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Great Thunder (Duerrisms for the Week of September 21st)

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I have this bucket list notion of someday shooting the Class 5 Rapids that make up Cherry Creek on the Tuolumne River, said to be the most exhilarating stretch of white water in the United States. This week in Tri-State Sports kind of felt like the coverage equivalent of that. It proved a pretty wild, occasionally scary, but ultimately fun ride.

Greetings my friends and welcome to Duerrisms for the Week of September 21, 2018. The Fall Sports season seems to be racing by us at break-neck speed and we are enjoying every minute of it here at KHQA. High School Football for sure, but we pride ourselves here on bringing you the most extensive local TV sports coverage in the market and we work really hard to balance our love of the Friday Night Lights with equal time for Soccer, Volleyball, Cross Country, Softball and whatever else crosses our purview. Near and far. That’s our commitment to you. That your best efforts on the field our worth our best efforts with the camera slung over our shoulders. Every night. In as many different communities as we can possibly get to. Regardless of community size or convenience of travel. Your hard work deserves that level of commitment from us. And as long as I get to call the shots, that will never change.

Happy Birthday wishes to Brother-in-Law John Kapp and Mother-in-Law Diane Ebbing early next week (Take that Hallmark)

We set a new record with 92 folks at one time watching our Sports Final Facebook Live session, well “live” on Friday. And it was up to near 3800 views by the time I checked it on Monday. Your participation and interest makes these things fun and we sure are enjoying the exchanges, your insights, and all the camaraderie in the aftermath of the shows on Friday Night. Thanks for making us a part of your Football Fan routines.

We received our first four SAW Nominations of the year on Friday, in advance of our first Selection Meeting October 1st. The program itself starts back up October 3rd during the KHQA 6pm Evening News and will continue every Wednesday through June as we profile the most inspirational and accomplished achievers in the Class of 2019. Again, I admonish you that if you have a High School Senior you think is worthy of such public celebration (and the potential scholarship that goes along with the award) you should approach your athletic director to obtain our Nomination Form. Make sure both your Principal and AD sign off on the form and get it to us before that October 1st Deadline so that we can give your candidate of choice as much consideration as possible. I will remind you that this is a highly competitive process and once the features start running on air in October, we are generally flooded with nominations for our second meeting in January; and that oft leads to some deserving nominees never quite making the cut because we only have 32 spots to fill. We received nearly three times that many nominations last year, so the math and odds favor those who are seen thrice in the voting process. Thanks again for your support and efforts in behalf of helping us spotlight the great young people of the Tri-States.

A reminder that all our SLEEP TIGHT SATURDAY MORNING RADIO Interviews are available free to all of you at any time at WTAD.com. Just log on to that website, click on podcasts section and look for the Morning Ticket Header. It’s a fun opportunity for you to hear some of the region’s great coaches and players in a more relaxed, long form setting. And it’s been a really fun program to helm.

On a personal note, thank you for all your beyond humbling and kind comments last week. I have been overwhelmed by your kindness and your support over the years. And by the sheer volume of your well wishes this past week. And it is because of you; your love for your communities and schools and local kids, that any of this stuff we do actually flies and works. So thank you for allowing me to work in the best sports culture in America for the past quarter century.

Yours in Sports,

Chris Duerr

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SEVEN THOUGHTS FOR A NEW WEEK

1)The wonderful thing about my job in sports is that so much of what I deal with is essentially make-believe. Let’s be candid, wins and loss in the field of play are simply that; recreational activity whose long range impact really doesn’t change lives all that much when you exercise even a modicum of perspective. Sure, losing stinks. Seasons end. Careers end. Not trying to diminish that that is sad. But it’s not life and death. And yes, we get the occasional awful injury. But that is really the worst that happens in this realm. And I largely get to roam around in this largely joyous bubble where weightier problems bounce outside my purview. This week was different.

One of my all-time favorite kids to watch play basketball/softball is in grief. Has been for nearly a year now. But it was impossible not be reminded of that in our newsroom this week. You see, her sister was murdered on New Year’s Day. There was to have been a trial. There were in fact pre-trial proceedings as former Illini West standout Josie Finch sat in a court room and stared down the man who ended her sister Maddie’s life. She told the man who changed her family’s entire world with a gunshot “There is no one to blame but you;” only to find out that “justice” for his crimes would be mitigated by a plea deal. Not that there really is any true concept of justice possible here; as no amount of jail time serves to resurrect the 19 year old sister who will never get to grow to be what God intended her to be on this Earth.

When you work in a newsroom, there always seems to be some kind of important “trial” going on in the background. I barely pay attention to most. Background noise. Because Sports, right? Warped as that priority may be in the grand scheme of things.

I paid attention to this one.

An agonizing ride of emotions that I became co-dependent to through Twitter. I don’t know that I ever met Maddie Finch. But I sure as heck met her mother Carrie. And I absolutely delighted in getting to watch her sister Josie pour in three point buckets in ridiculous scoring binges that would have made Steph Curry Blush. The Finchula. A super-dumb nickname given by a dumb TV sportscaster based off an even dumber NBA inspired Kevin Durant nickname. But man was she fun. And talented. And shyly sweet.

And all I can think of now is that Josie; the athlete is probably gone from our radar forever.

Changed.

Through no fault of her own. By the cruelest of happenstance and the unfairest of circumstances and it breaks my heart to think those words as I type them. But as I do, I am also deeply convicted that my favorite former Charger and Culver Stockton Wildcat; this new Josie will find her own way to prevail amid the sadness. Shaping the world rather than letting its ugliness shape her. I am told Josie has dedicated herself; this super smart young lady, to the future study of the law. A whisper of hope from a dark nightmare that speaks to the sweetness of that kid’s soul. She wants to do better for this world than this world has done by her and her family. Through the justice system. And maybe that’s not the easiest fight in the world to win, given what our world seems to have become. But it’s also not easy to launch three pointers when you are barely 5 foot and a speck; scoring at will against bigger, stronger defenders in a no-less forgiving court. Doubting Josie Finch’s resolve, given her gifts, her intelligence and her drive has long been a fool’s errand on the hardwoods. I would never presume to do so when the stakes are higher in the real one-on-one of life.

Rooting for you Josie. Like nobody’s business. And I can assure I am not alone.

Godspeed, Miss Finch. And God Bless you and your Family.

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2)It may seem the world around us has grown more course and uncivil, but you can still find plenty of examples of class and grace and compassion if you know where to look.

Prior to Friday’s game, the Mexico High School Administration honored retiring Hannibal Coach Mark St Clair with a recognition of his Hall of Fame Career. In so doing, the Pirate Boss received a standing ovation from the Bulldog Crowd. You may recall this is the same fanbase and athletic administration that four years ago auctioned off the game ball from a Mexico/Hannibal contest to help raise money for the St Clair Family to deal with medical expenses when MaryAnn St Clair was battling her cancer. You may not know that this was the same school that cleared out space in the press box for MaryAnn to sit warm and dry and watch her beloved Pirates play that night as she was fighting for her life. Those are not small gestures. Those are true acts of friendship and esteem. For a fierce and successful competitor. And I know in texting with Mark this weekend he was very humbled and honored by the relationship and the moment on Friday. It speaks incredibly well of community to be able to do this for an outsider for no other reason than it is the right thing to do. Yours is truly a class act school and community Mexico and one we should all aspire to emulate.

Elsewhere, In the wake of having his Quincy High All Time Rushing Record shattered by Jirehl Brock, the great Malique Robbins tweeted out Friday Night: “It was just a matter of time. Congrats to my guy Jirehl Brock breaking my record and becoming the new Quincy High all-time leading rusher! Keep doing ya thing.” Selfless class.

In Macomb, in the wake of heartbreaking five minute swing that saw his football team go from 10 points up to the business end of a 31-27 loss, Montana Football Coach Bobby Hauck, per our friend Scott Holland, made it a point to seek out both Western Illinois Head Coach Jared Elliott and Quarterback Sean McGuire during the postgame press conference and personally offer his congratulations to them both.

Competitive sports are an incubator for many a good thing in this world. We tend to focus on the physical. Let’s not forget what they can also do in allowing us to raise our respectful esteem for others we compete with/against as well, when done right. It’s good to see.

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3)Speaking of the Leathernecks, I have watched countless Western Illinois Football games over the years. Not sure I have ever seen a singular guy on those teams I was more convinced was bound for a brighter Pro Football future than Khalen Saunders. The massive Defensive Tackle draws the eye in a football guy like few of his positional brethren ever do. Statistically, he was very, very good in the win over Montana. He was credited with nine tackles, four of them solo, two and a half stops for loss, a quarterback sack, and two quarterback hits on Saturday. One of those came on Fourth Down on what proved to be a critical goal line stand which, given the final result of the game, proved retrospectively huge in helping cement the WIU comeback. But the numbers alone don’t do service to just how freakishly quick/strong this guy is at 310 pounds. He doesn’t tackle people. He engulfs them. We showed a highlight Saturday where he essentially swallowed up the Montana Quarterback and then simply suplexed him to the turf, as if he was just tired of the dude trying to fight for extra yardage. He plays with a ton of energy, no small feat at 310 pounds on a day when it felt like about 110 degrees on the turf itself. If you take in a game this Fall, take the nonconvential approach to watching football and spend a few plays just watching Number 99 in isolation. I think you will be mightily impressed with watch you see. I sure was.

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4)As we approach the mid-way point of the High School Football calendar (yeah, that was quick indeed) and I started to reckon with some individual gridiron awards projections, I was struck by one particularly salient thought this week: Josh Sorrells really must know his stuff. The Beardstown Athletic Director tried to hire Barry Creviston for his Football coaching vacancy three years ago, only to have that nixed by his School Board. So he went out and hired Robbi Howard as a replacement on short notice. Twenty four games later, a program that went winless in the two seasons prior to Howard’s arrival is now 16-8 with two playoff berths (and counting) and a perfect 4-0 and state ranking in Class 3A this Fall. And just up the road in Jacksonville, Creviston is now back where he started and working incredible magic breathing life into a Routt program that was on life support; yet has now rebounded to open the season 3-1 and is trending quickly towards playoff eligibility. And if you had to ask me today who the top Coach of the Year candidates are in Tri-State Football, I’d argue that both Howard and Creviston belong right there at the top of the list, ironically enough. So I guess if you are looking to start a Tri-State High School Football Coaching Search Firm, Josh Sorrells would be the man to see because clearly the Beardstown AD knows how to spot a winner.

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5)There might have been no more interesting preseason “scenario” in Tri-State Sports this Fall than Bowling Green Softball. Dean Streed’s Lady Bobcats return just two prominent pieces from their 2017 State Championship run; but they were also the two most prominent diamond pieces in the region I would argue. A battery of already pledged, high-level Division One scholarship Pitcher (Southern Illinois bound Sarah Harness) and Catcher (future Kentucky Wildcat and reigning Missouri Gatorade POY Gabi Deters) The everything else in the equation though, total mystery to those of us on the outside; who wondered what two elite talents and seven question marks would look like in application. Well, whether it is enough to make a run a repeat is a question for another day. But after seeing the Bobcats twice in person last week, I’d argue that the aforementioned “question marks” are fast becoming “exclamation points” for Coach Streed. Obviously, that might be a bit skewed by the incredible week former nine-spot hitter Madeline Norton fashioned in delivering the game winning RBI against Palmyra (off the talented Lauren Van Tress, no less) and then following up with three more RBI in a win over Liberty Saturday. But I think it is more resonant than just that. Streed moved Deters to the two spot in the line-up this season, behind good looking Junior Lead-Off hitter Morgen Billings and in front of Harness to buy his All State Catcher a little protection in the lineup. But that does not work a like if 4-9 in the lineup aren’t producing. Spoiler alert: they are. Sophomores Jade Meier and Grace Dameron have put the threat of real power into the middle of the lineup beyond just escaping the Deters/Harness nexus. Freshman Tanner Turner erupted for four hits on Saturday and really sprays the ball around at a kind of level that makes you think she might be the next Big Thing in Lady Bobcat Softball. And Kinley Charlton has a very pretty lefty swing that looks like she could be dangerous with a little more confidence in herself. These gals are pretty darned good in their own right. And all underclassmen. So regardless of where this particular season ends for Bowling Green, I wouldn’t bank on the Bobcat Softball mystique exactly ending with Gabi and Sarah walking across that stage in June for Graduation either.

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6)Everyone has their own line of demarcation on “old age” I suppose and what constitutes it.

My determinant has long been: where are you at this stage in your life with video games.

To give you some idea how ancient I am, I have not touched a controller since Boogie Cousins second year in the NBA, when I in frustration gave up on the dream of ever winning the Sacramento Kings a World Championship, 2K or otherwise. And I walked away clean.

A lot has apparently happened in the world of gaming since my departure, most of which I have remained until this week blithely unaware. I suppose I knew about Twitch and the popularity of people live streaming themselves playing games, but as an old guy, the notion of watching someone else mash a controller never really struck me as personally viable source of entertainment. But I am fully aware now.

You see, I was contacted by someone this week on DM on Twitter asking me if I was aware of what former Mark Twain Running Back Tyler Steinkamp was doing these days. As coincidence would have it, I actually thought of Tyler just this past weekend as a Central Methodist Football score crossed my desk and wondered what he was doing these days. As many of you may remember, Tyler was a really good back. All Do or Die Teamer who played in the Do or Die Bowl. My tipster filled me in, using the phrase “ridiculously famous live streamer” and I was instantly intrigued. So I contacted a former co-worker who I knew was into Twitch and started asking questions, just to verify. For the purposes of this exercise, we will call him “Former KHQA Meteorologist Nick Stewart” for the purposes of protecting his/her identity. So I started asking questions coyly at first and then I dropped this on my source

“Ever heard of lolTyler1?”

“Nick’s” response was jaw-dropping, he sent me a link to Tyler Steinkamp playing a game livewith 11 THOUSAND people watching him at that very moment. But that was only the beginning. I would soon discover with a little research that loltyler1’s YouTube page had 1.3 MILLION Subscribers. Or how about this nugget, since he started streaming his stuff, 81 MILLION People have watched Tyler do his thing; which I have to admit, was a lot more fun (and in full disclosure Mature Audiences Only rated, be forewarned) than I imagined. Tyler is like some quasi-pro-wrestling gaming heel. And it’s awesome. I watched his Day in the Life Video on YouTube at work (warning.NSFW) and totally now get the appeal. I read somewhere on the web that Tyler is like the 15th most live streamed human being on the planet right now; the pride of little old New London, Missouri.

I’ve reached out to Tyler via Twitter hoping to set up an interview with him soon, because this entire phenomenon fascinates me. Plus, I did make a trip to Fayette once solely to see him play, so someone help guilt him into a sit-down with me.

Man, the world moves in really strange, intriguing ways these days. But really cool to see Steinkamp dominating his new career.

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7)My Very Favorite Things in the Worldat Least For this Week: Covering the QHS/QND Ryder Cup. Tucker McCann Chip Shot Field Goals as Time Expires. The audible groan at Hanson Field when the third quarter “Beer Sales are Ending” announcement is made. Apparently highly successful recruiting weekends for the Western Illinois Womens Basketball Program. Media Friendly 9 and 9:30am Saturday High Softball Starts. High School Football on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week. West Central Tailback Andrew Kaufmann’s spin moveand dazzlingly bright future. Trying to figure out just how unbreakably ridiculous Jirehl Brock’s Quincy High Career Rushing Record will be set when all is said and done. The end of construction on the Beardstown bridge just in time for Game of the Week. Catching up with the great Debbie Watson at a Monroe City Football Game. Listening to the finish of the instant classic Clopton/Van-Far Football game on the road home from Monroe City/Macon last Friday. The burgeoning Rushville/Industry vs BWP Football rivalry. Will Whitaker catches. Listening to the one-of-a-kind Doctor Tom Cody scream “Touchdown Leathernecks” at high decibel on my radio dial during an improbable comeback. Mac West’s violent bat swing. Pork Burger Friday lunches at the Haymakers in Quincy as pre-Sports Final meal of choice. The return of “The Deuce” to HBO and Michael Rispoli’s always incredible character acting in it and everything else; but especially as Grama in Rounders. Fantasy Basketball Drafts. The looming return of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Cooking Channel. Any combination of the words Hunters/Beachfront/Island/Lottery Dream Home in any HGTV Series. The catchy-as-the-flu, dare I say Vampire Weekend-esque new single “Jessica WJ” from Cayucas. Ear candy from Joey Purp and NoName. Anything sung at all by Phoebe Bridgers. Nico Haeflinger Fantasy Football Team Names. And yes, again, the Sauce and Shram Show on Stadium (Go Support My Boy Tyler Fulghum)

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FOOTBALL 2018

THE MAGNFICENT SEVEN

7)CONNER HAYES, QB, Knox County

15 Carries, 83 Yards, 3 TD vs Paris

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6)DJ MCWILLIAMS, WR/DB, Beardstown

2 Receptions, 90 Yards, TD; 2 Interceptions, 50 Yard Pick Six vs Unity/Payson

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5)ANDREW KAUFMANN, RB, West Central

15 Carries, 162 Rushing Yards, 3 TD vs North Greene

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4)KEVIN EDWARDS, RB, Macon

19 Carries, 137 Yards, 2 TD vs Monroe City

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3)KREEDEN ALLEN, RB, Rushville/Industry

20 Carries, 122 Rushing Yards, GW TD in Double OT vs BWP

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2)PEYTON DOOLEY, RB, West Hancock

26 Carries, 204 Yards, TD vs QND

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1)SHAWN YATES, QB, Clopton Elsberry

5 Passing Touchdowns, Rushing TD vs Van-Far

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KHQA PLAYER OF THE WEEK

KALEO DADE, RB/LB

Bowling Green vs Montgomery County

Rationale: There was a lot of good and clutch on the table for us to consider this week, especially with huge comebacks/titanic battles in play in Sciota, Hamilton, and the Hills of Clarksville. Still, we would be wholly remiss not to find some way to honor Bowling Green’s incredible second half rally at Montgomery County. I feel like Player of the Week falls somehow shy of the right level of reverence for Kaleo Dade’s hand in spurring a run of 42 unanswered points in the Bobcats

50-28 win at Montgomery City. Since I don’t have the authority to offer the guy membership in The Avengers, this is the best I can. Though make no mistake about it, Kaleo was nothing short of a superhero. Down 28-8 at the half, Kevin Krietemeyer tells us his magical halftime “adjustment” consisted essentially of telling his kids he believed in them and a then unleashing Dade on both sides of the ball. The net result saw him rush the ball 27 times for 176 yards and three touchdowns. More important to the overall narrative here, Kaleo plugged the dam on Defense. He posted 12 tackles, forced a fumble, and made a pair of plays behind the line of scrimmage that put an instant kybosh to Montgomery County’s ability to move the chains at will in the first half. This was about as dramatic a reversal of fortunes as I can remember in any one game in a long time. And because Kaleo and friends made it happen, the Bobcats go from sliding in the EMO standings and “playing for table scraps” to hosting a potential Conference Title Bout with South Callaway on Friday. That’s the game that will tell us just how far these guys have come. But for now, hats off to Mister Dade and the Bobcats for not turning tail when things go rough and finding a way to deliver a stellar win.

Past Winners:

Week One: PASCAL GUILAVOGUI, Beardstown vs Pleasant Hill/Western

Week Two: ROMEO MAESTRO, Fort Madison vs WB/ND

Week Three: JIREHL BROCK, Quincy High vs Belleville East

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THE POWER ELITE

1)CENTRAL (4-0)

Last Week: 38-7 win over Triopia

Up Next: at Beardstown

THE DUERR DIAGNOSIS: There’s a new Clubhouse Leader here, given the shakeup that shook-down in Title Town. The Panthers responded to Triopia’s impressive opening drive with a one shot salvo on Cole Williams “clap back” 90 yard TD return on the ensuing kickoffand a whole bunch of ready-made Brad Dixon Defense. To hold a team with Triopia’s weapons to just 99 yards through the final three quarters is flat out impressive work. And CPC got a lot of contributions all over the field in doing so. It won’t get mentioned much anywhere else, because it doesn’t dazzle the same way statistically; but the play of Panther Defensive Tackles Remington Beuhler and Kollin Hughes essentially iced the Triopia Offensive Line and allowed the guys to clean up neatly behind them. Not that Remi and Bubba weren’t force enough of their own accord, with 15 total tackles between them. But ask the “numbers guys” this week behind them why the sledding was easier for them and they will tell you to a man that the big guys cleared a big swath of earth in which they could operate freely. Noah Strohkirch led the way with 14 stops. Bryce Flesner add a dozen more and a TFL. Clayton Boehler jumped up with 10 of his own. That’s great activity level against a good offense. And once the Panthers got Triopia worn down a bit, the offense followed suit in the third quarter in scoring 22 unanswered points led by Eric Jones near flawless play action passes (4 of 6 for 122 yards) and a steady, if statistically unspectacular stream of the Panthers usual run weapons. It was, as we warned you Friday, standard issue WIVC Dominance played to the letter by Dixon and Staff. The dynamics will change on Friday, however in a showdown of two unbeaten, state ranked teams trying to earn control of the WIVC North Crown in Beardstown. As Robbi Howard pointed out to me on the SATURDAY MORNING TICKET, the last two meetings between these teams literally came down to the final play of the contest. And Beardstown is a unique matchup problem for everyone; the Panthers included with their supreme athleticism and dynamic big play ability. If last week was GGG/Canelo in the WIVC North, the Beardstown/Central tussle looms more like Bobby Fischer vs Prince; two incredible talents playing wildly different “games” I suppose. The Panthers are, as fellow WIVC Coach describe them to me this week, “The Machine” at this point. Intricate. Methodical. Unflappable. And always mentally a couple of steps ahead in setting you up for what they want to do. In short, Brad Dixon and Casey Rhea control the chessboard and force you to play by their rules. Beardstown, conversely, is more virtuoso and visceral, and no less talented. They are jamming funk riffs at Paisley Park and suddenly stumbling onto a generational hit that only they can articulate and conceive offensively. Flash and phenom, although with a lot more potential for error inherent in the mix; yet also the higher ceiling for creating something special on the field. I know that is the weirdest metaphor for football you will stumble across this Autumn but if you think about it, it actually weirdly fits the narrative. It’s an intersection of the most dynamic small school offense in our area, with big play weapons you don’t often see of this ilk in the WIVC, contending with a Deep Blue Defensive monster that knows all the angles and plays them with maniacal precision and best fit athletic pieces. If this was golf, it would be Seve vs Bobby Jones. I am giddy to see how it all shakes down in actuality. Honestly, have no clue what that will be. But giddy none the less.

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2)PALMYRA (4-0)

Last Week: 46-8 win over South Shelby

Up Next: vs Highland

THE DUERR DIAGNOSIS: The Panthers responded to a first quarter punch in the mouth from South Shelby with a barrage of 46 unanswered points that would have taken the fight away from any judges scorecards. It was a “throw the damn towel” moment of the highest order from a Panther team that was uber impressive even without Jarom Alexander services to lean on. Palmyra had six different guys score touchdowns on Friday and incorporate in some package looks that pushed Corder Lehenbauer to the quarterback spot and moved Jacob Kroeger to Wide Receiver. Kroeger finished the night with 89 rushing yards and score, on just 11 carries. Lehenbauer displayed some running chops of his own, with 65 on the ground and touchdown of his ownon just three carries. Tristan Gottman also added a receiving and rushing touchdown to the mix as well. It was a well-balanced attack and just the right combination of alternative options, absent their “good fastball” (Alexander) in the run game. I would hazard the more impressive element of this night was the great adjustment the Panther Defense made to that initial Cardinal Touchdown strike, but walling off the field from the very talented Brock Wood the rest of the way. South finished the night with just 162 yards of total offense and managed a paltry 3.8 yards per pop on the ground. I got to listen in back-and-forth to the radio call on this game and it struck me in so doing how many different names I heard called on Defense. Individually, I think the only name I heard repeated was Michael Frankenbach, so it was big night of swarm tackling and 11 hats to the ball, just as Marty Smyser, “The Breaker of Offenses” probably prefers it. The Panthers draw a struggling Highland squad this week, before the real Cannon Conference back and forth begins. Right now, though, Palmyra is doing what Kevin Miles teams do: get better week to week and prepare to build a crescendo into the District. This is pigskin paint by numbers yet again in the Flower City; the best kind of it.

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3)MACON (4-0)

Last Week: 26-12 win at Monroe City

Up Next: vs Moberly

THE DUERR DIAGNOSIS: Pete Claas, everybody. We’ve seen this field tilting coaching act before. The Macon skipper made the better halftime adjustments at Lankford Field Friday Night. His kids executed when they need to most. And they also responded to every counterpunch Monroe threw their way. Can’t ask for much more than that. My thoughts on finally seeing Macon in person this season are many. While the Tigers garnered Friday Night’s most impressive win given the reputation of their opponent, I am not sure I got to see anywhere near peak Macon Offensive performance in the offing. Macon is a rhythm offense at Max-Q and the Tigers never really got into an ideal rhythm against Monroe at any point. That they won a game of this magnitude without optimal passing game production is a nice indicator of the resilience of this team. That said, I need to see these guys again when Nash Waller is getting a chance to fling it around because you can see the underpinnings even on Friday of just how good this Macon Receiving group is across the board. Bradley Butner we knew about, first hand. The value of Blake Class, Timmy Watts, Justin Hayes, Kendrick Waddle, Garrett Blaise, Cruz Lewis et al was a very fun revelation. Now I am obsessed with idea of seeing them run at tempo and go. I don’t know what secondary covers all these guys in the pattern, especially when you have to deal with Kevin Edwards and Dominick Mitchell as runners. Edwards returning to true “Kevin Edwards form: in the second half, was pretty obviously the most significant development offensively in paving the way to a Tiger win. You could literally see his confidence rise on that first drive of the second half after a non-descript, almost forgotten about first half of that game. He was darting and shifting like only he can and that was the moment when I first thought hey, Macon really does have a chance to win this. He’s a pretty special back and fits neatly behind that Offensive Line. Caden Phillips has great size, obviously but I like the toughness he played with Friday Night. And I think both Colton Christensen and newcomer Aaron Jefferson had really nice nights up front clearing running lanes. The real credit, here, though belongs to the Macon Defense. We wondered aloud all week if it was good enough to keep the Tigers in a game against a team with this level of weapons. Holding Monroe City to a dozen points ought to answer that once and for all. Again, this isn’t a group with any one spectacular playmaker. They are more reminiscent this season of Palmyra, where the collective rules the day. That said, Denver Gruenloh has this wonderful knack for constantly being around the pile. And there is a lot of speed and relentless pursuit coming from that Defensive Back end that makes Macon really hard to hit for big plays. I liked these guys going into last Friday’s game. And even on what may be fairly called an “off-night” for the Tigers, I like them even more moving forward. The Tigers are legit and there’s not a team in the Cannon that isn’t going to struggle to beat them. Again, I don’t think anyone gets out of this thing unscathed. But Macon might have the best chin of the lot.

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4) ILLINI WEST (4-0)

Last Week: won 60-13 at A-Town

Up Next: at North Fulton

THE DUERR DIAGNOSIS: The Chargers dropped a cool 60 on A-Town Friday Night. And it would be a real moral victory for North Fulton in stopping IW from doing the same this weekend. Colton Sargeant, Nick Vorhies, and Weston Pollock all scored two touchdowns apiece on the Rockets. Michael Lord added a 31 yard scoring scamper of his own. And the Charger Defense surrendered a grand total of 46 rushing yards and 113 total yards in smothering their opponents. IW appears to have its foot planted firmly on the accelerator motoring towards the month of October. These guys have gotten a taste of dominance and now that they now how the better half of the IHSA Football world lives, there’s no going back. I’d point out to you that of the unbeaten teams left in our area, the Chargers might have the very best chance to get to 9-0, given the carnage levels atop the WIVC North and Clarence Cannon. Lewistown, a suddenly frisky Rushville/Industry and obviously Elmwood/Brimfield loom as the most obvious threats, but with the mindset this team has affected, I would not bet against IW at this juncture. Anxious to finally get to see these guys with my own eyes in person on Saturday Afternoon.

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5) BEARDSTOWN (4-0)

Last Week: 42-0 win at Unity/Payson

Up Next: vs Central

THE DUERR DIAGNOSIS: Breaking: The Tigers were “held” under their area best scoring average on Friday in Mendon. Robbi Howard’s team only managed 42 points against Unity/Payson, rather than the 46 per game that they had been producing in their three previous contests. And that’s about the only thing remotely critical you could utter about Beardstown’s Week Four Performance. It was precise and complete and their best showing to date in all facets of the game. Clint Cooper made the most of his five passing attempts, completing three of them for 139 yards, including a pair of touchdown strikes. He also added a scoop and score on defense. DJ McWilliams had a pair of receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown on one side of the ball, and a pair of interceptions, including a pick six on the other. Garret Brannan added a rushing TD and quarterback sack. Pascal Guilavogui had 111 rushing yards on just four totes. And collectively the Beardstown defense not only pitched a shutout, but limited the Mustangs to just 83 yards of total offense. The Tigers seem to be getting cleaner with their execution week-to-week. The obvious litmus test comes Friday, however, as the Tigers bring all that firepower into play in trying to solve the riddle of a Central Defense that has surrendered just 15 total points to date. Schematically, Central does a lot of different type things which will pose the sternest test yet of a Beardstown Offensive Line that has been rock solid to kick off the season. Central will also be the best tackling team the Tigers see this Fall. This isn’t really about raw talent or athleticism this week for Beardstown; it’s more an examination of the Tigers concentration and discipline. Central is a team that tends to coax “weakest link” breakdowns in your schemes. If there is a flaw, these guys will find and exploit it. Relentlessly. Are the Tigers poised enough to meet that challenge. I think that is the only question mark we have about this team at this juncture. Beardstown graduated some talent, for sure, from last season but I’d argue the Tigers took the bigger hit in terms there of leadership, game savvy, and toughness. Those are the field tilters that will make a difference this week and to date I don’t think the Tigers have seem a team capable enough to truly test the resolve and readiness of Robbi Howard’s newest pieces. Central most certainly is and will. If Beardstown passes this test in this spot, I am not sure anyone on the remaining regular season can lay a glove on them. And the boost confidence that comes with a win the magnitude of a Central would provide plenty of playoff carryover power, even in the postseason minefield that is 3A Football.

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6) CLARK COUNTY (3-1)

Last Week: 32-16 win at Kirksville

Up Next: vs South Shelby

THE DUERR DIAGNOSIS: This is not your big brother’s Kirksville squad. The Tigers have really improved nicely and for Clark County weather the early successes of the Tiger Offense (and their stellar Junior QB who was nearly perfecting passing) and still reel off a sixteen point road victory there is, to my mind, a high quality win. We didn’t get a ton of video out of that game via trading with our friends at KTVO but on the two touchdowns we did procure, it appeared that the Indian Offensive Line played really, really well Friday. Again, that could be selective editing and only seeing “the good stuff” on our end but on Caleb Lapsley’s long touchdown run, Kyle Goldbricht blew up the center of a pretty sizeable and physical Kirksville D-Line, pushing those guys four yards off the ball while allowing Lapsley to bounce to the left sideline where his speed made for an easy foray into the red zone. And on London Brunk’s fantastic TD pass to Caleb, the Indians Quarterback could have waited in the pocket for week before delivering that football. Harkening back even as far as the Palmyra District game last year, I can remember thinking man this Clark County line is excellent at Pass Pro, though I am not sure I have yet put those words to paper here. And you give London Brunk time, he’s clearly going to make things happen on an elite level these days. Defensively, Clark struggled a bit up front early with the physicality of Kirksville’s O-Line but appears to have significantly adjusted to that in the second half. Again, really quality win with Caleb Lapsley showing out nicely with 145 rushing yards against a good foe. The Indians draw South this week, which is a different kind of defensive test in trying to keep Brock Wood hemmed in. By the same token, they are back home for the first time in three weeks and steeled nicely by beating two pretty salty opponents on their own digs. I like where this team is at at Week Five and I like where they seem to be going right now.

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7) MONROE CITY (3-1)

Last Week: lost 26-12 to Macon

Up Next: vs West Hancock

THE DUERR DIAGNOSIS: I am not entirely sold that the more talented team won at Lankford Field on Friday. But I believe whole-heartedly the hungrier and more adaptable team did. Maybe after eighteen straight victories, the Monroe City Panthers needed one of these reminders that the football gods, without prejudice, seem to dole out regularly that this game is won only with great and consistent passion and great and consistence focus. The Panthers as a collective didn’t seem to have either on Friday, which is a little inexplicable given the circumstance of the game and the hype around it. Then again16, 17 and 18 year old kids. It bit them hard this week. Two fumbles on their first two possessions. I think Monroe City was a little bit lucky in that Macon couldn’t get out of its own way in the first half on offense with penalties or the score might have been more lopsided. The Tigers seemed to constantly be in 2nd and 3rd and long scenarios and Monroe City was able to pin the ears back and attack and force punts. To be honest, it was a pretty sloppy, largely unwatchable first half on both sides of the ledger. Nolan Pennewell’s awesome pass rush display (Three sacks in the half and just incredible energy, that kid can flat go) a lead block for the ages from Gage Bottoms on the Osborn TD and one nice coverage break up by KKO about the only redeemable Panther offerings in the first 24 minutes. Monroe seemed to get things right to open the third quarter, answering an impressive Tiger drive with one of their own to knot the game at 12. From that point forward, however, Macon seemed to play with a greater sense of purpose on both sides of the ball. The Tiger Defense became the second team this year to really negate the threat of Zach Osborn’s explosiveness. And I am not sure they really did anything special schematically to work that magic. It was just diligent, hard-nosed football by eleven guys with a purpose. On a unit with no real “stars” or at least not to the extent that Macon’s Offense has “stars.” Conversely, Kevin Edwards didn’t get frustrated after a lackluster first half spent running into Panther Defenders. His diligence paid off late when he started looking himself and Monroe City was on its heels defensively playing against a talented scat-back who was suddenly running downhill. Again, if these teams played ten times, I tend to think Monroe would win the majority of them. But that’s not the way the game works and Macon showed incredible resolve in going into Lankford Field and beating the State Champs at their own game in a couple of different aspects of the game. That’s really impressive. And now, it’s up to David Kirby’s team to answer. People tend to attack at the first sign of vulnerability and Monroe City’s listlessness at times on the Offensive Line and lack of diligence securing the football have no doubt already crossed Travis Cook’s radar this week. West Hancock is a team that shares a lot of collective schematic DNA with Monroe City. It’s the exact wrong opponent to draw if you aren’t playing your sharpest football. And it’s a team that is coming off a wildly emotional victory with carry over moment. This is kind of a big spot for Monroe City all of a sudden; either a chance to get your edge back and show your pride. Or a chance to be exposed as vulnerable, have the air of intimidation stripped away, and start feeding into the hopes of teams two weeks ago that were showing up to play you merely hoping not to get 50 or 60 hung on them. Curious to see how the Panthers respond from a pride standpoint. If Monroe City shows up ticked off and edgy, I don’t envy West Hancock the task or the potential beating in store. But if the Panthers do not, this narrative suddenly spins a whole different direction in Title Town for the first time in a long time. Make no mistakes, this has become a bit of a crossroads moment. But maybe this punch in the mouth is exactly the spark this Monroe City team needs to reignite the fuse on what remains the most combustible and powerful line up in Tri-State Small School Football.

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THE NEXT LEVEL

8)HANNIBAL (2-2)

Let’s see: 438 yards of total offense, nicely balanced. Zero turnovers. A grand total of two penalties. Nearly three 100 yard rushers, including 88 on the ground from their uber-dynamic Quarterback. And a 28 point second quarter scoring explosion that showed a dimensionality that maybe only Beardstown and Macon in our area (against far lesser competition) can summon right now. And you people still think I am crazy to believe that that best football team in the entire Tri-States, maybe by a considerable margin, is currently sporting a 2-2 record? Come on now. I’d dare say at this moment in time, Hannibal’s two losses are better than just about any win on the books for any other team in our area. This Pirate team is freaking good. And getting better by the week.

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9)TRIOPIA (3-1)

Cole Williams. In a nutshell, that was the mechanism by which Triopia’s uber-impressive, touchdown netting opening drive on a fantastic Panther Defense, simply evaporated. The Trojans played Spike O’Sullivan to the Panther’s David Lemieux on that 90 yard Williams Kick Off return for touchdown that changed everything. To work that hard, to do so much right and to watch your lead disappear in a blink had to be one of the most demoralizing swings of football I can remember a team suffering in some time. And honestly, the Trojans never really did recover. And I am not sure I can blame them. Sure, the Zach Thompson injury hurt. But that was some kind of gut punch. To the point where Triopia managed just 99 yards of total offense the rest of the night. Momentum is a cruel mistress indeed.

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10)WEST HANCOCK (3-1)

Speaking candidly, seven of the Titans last eight quarters of football have served as a wake up that maybe this team isn’t as innately talented as they thought they were three weeks ago. That other quarter? The epic fourth on Friday to snatch victory from defeat against Quincy Notre Dame on Friday? Well that is proof that self-awareness is good thing and that the wake-up call has indeed been delivered. Travis Cook’s crew reached down deep to pull off the gutsiest win of the year in rallying from 21-12 down in the final 12 minutes of that epic battle in Hamilton. Critical fourth down gut-check stops. Deep catalogue Jim Unruh play-calling to create needed opportunity out of dire circumstance. Hard yard Bryce Wilson volition. A do-or-die Drew Martens interception in “Play Maker Time.” This victory checked every single box. And the hard reality in that is that West Hancock is going to have to play with that kind of pugnaciousness four four quarters every single game to win its way where it wants to be. Clark County and winless QND for three quarters both exposed who West Hancock is and who it has to be moving forward; far more than two dominant opening week wins over pretty mediocre foes did. The truth is this Titan team isn’t remotely as innately gifted as the version we’ve seen the last two years. But that doesn’t mean however West Hancock can’t be just as successful, if not more so. It’s about the level of amplified fight here and we saw Friday just how much dog this team has in it in ripping that win away from QND. And spoiler alert, it’s going to take every minute of that level moxie and physicality over all four quarters Friday for this team to have a prayer of beating an angry Monroe City squad; one that is “better” in every single phase of the game on paper. To me, that is the resonant value of that Clark County loss. Travis Cook can offer his team evidential proof of who they are relative to who they thought they were via that game, appeal to his kid’s considerable pride, and coax that level of QND finish effort at every turn from his kids in fear of the Clark County alternative result. And I for one love that about this team and this circumstance becausewait for itthe outlier asset of West Hancock Football in 2018 isn’t dazzling speed, All State level Line Play, or experience any more. It’s pure unadulterated volition. And Friday’s lesson is this: when summoned, that fight and strength and nastiness gives the Titans a chance to beat anyone and do incredibly great things beyond their supposed “talent ceiling.” See also an improbable win in impossibly difficult circumstances Friday Night.

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11)QUINCY HIGH (3-1)

Adonte Crider opened the United Township contest with an 85 yard touchdown return of the opening kickoff. Jirehl Brock shattered the school’s All Time Rushing Record on his very first carry, picking up the needed 20 yards to surpass Malique Robbins as part of a 57 yard “hello there” touchdown rumble. And Donovan Prost made the most of this limited engagement in completing four of his five passes for 62 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Hunter Yohn and Drake Tournear. Look, no one expected the Blue Devils to get much in the way of resistance from UT and dropping 42 points in the first quarter is obvious evidence of the lopsidedness of this contest from the jump. Still, the Devils continued to show edge and focus in dismantling a sparring partner of limited ability and post-Alton, I’d say that was a very positive sign indeed. Don’t be surprised if Friday’s visit to Galesburg isn’t more of dominant same.

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12)ROUTT (3-1)

Thursday Night Football is truly relevant for the first time in eight years with Barry Creviston back marching the Rocket Sidelines and Routt putting itself on pace for a rags-to-riches playoff return in Friday’s impressive road beating of Brown County. A win over Triopia would not only certify the Rockets legitimacy and atone for the Camp Point Central hiccup, but change the postseason calculus to perhaps seven wins and an outside shot at a home contest in Week Ten. Tall order but Routt has had two straight weeks defending the Wing-T and the Rockets showed incredible opportunism in creating five Hornet fumbles and fortitude in holding BC to just 4.2 yards per carry on Friday. The Defense is still going to have to take another step up to contend with the heightened dangers of Burns/Thompson this week (the latter telling me on Saturday with no equivocation that he’s fine after Friday’s injury) and not lose contact with the Trojans during the course of the game. Do that and it is hard not to think Routt doesn’t have a puncher’s chance here, given how utterly unstoppable Dylan Marshall has become as the centerpiece of a diverse and explosive offense.

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13)NORTH SHELBY (3-1)

To this point, the Raiders have made good on their vow to embrace a different level of defensive thinking and new scheme, giving up just sixty total points in four contests. The Raiders have two very winnable games ahead to continue building momentum for the October 5th showdown with powerhouse Stanberry that will reveal just how much progress Seth Bass and his kids have made climbing the Eight Man Food Chain. Mason Uhlmeyer added another 124 yards of rushing to his resume in the 60-6 destruction of Braymer Friday.

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14) BOWLING GREEN (3-1)

Forty-two unanswered second half points on the road is quite a “halftime adjustment.” In so doing, the Bobcats salvaged their goal of competing for the EMO Crown and in fact set the stage for a true red letter game at home of Friday with South Callaway that affords the winner pole position in the Conference Race. This is the biggest, most important Bobcat Football game since the Jimmy Tucker Era. The Second Half in Montgomery City on Friday was proof that Kevin Krietemeyer is moving the margins in Bobcat Country, teaching his kids how to win after years of entrenched mediocrity. This is that next logical and important step; and one that would certainly balance the scales on the Week Two Palmyra debacle. It’s going to take four quarters of the best football the Bobcats can play. But based on this result, I think doubting that possibility would be a fool’s errand.

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THE BEST OF THE REST

15) SCOTLAND COUNTY (2-2)

16) CENTRALIA (2-2)

17) KNOX COUNTY (2-2)

18) RUSHVILLE/INDUSTRY (2-2)

19) BWP (2-2)

21) MACOMB (2-2)

22) FORT MADISON (2-2)

23) CLOPTON/ELSBERRY (2-2)

24) WEST CENTRAL (2-2)

25) KEOKUK (1-3)

26) VAN-FAR (2-2)

27) JACKSONVILLE (2-2)

28) PARIS (2-2)

29) MARK TWAIN (1-3)

30) SOUTH SHELBY (1-3)

31) QND (0-4)

32) BROWN COUNTY (1-3)

33) PLEASANT HILL/WESTERN (1-3)

34) PITTSFIELD (1-3)

35) UNITY-PAYSON (0-4)

36) CENTRAL LEE (0-4)

37) HIGHLAND (0-4)

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FEARLESS DUERR PREDICTIONS

Last Week: 20 of 25 Correct (80% Accuracy)

Season To Date: 86 of 103 Correct (83.4% Accuracy)

Iowa Picks

WASHINGTON 28

KEOKUK 21

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SOLON 35

FORT MADISON 18

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MID PRAIRIE 24

CENTRAL LEE 22

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Missouri Picks

KIRKSVILLE 20

HANNIBAL 42

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SOUTH SHELBY 12

CLARK COUNTY 49

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HIGHLAND 6

PALMYRA 38

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MOBERLY 18

MACON 28

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WEST HANCOCK 12

MONROE CITY 28

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MARCELINE 42

PARIS 14

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KNOX CO 49

HARRISBURG 6

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SCOTLAND CO 35

SALISBURY 0

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NORTH SHELBY 42

SO NODAWAY 18

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MARK TWAIN 8

MONTGOMERY CO 18

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SOUTH CALLAWAY 28

BOWLING GREEN 7

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VAN-FAR 6

NORTH CALLAWAY 44

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LOUISIANA 14

SCHUYLER CO. 18

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Illinois Picks

QUINCY HIGH 56

GALESBURG 12

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TRIOPIA 24

ROUTT 20

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CENTRAL 20

BEARDSTOWN 18

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UNITY/PAYSON 14

BROWN CO. 22

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CARROLLTON 20

WEST CENTRAL 8

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GNW 35

PHW 14

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QND 22

WESTMONT 30

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EFFINGHAM 27

MACOMB 8

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PEO HEIGHTS 14

RUSHVILLE/IND 35

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ELM/BRIMFIED 28

BWP 6

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ILLINI WEST 54

NORTH FULTON 7

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PITTSFIELD 12

NEW BERLIN 35

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JACKSONVILLE 18

GLENWOOD 30

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RANDOM MUSINGS

Mac West twirled a gem in Centralia on Monday, giving Monroe City a 5-1 win over the Lady Panthers; the program’s first victory against Central Missouri’s resident diamond powerhouse in over a decade. West lowered here ERA in the process to .89 on the year.

Spent last Wednesday Night at 10th and Jackson watching Quincy Notre Dame versus Hannibal Soccer. While the final tally went 2-0 in favor of the Raiders (courtesy of another spectacular long range cannon shot from Mitchell Murphy) it was the play of Pirate Keeper John Maune that stuck with me for much of the night. For the most part, I shoot most Hannibal games facing the Pirate Attack. It became fairly evident early in Wednesday’s contest, the Raiders weren’t going to allow much in the way of Hannibal scoring opportunities; so I parked myself behind Maune and watched QND fire off some 35 shots at the young man. The final score, with a lesser keeper, would have been something akin to at least 7-0 Raiders. Maune was a one-man highlight show; making 14 saves on the night; a half dozen of them in spectacular form including one at the end of each half that killed breakaway opportunities. Moreover, John suffered a neck injury early into the second half in a freak collision with Peyton Stegeman. He spent about seven minutes on the bench, then returned to the field right where he left off. To be honest, the Pirates weren’t really tested in the previous two games I saw them play against Elsberry and Kirksville. Watching Maune kill it against QND’s loaded Front Line was impressive by any rubric. He’s a talent worth keeping an eye on.

Quincy Notre Dame alum Aubrey Reis is the GLVC Offensive Soccer Player of the Week after producing four goals for the Quincy University Hawks in a pair of contests (one draw, one victory) for the Week of September 10th-16th.

And while we are on the subject of Hawk Soccer: Generally, unless I have a camera slung over my shoulder, I don’t get to spend a lot of free time watching sports. And unless there is a Sacramento Kings game on League Pass, I try to avoid the sports thing in general on Sundays just to preserve what little sanity I have left for the other six days of my work week. This Sunday was a little different. My wife wanted to go watch the Quincy University Mens Soccer team at home on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s a notion she has floated at other times, having gotten the soccer bug watching the QND kids her nephew Colby Kapp played with move up the ladder and wanting to see Aubrey and Cooper Reis, Macker Little, and Cole Hayes progress. With Colby planning to play college soccer down the road and me constantly telling her how much more physical/chippy the college game is, I think Angie was curious to see that level of the game up close. She also used to work with Mike Carpenter and wants to see him do well. And true story, we actually met Anthony Christante’s parents on a trip to the Dominican Republic a few years ago and I think she wanted to put a face to the name.

So we braved the withering heat and headed to Legends Stadium. We spent the first half in the stands baking, waiting for the breeze to occasionally blow. We had a much better time in the second half, watching from the shaded hill behind the Press Box and watching the Hawks reel off four second half goals, including a pair from Aubrey Reis with a couple of icy cold bottled waters in hand. Though we don’t fit the profile of typical Soccer devotees or the profile of hard core Hawk Fans, it was an enjoyable show and time well spent. Which I guess circles me around to my original point. After the game, my wife commented how cool it was to see both Cooper and Aubrey Reis do so well in that particular contest. Not because she’s a huge Soccer fan per se as much as because she’s been around both of them and their families at her place of work and in the community and found them to be uniformly likable, respectful well raised young men away from the pitch. Good people are easy to root for in this world. And worth shelling out 10 bucks for tickets just to watch likable players and coaches do well in their own personal passions and hobbies and interests. It's a reminder that people are always watching us. The way we carry ourselves matters. Even can gain you two unlikely fans along the way.

Lots of good people in and around that Hawk Soccer Program. I can attest, it would certainly be worth your time to check them out for yourself.

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