack of "conventional" collegiate size, is going to make some luck college one heck of a signal caller for the future.


Best of the Rest QB Rankings

1) BROCK BUTLER, Palmyra

2) BRYCE SCHNITKER, Jacksonville (injury)

3) ZACH ETZLER, Centralia

4) GUS VERMILLION, Beardstown

5) DAVID HEATHMAN, South Shelby



8) CONNOR KELLE, Quincy High

9) GREG PITZER, Louisiana

2013 Preseason Ratings:

(On paper, one of the deepest classes in memory with as many as 18 quality returning prospects in the mix)

1) BRYCE SCHNITKER, Jacksonville

2) ZACH ETZLER, Centralia

3) BROCK BUTLER, Palmyra

4) GUS VERMILLION, Beardstown


6) JAYVIN RAY, Clark County

7) ZAC LONERGAN, Jacksonville


9) J.J. ABONGO, Brookfield



12) CONNOR STREMLAU, Routt Catholic

13) WAYDE SMITH, Pittsfield

14) GRANT O'BRYAN, Monroe City

15) JACOB POORE, Monroe City



First Team Selections


Rationale: It is my contention that if the Cardinal Super Sophomore had not suffered a freakish back injury at Salisbury, South Shelby would have made its way to the Class 1 Final Four and Trace would have finished the year as the area's only 2K running back. The injury robbed Rob Wilt of a kid who had previously accounted for just about 43% of his teams total offense, which gives you some idea of just how good this kid was so freakishly early in his career. The true definition of a workhorse back in that you can feed him the ball 25-30 times a game and he shows no relent. That established, he's a completely different Cardinal warhorse than say Tony Hall was for South Shelby. Windsor was not only durable but blessed with game changing burst through the hole. I don't throw this name around lightly but there is lot of Wyatt Green to the way Windsor runs, almost looking effortless in separating from defenses and that is a very rare gift. I suspect Trace is naturally faster than the former Carthage star was, if not quite yet as polished. Trace finished his year with 1883 total rushing yards and 17 touchdowns, which is absolutely ridiculous production for a Sophomore. Provided his back heals up okay, I dare say Trace enters the 2013 season as the early favorite for POY honors, perhaps the next two seasons running.




Rationale: He moved to Fullback for the Blue Devils this season but we still view the Blue Devil junior as a Tailback for our purposes. A first team All Western Big Six Selection, Malique is that rarest of commodities in the football world: a home run threat who actually loves contact. For all of the flashy, highlight reel things Robbins does, he is also quietly the most effective and devastating blocker you will find among Tri State Running Backs, and it's not even close for second. More than that, Malique finishes every last carry by trying to punish those who seek to tackle him. A tremendously productive runner, even in the face of all the defensive attention he commands, Robbins averaged better than 116 yards rushing and one touchdown a game against some of the Tri States most ardent defensive competition. He's just a total package runner who gives you every element you covet as a coach. And if the Blue Devils can get back on the playoff train, I still contend Malique has an All State nod in his future.




Rationale: For my money, the most undervalued/under appreciated offensive talent in Tri State Football this season. And I applaud the coaches in the Clarence Cannon Conference for rightly installing this kid as a First Team All Conference selection. He certainly deserves the accord. When you rush for 15 touchdowns and more than a 1000 yards on a 2-8 team, against Clarence Cannon Conference defenses no less, you are clearly one tough customer. For my money, Steinkamp ably succeeded former CSE star Garrett Kestner as the Tri State's most effective Red Zone runner and did so without the benefit a top end Offensive Line. As I mentioned many times this season, the kid was a tremendous "bad surface" back with great balance and a sort of ceaseless talent for moving forward, especially off first contact. And his 305 yards, 5 touchdown performance against Louisiana this season has to go down as one of the most impressive single game efforts we saw in 2012; one of three games that saw Tyler amass 200 or more rushing yards despite being one of the most targeted kids in Tri State Football. Just a hard working, gritty kid who got the job done. Had he played at Hannibal or Clark County this season, I contend Steinkamp would have been on everyone's POY ballot.




Rationale: Despite missing three games of the season with a high ankle sprain, the Chiefs bruising senior tallied 18 touchdowns and over 1300 rushing yards to earn his second straight appearance as our All Do or Die Team Starting Fullback. Those numbers put Trevor among the Top Ten in Iowa in all of Class 3A. Given his size and lower body strength, there wasn't a tougher kid in the region to bring down. He also became a huge factor on the Chiefs Defense, posting 61 total tackles, 8 stops for loss and two quarterback sacks in route to All District honors and a nod as his team's Defensive MVP. A freakishly athletic kid for his size, Roth has the kind of natural strength that could ultimately lead to a college career at Linebacker or perhaps even Defensive Line moving forward; kind of like a Mike O'Brien/Clint Carroz. He's that kind of rare transitional athlete. Quincy University has been among his most ardent pursuers at this point.



ANDY MILLS, Jacksonville

Rationale: If you are going to incorporate an All Purpose Back into the mix, why not incorporate the best? At various points this season, Andy was listed at Quarterback, Wide Receiver, before ultimately settling in at tailback. He finished the year with just 176 total touches, but Mills went for over 1000 yards of total offense in the process and gave the Crimsons a much needed ground presence with 859 yards and 9 rushing touchdowns on a very short clock. Easy kid to covet. Line him up anywhere and all Mills does is produce without complaint. Honestly, one of those super smart, driven people I'd hire for my business tomorrow if I could. Bottom line, Andy Mills is a "worker" in the best sense of the word.


Second Team Selections


ZACH ABNEY, Pittsfield

Why He's Here: Toughest kid at any position in Tri State Football to keep off the First Team because he was an absolute warhorse for Don Bigley. How do you deny a kid who scored 15 rushing touchdowns and tallied over 1400 yards for the season, highlighted by his monster 230 yards, 3 TD effort against West Hancock? Any other year, Zach is a top tier kid and it's not even close. I'll feel less guilty about this in February, when we can make it up to the kid with blowout coverage of his state wrestling championship, I guess. He's absolutely relentless and driven this season, in all sports, at an all business level of intensity few kids can match.




Why He's Here: For my money, the prototype tailback I'd want to build my offense around given his size, slashing ability, relative strength, passing catching ability and nose for the end zone. There was also the sobering moment watching highlights at Westran when it occurred to me that Kellen was the equal of any other athlete on that field that night and for my money, the toughest kid playing in that game. Or maybe it was just watching him pull out that ridiculous spin move that turned a linebacker into a pile of uselessness. Ended up the year with 952 rushing yards in route to First Team All District/All Conference honors and scored 22 total touchdowns along the way. This mind you from a kid sharing carries in one of the Tri State's most crowded/talented backfield along with Brody Moubry and Donovan Edwards. High end talent.




Why He's Here: One of the great success stories of the season, Mitch stepped up and became the de facto Number One back that Mark St Clair wanted to cultivate to keep some of his other athletic options fresher for Defensive Duty. Nichols really seized the opportunity and ran away with it, tallying nearly 1200 total yards and amassing 16 touchdowns along the way. Two things really stood out here: the aggressive nature in which Mitch would hit running lanes and his balance running the football, which made his very difficult to bring down one-on-one. Again, one of the year most pleasant surprises in how fast he ascended to the upper echelon of area tailbacks.




Why He's Here: Undersized for a fullback, but Eli packed plenty of overall impact, rushing for nearly 1200 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns from their hard running sledge hammer. With his leg drive and low center of gravity, tackling Eli was akin to tackling a fast moving bowling ball. Absolutely fearless runner who never met contact he wanted to shy away from. Developed, without a lot of fanfare, into one of the area's better linebackers this season as well. We like kids who never back down and Eli was toughness personified.




Why He's Here: Dylan Patterson has spent the last two years serving as an all purpose yardage amassing machine and he's a kid who I always thought would have made the perfect Wes Welker type slot receiver in a spread offense. He was no slouch in his role as Beardstown's primary ball carrier, rolling up a team high 954 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Great return specialist and defensive back on top of it all. Bubba Patterson wore a lot of hats for the Tigers the last couple years and did it as well as anyone.


Third Team Selections

RB: ALEX APPEL, Illini West

RB: AUSTIN BOEHS, West Central

RB: JACOB TRUMP, Clark County


APB: MALIK MCPIKE, Bowling Green


Best of the Rest Running Back Rankings

1) CODY CURRY, Triopia

2) MATT PARKER, Triopia

3) CULLEN RALPHS, Centralia

4) BRYCE BOUDREAU, Clark County (injury)

4) NICK LONERGAN, Routt Catholic (injury/APB)

5) BRAXTON PHELPS, Brown County

6) COLE THURMAN, Rushville/Industry

7) BOBBY KELTZ, Central-Southeastern

8) DREW BARNETT, West Central

9) ALEX MYLES, Beardstown

10) NICK NESBITT, Mark Twain


2013 Preseason Ratings


1) TRACE WINDSOR, South Shelby


3) BRYTON SMITH, Illini West

4) MATT PARKER, Concord Triopia (tie)

4) MITCH NICHOLS, Hannibal (tie)

5) JACOB TRUMP, Clark County

6) BOBBY KELTZ, Central-Southeastern

7) BRAXTON PHELPS, Brown County

8) BRODY MOUBRY, Knox County

9) WILL MCROBERT, Scotland County

10) BRADY LONG, Brown County



First Team Selections


WES MEFFORD, South Shelby

Rationale: While he lacks Dalton Keene's freakish body type, Wes Mefford gave South Shelby the same impact at Tight End that the Crimsons star brought to J'Ville. A two-time First Team All State pick, Mefford closed out his career with 33 receptions, 417 yards, and five touchdowns displaying uncommon ability to adjust to any and all throws and make his quarterbacks look darned good in the process. Wes also had this almost innate ability to buy space for himself against all kinds of coverage. He really understood well where coverage soft spots would emerge and he seemed to unfailingly be there when David Heathman need him. And again, this was a young man who set the tone for his Cardinal brethren on and off the field with his leadership, his work in the classroom, and his laser focus on every football detail. I'll say this...if you are a parent and looking for a role model in how to raise young men: the Meffords might well be the standard in Northeast Missouri. Will and Wes are two kids who did it right in their high school careers.



Why He's Here: My preseason prediction that West Hancock's stellar senior would run away with the mythical Tri State receiving yardage crown ended up just a bit shy. But in fairness to me, I also didn't see Kolbie's production getting eaten into by the meteoric rise of one of his own teammates. Still, it's hard to be "disappointed" with 68 receptions, 830 yards, and seven touchdowns. Those are All State caliber numbers. Basically, Kolbie lived up to all of our glowing preseason evaluations. His physicality, his ability to go over the middle and his presence made him the equivalent of an extra Tight End in the short and intermediate routes and he was particularly good in the red zone (or more precisely, when Coy Dorothy needed to find an answer in the end zone) Just an uncommonly physical and tough Wide Receiver with the knack to make plays in a tough spot.



AUSTIN HARDY, West Hancock

Rationale: Made this point during baseball season but I had no idea it would translate over to the Fall: Austin Hardy possesses as good a pair of hands as you will find on any athlete in Tri State Sports. He makes every play, whether it was fielding a smash to shortstop or grabbing a tough pass, look routine. It's almost as though the game slows down for him while it continues to move at warp speed for everybody else. Bottom line, Austin made a ton of really good "how did he do that" type snares this year and his work rate was outstanding at 59 receptions and 971 total receiving yards. Granted neither Schilson nor Hardy were "burner" types but their presence in pass patterns proved the bane of Defensive Coordinators all season long.



REGGIE BRATTON, Jacksonville

Rationale: Got to love the spread offense. The speedy Crimson senior was the lone area wide receiver to go more than a thousand receiving yards (1145 on 52 receptions, a rate of better than 22 per catch) this season and he posted 17 total touchdowns along the way. There is really no other way to put this: Reggie was the ultimate "burner" and as tough a cover as existed for Cornerbacks in Tri State Football given his State Championship speed on the edge.




Rationale: Tremendous playmaker who earned 2nd Team Iowa Newspapers Association All State accord after posting the fourth highest number of receiving yards in 3A Football this season. Darrion finished the year with 49 receptions for 861 yards and 10 total touchdowns. Made this team last year as a Defensive Back after leading All of 3A in Interceptions. Gifted edge threat with ridiculous closing speed on the football. Bonus points for being one of the most reliable "big play" highlight producers in our region. Those types of skills tend to endear you to television guys whose livelihood hinges on getting eyeballs in front of TV sets.


Second Team Selections

BLAKE HANCE, Jacksonville

Why He's Here: No one team should be as bless in Tight End talent, over two decades, as much as Jacksonville has been with Hance and Keene. Legitimate Division One prospect with prototype size/dimensions/coordination and athleticism for his size. Grabbed 46 receptions this season for 623 total yards and a touchdown. Sky is the limit for the Crimson big man as his work rate figures to skyrocket in the absence of graduating talent and the return of not one but stellar quarterback prospects.



Why He's Here: "Sixteen Pack" brought a real toughness and grit to the Tiger passing game; a speed merchant on the edge who wasn't afraid to go over the middle or take a hit. Caught a team high 16 passes from outstanding young quarterback Gus Vermillion for 352 yards and averaged right at 22 yards per reception, which is very good value. He also hauled in three touchdown catches on the year for what was primarily a run oriented attack in Stripes Country. Terrific DB as well who posted 4 interceptions and 58 tackles on the season. ã??



Why He's Here: Best pass catching weapon in Northeast Missouri and a certified All State pick who snared 23 receptions for 504 yards and 6 touchdowns for Erle Bennett's Panthers. Like Ortiz, averaged a very impressive 22 yards per catch. Had a unique talent for coming up big in the biggest of games.




Why He's Here: Tri State Football's next big standard for the position. Love Blackwell's size/physicality and the prospect of he and Zach Etzler making huge stars of one another next season. Ended up with 22 receptions for 307 yard and four touchdowns this fall. Those numbers could well double going forward. He plays big. Every time we've seen him in person or on tape, he makes plays.



AUSTIN GARNDER, Rushville/Industry

Why He's Here: If I was a small college coach looking to roll the dice on a developmental Tight End/Receiver type, Garnder would be the kid I would have on radar for 2014. Stellar size, great athleticism, and while he may be raw, he displayed a tremendously high ceiling for Mike Bickerman. He only caught nine passes on the season, but four of them went for touchdowns. He could easily fill out and show up for camp next season at 230 pounds and I think his Prairieland Conference brethren would be hard pressed to stop him from rampaging the league like his own personal Cloverfield. Think he also has tremendous upside at Defensive End after posting three games of 10 tackles or more on the edge.




Why He's Here: Blocking ability, clearly. Typically, guys with just one reception on the season don't ping radar on these kinds of All Area teams. Neally however is a far more significant contributor to the Chargers Offensive Success than any simple statistic can quantify. Super sharp kid who excelled at giving the Chargers running backs a seal to the edge and while he may have been a glorified Offensive Lineman lining up at the Tight Ten position, his work was a major factor in giving IW over 3200 ground yards this season. Credit where credit is due.


Third Team Selections

CHARLES FRACTION, Clopton/Elsberry


ADAM ELLYSON, South Shelby



GREG CARNES, Beardstown

KYLE FULTON, Monroe City


Best of the Rest Wide Receiver/Tight End Rankings


2) JORDAN NUTT, Palmyra

3) CHRIS JACKSON, Scotland County

4) LEE TAGUE, Knox County

5) MICHAEL SCOGGAN, Brown County

6) CALEB KIZER, Palmyra


8) JORDAN WHITE, West Hancock



2013 Preseason Rankings

1) BLAKE HANCE, Jacksonville


3) AUSTIN GARDNER, Rushville/Industry

4) MICHAEL SCOGGIN, Brown County

5) KYLE FULTON, Monroe City

6) TREZ COURTNEY, Jacksonville



9) ETHAN PETERSON, West Prairie



First Team Selections:


Rationale: Iowa State commit lived up to the advanced billing with an All State Campaign for the Bombers. Fronted for a pair of 1000 yard rushers in Jarrod Rockhold and Eli Cousins and an offense that tallied 2951 total rushing yards on the year. Credit brute force up front. Put on 30 pounds of quality size in the off-season and actually improved his footwork over last season once he got healthy, which is a pretty difficult trick to pull off. Moves High School Defensive Linemen around like a Bulldozer. Played with lots of bounce and enthusiasm. Top notch finisher. Fascinated to see what he looks like after completing his red shirt season in Ames in terms of the amount of added weight the Iowa State folks put on his frame. Extremely athletic prospect for the position who will go down as a Top 10, maybe even Top 5 high school blocker I've seen in my local tenure here. My one regret is that I never really got to see Severs challenged as a Pass Blocker off the edge by an upper echelon Defensive End since Macomb didn't throw much and there weren't many of those type kids on the Bomber Schedule. Certainly has the tools to be a good one at the next level, provided he continues to add mass. Pretty special kid to watch in isolation.


AJ JERICHOW, Centralia

Rationale: The best and most consistent player Centralia had on the field this season and probably as good a sub 240 pound Blocker as you will ever see anywhere. Unanimous All Clarence Cannon Conference pick and All State selection by both Missouri awarding bodies. Athletic smart, and nasty are a pretty good combination. Long arms/nimble feet allowed him to direct traffic as well as anyone. Terrific big game player who came up large against some of the Cannon's very best Defensive Linemen. Best observation I can make is that AJ backed down from no one and seemed to take his blocking to another level when the the threat level rose. One of those rare kids you can plug in and leave alone. Shudder to think how good this kid would be with 30 more pounds of weight.


DREW MILLER, Central-Southeastern

Rationale: Brad Dixon calls Miller the most important player he had on the field this season. That esteem was reflected by the Illinois Coaches Association, which installed him as the Panthers only 1st Team All State selection, ahead of some of his more celebrated teammates. Bounced back nicely from largely lost Junior year by getting himself in great shape (cut nearly 30 pounds) and taking some of the pressure off his knees. One of the best improvements in work rate/conditioning we've ever seen from a kid, though it was probably more obvious in his defensive campaign, which saw him post 75 total tackles and six quarterback sacks. Tone setting blocker up front for the Panthers, who were a team in desperate need of size/physicality. Most notable attribute as a blocker is his leg drive. Gets off the ball well for a bigger guy but is an absolute pain to try and shake off if he gets into a defenders pads. Outstanding kid. Outstanding year.



Rationale: Powerhouse prospect with as much upside as any unsigned player on this list. Good Centers are hard to come by and Bourgeois set a tremendously high standard the last three seasons. Excellent shotgun snapper. Overpowering run blocker at the point of attack who fires into Defensive Linemen with all the subtlety of an avalanche. Good frame/top notch motor. Second Team All State selection by both the Missouri Coaches and Sportswriters Associations who probably deserved higher plaudits but was stuck on a team loaded with viable All State candidates. Vastly underrated Interior Defensive Lineman to boot. Hard nosed football player who will end us being a recruiting steal for someone.



Rationale: One time Fullback settled in nicely over the last few years as Quincy High's most consistent Offensive and Defensive Lineman. Played both positions with great leverage and a low center of gravity, which made him very tough to move/shake. Good athlete for the position with a high Football IQ and a zeal for contact. Outstanding technique and great hands an added plus. Earned First Team All Western Big Six honors this season and set the bar high with his lead by example approach. The kid you want to run behind if you need one hard yard. ã??



Rationale: The total package. Freakish natural strength. Loves to finish blocks. Super smart player on both sides of the ball who understands and executes his role to perfection. Best Soundbite in Tri State Football. First Team All State Selection on the Offensive Line and First Team All NCMC pick on both sides of the football. It's a shame he's not a couple inches taller because he would in great football recruiting demand. Not sure that Borg has to worry about that however seeing as he's good a pretty good "side project" going with the wrestling thing.

NATHAN BANTA, Brown County

Rationale: The latest in a long line of outstanding Heath Fullerton products, though Banta's unfailingly solid work this season was somewhat washed over in a mediocre (at least by BC's lofty standards) season. First Team All WIVC North Pick who was relentlessly consistent with his effort and effectiveness, while shepparding an otherwise very young line. Skilled technician with outstanding feet who had the ability to reach for blocks or stalk down linebackers. High caliber player, high caliber kid.


Second Team Selections





TUCKER HARNS, Beardstown




GABE MEGGINSON, Jacksonville








Third Team







RYAN ROBBINS, Rushville/Industry







The Best of the Rest

1) JORDAN SMITH, Triopia (Injury)

2) NICK BARTH, Routt Catholic


4) LUKE MUEGGE, Unity/Payson

5) STONY HAINES, Rushville/Industry

6) ZACH BLAKEMORE, Centralia

7) JACOB PAUL, Quincy High



BRENDAN WILLIAMS, Monroe City (Injury)



2013 Preseason Ranks

1) GABE MEGGINSON, Jacksonville

2) HADLEY ROBERTS, South Shelby

3) JORDAN SMITH, Triopia

4) DYLAN POWELL, Hannibal

5) ALEMA STONE, Macomb

6) TREY KOTHE, Macon

7) MIKE JOHNSON, Central-Southeastern

8) JOHN MEDLOCK, Triopia

9) AUSTIN DAVIS, Hannibal





First Team Selections


Rationale: One of the most accomplished all around football players I saw this season. And while his 1600 rushing yards (one 258 attempts no less, how tough is this kid) and 13 touchdowns may have stood out to others, I still contend his greater value here is at Defensive Back. Very fluid, skilled coverage man with a great instincts. Posted six interceptions this season and to be honest, I am amazed that anyone threw in his direction even that much. For as good as he was in coverage, though, Rockhold will always be a favorite here because he he plays run support like an extra linebacker. Truly exceptional tackler who didn't get as many opportunities (32 stops on the year) as he would off elsewhere, without "El Machino" Brett Taylor feasting in front of him. But when it was his turn to step up, Rockhold was fundamental, fierce, and always around the football. One of the most criminally undervalued kids in Tri State Football, given his all around contributions. He finished in our Top Ten overall among all local players at season's end.




Rationale: The kid already looks the part of a college safety with his rangy 6'3" frame and exceptional hands (see also his highlight reel of catches these past two season) More than that, Lijah has really come on in the physicality department and emerged as a legitimate intimidator. It's not just that Lijah led the Pirates in tackles with 103 this season, no small feat given the presence of fellow All Stater Caleb Bieniek in back. It's how Harrison hit people that really helped make the Pirate Secondary a place of fear and loathing among NCMC Defensive Backs. He's a player with an incredibly high recruiting ceiling, given his size and athletic ability.



AARON VASQUEZ, Jacksonville

Rationale: Premier Ball Hawk who thrived in one of the most pass heavy conferences in Illinois High School Football. A gifted thief, Vasquez snared seven interceptions, including three alone in a game against Taylorville. More memorably, he had a 99 yard pick six to help the Crimsons shut the door on Breese Mater Dei. Here's a very telling stat: the average length of a Aaron Vasquez interception return was better than 40 yards, which speaks to an explosiveness most high school Cornerbacks don't possess. While his takeaway ability may have been his calling card, Aaron proved an effective weapon against the run with 50 tackles on the season. Again, given the degree of difficulty against the slate of opponents he delivered this performance, Vasquez comes off very favorably in this elite company.


AUSTIN BOEHS, West Central

Rationale: The Cougar speedster is a best of both worlds commodity who can project physicality into run support or lock down the passing lanes. Showed potentially great coverage skills and snared six interceptions on the season, which is a ridiculous number in the ground oriented WIVC. Finished the year with 61 tackles to boot. Just a really good athlete who seems to be that rare kid who excels in whatever sport he plays. Shudder to think what he may accomplish in Winchester as a Senior next season.



Rationale: Credit where credit is due on this one: Clark County Assistant Coach Tony McKee predicted Logan's Senior star turn in August. Tony's premise was simply that opponents were going to throw at Logan because he, how do I put this delicately, "not tall" and pay a heavy price when they realized the kid had a better than 35 inch vertical leap. True to form, Logan ended the year with an area best eight interceptions using a flat out unfair combination of speed and athleticism to constantly beat bigger receivers to the football. Float a ball anywhere in his vicinity and he was reactive enough to get there before anyone else. Kid made an absolute show of that prowess against Bowling Green in the playoffs. The thing you come to appreciate about Logan Prewitt this season was his sense of the moment. Whether it was a kick-off return for touchdown, a critical catch, a scoop and score fumble recovery, Logan became the king of the splash play in 2012. That was his calling card. But he was also pretty consistently active (51 tackles, 6 behind the line of scrimmage) on a play to play basis as well. Just a really pleasant surprise.



COREY BROWN, Bowling Green

Rationale: Granted, this wasn't a storybook season for the Bobcats but Corey Brown proved to be every bit as good as advertised for Bowling Green. The junior has three exceptional physical attributes working for him: speed, body control, and great hands. It's the middle one that seems to be the most pronounced in his play as he adjusts so well to the thrown football, both as a Receiver and as a Defensive Back, where he was accorded third team All State honors by the Missouri Coaches Association. Pretty salty coming up in run support. Very savvy in the back. Excellent instincts. He's a cornerstone piece for Jeff Gschwender going forward into 2013.


Second Team Selections



Why He's Here: Put bluntly, he stayed healthy. Tremendous all around athlete with great range, size, and the ability to make plays most high school kids can't. Multi-dimensional weapon who earned Second Team All Conference honors for his work in the back of the Cougar Defense. I know Basketball is Derick's first love, but this is a young man who has all the tools and talents to be an exception Small College Cornerback.




Why He's Here: The lynchpin on a greatly improved, if not overly celebrated Van-Far Squad. One of the bigger surprise producers of the season at quarterback, producing over 1800 all purpose yards. While he may have been a small school kid, I would contend Gooch would have found work in any secondary in the Tri States. Tough, smart player who was a big asset in run support (53 tackles) but who was also quick and savvy enough to give Receivers fits with his ability to jump the ball (six passes broken up) and take the ball away (five total turnovers)



JAYVIN RAY, Clark County

Why He's Here: Next year, JRay likely makes this list at Quarterback. This year, we will take him to help helm our secondary. He's an ideal centerfielder here at 6'1" and 190 pounds with the strength to overpower most receivers and the added bonus of running extraordinarily well for a guy of his size. Possessed of outstanding hands, as evidenced by his first team All Clarence Cannon Conference nods at both Wide Receiver and Defensive Back. I like the fact that he seems to understand the game at a very high level and uses his body well. Curious to see if the move to Quarterback next season causes Q. Hamner to rethink JRay's defensive reps because he's a very valuable and kind of unique pawn to employ. By the same token, if he turns out to be as good a QB as Scott Murdock thinks he might be (in the old school drop back tradition) than maybe you have not choice but to reduce his role.



TEL DYE, Macon

Why He's Here: Grit. Tremendous run stopper who helped put significant teeth into the Tigers rebuilt defense with 48 total stops this season. First Team All Conference Honoree who helped limit Macon foes to just 15 points per game this season. Super tough kid who played the game with a huge heart and a zeal for contact.




Why He's Here: Versatility. Jordan turned in what may have been the single best individual game effort of the season against Manual by returning a punt, a kickoff, and an interception for touchdowns. Clearly, the kid is explosive and a threat with the football in his hands. Less obviously, I thought Jordan really became a more aggressive and confident defender this season and really seemed to tune into reading quarterbacks and knowing where to position himself to best contest passes. He's got god-given upper tier skills. I like the polish he is adding to his game.




Why He's Here: Explosiveness to and with the football. Another "undersized" cover guy who took a huge leap forward this season in negating his size issues with speed, smarts and toughness. Burned Quarterbacks for five interceptions and six take-aways in 2012. A true "rise to the occasion" kid with a knack for making positive things happen on a defense that was greatly improved this past fall. Bland was a big reason why.


Third Team Selections


ROYCE POORE, Knox County

COLE PHILLIPS, Central-Southeastern


DEVANTE CLARK , Jacksonville

J.J. ABONGO, Brookfield


Best of the Rest

1) JACOB MOON, Macomb


3) WILL KLUSMEYER, Unity-Payson

4) GRANT O'BRYAN, Monroe City

5) TYLER FULLER, South Shelby

6) ZACH MILLER, Scotland County

7) MICHAEL ORR, North Shelby



2013 Preseason Ranks


2) DEVANTE CLARK , Jacksonville

3) COREY BROWN, Bowling Green

4) AUSTIN BOEHS, West Central

5) GAVIN PEAVLEY, Centralia

6) J.J. ABONGO, Brookfield


9) JAYVIN RAY, Clark County

10) ROYCE POORE, Knox County



First Team Selections


Rationale: Unassailable Productivity. Despite his teams average win/loss record, we had Sparks ranked at season's end as the number two Linebacker in Tri State Football behind only Brett Taylor. Granted, he doesn't enjoy the press clippings of some of his compatriots but I ask you to compare and contrast Sparks in isolation with anyone. All he does is relentlessly work and get people to the ground. Not a spectacular player by any means but ruthlessly effective. Posted 163 total stops this season in route to First Team All Clarence Cannon honors. Kid who holds his ground exceptionally well and fights off Offensive Linemen as well as anyone. Production is even more impressive when you consider that Sparks did not enjoy the same level of Defensive Line protection as some of the other more celebrated guys on this list. Outstanding two year run at Fullback for the Cougars to boot.




Rationale: Pure finisher. Resisted the urge to employ him here at Offensive Line where he ranks right with some of the best "under sized" blockers (TJ Menn, Nathan Goudschaal) I've seen largely because he was so vital to all that Andy Phelps Defense provided. Tremendous run stuffer with 170 tackles this season (120 of them solos) in the Middle of the Trojan Defense. Super smart player who proved an incredibly effective weapon dropping back in coverage the last two seasons with seven total interceptions. That's better take away production than most Defensive Backs. The epitome of everything you look for in Defensive Stalwart, on the field and off. Well deserved First Team Class 1A All State Pick.



NICK WEIMAN, Quincy Notre Dame

Rationale: Most fundamentally sound tackler I can remember. Said it before and I will say it can, you could take a video of Nick's highlights and sell it as an instructional tape to coaches for their own kids to emulate. He might also have the highest Defensive IQ of any player on this list. Finished the year with a team high 72 tackles, five of them for loss,on QND's by committee attack. I contend that Weiman is polished and good enough right now to start for many of the smaller college teams in our area at safety. High character, high intelligence player with a throwback zeal for the game. Will probably go down as one of my all time favorite linebackers to watch in person because he just did so much right.




Rationale: Constantly revving motor. Gittings, the unquestioned heart and soul of a resurgent Charger defense finished the year with a team leading 84 tackles, or roughly 7.5 per game. Great nose for the football/fighting instinct, as evidenced by his four fumble recoveries. Plays with an unbridled love for the game. Turned out to be pretty darned good fullback along the way with over 900 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as Illini West's designated Red Zone hammer. Strong, determined leader who got things done on both sides of the ball and was a well deserved All Conference honoree along the way.



RIVER BUGH, Quincy High

Rationale: Pure Heart. Kid was an absolute fighter who lined up at Defensive Tackle for Quincy High out of necessity against Chicago Harlan and absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage. The production didn't cease when he moved back to his more natural position at Linebacker, where he garnered First Team All Western Big Six honors with 74 total tackles, eight stops for loss and four quarterback sacks. An absolute bulldog of a kid with a great first step and tremendous ability to fight off much bigger Offensive Linemen to get to the football. If this kid was five inches taller and 40 pounds heavier, he'd be your Player of the Year.




Rationale: The Perfect Speed Backer/Rover to enhance any defense. Blackford's jump from Defensive Back to Linebacker proved the perfect catalyzing agent for South Shelby, improving the range of the entire unit. Finished with a team leading 51 solo tackles and 122 stops overall to go along with two quarterback sacks and two interceptions. First Team All Clarence Cannon Conference Pick. Tremendously versatile and athletic overall player who finally got a year of good health to show us all exactly what he was capable of doing on the gridiron.


Second Team Selections


DEAN ARENDT, Concord Triopia

Rationale: Super strong, incredibly physical kid who is a matchup nightmare for Class 1A Offensive Linemen. A true punisher with terrific force at the point of attack who moves pretty well for a 220 pound kid. Forty eight of his 69 total tackles this season were of the solo variety, which tells when Dean reaches a running back, the running back is going down and going down hard. Posted a pair of quarterback sacks in the blowout win over Mount Olive, which means the Sophomore may have some upside there as well. Fascinating prospect who can be as good as he wants.



Rationale: Undersized, but relentless worker who proved an ideal meld of sideline-to-sideline range, tenacity, and quickness to lead Centralia in tackles this season with 88 total stops. Mobility made him a great seek and destroy "rover" type threat against the run, while giving Erle Bennett the luxury of Defensive Back level coverage when dropping him into coverage. Tremendously tough kid to deny first team honors as you could argue Kinkead vs Blackford for that spot back and forth until you where blue in the face without any real "right" answer.



Rationale: Criminally underrated lynch pin in the heart of the Blue Devil Defense. I had one very accomplished opposing coach tell me this season that Summy was the best middle linebacker he had seen on tape in two years. Finished the season with 54 total tackles and four stops behind the line of scrimmage, a bit of deceiving number given the balance on the QHS Defense. Throw back type intensity and production. Strong run stuffer who plays the game right.


MARCUS LANDES, Central-Southeastern

Rationale: Big play ability. Granted, no area team seemed to have a greater array of linebackers to employ, but Landes really commanded attention with a penchant for making big hits at critical times. Thought the kid was absolutely tremendous in getting up field when turned loose and has some clear pass rushing tools which could really be enhanced at the next level. Finished the year with 81 total tackles and pair of interceptions, which was no small feat given the number of high motor linebackers Brad Dixon threw into the mix on a play to play basis.



Rationale: If the kid could have stayed fully healthy, he probably would have ended up higher on this list. Gritty, well schooled physical backer (and running back as well) who delivered 54 tackles and six stops for loss this season for a Raider Defense that wasn't as typically stout as it has been in years past. To some degree, some of the more notable Raider players this year where taxed with doing a lot more to hide the soft spots and Obert proved a very capable safety net. I just like the fact that when the kid was either tackling someone or fighting for yards at runnign back, his legs never seemed to quit churning.



Rationale: One of my very favorite players in All of Tri State Football whose mix of strength and demeanor would have made him the quintessential I Formation Fullback, ala Tom Rathman. Since that position sadly seems to be going the way of the Dinosaurs, we will draft Lincoln here for his skills as an Inside Linebacker, which include


Third Team



BLAKE GRICE, Monroe City


KENNY LITTLE, Pittsfield


JARED STARMAN, Central-Southeastern

STONEY HAINES, Rushville/Industry


Best of the Rest

1) BEN ALTHOFF, Palmyra

2) RYE HUNZIKER, Clark County

3) CJ GAST, Macon

4) DAKOTA DOWNS, Quincy High


6) ALEX MYLES, Beardstown

7) ALEX MEEK, Keokuk

8) ANDREW TEEL, South Shelby

9) JED TROUTMAN, Scotland County


2013 Preseason Ranks

1) DEAN ARENDT, Triopia

2) JACOB TRUMP, Clark County

3) RIVER BUGH, Quincy High

4) CULLEN RALPHS, Centralia

5) CJ GAST, Macon


7) BEN ALTHOFF, Palmyra

8) ALEX MEEK, Keokuk



First Team Selections

ROLANDO LUNA, Beardstown

Rationale: For lack of a better descripton, the man is a human battering ram. The Haloti Ngata of Tri State High School Football as a 300 pound two gap monster who proved impossible to block one oneone. For a big man, Luna covered a lot of space. Had the strength and presence to wipe out to completely negate opponents rushing options from guard to guard and was a one man pocket collapser. He had 17 tackles for loss this season, inspite of all those double teams he faced. Not sure Rolando has even scratched the surface of what he may become at the next level and a host of College Programs, Northern Illinois and WIU among them, are said to be incredibly intrigued by Luna as a future Division One Lineman. Just an aside, for someone who strikes fear into the hearts of many of high school running back, I find Rolando to be an incredibly likeable, fun loving kid way from the field. He's got a heck of an opportunity staring him in the face and who knows how good this young man might ultimately be as a finished product.


Rationale: Gifted with a prototype frame straight out of Central Casting at 6'6" and 220 pounds, Bobby Gruenloh delivered on his enormous potential in a undeniably impressive way despite a position change that could have curtailed his productivity. And yet pushing down from Defensive End to the Interior Line (124 tackles at Defensive Tackle? That's Trevor Frericks territory) had no ill effect at all, which speaks volumes about Bobby's relentless need to hit. Plays the game with a chip on his shoulder, which I guess turns some people off, but I love the guy's passion (which I think Kevin Miles did a magnificent job to positively harness) and his absolute joy destroying plays. For all of his other assets, the thing that really stands out her is his coordination. Every thing he does, even at max effort, looks effortlessly fluid which is why if I were a college coach I'd move heaven and earth to sign the kid. Pass rushing is a unique skill that so few people on this planet possess. This guy had 11 quarterback sacks and he's barely scratched the surface of what he is capable of. He's got as much long range potential as any player in Tri State Football if he continues to engage, work, and keep his competitive fires stoked.


KYLE KOVAR, Clark County

Rationale: Hard pressed to remember a Defensive Tackle who was so good (or more importantly so consistent) in getting a surge up field. Kyle is so brute strong off the snap of the ball that he was basically corrupting the integrity of off opponents Offensive Lines on nearly every play. I watched him in isolation at the back end of the Bowling Green game and you could see the Bobcat Line waffle and warp as soon as Kyle crashed into it, like a wave against a sand dune. I think the kid missed his true calling. He's so "hand strong" he could have been a boxer. Tossed around Offensive Linemen like they were made of paper. Despite splitting time with Luke Ross up front and some very active Linebackers, Kovar still managed 105 tackles, 9 quarterback sacks, and an obscene 30 tackles for loss in route to Clarence Cannon Conference Defensive POY and All State honors. To correct myself, "beast" may not be nearly strong enough a description to encapsulate what Kyle brought to the table.




Rationale: The Clarence Cannon Conference boasted an embarrassment of Defensive Line riches the likes of which we may not see again for a long time. Any other year, Kendall Kothe might well have been your League bellwether on the Outside Edge. Great tangible production here but I am way off the mark if I don't start with his character first. You'd be hard pressed to find a better work ethic or leader mentality from any player on this list. Sheer force of will kid who lived in the weight room and who other Tiger Lineman sought to emulate. Love the fact that he stood up tallest in the biggest of games (22 total tackles against Centralia/Clark County) and tried to carry the day at every opportunity. Turned himself into one heck of a pass rusher these last two seasons (7 QB Sacks as a Senior) Has always been a motor player, but Kendall got really tightened up in the polish and savvy department. All that off season work made him a far more mobile player and look more like an 3-4 Outside Linebacker than a Defensive End in tracking down running backs.



LUKE ROSS, Clark County

Rationale: I know that they were a heck of a package deal, but I'd love to see what kind of tackle totals Luke Ross would have put up in the absence of Kyle Kovar and vice versa. These two Defensive Sharks cleaned out the waters and didn't leave a lot of leftovers for anyone else, as ceaselessly effective as they were the last two years. Of the guys on this list who weight 225 pounds or better, I would argue that Luke Ross is probably the most naturally athletic of the bunch. There is suddenness to what he does that must just be overwhelming for Offensive Linemen working against him for the first time because he gets off the football quicker than a hiccup. Heck, watching him this summer on the Barnstorm Tour, he still seemed to surprise his own teammates in blocking drills with that explosiveness (and I am talking about All Area level players who knew exactly what he had) Luke Ross was just so streamlined in what he did. He just had this talent for seeming to get wherever he wanted to be on a football field, quickly, irregardless of the obstacles that were in his way. See also the 115 tackles, 15 stops for loss, and six sacks that helped procure him All Conference and All State honors once again.




Rationale: In a year when Defensive Line became a (or maybe "the") glamour position in Tri State Football, Harley VanBebber kept it old school. If you are one of those people that picks All Conference or "All This and That" teams based on end of the year stat sheets, you would probably never even know that this kid existed, not that 51 tackles. 36 solo stops, and a very tidy 5.5 sacks is anything to sneeze at for an interior Lineman. That, in fact, is better production than some really decent Linebackers. But my point here is that Harley didn't buckle a chin strap to dazzle you with big plays or big stats. This kid just went out and did the job ascribed to him: fight Offensive Lineman, create cover for your linebackers, and make everyone around you look good. And Harley was luminous at it. Just an ornery, pain in the neck for the poor two or three guys who had to try and get him blocked on every play. Harley gave Jacksonville nothing but constant fight and gave every one of his defensive teammates a better stage on which to stand because he was the best "grunt worker" in the business. And every other Crimson Defensive kid (on arguably the single most improved Defense around) owes VanBebber a debt of gratitude for his efforts.



Rationale: For my money, I thought he was the best player on the Illini West Defense this season. Pleased to see that I wasn't alone in this assessment of a kid who didn't get a whole lot of press during the year, but Kaleb also made First Team All Area for the Quincy Herald Whig. These are well deserved plaudits for a young man who I always liked because he "played big" on the field. Surprised when I interviewed him this summer that he was just an averaged sized guy because at times out there he looked like one of those 6'6" "all arms and legs" monsters terrorizing everyone on the field. I think Kaleb was just a very directed, very intense kid and arguably the best schooled Defensive Lineman on this list. He was fundamental, smart, and found a way to thrive in assignment football the last two years, be it on the edge on the inside of the Chargers 50 front. Speaks volumes. Hard to find many flaws in his game or approach. And I think he still has plenty of athletic upside going forward. Kaleb posted 72 tackles this season, 12 for loss and six quarterback sacks; pretty big numbers within IW's by committee approach.




Rationale: Nagging injuries curtailed his production at the end of the season or he might have posted the most impressive numbers on this list. Two time All Stater thrived as the Cardinals most active Lineman with 117 tackles and 5 quarterback sacks. So how does a kid 5'9" and a buck eighty play so darned well in Conference loaded with beastly Offensive Lineman? Big heart. Great feet. Nasty disposition. The thing about Riley that makes him special is that slides over, around and through contact as if he was coated with teflon. You really can't keep a block on the kid as he slips direct contact as well as anyone. To be honest with you, I am not sure he's not the toughest kid Rob Wilt will have to replace next year.


Second Team Selections


BLAIR THALL, Centralia

Why He's Here: Like Harley VanBebber, a guy you can't totally appreciate in isolation and a player who makes everyone around him better. Tough kid to contend with in that trying to block Blair is a little like trying to punch out a fire hydrant. He's functionally strong at the point of attack, plays with a great center of gravity and constant surge to the football. And he's tougher than a three dollar steak. Posted 40 tackles this season, which is a little deceiving since he created dozens more for the guys around him. Just a Good Old Fashioned Bare Knuckle brawler. And the player on this list I'd least like to be fighting for a fumble at the bottom of a scrum. Kid has a real talent for cleaning up those mistakes.




Why He's Here: Unfortunately, the big guy just got stuck behind a logjam of outstanding Defensive Ends in what was a bumper crop year for them. Hard to dispute Dakota's importance to Andy Phelps Defense or his numbers (73 tackles, 8 quarterback sacks) as the Trojan Senior took much of the sting out of John Love's Graduation to give the Triop Defensive Line some real gravitas. From a college prospect standpoint, I think Dakota has enormous potential moving forward should he decide to play at the next level. He's got great athletic gifts and when he's locked in, the ability to dominate at game and be very special.




Why He's Here: Weight room warrior who plays with tremendous effort and motor. Few players anchor down and hold the point of attack as well as Ben Holtschlag. And those who do don't typically also have Ben's ability to roam the field or project some strength in pass rush as well as Ben did. Another player here who suffers some because the pool of talent is much deeper this season. He'll always rank high with me because I thought Holtschlag was a very adroit tackler. My appreciation for the kid also went up after watching him slug it out with some of Missouri's best in one-on-one drills at Mizzou Camp. Just no quit in him.




Why He's Here: Best pure athlete in this mix and a player whose approach and "can't defeat us" attitude I absolute love. Whether it was his well earned reputation from last year for exceptional pass rush or some nagging injury issues, Armstrong wore a big target this season and his sack totals tailed off to just four this season. To his credit, however, I thought Diontue responded by becoming a far better run defender this season and he posted a very impressive 34 solo tackles and 60 overall stops as part of that evolution.



BRADEN DAMON, Pleasant Hill/Western

Why He's Here: Torn ACL. If he played an entire season, we are having a very different conversation about Braden Damon right now. Arguably the best player in the area you know nothing about, largely because the Big Guy got the worst break of the season in getting derailed by the knee injury. The kid was averaging 12 tackles a game halfway through the a 6'5" 290 pound interior Lineman no less. His work rate, particularly at his size, was incredible. He was also a top notch Offensive Tackle and a stellar student to boot. Just a really good player who caught an awful, raw break. Otherwise, we might be having the Drew Miller type awards conversation about this kid.



AUSTIN BEARD, Pittsfield/Griggsville Perry

Why He's Here: One of the most critical cogs in one of the area's most improved Defenses. Got to watch PGP four times in person this season and every time I walked way impressed with Austin Beard, who seemed to fuse a much need toughness and physicality onto this unit. The most noticable thing about Austin to me was the way he pushed Offensive Linemen around and made life easier for the Saukee Linebackers and Defensive Backs to come up and make plays. Beard had a great talent for stacking up running lanes and creating traffic jams. I thought he also showed some real aggressiveness in getting off contact after causing those disruptions and sneaking in for tackles. Another kid whose contributions were probably way too overlooked. Things might have regressed without him providing that presence.



LOGAN MYERS, Central Southeastern

Why He's Here: He's definitely First Team, maybe First Ballot Hall of Fame as a soundbite, but lets not forget that Logan Myers can flat play some football too. Really worked hard in the off-season and it showed and became very good at controlling the point of attack and mucking up blocking assignments. As a function of Brad Dixon's system, that didn't allow him many tackles of his own as those five swarming Linebackers behind him and the All State next to him "vultured" away all those easy numbers. Still, ask any CSE Defender and they will tell just how irreplaceable Logan was. Five quarterback sacks is no small contribution either.


Third Team Selections


MONTE SALLY, Scotland County

MUDDY WATERS, Central-Southeastern

BRENT SPARKS, Brookfield

JACOB HOCKMAN, Centraliaã??




2013 Preseason Rankings



3) BRAXTON SQUIER, Illini West

4) GAGE KLITZ, Unity/Payson

5) AUSTIN GARNDER, Rushville/Industry

6)AUSTIN DAVIS, Hannibal



KYLE FULTON, Kicking Specialist

JAHWAUN CASSIDY, Return Specialist





RB-SETH STROMER, Pleasant Hill

RB-JOHN ARNETT, North Shelby



WR-RYAN LINDSEY, Routt Catholic







OL- IAN JONES, Quincy High




DL-GAGE KLITZ, Unity-Payson





LB-COLLIN RYALS, Jacksonville


DB-NOLAN ARD, Illini West

DB-TAYLER FIEGL, Rushville/Industry