Wild Hunger (Duerrisms for the Week of October 27th)
It’s a brand new Week. With a brand new energy. Chin is up. Smile at the ready. And I am jonesing to dive in and have real some fun. Because every single one of us who love local sports in the Tri-States has earned seven days of playoff bliss and general happiness.
This is DUERRISMS for the Week of October 27, 2017 and we are presented as always by the great folks at SLEEP TIGHT. Don’t get me wrong, I am completely appreciative of their incredible patronage. But I am a little suspicious of the fact that maybe the good folks there are operating under the premise that I am actually TV Commercial Spokeswoman Rebecca Buelt’s dash handsome husband Dan; and that’s why they are so good to me. I mean, if you have to have a doppleganger, you could certainly do far worse than “The Glue;” the point guard who cemented Warsaw’s 1997 State Basketball Championship (I in fact, can’t go to my right…or left for that matter and possess a handle that causes general gasps of horror in Rec League play) Just don’t anybody tell our wonderful sponsors that Chris Duerr and Dan Buelt are actually two different dudes, okay? Okay….
Went back through the recesses of my sports mind this week and started thinking about some of the best 48 hour runs of local sports excellence I could come up with. Obviously, that Saturday back in 1998 spending the Morning at State with the Quincy High Blue Devil Basketball Squad vs Quentin Richardson and Whitney Young in the AA State Semifinals and the evening with Palmyra win-losing to The Brothers Rush and Pembroke Hill in a Title Game was pretty special, though not especially productive in the victory column. My favorite two-day run ever came on Thanksgiving Weekend in 2008 when we had Concord Triopia, Illini West, and Clark County Football all title at the same time. That’s probably the high water mark. Heck, just last Spring the Van-Far/Monroe City track and field plunder was highly memorable as well. And of course who can forget the North Shelby/ Palmyra State Softball Title Twin killing of 2004. In similar fashion, I’d have to think that this last weekend deserves some consideration as well as a Top Ten All Timer thanks not only to a Quincy High/QND Football Game for the ages, but especially to the incredible Bowling Green and Canton Squads who thirteen years later have once again made Show Me State Small School Softball Squads a Northeast Missouri monopoly. Two very different type teams with two different approaches to the same result: making the Tri-States inordinately proud of our athletes and our reputation for excellence once again. In that spirt, job incredibly well done Ladies. This is why the Fall Sports season is my favorite. So much winning.
With the football playoffs upon, the format of this column changes this week. No more power poll. Just game previews and projections. And we remain alive here as a column for as long as we’ve got teams in the pool in quest for gridiron glory. That’s always the amazing thing about this time of year. The transition from Fall to Winter Sports season can be immediate and jarring. Fingers crossed to still be here for you Thanksgiving Weekend talking Football. But as with all things sports, the unpredictability of it all is pretty crazy. So let the white-knuckled ride begin.
KHQA STUDENT ATHLETE OF THE WEEK PRESENTED BY HANNIBAL REGIONAL HOSPITAL, CELL TECH, REFRESHMENT SERVICES PEPSI AND SUBWAY
On Wednesdays at KHQA, we scrap the traditional format and devote our entire three minute six o'clock newscast to honoring the outstanding student athletes in Tri-State Sports. Minimum requirement to be considered for this award is a 3.5 GPA with participation in at least one sport. And you must be a High School Senior. At year's end, our independent nominating committee will choose and reward the top Male and Female from the 36 candidates appearing in our Wednesday Night honor roll with a college scholarship. If you know of a deserving candidate, you can obtain a nomination form from your High School's Athletic Director or Principal, who must sign off on the nomination for it to be considered. Or print one from the KHQA Website, but be sure to have your AD and Principal sign off on it. We don't want to miss out on introducing the Tri-States to single deserving candidate so help us put the spotlight on these amazing Young Men and Women in our communities. Plus there is a dinner banquet to honor all of our nominees in June. Please help us add to the list below. Our second (and second to last) nomination vote is set for January 8th, 2018, your next deadline to send us quality kids to honor.
2018 KHQA SAW Honorees
Week One-SIERRA ERKE, Quincy High Volleyball
Week Two-ELI TEN EYCK, Pittsfield Cross Country/Track and Field
Week Three-MICHAELA DAVIS, Keokuk Basketball/Track and Field/Volleyball
Week Four-TAYLOR KLUSMEYER, Unity Football/Basketball/Track and Field
PAST SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
2017-KOLBY MCCLELLAND, Southeastern, Murray State
2017-CORY MILLER, Unity, John Wood Community College
2016-MARIAH BRODIE, Illini West, Illinois State
2016-DYLAN POWELL, Hannibal, Stanford
2015-MIKAELA FOECKE, Holy Trinity, Nebraska
2015-CAMERON DURST, Canton, Columbia College
2014-TYLER NIEMANN, Canton, Morehead State
2014-KATEE HINKLE, Palmyra, Bowling Green
2013-KASSIDY GENGENBACHER, QND, Lindenwood
2013-DALTON POWELL, Hannibal, Truman State
2012-ALEX WALTER, Central, Augustana
2012-TORI KUHN, QND, Quincy University
2011-JACOB CONLEY, Central, US Millitary Academy at West Point
2011-DAKOTA FLESNER, Payson, Iowa Wesleyan
2010-MICHAEL LAFFERTY, Illini West, Monmouth
2010-TAYLOR BAXTER, Palmyra, Illinois State
2009-CHLOE BARNES, QND (Ball State)
2009-MATT PATTERSON, South Shelby (Truman State)
2008-LUKE GUTHRIE, Quincy High (Illinois)
2007-KATELYN BASTERT, Illini West (Duke)
2006-MIKAL BENECOMO, Clopton (SEMO)
THE MAGNIFIENT SEVEN FOR WEEK TEN
7)CALEB LAPSLEY, RB/LB, Clark County
146 Rushing Yards, 2 TD; 58 Yard Pick Six Interception vs Bowling Green
6)KATIE GAUS, Leftfielder, Canton
3x7, 2 RBI in Two State Games; Go-ahead 2 Run Home Run in the 6th Inning of the Semifinals vs North Harrison
5)CHASE HARTWEG, LB/RB, West Hancock
14 Tackles, 2 TFL, Quarterback Sack; 87 All Purpose Yards, TD vs Bismarck-Henning
4)WILL WHITAKER, WR, Hannibal
4 Catches, 115 Receiving Yards, 2 TD; 44 Yard Rushing TD vs Warrensburg
3)JIREHL BROCK, RB, Quincy High
24 Carries, 201 Yards, 3 Rushing (Game Winner with :14 left) TD; 100 Yard Pick Six Interception vs QND
2)KODIAK ROGERS, RB/DE, Pleasant Hill/Western
24 Carries, 226 Yards, 2 TD; 11 Yard TD Reception; 9 Tackles, 3 TFL vs Unity/Payson
1)NATE FERGUSON, FB/LB, BWP
26 Carries, 284 Yards, 3 TD; 7 Tackles, 3 TFL vs North Fulton
KHQA/SLEEP TIGHT PLAYER OF THE WEEK (AS VOTED BY YOU THE FANS ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE
CALEB GEHLE, RB, Fort Madison
Rationale: Hats off to all of our voters. You did a wonderful service to a wonderful young man this week. Caleb Gehle’s body of football work, statistically, isn’t very big. One carry. One two point conversion in a blowout loss. But the young man is officially and wonderfully in the Bloodhound Record Books forever. And that couldn’t happen to a more deserving person. Caleb has been a behind-the-scenes force for Fort Madison Football for the entirety of his career, an indomitable spirit who would not be slowed or deterred even by Spastic Dysplegic Cerebral Palsy in trying to be the best Manager the program could ask for. No complaints. No issues. He just gets the jobs he needs to do in performing those duties done. He’s also an All State Performer in Wheelchair Shot Put for three years running. But on Friday Night, no wheelchair and no walker for his yard plunge to glory. Caleb did made the jaunt of his own accord and on his terms, which made the affair even more wonderful and special. And he’s a 3.67 Honor Roll student, National Honor Society Member, and Concert and Marching Band Performer to boot. That’s one heck of a resume even before you take Friday’s end zone visit into account. What a neat way to cap a stellar Four Year Football career and a show of all that is right in our game and in the Fort Madison community. Thank you for the inspired run Caleb and the inspiration you provided us all in making it so.
Week One: KEVIN CAMPBELL, RB/DB, Hannibal (vs Helias)
Week Two: DEVIN TYNAN, RB/DB, Brown County (vs West Central)
Week Three: ALEX GULLY, RB/DB, Fort Madison (vs Central Lee)
Week Four: JOE HENDRICKER, QB, Brown County (vs Beardstown)
Week Five: DALTON CRANE, QB, Pleasant Hill/Western (vs Calhoun)
Week Six: JIREHL BROCK, RB, Quincy High (vs Rocky)
Week Seven: DARIAN DRAKE, RB/LB, Brown County (vs Triopia)
Week Eight: GABE GOODWIN, OLB, Palmyra (vs Brookfield)
Week Nine: COLE PENNEWELL, FB/LB, Monroe City (vs Palmyra)
IHSA 1A FIRST ROUND-PLEASANT HILL/WESTERN AT RED HILL
THE BEAR NECESSITIES: There are not many 5-4 teams who barely “sneak” into the IHSA Field of 256 with legitimate win aspirations against whatever 9-0 powerhouse they draw. Mike Giles Wolves, however, may be the exception to that rule. Take nothing away from Red Hill’s very fine season within the Little Illini Conference (just the second undefeated campaign in program history) but I am not sure, outside of maybe Newton, there is a WIVC Caliber team in that league. The Little Illini doesn’t have a great track record of post-season success. Could this Saluki team be the exception? Having not seen much football on that side of the state, I can’t tell you. But this does read like an offensive attack that is going to try and launch a couple of 100 yard a night backs in Drew Moore and Landon Florkowski into the teeth of a Wolves Defense that is really smacking people around right now. The personnel adjustments Defensive Coordinator Ron Edwards has made over the season has really allowed the Wolves to get downhill on people. Unity/Payson was only able to muster 202 total yards against PH/W last week and that is with a fully actuated passing attack. It reads like Red Hill has a pretty good quarterback in Chase Murray, but that he is essentially an 80 yards a game through the air guy. That places the onus on Red Hill’s lines to push Pleasant Hill out of the way upfront and try to get blocks on Nick Black and Justin Shireman and that strategy has worked less and less successfully for everyone on the back half of the Wolves slate the last three weeks, particularly a Brown County team that just looked overrun up front. With their combination of Black, Shireman, Grant Peebles and Kody Rogers attacking from behind size, it’s really hard to get blocks on these kids right now. Moreover, as we saw last week, PH/W hawks the passing lanes in the short and intermediate range very well. See also Shireman’s pair of pick and the five total takeaways the Wolves ripped away from Taylor Klusmeyer last week. The proposition is no bargain when you flip the equation either. Red Hill has done a great job controlling opponent’s attacks. In a half dozen games, the Salukis have allowed 14 points or less. Five of those have been either single score games or shutouts. What little I can find on Red Hill in the media sounds like they have a great collective run and hit group. But it also sounds like Red Hill will be outsized and trying to deal with Wolves physicality in the trenches. Dalton Crane is showing all kinds of dual threat virtuoso ability at Quarterback right now (277 yards worth of total offense against U/P) and the rise of Kodiak Rogers at Running Back has so completely added a second dimension of fear factor for defenses.
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTIONS
PLEASANT HILL/WESTERN 18
RED HILL 21
IHSA 1A FIRST ROUND-BROWN COUNTY AT ARCOLA
THE COLA WARS: No sugar-coating this one: Brown County hasn’t been right for three weeks now. Doesn’t mean the Hornets can’t or won’t get there, but struggling a winless North Greene early is the surest sign yet that something is amiss with this BC club. They’ve become the high school football equivalent of Markelle Fultz shooting Free Throws. Too much talent to be floundering this mightily. Too much ability to suggest it will last. But also, too many disconcerting psychological signs in the manner of play here that Brown County as a collective is kind of in its own head right now. That said, they delivered a reassuring 26 point second quarter in White Fall Friday, complete with potentially traction establishing offerings from Joe Hendricker, Darian Drake, Tanner Sussenbach et al. Maybe that was the tipping point back to normal. The Roster didn’t change any from the first seven weeks of this season versus the last three. The potential that had this team ranked as high as fourth in the state in 1A is still in play. You hope for Tom Little’s sake that maybe this glitch just worked its way through the system. But until we see it; some kind of tangible turning of the page from the Central and especially Pleasant Hill/Western Games, it’s all a leap of faith. I realize that all playoff action is a do-or-die proposition for everyone involved. Still, the stakes fell much higher for this road trip (who saw that coming two weeks ago) to Arcola. The Purple Riders haven’t played a particularly impressive schedule this season in route to 7-2. They own only one win over a team with a winning record (Decatur Lutheran) but to their credit are averaging just 13 points against per contest. The last WIVC postseason trip this direction yielded the Alger Saldana Miracle, so maybe that’s a good omen for the Hornets as well. Whatever restores/instills confidence at this point. A victory over Arcola would bring the Hornets home to host Tuscola, so the forfeiting of a first round home game might not have been the worst thing in the world. But they’ve got to get there first.
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTION
BROWN COUNTY 14
IHSA 1A FIRST ROUND-CALHOUN AT CENTRAL
VENGENCE A YEAR IN THE MAKING: On the surface, three very important things happened in Camp Point Friday Night. The Panthers upset then-undefeated Carrollton to both position themselves for a home playoff berth and return a salvo of revenge for that 46-0 drubbing the Hawks laid on them in the 2016 Playoff Opener. And more superficially, Brad Dixon’s team established their legitimacy again as a power player in Class 1A. Don’t dismiss the latter in its relevance and gravity here. Confidence and swagger are powerful elements. And given the results of the last few Central/Carrollton meetings, the Panthers sorely needed a reminder that the WIVC’s South resident power had not really passed them by. There is, for no better lack of description, reinforcement here of all the core tenets at the CPC Staff has been trying rekindle in returning the Panther Program to its days of unquestioned WIVC dominance. That stuff matters, particularly when it comes to 16-18 year old kids. We project in our jobs who we think we are. The Central kids have no given themselves license to think (correctly) they take a back seat to no one, regardless of reputation or ranking. Got to spend some time with a member of the Carrollton Staff on Tuesday morning and he flat out told me that Brad Dixon had out-schemed them this time around. He also noted that he that just got the fires stoked for a potential meeting again in two weeks. Essentially, I was told that Carrollton had detected passing tendencies from the Panthers and adjusted during the week to negate that as a passing option. This coach told me however that Dixon one-upped them there by employing a more Tight End focused passing game; something my source told me in no uncertain terms that Central had tried maybe three previous times all year. For all else that went on in that chessmatch of a game, know that from the Carrollton viewpoint that Tristan Brocksieck’s three catch, 73 yard night was the field tilter in their estimation. To sum up: didn’t see it coming but won’t happen again. While it’s fun to hope we get a rematch of that always spicy rivalry, both teams have games to win first. Central’s playoff opener comes with its own measure of immediate payback. Aaron Elmore’s crew pulled off at 16-14 overtime win over Central on opening night, the infamous Chayse Houston just missed the end zone game. The two teams have trended in wildly different direction since. Central floundered around until it found considerable groove post Beardstown. The Warriors rallied to win four of their last five to get playoff eligible. It’s a credit to this Warrior group that they have been able to adapt to one of the region’s most unfortunate injuries, as an ACL tear has robbed stud Fullback Jacob Watters of his defense busting powers. In response, Ty Bick has taken on a larger, more singular role as a weapon at Quarterback (has amassed 1266 yards and 16 touchdowns. Watters has played at times, but sat out the Triopia game. Read those tea leaves as you will. Calhoun has gotten supporting production from Sophomore Wing Cole Lammy and Senior Scott White, who had two scores in the playoff clincher against Triopia. The Warriors are still plenty dangerous and it will be important for the Central defense to keep him hemmed in. Offensively, Central is as balanced as it has been in some time. Eric Jones has given the Panther Passing Game a considerable boost. Cole Williams has obviously emerged as a legit feature back, but CHS profiles a smorgasboard of fresh legs and diverse offense. Take nothing away from Calhoun’s defense, but I have a very hard time seeing this Central squad being limited to 14 points again by anyone. Casey Rhea has done an amazing job expanding the pallet of what the Panthers can do and incorporating multiple tweaks (depending who is on the field) that fit the strengths of those kids. Chayse Houston gives you something different in the run game than Wilson Stotts (who had a terrific game defensively for my money against Carrollton) does. Or Noah Strohkirch. It’s a feel thing but Central’s offense might be best distinguished by its ability to prevent you from ever doing much more than guessing and hoping on Defense. I think that serves them very well here the second time around.
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTION
IHSA 2A FIRST ROUND-CARLYLE AT BWP
JAX SEASON: The reveal came Saturday Night and it was certainly a fitting payoff for a program that has worked so hard to make itself relevant in short order. The Sparclones will host their first ever playoff game Saturday in Bushnell on the heels of a 33-6 win over North Fulton that felt old-school NFL “Black and Blue” Division in its overall physicality. BWP smothered the Wildcats Defensively, coming up just one perfectly timed 75 yard passing play in the third quarter from a touchdown. We’ve pointed out on numerous occasions just how good the line play has been for David Roddis this season, on both sides of the ball. Putting the optics there, however, probably hasn’t shed enough light on the quality of play BWP has gotten from the back end of its defense as well. Obviously, Nate Ferguson commanded many of the offensive headlines Friday with his near 300 yard rushing effort and three touchdowns. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that he posted seven tackles and a team leading three stops for loss as well. Jax Hiel led the charge with a team best 11 stops. His running mate at Middle Linebacker Carter Weaver had seven. John Hiel and Jace McCance up front also each had seven tackles apiece. Brody Mynatt continued his domination at Nose with eight tackles and a TFL. The point here is that production is coming from everywhere. The webbing or netting of this defense has been superb. There’s not one “must block” dude here. You’ve got to account for everyone and pressure coming from everywhere. And clearly this is a group rising at the right time. And look, there is not a lot sexy about this offense. BWP is relentlessly effective on that side of the ball…and at their best pretty boring in how they do it. But behind that line, no one is stopping what they do. And the Defense doesn’t need a lot to make wins stand up. In short, this is the exact type of high floor squad you hate to draw in the playoffs. Interestingly, the Sparclones appear to be getting same in turn in a really fascinating first round battle with Carlyle. The Indians showed a ton of heart in earning the program’s first playoff berth since 2013 with three straight road wins to snatch an automatic berth in the playoffs. And they did that with starting Quarterback Alex Huels on the shelf with an injury. In his stead, Junior Quarterback Caleb Darr has been tidy. He’s thrown five touchdown passes and nary an interception. Like BWP, this is clearly a team with some resilience and plenty of moxie. Four hours is a long road trip to make for the first round of the playoffs and that could obviously play a factor but this feels like, if not the most hotly contested first rounder on our radar, at least the one most likely to lead the region in “bruise count” when all is said and done.
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTIONS
IHSA 2A FIRST ROUND-ILLINI WEST AT MAROA-FORSYTH
THE LIGHT OF THE CHARGER BRIGADE: This young Illini West squad has ridden the roller coaster this season, but give credit to Lyle Klein and staff for having these guys playing their best football when it matters most. Deliver your most complete football game in Week Nine and you are doing something right. The Chargers did a nice job busting up South Fulton on both sides of the ball on Friday in a 36-8 affair. Nick Vorhies headlined a balanced running attack with 143 yards and three touchdowns. Colton Sargeant nearly cracked the century mark. Michael Lord delivered a receiving touchdown and 67 all purpose yards. And Jackson Porter has just kind of been quietly simmering, waiting for a moment to play off that arsenal of backs and attack over the top to the team that commits too much attention to the box. And the defense teed off nicely on the Rebels, with six tackles for loss, including a pair of Quarterback sacks from rising Junior Jake Cole. In tandem with gap plugger Ty Jackson and the rangy Kennedy Gooding up front, Cole has given the Chargers a chance to really project some spicier run defense and a bit of needed fire into the mix here; which has been missing earlier on. This team has started to grow up before our eyes and it’s a nice spike. I still have my concerns, however, about how this IW crew weathers adversity. Because adversity is surely coming on Saturday. Maroa-Forsyth is a superbly coached (Josh Jostes is about as good as there is in 2A Football) and possessed of a high powered offense averaging nearly 40 points per game in one of the state’s best power small school conferences. The Trojans are equally adept at being able to strike by land (Deondre Gregory is averaging 9 yards per carry this season and had amassed 856 yards and 15 touchdowns on less than 100 touches through eight games) or via the air (multi-dimensional QB Ian Benner had 318 yards of total offense against North Mac in Week Nine and a pair of touchdowns. He’s thrown for 1237 yards and 17 TD, with just four interceptions. And he just went six weeks between throwing picks until giving one up against North Mac) This is probably not the draw you wanted to see if you are an IW Fan. But it should be a very good learning experience for Chargers moving forward into a 2018 campaign that will see them become one of the most experience rosters in our area for next year.
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTION
ILLINI WEST 13
MAROA FORSYTH 38
IHSA 2A FIRST ROUND-AUBURN AT WEST HANCOCK
THE THRILL OF THE CHASE: Give Travis Cook credit. He certainly made sure his team was “in process” the last two weeks of the High School Football season, going anti-Bill Snyder in scheduling a pair of brutally tough foes in Ottawa Marquette and Bismarck-Henning. The latter this weekend was without its two best football players, which makes me shudder to think just what the prospect of a fully healthy Blue Devil Squad might have been. (Some food for thought here: there’s a very real possibility of a Titans/Blue Devils rematch in Week Two of the Post Season at which point outstanding Bismarck-Henning Tailback Caleb Lahey could return to the fold. But all in due time on that discussion) Still, twice in the last two weeks West Hancock proved it could fight its way out of fourth quarter deficits and find ways to win when pressed; a wonderful character reveal for a team that has legit Title Game hopes. And twice, it was Riley Langford who pulled his team out of the fire with big time touchdowns. It was interesting this weekend. The Titans were down 28-24 with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter and facing 4th and 2 at the BH 19 yard line. Illini West’s Zak Huston was standing behind and said out loud this is the bracket buster moment. If the Titans don’t convert, West Hancock’s momentum is gone and they probably lose this game as the Blue Devil Offense was a beastly possession proposition that churned up yardage against the Titan defense with surprising physicality and proficiency. It was, in fact, a very defining moment. It was even more defining that Langford was hit behind the line of scrimmage by initial contact. That Riley was able to shake that potential disaster and bolt right for a 19 yard flip-the-script touchdown says a ton about his fortitude and will to win. And that will be the storyline everyone remembers about Week Nine. A fitting tribute to a deserving kid. But I am not sure that was my enduring takeaway. Look, I love Riley. I think he’s a legit Player of the Year contender. But for my money, the most important kid on the field for the Titans Saturday was Chase Hartweg. Speaking again candidly, the Titans weren’t very good on defense. They made some nice plays at times but also spent an inordinate amount of time trying to make the big hit instead of the sure tackle and paid for that a lot in terms of missed tackles and lost opportunities. The Blue Devils had a kid named Cody Miller who played Guard and Linebacker for them. And they also had a “Rhino Set” which featured him at Fullback. Miller is listed at 6’ and 235lbs, reminded me a lot in build of a bigger version of former Triopia standout Dean Arendt. And I am not sure I’ve seen a more brutal physical kid in years. When you are running at Andy Bird intentionally to deliver a blow on the way to the end zone, and you still get there despite Bird and Tyler Korn hanging on you, you are a bad man. And Miller certainly was. And yet in an indelible moment in the third quarter, one emblematic of who Chase Hartweg is, he put the only good hit on that kid that might have earned his respect all year. Chase jumped the snap count and stuck Miller for a four yard loss in the backfield. Bismarck-Henning went on to score, but it was the first salvo in a second half where it seemed like Chase Hartweg made every must have defensive play in the final 24 minutes of football. That includes two biggies on the drive immediately following the Titans retaking the lead at 32-28, including a huge QB sack on 3rd down. He is an absolute gamer, that kid. A relentless producer who also happened to engineer a big series on offense in the third quarter with a phenomenal over the shoulder catch and touchdown run. Hartweg just doesn’t get enough credit for how good an all- around football player he is. He doesn’t look the part, like a Peyton Plunkett but if you watch the Titans, his two-way production and effort is just as vital a thread to the Titan narrative as Plunkett’s is to P-Towns. Terrific kids both of them. And so the Titans open up their quest for Postseason atonement with Auburn, which isn’t exactly a fun 5-4 draw. Look, this isn’t a scare tactic. Any Dave Bates coached (one of the classiest guys for my money in our game) team is a dangerous team. And Travis Cook and his staff are smart enough to realize that this wasn’t the easiest get in the world. It’s imperative that his kids realize that as well. Five wins in the Sangamo Conference is a chore. Bates knows how to win football games and there are few men in our sphere on this side of the state who more acutely know how to attack a defense. The Titan flaws revealed on that side of the ball Saturday are things Bates will see on film and attack relentlessly. Dave Bates is a noted Quarterback whisperer and he’s got a kid in Destin Chance who is kind of Auburn’s version of Brodie Dunker. More gunslinger than the usual thinking man’s Dave Bates product (Michael Bates/Drew Chance…yeah, that’s a helluva pedigree right there) but one armed with really good receivers. (The Colby Bossman vs Riley Langford coverage pairing alone ought to be worth the price of admission here) Auburn will score points. Here is what works to West Hancock’s advantage: the Trojans are not as mature and polished as many of the Auburn teams we’ve seen. And that has been particularly obvious on Defense. They are surrendering nearly 36 points per game on average this season. I checked in on some of the great stuff our friend Zach Kerker and the Channel1450.com guys did on the Trojans from start to finish of this year. It sounds like this is a young group that has gotten progressively better as the year went on. Still, watching their video, there’s not a lot of anchor against the run and this might be one of those game plans where Jim Unruh famously slow plays things to keep the Auburn offense on ice. Expect a lot of Bryce Wilson this week running the football. He is the exact kryptonite that seems to hit the Trojans at their Defensive worst. And he’s coming of a quietly impressive two-touchdown effort against BH. Again, I think West Hancock is a favorite to win this game and I suspect they will continue the mission so long as the “locked in” vibe of the last two weeks remains. The Titans are clearly the better football team here. But mark my words, Auburn is not a football team you can feed with oxygen or you will get burned. I like where West Hancock is right now and if that focus remains (with a bit of defensive clean up) I like they path they have been given. Step one, as these guys know all too well, is the most critical.
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTION:
WEST HANCOCK 42
IHSA 3A FIRST ROUND-BEARDSTOWN AT BLOOMINGTON CENTRAL CATHOLIC
SAINTS AND WINNERS: If it feels a little like the IHSA is treating Beardstown like a 3A football team “slumming in a 1A conference” with this bracketing, I am not going to argue with you. Perennial powerhouse BCC followed probably by unbeaten Williamsville is not only a brutal draw of its own accord, throwing Robbi Howard the potential “reward” of a Second Round walk down memory lane with his friends and mentors at W’ville is next level rubbing of salt in the wound, unintentional though it may have been. So yes, the Tiger Faithful who hate this path are justified in being a little salty over the draw. That said, I remember a similar scenario a couple years back which found another “disrespected” WIVC squad handed a brutal first round trip/expected earlier ouster that didn’t go according to plan. See also Alex Ebbing’s gritty, determined West Central Cougars kicking to Powerhouse Decatur St Teresa unceremoniously to the curb. So there is precedent for Conference teams here to Rocky Balboa their way past far more “celebrated” high profile opponents. Interestingly with Beardstown, the Tigers not only fit that toughness paradigm here (and you all know from reading here the last few weeks my regard for the brute physicality/absolute fearless of this squad that wells from guys like Wrobleski, The O’Haras, Chad Grimm, and a resilient, smart QB in Ike Riddle) against BCC; they will also have a legit “balance the scales” athlete in the mix to boot in the resurgent Pascal Guilavogui. Punch you in the mouth ethic and ever revving motors only carry you so far in a matchup like this against a team with a Sa’mond Davis to contend with on Saturday. On athleticism alone, Pascal is one of the few kids in the state with both the size, speed and jumping ability to maybe turn that matchup, head-to-head into a push. And that balances the scales. Not to put too much pressure on any one kid but Pascal has to show up this week big. He’s coming off a supporting role effort against Greenfield/NW that saw him amass 102 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just five totes. He’s got the kind of special in him to dance with Davis (1141 yards, 23 touchdowns) or at least turn him back into the heart of a defense that takes the starch out of opponents pretty quickly. BCC is going to profile the spread and they are very capable in it, a look that Beardstown only sees against Carrollton and Unity. Still, it’s stopping Davis that looms as priority one in trying to negate the Saints comfort level. Running against this Tiger Linebacker group isn’t fun. And it if they get a chance to be physical, dictate pace, and prevent this game from becoming a big play fest (the way BCC hopes it does) than I think Robbi Howard’s crew might have a shot at pulling off the upset. A very specific number of things have to happen for that to become reality for a decided underdog here. But it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. And I can assure you the Saints will know they’ve been in a war either way. Beardstown is not a team so easily dismissed.
FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTION
IHSA 4A FIRST ROUND-QND AT HIGHLAND
THE JACKSON CAGE: I get the narrative, given the history between the two programs. Avoiding Rochester in the postseason in the first round probably feels like a win at 10th and Jackson. And it may well owe to that extra playoff power point (opponents total wins) that West Hancock got the Raiders with the victory over Bismarck-Henning Saturday Afternoon. Politics and postseason football do indeed make for strange bedfellows (and hearing Bill Connell in our interview on OVERTIME describe listening to WCAZ’s Keith Yex and pulling for Travis Cook might be my favorite Connell-ism in a long time) But here’s the thing, the Raiders may have avoided Derek Leonard and his gleaming powerhouse of a program in name only. Highland’s high powered offense sure reads like a quality facsimile of the Rocket’s attack in principle. Quarterback driven and uber-productive. Derek Leonard may be the best offensive mind in the state but in all those playoff wins over QND over the years, the Rochester Coach never accounted personally for a single touchdown. His “whispered to” quarterbacks did all the true lifting here. You don’t have to squint very hard to see Garrett Marti as a perfect Leonard-esque maestro. And at the rate we are going, people may soon be talking about Highland Skipper Jim Warnecke’s offensive savvy in Leonard-ish lingo as well. The Bulldogs have been a video game type nightmare for defenses. Marti’s stats are some of the most eye-popping we’ve ever seen. He’s amassed 2132 passing yards on 65% accuracy with 28 total touchdowns…a just one interception. Oh yeah, he’s also the team’s leading rusher at 815 yards. From what little video I have been able to glean, he appears to be the real deal. Tall. Athletic. And most tellingly, uncommonly comfortable in his role. There’s a “fit” vibe here that kind of roars off the page. Right kid/right place. Warnecke’s modus operandi here is pretty smart. Have Marti distribute the ball to playmakers in space and he seems to a have a nice phalanx of them. Brady Feldmann is an eight yards per carry back with 13 touchdowns. Sean LaPorta, another Junior, is the top pass catcher here (Reed Hyer alert) with 49 receptions for 934 yards and 15 touchdowns. Feldmann catches the ball a ton, it seems, out of the backfield. And then the passing distribution is bit thinner. It seems like LaPorta suppression is a must (again: Reed Hyer Alert) Defensively, Middle Linebacker Kyle Lane appears to be the center of gravity on what reads like a pretty strong unit that has only given up 138 points all year. LaPorta has a team high four interceptions. By all accounts, including some friends from around the state who know football, Highland is legit. The Troy Triad victory (28-13) most impressively underscoring that fact. It’s a tall order. Is it as tall as Quincy High and Jirehl Brock? It is in that statement that I think QND can draw some vibe of confidence going in. I alluded to this all along the last few weeks, while it was easy to dismiss QND’s late season run as a product of some softness in the schedule, anyone who saw them play could see this team had figured some things out in some very important areas. The masterpiece resulting from that accumulated work was the stellar second half play (save for the final 40 seconds of defense) against a pretty 6A team in QHS. The Raider defense held the Blue Devils to just two first downs in the second half. Remember, that’s a QHS Squad with arguably the best young running back in the state (perhaps Midwest) standing back there. And to quote Rick Little from our conversation on the MCDONALD’S SATURDAY MORNING TICKET Radio Show, this is a QND squad that was coming off what felt like “a 21 point swing of momentum” in giving up that 100 yard Jirehl Brock Interception at the end of the first half. For this Raider squad to author that second half is really impressive in terms of resolve. I’ve touched on it here repeatedly as an intangible, but you can feel a different confidence vibe from QND right now. The tangible evidence of it, if you need it, is Brady Nierman jumping in front of Reed Hyer to field a Kickoff…and returning it with swagger and panache 99 yards for a score. Or Jackson Connell’s performance in particular; which was about as inspiring as any individual two-way effort we’ve seen in Western Illinois this year from anyone. That kid just goes. And when Joe Obert opted to put the ball in Jackson’s hands in the Wildcat formation to both pull to within one point of Quincy High for the touchdown…and to do so again for the go-ahead two point conversion that put the Raiders up 29-28 says a great deal about Jackson’s tenacity. He wasn’t going to be stopped. That’s a big time statement by a big time player and Connell helped author a fabulous run of football confidence that this team can draw from moving forward against anyone. If you are a whisker from beating Quincy High on the road (and QND is now about 40 seconds away from being perfect on the road this season with high value W’s at Hannibal and Breese Mater Dei) you should not be cowed by anyone in Class 4A. And I don’t think QND will be. Obviously, it’s battling a very different type of offensive attack but as Bill Connell pointed out to me on Saturday: his Defensive Secondary is much improved and maybe the strength of his defense right now. The Raiders have playmakers on that defense at every level. Heck, I have come really love the QND Defensive Line with the run they’ve been on across the board up front. And Hyer and Connell are undisputed, all-state level lynchpins in the back. Moreover, the fit crevices between all those “stars” have gotten much stronger. It’s a really good unit now. To my mind, the onus if QND is to pull the upset comes from pressuring Marti. You don’t have to sack him. But clearly from what little I’ve seen if you don’t make that kid at least smidge uncomfortable with some pressure up front (Brady Gilliland alert) and throwing off his rhythm (comfort level with LaPorta) you are doomed. The Raiders will be fine defending the run. They’ve got to ramp up the pass pressure at both ends and try to shake a Quarterback who looks pretty darned unflappable. Do that and maybe QND’s incredible late run grows even more so.
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IHSA 6A FIRST ROUND-QUINCY HIGH AT ST LAURENCE
FOR THOSE ABOUT TO BROCK: This is why I don’t even try to project IHSA Playoff Pairings any more. A battle of 6-3 teams? Rick Little could have been handed far worse fates. The showdown in Burbank Friday will be one of two teams coming off vastly different outings. Quincy High’s roller coaster ride against QND was an E-ticket ride early, followed by a largely broken down second half (QHS had just one first down the entire second half prior to the Logan Ross reception, and just two total) redeemed by the most memorable 40 second, two-play comeback I can remember. Reads like a bad Hollywood Sports Movie but this script yielded momentum gold moving forward for QHS. St Laurence meanwhile saw a four game win streak snapped in a pretty non-descript loss to St Ignatius. Take note of this: the Vikings were down 21-0 at the half in an eventual 28-13 defeat and struggled mightily to run the football last Friday. In fact, St Laurence had a paltry 38 yards on the ground in the first half. Granted this came against a very solid opponent, but one whose defense is on par with Quincy High’s. And one that doesn’t exactly have Jirehl Brock floating around in the backfield either. I got to think about this a little bit today, hanging out with the great Mark Grounds who reminded me that no loss is ever good, but that a well time-one can be useful. From the tone of the kids talking in the article I read on the St Laurence squad, it sounds like the Week Nine defeat may have put their heads back on straight, which is to the credit and maturity of that team. Rick Little’s crew is coming off perhaps an even more impressive show of maturity in responding to really the biggest punch in the mouth they’ve gotten all season with that game winning scoring drive against the Raiders. I like where QHS is right now. I really like where this defense is, even in light of the second half lead slipping away. That’s no failure on Flowerree, Baird, Blakemore and Friends. Those guys couldn’t get off the field for the entirety of the second half because the offense went stale. They fought hard and well against a very good opponent. The positive for QHS is that the wake-up call was answered so emphatically. I also think it went under radar what great job the QHS Secondary did in controlling the Raider’s very talented passing game. That bodes well with another accomplished Quarterback on radar in Devon Rembis. Again, I love how Quincy High is positioned here. Granted, it’s historically been a fool’s errand picking Quincy High to win playoff football games. But the gut feeling here is too strong to ignore.
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QUINCY HIGH 28
ST LAURENCE 18
MSHSAA CLASS 1-DISTRICT 5
THE BREAKDOWN: Monroe City got a chance to rest some key pieces (including giving Player of the Year Candidate Cole Pennewell the entire night off to heal up after the Palmyra war) against Louisiana and the Panther still didn’t bat an eye in rolling to a 62-6 victory. As with most opening round games, the less said about that contest, the better. Did like that David Kirby used the window to get Blake Hays arm limber (three touchdown passes out of three completions) for bigger doings down the road. But beyond that, the Panthers advance as expected and draw Mark Twain on Friday at Lankford. Given what Karl Asbury has been able to procure over the course of the season from his young talent, that’s no picnic for Monroe. The Tigers beat Knox County in a thriller in Center (realizing that the game was on Mark Twain’s digs, but I suspect that likely qualifies as the only Week One upset we saw) in a 36-32 decision punctuate by a watershed Tiger drive and a Lincoln Talbott game clinching TD strike to Conner Grossman. Again, I am not remotely suggesting upset on Friday in Title Town but Monroe City better not start peeking ahead because the Twain offense in particular has shown incredible growth. And Jace Barton, coming off another 200 yard rushing effort, is a young dude who seems to have now arrived. Not an easy kid to tackle for four quarters. It’s a matchup that will make Monroe City at least have to stretch its legs a bit.
On the other side of the bracket, both South Shelby and Scotland County had relatively easy times of it in setting up their rematch in Shelbina Friday. The Tigers blasted Schuyler County 37-0 with Will Fromm adding another four touchdowns to the resume; but more importantly, that Scotland defense finally got back to form in tightening some of the run stopping screws that proved their undoing against Brock Wood and the crew last time around. Speaking of Wood, all he did was run roughshod for 202 yards and score four touchdowns in a 43-0 blanking of Paris. Wood is playing about as well as any running back West of the Mississippi at this particular moment and he figures to be a very marked man Friday as Troy Carper’s kids try to repair their pride after surrendering 54 points that first go-round. It has gone a bit under-radar but Rob Wilt’s Defense has really kind of found its identity. Ironically enough, it might have been most impressive in a loss. Holding Clark County to 19 points is kind of the turning point here and that confidence is ballooning quickly. Last week, the Cardinals posted a whopping nine tackles for loss and grabbed three interceptions. It’s late October and this is a Rob Wilt Coached team. That is a very scary proposition for everyone in this dance, historically speaking. Monroe City included.
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MARK TWAIN 14
MONROE CITY 40
SCOTLAND CO. 20
SOUTH SHELBY 28
MSHSAA CLASS 2-DISTRICT 6
THE BREAKDOWN: Remember last week when I shoot of my mouth and tweeted how excited I was to call dibs on getting to personally cover the Macon/Clark County battle? Well, that went up in smoke when Quincy High and QND both decided to schedule their IHSA Playoff Openers in Chicago and Highland, Illinois on Friday rather than Saturday. Sports Director Enjoyment quickly gave way to Friday Night Survival. So I have to sit out the week’s most interesting game and try to live vicariously through someone else’s video. Honestly, I have no idea how this rematch turns out. Clark put 54 on the board against a Bowling Green Squad in round one that has struggled to stop people this year. Macon started slow against Highland before dropping a 28 point third quarter on the Cougars in a “usual suspects” affair that saw Nash Waller, Kevin Edwards, Tynan Mitchell, and Jeffrey Smoot (11 tackles, 1 TFL) have giant games. Does that better position Macon to avenge a 22-20 loss to the Indians earlier this Fall? Remains to be seen. Both Quarterbacks are out-performing preseason projections. Does the hotter hand their win Friday? I’d be more inclined to think Clark County’s Offensive Line is the tipping point here. Can they do enough to keep Caleb Lapsley churning yards against a physical Tiger squad up front. Tall order. Pete Claas kills it this time a year and he’s had a “free look” at Clark County’s tendencies. Hard to pick against that guy in this spot, as much as I think Clark might have the better roster.
Centralia and Palmyra roared in their openers as expected against way-out-of-their depth foes. Jim Newsted’s crew snapped a four game losing streak against Van-Far and will try to atone for the low-water moment third quarter at Palmyra. The Panthers are playing the best defense of any team in our area and have found real traction with their offensive line. Jarom Alexander is still red hot and really had Centralia’s number the first time around (thanks in no small measure to Peyton Plunkett picking off targets like an Phalanx Missle as a leader blocker during the regular season) and while Centralia won’t be caught off-guard by an I-formation attack the second time around, I am not sure Centralia is any better heeled to stop it. Bottom line, really not inclined to pick against Kevin Miles team from here on out; a time of year they’ve dominated in recent years.
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CLARK COUNTY 20
MSHSAA CLASS 4-DISTRICT 7
THE BREAKDOWN: On the heels of their most impressive, complete and (most importantly) physical win of the year, the Hannibal Pirates looked like a whole different team in the blowout win over Warrensburg. Sure, most of the eyes were on Billy Smashey’s power running and Will Whitaker’s incredible star turn at Wide Receiver but the most important development in America’s Hometown Friday was the Pirate Offensive Line get off the ball and start playing with a fire we had not previously seen. Hard not to like 476 well balanced yards and zero turnovers. Saw some nice panache from Gabe Worthington both as a passer and run-diagnosis guy and that confidence sits well here too. The question with this team remains as it has been from the jump this season. Is it sustainable and replicable. Talent has never been the issue here. It’s all about consistency. And the Pirates have a chance to silence the noise and the doubts if they can go to Moberly and re-write that 18-13 loss. They have all the pieces to do so. Hannibal’s run game right now is as exhausting to defend as any in our area…when it’s revving right. And I thought other than a few outstanding catches from Warrensburg’s Ace Receiver Friday, the Pirate Defense was really nicely focused and proficient. I’d love to give you some cogent thought process here that details the exact dynamics of this game but this one really just boils down to a simple question: does good or bad Hannibal show up on Friday Night. The former is capable of winning this game by 20. The latter could get drilled. And clearly my acumen for predicting Pirate efforts this season has been pretty bad. I guess we will wait to see what shakes in the continuing saga here.
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Fearless Predictions Update:
Last Week: 20 for 26 correct (76.9%)
Season to Date: 196 of 247 correct (79.3%)
Matt McGhghy has stepped down as Keokuk Head Football Coach after a three year run. Matt informed his players of his decision at the Team Banquet this week and ends his tenure with a 9-18 overall mark leading his Alma Mater. Obviously, this season was a tough one in the Gate City with the Chiefs failing to post a victory. He is one of the true class act people in the local sports business and will certainly be missed on a week-to-week coverage basis in these quarters for certain. Not sure where Keokuk goes from here, but if Board Members think they are finding a better candidate than the guy they had, good luck with that.
In the wake of her team’s straight set home loss on Wednesday, West Prairie Coach Teri Paul was highly complementary of Payson Seymour, saying of the Lady Indians during a postgame radio Interview “They have an awesome team.” In her discussion of the 15-25, 15-25 loss with WCAZ Radio Host Greg Phelps, I found it telling how the legendary Cyclone skipper broke down the mechanisms of defeat. Given the balanced spread of attack stats across Payson’s box score, I expected Coach Paul to perhaps cite the quality of the Lady Indians attackers or maybe point out issues in her own defense. Instead, Teri Paul’s biggest post-match criticism of her own team was its breaking with the game plan and too often “serving the Libero.” Said Libero is Indiana State pledge Melina Tedrow, perhaps the most criminally under-celebrated member of the Indians incredible cast of characters. Being a back row player or Defensive Specialist in Volleyball is somewhat akin to being an Offensive Lineman in Football. Everybody else gets the stats, the pretty TV Highlights and all the glory. You just basically do the grunt work. Without that “grunt work” however, Payson Seymour never gets into its high powered offense; like fumbling the C-Q exchange on the gridiron before a play ever gets started. Here is what is telling here: your defending State Champions are a squad that generally serves well. Teri Paul still warned her squad pre-game to keep those serves away from Tedrow, in quest to maybe create a little chaos in Payson’s continuity; especially valuable when you are playing a Lady Indians squad with a young setter in Cassie Eidson (who has been a wonderful contributor in her own right) and a host of spectacular hitters. The obvious goal of which is to not allow the Lady Indians to get into their usual rhythm. The failure to heed that marching order clearly irked Coach Paul and with good reason: Melina Tedrow handles every odd service spin and knuckle the way Manny Machado eats up ridiculously hard hit grounders at third base for the Orioles. After listening to that interview last night, I went back and looked at all of the game one video I had of serves in Melina’s direction. She didn’t misplay a single one of them. Her ability to smother potential aces and turn them into easily controlled bumps to Eidson might be the single most underrated talent in Tri-State Volleyball. And the defending State Champs learned that the hard way last night. I suspect if we are lucky enough again to see these teams on the same floor (it would only take place in a State Title Match, I believe) West Prairie won’t put a serve in the same Hemisphere as Miss Tedrow. She is that level good.
In similar vein, don't sleep on Payson's Hylee Schmiedeskamp, who has really ramped up her hitting in the stretch drive here to give the Indians yet another floor-busting weapon.
Her season ended Tuesday but super impressed with the all-around ability of Liberty Sophomore Paige Knuffman. Front row or back line, she is an impact performer who digs, serves, and kills with equal aplomb. She's going to be incredibly special two years from now as a Senior.
Western Illinois Womens Basketball picked up a pledge over the weekend from California (MO) Guard Elizabeth Lutz. My Mid-Missouri hoops spies describe her as a very crafty point guard with an innate ability to score the basketball. She also can apparently hit triples in deluges. Sounds right out of the Emily Clemens mold. Lutz plays for our old friend Bobby Sangster and helped lead the Pintos to a 21-6 record last Winter as Junior.
Heading into Friday's glamour Sectional Title Showdown with Peoria Notre Dame, Quincy Notre Dame Soccer has outscored its first three playoff opponents 24-1 to date. That's eight goals per game on average, with scoring coming unselfishly and creatively from a lot of different sources. Look, Peoria Notre Dame is the luxury plate of Illinois Small School Soccer and homestanding on Friday Night. But The Irish better be darned good on Defense because right now QND looks like a machine at that end of the field.
Hard to believe that Bowling Green is going to return an All-State Battery of Sarah Harness and Gabi Deters next season from its State Championship winning roster. But don't make the mistake of assuming that said scenario guarantees Dean Streed an easy Fall in 2018. What we saw from Bowling Green in this stretch drive is that this roster had more than just Division One talent in key spots, it had character in personality in every spot. See also Katy Horner's huge step up moments in the State Title Game. Every one of these Seniors contributed and meant something critical to the overall vibe that made Bowling Green more than just elite Catching and Pitching. There are some huge shoes to replace here, which is a real credit to a very special and fun group of girls.
Canton's first ever State Title (after 14 Final Four appearances in a multitude of sports) certainly underscores the value of getting hot at the right time. The Tiger lose some pretty critical pieces to graduation obviously with Olivia Jarvis vacating the hill, State Semifinals Hero Katie Gaus and slick fielding Second Baseball Brianna Caldwell all set to graduate. Still, I love the future here with a wonderful nuclues in play and Abby Jarvis showing early signs of being able to take over on The Hill. Here' sthe big challenge for Jonathan Bastian: protecting Laken Hugenberg in the line-up because after the campaign she just had, Miss Laken is about to get the Gabi Deters treatment in terms of seeing pitches. If Bastian can fortify the middle of his lineup, I love the fielding potential here moving forward. Lady Tiger Softball has a nice knack for churning out star after star on the assembly line. Now that there is a title in tow, who knows how strong this dynastic diamond power can grow.