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Playing for keeps

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2 • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • Jacksonville Journal Courier

BEARDSTOWN — First row (l-r): Miguel Mendoza, Isaiah Thomas, Carter Wood, Braiden Wellenkamp, Victor Solano, Ethan Heller, Ryder Hamlin, Evin Gabbert, Owen Cook, Efren Guijosa, Jacob Melton and Jared Perez. Second row: Gabe Herzog, Gavin Epping, Gustavo Cortes, Abraham Hernandez, Elizah Thomas, Brendan Dailey, Leonel Lopez, Andy Martinez, Isaias Torres, Evan Wells and Riley Morrell. Third row: Patrick Guilavogui, Christy Domitien, Rey Barralaga, Alex Mendoza, Lew Barker, Johann Avila, Rylan Alhorn, Braxton Baer, Wistz Sido, Ryan McClenning and Owen Quigley. Fourth row: Treysean Grant, Micah Wink, Alan Villegas, Jacob Pate, Harry Juarez, Jeremy Mahfina, Isaac Guadarrama, Owen O’Hara, Brock Krumboltz, Darwin Acosta and Lucas Domitien.

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Jacksonville Journal Courier • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • 3

Beardstown numbers on the rise By Dennis Mathes

dmathes@myjournalcourier.com

The numbers are up at Beardstown under new head coach Elliott Craig. “So far, I’ve been pretty pleased,” Craig said. Craig handed out 40 helmets the first week of August. He wound up with 44 players — 10 more players than people had been telling him would be a good number. “I’m pretty happy with it,” the coach said. Attendance at camp was in the mid-30s. And at least 30 participated in weightlifting every single day. “That’s a positive,” Craig said. Beardstown had a sixweek summer session, with weight room the first four weeks. Craig offered morning and evening sessions. The Tigers had their team camp the last two weeks of July. “During the camp, we just kind of tried to install a little bit of what we want to do positionally and schematically, and so that’s kind of what we did for those eight days of camp,” Craig said. “And I think the kids have caught on pretty well.” Craig credited former coach Robbi Howard. The upperclassmen know what

they’re doing. “There’s certain terminology stuff that Coach Howard used that I don’t, and vice-versa,” he said. “But you’re going to find that with any coach.” Craig comes from Cuba North Fulton, where he oversaw the team’s transition from traditional 11-man football to eightman football. He wants the Tigers to use a number of different looks on offense. “It’s in progress,” the coach said. “I think we’re going to be a multiple-style offense. I’ll know a little bit more once we get pads on. But I certainly think that we — and even with my background — that we can go from running the ‘I’ with a tight end to running the spread, and basically all I gotta do is move one guy. I’m not a wing-T guy — never coached it in 14 years. Never ran it. I’m not a wishbone guy. So I like to call it — basically, it’s kind of a multiple-I offense.” The Tigers have speed this year, with an ample supply of running backs. That starts with two brothers — freshman Christy Domitien and sophomore Lucas Domitien. Add into that mix Owen Quigley, who Craig said is as fast as anybody he’s clocked in the 40-yard dash in the past 15

Dennis Mathes | Journal-Courier

Beardstown linemen go head to head during a recent practice in Beardstown.

years. Senior Jacob Pate returns at quarterback. “He’s got a really nice arm,” Craig said. “We’re certainly going to try to use that.” Craig said he’s not planning to throw 50 times a game, even though Pate probably could do that. Ideally, the coach said he would like to be somewhere around 60-40 run to pass. “I did inherit a kid who can throw the ball down the field,” Craig said, “and if you don’t want to cover us down the field, my hope is that he’ll be able to connect, and it’ll be big plays.” Pate will be throwing to receivers like Micah Wink and Ryan McClenning. Wink is tall, and can run.

McClenning isn’t big, but Craig said he’s a smart, tough football player, and he works hard. Up front, Craig said Beardstown has five or six players who look like they can do the job. “There’s two or three of those kids that I know have started one or two years already,” the coach said. “So it’s just been picking up on what I like to do offensive line-wise.” Craig coaches the line. “There’s definitely some pieces there,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it. I don’t know how much depth we’re going to have, but I think if we can stay healthy, and the kids continue to buy in and do what we ask … which they have.

The kids have been great. They’re wanting to learn, they’re willing to learn.” Offensive linemen are getting used to a different stance. “A lot of that is because of what he (Howard) was trying to do,” the coach said. “I would have got them in the same stance if I was trying to run that style offense, but I’m not, so … just little tweaks and changes, and we’ll see how it goes.” Craig plans to be flexible on the defense. “We won’t just sit in one thing — at least that’s not what I want to do,” he said. “I have a base defense … if I can find one kid that can do a little bit of everything, I can jump around from a three-man to a four-man to a five-man front by just simply moving one kid. That’s what I would like to do. That’s what I’m going to try to do, potentially.” Senior Brock Krumboltz is just such a player. “He’s a true definition of a middle linebacker,” Craig said. “A big, tall kid that brings it downhill. He wants to be physical. His teammates will tell you he’s very physical. He looks the part on film, Brock does.” Craig studied tape from the spring season, and said he saw good things. Now

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it’s a matter of getting his team to play at a consistently high level on both sides of the ball. The focus in preseason pratice has been physical preparation, and finding players who want to hit. “I’ve got to find out who wants to hit on defense,” Craig said. “If you can find 11 guys who want to hit and pursue for you defensively, and keep teams from scoring 40 every week, hopefully you’ll have a chance, regardless of what you’re doing offensively.” Craig handed out a survey to his players when he first got to Beardstown. He wanted to know what their goals were. “The consensus was, basically, coach, we want to play Week 10 — which is exactly what my goal has been for years and years,” Craig said.

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4 • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • Jacksonville Journal Courier

Spartans strive to win numbers game By Dennis Mathes

dmathes@myjournalcourier.com

Donnie Allen did everything right. After the spring football season, the North Greene head coach sat at lunch tables and talked to student-athletes to see who wanted to play football in the fall. A total of 64 signed up. After 25 players came out for the first week of practice, Allen hit the recruiting trail all over again. “Our mission has been to try to get some kids there that are supposed to be there,” Allen said. “I’ve got a list of those kids,” the coach said. “There’s several — I had a meeting with the sophomores yesterday because there’s a lot of sophomore that aren’t showing up — and I kind of went down the list with the kids who have been showing up, and I scratched some names off that they knew were for sure nos.” The Spartans wound up with close to 30 players. It’s a young squad, but Allen believes the program is on solid footing. Turnout for summer workouts and weight room — normally topping out at 10 players, or fewer — was better than it has been in years. “This summer, we averaged 20 kids in the weight room, or workouts, every single day,” Allen said. “It wasn’t always the same 20 — we had a core group of about 15 who have been at everything.” Allen said team chemistry and culture are improving. “We have a lot more togetherness than we’ve had since I’ve been there,” the coach said. “The kids want to work together, and they understand that they’re better together than as individuals. It’s been really good.” Players like senior captain Gunar Speaker have been a big part of changing attitudes at North Greene. Speaker, an

Dennis Mathes | Journal-Courier

North Greene players run a play during practice last week.

imposing figure, returns as the Spartans’ feature back. “If we ran the wing-T, he’d be our fullback,” Allen said. “He’s a big boy. But he’s got speed, and he’s elusive. He’s the most football-savvy kid, by far, that we have. He’ll be our feature running back, and he’ll also play our rush end, our defensive end that stands up and goes and gets the quarterback. He’s been a really good leader for us. I attribute a lot of our cultural moving in the right direction to Gunar. He’s just a great kid.” Also returning is senior Gannon Williams, a player Allen calls the Spartans’ “field captain.” “He’s gone from being kind of a practice squad/JV player to being a huge asset to us already this year,” Allen said. “He plays guard on offense — I’m not 100 percent sure which side yet; probably the right — and he’s the other defensive end on defense.” North Greene’s quarterback will be Noah Riley — one of four

of the team’s “super sophomores” who are going to be playing a lot this fall. “Noah is as big, if not bigger, than Gunar, so he doesn’t look like a quarterback,” Allen said. “If you saw him in uniform, you’d probably say he was a guard, or a center or something. But he is deceptively athletic, and has a really good grasp of the offense. Defensively, he’s probably going to play Mike linebacker, too. That gives you a sense of how big he is.” Another returner, junior Lane Eschbach, who played center last season, will most likely be moving to tackle this year. Sophomores Isiaha Mudd and Jaidan Slater have been competing for the snapper spot. Eschbach, another savvy football player, will play linebacker as well this season. Another of the Spartans’ super sophomores is David Hicks, who started almost every game as a freshman in the spring. Hicks

finished No. 1 in Allen’s ratings for returning players this season. Hicks will play at left guard on offense and will play somewhere on the defensive line as well. He’s at nose tackle right now. “He’s just the absolute kind of kid you want on a football team,” the coach said. “He’s competitive. He wants to win at everything he does, whether it’s be the first guy out to practice … it’s crazy. He and Noah Riley, our quarterback, are super-competitive when it comes to everything.” The Spartans’ other two standout sophomores are Quintin Campbell and Ben Tepen. Both are receiver types on offense, and corner/safety types on defense. They most likely will play both ways. Hicks, by far, had the most snaps of the four, but all have varsity experience. “They all did — you know, they definitely held their own, put it that way,” Allen said. Athletic senior Jerome Fane should give the Spartans a boost. Slated as a slot receiver on offense and a strong safety on defense, Fane hasn’t played organized sports since sixth-grade JFL. Fane was set to play last fall until the season was postponed by COVID-19. “I’ve been trying for two years to get him to come out for football,” Allen said. “He’s going to be a big help to us.” The rest of the positions were up for grabs early in preseason practices, with players battling for spots. The spring season helped some teams get ready for the fall season, but not North Greene. With more than a dozen seniors lost to graduation, this season has been like starting over. “It’s almost like I’m starting from scratch, with a brand new team,” Allen said. The spring season was a strange season. “It was just weird,” Allen said.

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“It was different. Almost every coach I talked to did not enjoy the spring season. It was what it was, and we were happy to have something going on, but it was not a good vibe.” Having overlapping sports seasons didn’t help. “Basketball was stacked on football, and football was stacked on baseball — there were kids who were wanting to do all three, and they just got burned out,” Allen said. “It was just a bad situation all the way around. And so, that did not help the enthusiasm level. When the kids aren’t turned on to the sport that they are in, the learning part is a lot more challenging for the coach. And football’s a unique bird.” Burnout might have led to low numbers this fall for North Greene. The numbers aren’t dangerously low yet. Allen said this isn’t a make-or-break season. Freshman and sophomore participation is good, and there are good numbers in the eighth-grade class coming up. “We’ve just got to ride the storm for a couple of years and do the best we can with what we’ve got and see where that takes us,” Allen said. With the culture improving, Allen likes where the program is heading. “What I see going on right now is that positive change,” the coach said. “The freshmen and sophomores that we have right now — we’re going to be really good in a couple of years if those kids stick with it.”


Jacksonville Journal Courier • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • 5

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6 • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • Jacksonville Journal Courier

Spring gives Crimsons a boost By Dennis Mathes

dmathes@myjournalcourier.com

Few teams benefited the way Jacksonville did from the Central State Eight’s decision to split the league into two divisions last spring for the shortened COVID19 season. Not only did JHS win the division championship, but the Crimsons also built a lead in several contests in the spring, and that allowed them to play underclassmen in the second half of games that had already been decided. So, losing 17 seniors won’t be the blow it could have been as Jacksonville enters the fall 2021 season. “Even though we lost 17 seniors, we also have a great group of juniors who became seniors, and a lot of them had a huge impact on our spring season,” Jacksonville coach Mark Grounds said. “There’s definitely a leadership void that happens, whether you have five seniors or 25 seniors. But the good thing of it is, last year we played a lot of guys. Most of those seniors didn’t play most of the second half of the games down the stretch because we had good leads — which means that we got to have plenty of film from varsity action for a lot of guys. And that pays dividends.” Squeezing three sports into just a few weeks this spring was tough. Jacksonville coaches wanted to give students a break

Dennis Mathes | Journal-Courier

Jacksonville quarterback Elijah Owens eyes a receiver during a scrimmage Friday night in Jacksonville.

physically to make sure they were properly recovered. The Crimsons used only 14 or 15 of their allowed 25 contact days over the summer. “Well, it was a quick turnaround,” Grounds said. “We got done with the spring season, and

we started quite a bit later in the summer than what we usually do. We really didn’t start until the third week of June. “I feel good about the kids who were there, who worked and made a lot of progress,” the coach said. Grounds said more players than

ever had jobs this summer, due to opportunities and labor shortages caused by COVID-19. “Some of our kids are working six, seven days a week, and 50, 60, 70 hours a week, making as much money as they can for themselves and their families,” the coach said. “So we had to constantly work around the work schedules more than we have in probably all of my previous 20 years.” Absences during the summer were a bit disruptive but understandable. “You’re not mad because they’re bringing home a paycheck,” Grounds said. “But it did make some days less than optimal. But the kids who were there, I felt great about. We had a great core group that was there and didn’t miss. They really showed a lot of progress, and some of those kids really built off of strong spring seasons.” The Crimsons had good participation from incoming freshmen for most of the summer. Jacksonville enters the fall 2021 season with an experienced quarterback at the helm. The Crimsons couldn’t have asked much more from QB Elijah Owens in his first varsity season. Owens will be a junior this year. “It was very evident,” Grounds said. “You could watch just unbelievable growth from game to game.” Owens made plays in close season-opening losses against Rochester and Chatham, then led

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the Crimsons on a four-game win streak to end the season. “Week Three, we changed some things up for him, and I thought he really took off,” Grounds said. “You know, we won the last four games, and each game, there was just more poise, more understanding, more execution. And he really became a dual-threat weapon with not only his arm but his legs as well.” Ryan Maul stepped away from the quarterback position in his senior year last spring so Owens could gain some experience. Maul shined in his own right, becoming the team’s leading receiver and a standout defender at safety. And he left JHS in the best possible position going forward, with a young quarterback who already has six starts under his belt. Owens is ready. “We have a high level of expectation of him that is only matched and exceeded by the level of expectations he has for himself,” See JHS | Page 8

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Jacksonville Journal Courier • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • 7

JACKSONVILLE — First row (l-r): Rodney Reed, Trey Elliot, Manny Moore, Trayvion Johnson, Ja’shawn Trevillian and Braylen Harris. Second row: Tyler Wright, Jarrett Belford, Jaliek White, Elijah Owens, Ian Willner, Jose Garcia and Devin Scheer. Third row: Brighton McNeece, Nathan McCombs, Deone Salther, Phillip Johnson, Tyler Pool, Kentravion Jackson, Aaron McBride and Will Hutchison. Fourth row: Christian Bartlett, Oliver Cooley, Brianna Dobson, Devin Lovell, Ryan Hutchison, Larry Littler and Antowan McGowan. Fifth row: Dominic Acker, Landon Fricke, Terry Dinger, Evan Dorris, Gavin Seymour and Griffin Martin. Sixth row: Josh Grace, Miles Homann, Aaron Puck, Aden Hartke and Payton Acker. Seventh row: Assistant coaches Damian Adams, Dustin Secrist and Jae Owens, head coach Mark Grounds, and assistant coaches Troy Cook and Mike Sullivan. Eighth row: Assistant coaches Tim Thrasher, Jon Zang, Levi Parkevich, Garrick Adams, Brent Heaton and Mark Dyer.

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8 • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • Jacksonville Journal Courier

JHS From page 6

Grounds said. “When a good player wants to be a great player and has high expectations for himself … he’s had a great summer, and he’s really grown into more and more of a leadership role. Everything offensively right now revolves around our quarterback, and always has for our program. He’s definitely put the work in, and the extra work in to take steps forward in his progress and development as a high school quarterback.” Grounds has had a few quarterbacks — players like Nick Lonergan and Brian Anderson — who were effective threats at both running and passing the football. But Owens might have an edge in agility and explosiveness. Owens’ fundamentals improved throughout the spring season. He knows what the team is trying to accomplish in the running and passing games, and he is comfortable at the position. “I think a quarterback has got to also be a receivers coach. He’s also got to have an understanding of where the line protection is in the passing game,” Grounds said. “But I think more than anything, it’s just his comfort. He knows

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what’s ahead of him. He knows what being a varsity quarterback entails. There’s a hundred million little things that go into that, that aren’t nerve-racking now — that he understands.” The rest of the team is young but experienced. Aaron McBride figures to step in at running back. Grounds said he did some good things at the JV level. Cam Ron Mitchell made positive contributions when he came in at running back in a spot role last spring. Phillip Johnson, a standout on defense last season, could figure in as a running back or wide receiver this year. He was a member of Jacksonville’s 4x100 and 4x200 sectional championship relay teams in the spring. Grounds said he didn’t miss anything over the summer. “Hard worker. Just a great leader,” the coach said. “I expect big things out of him.” Tyler Wright is the Crimsons’ only full-time starter returning at wide receiver. “He made some big plays for us as a junior,” Grounds said. Toward the end of the season, returners Jacob Pool and Deone Salther got quite a bit of playing time. Pool started the last two games at “H” wide receiver. “Each of those guys made big plays for us on the varsity, not just in mop-up duty, but when it counted,”

Dennis Mathes | Journal-Courier

Jacksonville players run a play during last Friday night’s scrimmage.

the coach said. On the offensive line, Jacksonville returns several players who started over the course of the spring season. Linemen include Aaron Puck, Josh Grace, Devin Lovell, Miles Homann and Case Turner. Some sophomores who have had good summers could contribute on the offensive line as well. Preseason practice will help determine how they ultimately fit in. “They’re pushing some older guys right now,” Grounds said. Most of the team’s graduation losses were on the defensive side of

the ball. The spring 2021 team had one of the best defensive units in recent memory. Jacksonville has four or five starters back on defense. Johnson, an All-CS8 selection, returns at outside linebacker. And starting defensive backs Wright and Trey Elliot both return. Jaliek White started at inside linebacker, and he returns. Lovell was a starter at defensive end. Grounds is hoping that the experience gained by the younger players last season will yield dividends on the field this fall. The trick this summer, the

coach said, was trying to figure out what spots to put them in. Sophomore Rodney Reed had a great summer at wide receiver and defensive back. And the Crimsons have two seniors — Nathan McCombs and Jarrett Belford — who are playing football full time for the first time. McCombs played for the JHS soccer team in the spring and also was an effective kicker for the football team. The coach said both players have shown flashes in the defensive backfield. Grounds said sophomore Manny Moore has been impressive this summer and should contribute. “He’s going to be in the mix somewhere on offense and on defense for us,” the coach said. “I like what he does at linebacker, and he’s played running back and backup quarterback for us on the offensive side of the ball.” Other prospects will compete for starting spots on the defensive line, outside linebacker and secondary, and they’re ready to hit the ground running after a productive spring. “We did a lot of implementation during the (spring) season each week that you usually don’t do, because you have all summer long to get everything in, and everything ready,” Grounds said. “But it was such an accelerated time

frame that each week, we had to add pieces, and get it on film and see how the kids executed. And going into this fall, with having the spring season, re-enforcing it and adding a few bells and whistles in the summer, there’s going to be a lot more ease of our guys with the understanding of what they’re going to have to accomplish (when preseason practice begins).” Grounds is hoping that the fall football season is a lot closer to normal than spring was. The team has had no COVID-19 issues this summer. “Our kids have done everything that we’ve asked, everything the governor’s asked, everything the school district administration has asked to be able to be safe and play this game,” Grounds said. “The thing that I think our kids this fall, just like in the spring, realize is that you can’t take it for granted, and you’ve got to put everything that you can into it because you never know when it’s going to get taken away from you. So I think there’s been a heightened sense of urgency over the summer. Normally, summer’s a little more laid back. But these kids showed a desire to take another step, and hopefully the state’s going to allow us to have playoffs this year. And that’s what this team’s goal is, to get in the playoffs and try to make a run at it.”

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Jacksonville Journal Courier • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • 9

Brown County a favorite in North By Dennis Mathes

dmathes@myjournalcourier.com

Heading into a “more normal” season, the Brown County football team is taking no chances with COVID19 this fall. “It seems more normal, but I think overall, we still are a little bit concerned with the way things are,” said Brown County coach Tom Little, whose team is one of the favorites to win the Western Illinois Valley Conference North Division. “And we do some stuff differently, with making sure we pay attention to keeping kids separated and things like that.” The Hornets are going back to some of the same precautions they took against COVID-19 last spring. “We definitely don’t want an outbreak, still, on our end,” Little said, “so whatever we’ve got to do to make sure kids are being safe and can keep playing, we’ll do whatever it takes to keep playing football for at least nine games, and into a playoff run, hopefully.” Preparations have been pretty normal this summer. Brown County usually doesn’t start football activities until July. “We don’t do a ton with them in June anyway,” Little

said. “We kind of let them play basketball and do that stuff. We let them lift weights and be kids. We still ran our camps the same. We went one day shorter — two days total shorter. Instead of running 10 days, we ran eight days. That was the main difference. We didn’t have helmets and shoulder pads in because they were being re-conditioned. So we did a lot of stuff with just teaching and conditioning and that kind of stuff. So we’re glad to finally get the shoulder pads and helmets back in, and get those back on kids and start, hopefully, teaching football the way that we’re used to.” The numbers are good. Brown County’s roster is in the mid-40s, an improvement over the spring. “We were hoping that we could get some more kids out,” the coach said. “With everything else they’ve got going on, I think we’re pretty satisfied with being in that mid-40s to start the season.” Coaches took a liberal approach to vacations this summer. “We had parents who would kind of ask, hey, can we do vacation? We just said yes,” Little said. “Just do whatever you need to do for your mental health and to be able to get yourself back to where you feel good about

getting ready to go back to school and everything else. We had some kids miss camp who wouldn’t have normally missed, to do a family vacation or do something different. But like we told them, I said, I think with the year that you just had, we want you to enjoy your time as a family as much as you can. Most of our kids were here pretty much the whole time, but we did have a few kids who missed to go do some family stuff and just spend their time together.” This should be an outstanding season. The Hornets return a ton of players to a team that tied for the WIVC-North championship in the spring. “We return eight on defense and nine on offense,” Little said. “So, you know, we’ve got a lot of guys that will be returning starters, so we do feel like we’ve got a good group, especially going 4-2 last season. A lot of these guys got to play in those varsity games and got that experience, so we feel good about the group we’ve got coming back.” Little said this year, especially — because of COVID19 — Brown County wants to make sure it has reserves ready to step in. Spring football helped season a young squad. “For us, it helped a lot because for us, we knew we had a lot of guys coming back,” Little said. “We thought we would be pretty good last year if we were playing a normal nine-game

BROWN COUNTY Aug 30 @Calhoun 7:00p Sep 3 North Greene 7:00p Sep 10 Triopia 7:00p Sep 17 @Camp Point Central 7:00p Sep 24 Beardstown 7:00p Oct 2 @Routt 1:00p Oct 8 @Mendon Unity 7:00p Oct 15 @Greenfield-NW 7:30p Oct 22 Carrollton 7:00p

schedule, but we had a lot of young guys who hadn’t started, and some guys who were going to play some new positions. We feel like it helped us out a bunch, and just getting those guys used to the Friday night lights, especially our young guys, and making sure that they were ready to hopefully go and play a full nine games this fall.” Everybody returns in the Hornets’ backfield, including senior quarterback Tate Fullerton. “He’s a three-year starter, so we feel really good about him and what he brings to the table,” Little said. Three running backs who were new last season also return for the fall. Colby Wort is back for his junior season after having a really good spring. “We’re expecting big things from him,” Little said. Wort had been a quarterback at the freshman and JV levels. “For him to be able to get in that backfield and help that mix, you know, really was a big difference-maker for us here, just to add that other guy who’s got some size and strength,” the coach

said. “But he’s also a really intelligent player. So we thought he had a really good year last year, but I think that as he gets even more comfortable this year, we’re expecting more out of him.” Brody Woodward and Ezra Keokham also return after a solid spring season. Cole Behymer got some touches in the Hornets’ backfield in the spring as well. A couple of key pieces are missing from the offensive line, but almost everybody else is back. Gabe Blakeley and Ethan Lehne return at the tight end spots, Mason Henry and Jake Laning are back at guard, and Marcus Perry returns at center. All are seniors, and all had great offseasons. The challenge will be to find a couple of tackles to replace standout linemen Chance Fuqua and Lars Reische. Several players are in the mix, including Carter Maas, a senior who had some spot time behind those two. Trevon Volk, a fullback, has been making a case for playing time. And junior Dalton Reische hit the weight room hard in the offseason to get himself ready to go. Those three should battle it out for starting spots, and all could see time on the line. Little likes his line. “The one thing is, they’re a really athletic group,” the coach said. “We’re not the 240-pound line coming across the board, but we’ve got a lot of guys in that 180to 200-pound range that have a lot of quickness and speed,

GOOD LUCK HORNETS!

and with their offseason, they’ve done a great job of just getting in the weight room and becoming stronger.” Behymer is the team’s No. 1 threat as a receiver. “We split Cole out a lot,” Little said. “He’s just a great athlete. With him, he’s got really good speed. When the ball’s in the air, it always seems like he’s going to get it. His quickness is what really gets people. They don’t realize how quick he is in that first couple of steps, and he’s able to blow by you. And he does have that second-level speed, too, that takes him to the next level.” Brown County can and does throw to anyone out of the backfield, and Blakeley and Lehne are both reliable pass-catchers at tight end. The Hornets’ offensive linemen will play on defense as well. Henry, especially, stood out on the defensive side. “I think the spring season for him was really important for him to grow into his own,” Little said. “He had a lot of tackles for loss last year, made quite a few big plays for us. And we’re expecting him to take it to another level.” Blakeley and Lehne also played tough in the spring, putting a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks and harassing ball carriers. Little said Laning, Maas, and Perry also looked good on the line in camp and into the start of practice. The team has plenty of linebackers.

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10 • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • Jacksonville Journal Courier

Pittsfield coach comes home By Travis Zuellig

PITTSFIELD

For the Journal-Courier

It will be a homecoming of sorts for new head coach Zach Ferguson in his first season in charge of the Pittsfield football team. After four seasons at Staunton High School, which included one playoff appearance in 2018, Ferguson will return to the team he helped coach for six seasons before leaving in 2016. The Saukees have struggled in recent seasons and haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, but Ferguson believes this group is ready to win after coming out on top in two of its five games during the 2021 spring season. “We have had a great summer. I am just expecting the kids to come out and compete,” Ferguson said. “They are hungry for success. Last year when they won two of the five games, and had a chance to win three or four of them, they are hungry for success. We are just going to take it one week at a time and not focus on the future too much.” Ferguson’s Pittsfield has a solid roster this season, with 55 players in the program. The Saukees will also have plenty of returning starters on offense and defense, including depth at wide receiver and running back. “We have quite a few returning guys from this past season on both sides of the ball,” the coach said. “We have a lot of young guys — sophomores and juniors — who didn’t get a ton of playing time last year who are going to help us out and step into some roles. Overall, we are pretty happy with the progress so far this summer and early fall. We are

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Pittsfield players battle for a pass during practice last week at Pittsfield.

excited to see how it goes.” Seniors Bobby Stout, Mason Pherigo, JJ Petty and Marco Ballinger, along with Konner Allen, will get plenty of touches

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at wide receiver. Returning running backs include senior Levi Chaplin and junior Lane Yelliott. Weston McAllister, who started last

season as a sophomore and took reps as a freshman, should start at quarterback. Ferguson said the junior matured and developed playing as a sophomore, and over the summer. New this year: a wealth of quality reserves. “A lot of our guys will be two-way players, so that will help us sub and give them breaks,” Ferguson said. “Skill position-wise, we are sitting pretty well as far as depth goes, and that is something Pittsfield hasn’t had in a very long time. Hopefully, it will be a blessing for us.” Seniors Ethan Palmer and Cade Corgiat, along with Pherigo, Stout, Yelliott and Petty, will help anchor the defense. Ferguson expects more depth on the defense, and the team’s overall speed is going to be better than it was last season. Pittsfield plays in the Sangamo Conference, which includes five playoff teams from the 2019 season. The Saukees start the season traveling to Pleasant Plains and Riverton in backto-back weeks before hosting Auburn and Maroa-Forsyth in weeks 3 and 4. Pittsfield fell to both Pleasant Plains and Auburn in the spring season.

Good Luck Pittsfield!


Jacksonville Journal Courier • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • 11

Pretzels making progress By Travis Zuellig

NEW BERLIN

For the Journal-Courier

Aug 27 Athens 7:00p Sep 3 @Auburn 7:00p Sep 10 @Maroa-Forsyth 7:00p Sep 17 North Mac 7:00p Sep 24 PORTA 7:00p Oct 1 @Pittsfield 7:00p Oct 8 @Riverton 7:00p Oct 15 Williamsville 7:00p Oct 22 @Pleasant Plains 7:00p

The New Berlin football team has been making strides since Seth Hill took over as head coach in 2019. The team’s record over the past three seasons shows progress — from three wins in the first season to four wins in the second season to a .500 record in the 2021 spring season. Despite having a young team in the spring with only five seniors, Hill said a lot of the young players got plenty of playing time and gained quality game experience heading into the fall season after the quick turnaround. ”I think with football season just ending in the spring, it is set-up for a lot different scenario than what we normally play coming right off that short season, and they are chomping at the bit and ready to make a name for themselves,” Hill said. The Pretzels will have plenty of players returning, including senior Joey Meiseman, who has started the past two seasons at quarterback. Meiseman played five games behind center in the spring and completed 41-of-79 pass attempts for 809 yards and seven touchdowns. In his first season as starter, the then-sophomore completed 95-of-185 passes for 1,398 yards and 10 touchdowns. Returning players in the backfield include senior Troy Williams and juniors Kevin Howell and Flynn Tirey. The trio played all six games in the spring, and all three averaged at least 20 rushing yards per game, with Howell leading the way with 394 yards and

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and senior Cody Spencer on the defensive line. There is depth at linebacker with Williams and Howell, along with senior Thad Bergschneider and junior Noah Lyons. Ben Hermes, Tirey and Oschwald help complete the secondary. New Berlin competes in the Sangamo Conference, and Hill thinks it is probably the toughest small-town conference in the state. The Pretzels will The mission of the Warren-Boynton host Athens in Week 1 before heading State Bank is to serve its customers to Auburn and Maroa-Forsyth and communities by remaining a strong in consecutive weeks to complete and stable community bank focused on the first third ofofthe season. All three of those The mission thefinancial Warren-Boynton providing high quality products teams made the playoffs State Bank is to serve its customersin 2019. and personal service. “The Sangamo is a meat grinder. I Dennis Mathes | Journal-Courier and communities by remaining a strong would put it up against a lot of other A New Berlin ball carrier tries to turn the corner during a scrimmage last week in New Berlin. Business Loans and stableBanking/Commercial community bank focused on conferences,” the coach said. “Every providing high quality financial products single week, you better bring your Equipment leases service. six touchdowns. Mason Oschwald will “We are going to try and get betterand personal ‘A’ game, or there is a chance you are Operating lines of credit also see touches out of the backfield. every single day,” Hill said. “I think we going home with a loss. We are excited Businessterm Banking/Commercial Loans Equipment loans Three-year starter Mike Miller will are keeping the progression of where to compete in it. We have been knockCommercial Real estate anchor the offensive line. we want our program to go, and I ing on the door of playoffs, and we Equipmentfixed leases interest rate farm real New Berlin has plenty of weapons think we are setting our sights on aLong lit- term, would like to kick that open this year Operating lines of creditFarmer Mac estate loans offered returning at wide receiver, with Matt tle something better this year.” and get our via shot in the playoffs. And Equipment term loans Crow and Mason Oschwald coming The defense has plenty of firepower I think that is what the kids have as Commercial estategoal.” State Contact any of Real Warren-Boynton Onlin back for their senior seasons. returning from last season, with Crow their ultimate Long term, interest rate farm real Bank’s Loanfixed Officers for more details. Perso estate loans offered via Farmer Mac Good Luck Area Teams!

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12 • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • Jacksonville Journal Courier

ROUTT — First row (l-r): Robert Roscetti, Charlie Alan, Declan Lahey, Alex Coop, Gavin Amdal, Adam Huffman, Jace Lautemann and Jack Wisdom. Second row: Jordan Johnson, Aiden Meyer, Gabe Hackwith, Aiden Lahey, Dax Baptist, Kohen Hoots and Kellen Creviston. Third row: Henry Rawe, Preston McCurry, Kyler Gibson, Trey Gause, Carter Lightfoot, Eli Oldham and Will Jackson. Fourth row: Eli Pine, Ethan Walker, Gus Abell, Ryan Oswald, Michael Wilson, Braden Cors, Christian Lahniers and Colton Decker. Fifth row: Assistant coaches Kyle Graham, Chris Gibson and Joe Krall, head coach Barry Creviston and assistant coaches Nick Cosgriff and Jamie Jackson.

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Jacksonville Journal Courier • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • 13

Routt builds back with experience By Dennis Mathes

ROUTT

dmathes@myjournalcourier.com

Kohen Hoots has been the starting quarterback for the Routt football team for the past two years. The Rockets are hoping that the third year is the charm. “We’re excited to have him back,” Routt coach Barry Creviston said. “He continues to get better every day. And this could be a breakout season for him. I’d like to see him really take on a role as leader with the whole team. As most coaches will say, as the quarterback goes, we’re going to go. So if we’re going to be good, he needs to be good.” Hoots has been good. A mobile quarterback with a strong, accurate arm, Hoots has gone through some growing pains as he’s learned the system over the past two years. But toward the latter part of the spring season, the junior seemed to turn a corner. “Like with any maturation process, the more reps he gets, the better he’s going to be,” Creviston said. Hoots will have plenty of targets to throw to this fall. And they’ll be hard to miss. “We got some basketball boys to come out,” Creviston said. The receiving corps includes Ethan Walker, Ryan Oswald, Gus Abell, Dax Baptist and Michael Wilson, a new transfer from North Greene. “I think we’re 6-5 across the board if we go with our four tall guys,” the coach said. “Then you add in Dax, who can play a number of different posi,tions. He’s a junior as well. We’re very njunior-heavy this year, which is good for fthe future.” The Rockets are far from one-dimensional. Senior running back Alex Coop returns. However, Routt will be without junior Will Jackson, who suffered a broken leg in a preseason scrimmage game last week. Jackson was a power runner who could hammer the ball up the middle. The Rockets will scramble to find a replacement. Coop, a speedy, slashing runner, seems bigger, stronger and faster than he was in the spring. “He’s one of those guys who works really hard in the weight room,” Creviston said.

Aug 28 Pleasant Hill 1:00p Sep 3 @Carrollton 7:00p Sep 10 @Beardstown 7:00p Sep 18 Mendon Unity 1:00p Sep 24 @Camp Point Central 7:00p Oct 2 Brown County 1:00p Oct 7 @Triopia 7:00p Oct 15 @West Central 7:00p Oct 23 Greenfield-NW 1:00p

Routt players run a play during practice last week.

“Sometimes it takes a kid a freshman, sophomore year to figure out, hey, if I want to be good at this sport, I’m going to have to get in the weight room, and he’s definitely done that.” Routt will look to Hoots and seniors Coop and Abell for leadership. “I’m excited for those guys to mold the team into their image and just be good leaders for the whole team,” Creviston said. Routt lost Jonah Hutton to graduation, but the Rockets have some returners on the offensive line. They include starting tackle Eli Oldham, center Kyler Gibson and right tackle Colton Decker. “We need to replace our interior line,” Creviston said, “but those three guys, mixed in with some younger guys should definitely help us as far as how good we’re going to be. You’re only as good as your offensive line. You’re only

Dennis Mathes | Journal-Courier

as good as your quarterback play. We’re excited for those guys who are coming back, and then we’ve just got to get a couple guys ready to work.” The Rockets have a number of promising prospects, including Christian Lanier, a sophomore from Springfield Lutheran. Lanier, who was a tight end as a freshman, has bulked up to 6-foot3, 250 pounds heading into his junior year. “He’ll factor in somewhere,” Creviston said. Most of the Rockets’ offensive line stalwarts will also man the defensive line. Abell and Oswald will give Routt an imposing presence at defensive end. Gibson and Decker will help the Rockets clog up some holes in the middle. Hutton was the Rockets’ leading tackler at linebacker last season. Routt returns Gavin Amdel, an outside linebacker. The Rockets were counting on

Jackson to move to middle linebacker, so they’ll need to find a replacement there in a hurry. Michael Wilson could factor in at linebacker. Freshman Adam Huffman could see some playing time as well. Many of the receivers will also play at defensive back. Aiden Lahey and Eli Pine also should see some action on defense, along with Carter Lightfoot. Baptist or Oswald could handle kicking duties this season. Both have experience. Almost everybody has experience. Student-athletes who played as freshmen are now juniors — a situation any coach would love to have. “I think we’re pretty good, and we need to get better,” Creviston said, “but I think we have a playoff team on our hands.” Routt beat Beardstown and North Greene to end the season. The coach hopes his team can build on that. “Hopefully, those strides we made in the spring, we carry over into the fall, and we can just continue to stay on a roll,” Creviston said. How the players come back in the fall after a grueling spring is a concern. “I think kids in general need a break,” Creviston said. “We went from basketball to football to baseball to summer, now back to football. They really haven’t had time to recoup their bodies in any aspect. I know people will say, oh, they’re young. They bounce back. But the mental aspect and the physical aspect — I wish we could give our kids more time off. But you know as well as I do, if we’re not doing it, somebody else is doing it, and they’re getting better. So we just have to continue to work.”


14 • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • Jacksonville Journal Courier

WEST CENTRAL — First row (l-r): Landon Barnett, Eli Brown, Rylen Shaw, Lathan Barnett, Raymond Jefferson, Chance Little, Tyson Brown, Conner Turner, Hayden Jefferson, Will Mason, Mason Berry and Ryan Moore. Second row: Trey Drake, Grant Coultas, KJ Spencer, Nolan Melanson, Owen Barber, Carson Brown, Jake Bangert, Jackson Surratt and Jackson Ford. Third row: Richard Vela, Gavin Thomas, Parker Hoots, Phillip White, Josh Bailey, Ethan Hatcher, Wyatt Schafer, London Adams and Matthew Hopkins. Not pictured: Ronald Bentley.

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Jacksonville Journal Courier • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • 15

Cougars rebuild for fall season By Dennis Mathes

dmathes@myjournalcourier.com

All-State selection Andrew Kaufmann has graduated, along with most of the offensive line that helped West Central to one of its best seasons in recent memory last spring. But a talented backfield that includes returning quarterback Tyson Brown could give Cougars fans something to cheer about this fall. Like many teams, West Central backed off a little after a hectic spring season. “We’ve had the weight room open quite a little bit this summer — kind of completed things before the off week, with about a week and a half of camp time,” West Central coach Matt Coultas said. “We didn’t have a lot of draw this summer, I think, probably, with our older kids, because we had all those sports kind of slammed together there in the second semester of last year. I think some of our kids needed a break. But we did have pretty good crop of new guys, some ninth-graders, freshmen, come in that got quite a bit of time and got to work within the program this summer. “Hopefully,” the coach said, “they’re recharged and .ready to go now.” , A total of 33 players turned out for practice on opening day. “That’s a decent number — about the same number as we had last year,” Coultas said. “Maybe a few more kids. Of course, we graduated nine kids from last year’s squad, but we brought in 12 ninth-graders, so we’ve kind of replenished the coffers. But of course, we’re not experienced like we were last year.” Some of West Central’s

players got to play junior varsity football last season, and gained a lot of experience — but not necessarily varsity experience. The Cougars had an outstanding season last spring, losing only to Greenfield-Northwestern, which finished undefeated. Despite all of the uncertainty surrounding the season, West Central won games. “I think everybody was kind of in the same boat,” Coultas said. “Are we gonna go? Are we not gonna go? Are we gonna get to play? Are we not going to get to play? I think our group of kids kind of stuck to it, and when we finally had the opportunity to get out and play some games, I think they were all on board last year. I think it was kind of a pleasant surprise for the senior boys who did graduate to get that opportunity to end their senior year.” With five starters back, many positions were open early in preseason practice. “We’re lacking experience, so we’re trying to get those kids trained up to where they can fill those shoes,” Coultas said. “We talk about it on a daily basis at practice, about stepping up and filling some of those positions that are available.” Brown returns at quarterback after a solid sophomore season. Brown was one of the few inexperienced players on a veteran squad in the spring. That combination worked for the Cougars. “Wonderful job,” Coultas said. “It was just kind of nice to see him grow as the year went on, or as the shorter season went through. And having that experience around him, I think that was really kind of a comforting set for him, to where the anxiety wasn’t maybe as

Dennis Mathes | Journal-Courier

A West Central ball carrier tries to get to the sideline during practice last week in Winchester.

high as it could have been, if they were all sophomores out there trying to play varsity football. But just the pieces and parts around him, I think, was really great for him to grow as a player and as a leader.” Brown got better and better as the season went along, taking charge of what the Cougars were doing on offense as he became more comfortable working within the system. “We started out last year with Calhoun, and we didn’t throw the ball particularly well,” Coultas said. “I think nerves really got to him quite a bit that first game. But then he finishes up the year at Brown County 7-for-7 throwing the ball, and you can’t do any better than that.” In the backfield, the Cougars return senior Lathan Barnett, along with Ryan Moore, who missed last season with an injury. “(Barnett) really carried us through a couple of games as a running back,”

Coultas said. “Also, starting linebacker with our defense for the last two years, so he’s a good piece to have back.” The coach said Barnett worked hard to get ready for this season. “I’ll tell you what, that young man, through the COVID season, took it upon himself and worked out,” Coultas said. “I think he’s running three to five miles a day, and lifting weights twice a day. And he’s always working a full-time job, with, I think, an uncle of his. He’s got a motor that just won’t quit, and it really shows out there on the football field. In practice, he’s the leader of the pack. He’s up front in everything we do.” Moore suffered a knee injury during workouts last summer. He made what Coultas called a “phenomenal, miraculous” recovery. Moore played basketball but was still dealing with some soreness. The coach said he appears to be 100 percent now. And, Moore is getting taller. Coultas said the Cou-

gars might throw the ball to Moore this season. West Central was looking for some other pieces out of the backfield early in preseason practice. “We’ve got some kids working hard and really trying hard to take on those roles,” Coultas said. Parker Hoots returns at receiver. He came on midyear last season and became a nice piece in the offense. Coultas said Hoots also played well at defensive back. “He played wonderful against some of those spread offenses we saw last year,” the coach said. “So we’re kind of looking to see what else he can accomplish this year, and just continue to get better. I don’t think he’s reached the peak of his performance capabilities yet, but we’ll see what he’s capable of doing this season.” Sophomore Mason Berry will be another receiver. Berry was a quarterback as a freshman with the JV group. “He’s a super-talented young man,” Coultas said. “I think the sky’s the limit with him. It’s just a matter of getting that experience under his belt. But he’s one of those that I think can really shine out there.” Lance Barnett, Lathan’s twin brother, will play at tight end. “He’s done a great job for us at tight end the last three seasons,” Coultas said. “So, just more of the same from him.” The Cougars return all-conference tackle Jackson Ford, but they lost the other four of the front five to graduation. Josh Bailey, a defensive lineman on the varsity squad last spring, played on the offensive line at the junior varsity level just to get some reps in. “Working him into the position, maybe where he

WEST CENTRAL Aug 27 @Triopia 7:00p Sep 3 Beardstown 7:00p Sep 10 Calhoun 7:00p Sep 17 Pleasant Hill 7:00p Sep 24 @Greenfield-NW 7:30p Oct 1 @North Greene 7:30p Oct 8 @Carrollton 7:00p Oct 15 Routt 7:00p Oct 22 @Mendon Unity 7:00p

can be a both-ways player, or two-sides-of-the-ball player — that iron man-type guy. Big-bodied young man,” Coultas said. “Hopefully, we can get in behind him and gain some yards this year.” The Cougars didn’t lose as much on the defensive line. Lance Barnett, Ford and Bailey all played there quite a bit last year, and all return for their senior year. “We’re looking for some good things there, D-line wise,” Coultas said. West Central lost Kaufmann and Eli Crews from its linebacking corps. Stepping in there will be a pair of sophomores — Chance Little and Owen Barber — who played well at the junior varsity level last year. Coultas said the two are athletic and aggressive, and he has high hopes for them. “We’re hoping to get some more experience under their belt and watch them grow as the season continues,” the coach said. Hoots and Brown figure to play at defensive back, and Moore could play there, too. Also in the mix are Berry and Rylen Shaw. Landon Barnett has been the Cougars’ kicker for the past three years, and he’ll be back for his senior season. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to go out and compete and put on a good show like we did last year,” Coultas said. “That’s all I’m hoping for.”


16 • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • Jacksonville Journal Courier

Pleasant Hill ready to compete By Travis Zuellig

For the Journal-Courier

It has been a tough few seasons for the Pleasant Hill football team. The Wolves are expected to be a young team again with four or five seniors on the roster. Pleasant Hill had just one senior in the spring. But the young players who have played over the past two seasons have gained valuable varsity experience, and the Wolves are ready to compete. Mike Giles, who is in his 14th season as head coach of the Wolves, says the team is still struggling with depth, but he feels his team understands what it takes at the varsity level.

“Last year, we were really inexperienced, and I think that everyone we have back here now, that is going to be playing now, has at least two years of varsity experience,” the coach said. “So I think that will play a big role.” This team has put in the work. “This summer had the best response to the weight room since I have coached here, so we have a lot of kids lifting,” Giles said. “We have a group of young guys, but we are lacking a little senior depth this year again.” The seniors include Aiden Johnson, Brian Pults, Will Carsey and Gavin Coy. Johnson carried the ball 36 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns in three games in the spring. Pults made eight catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns in four games

last season. A fifth senior, Conner Heatherly, is waiting to be cleared to play after sustaining a shoulder injury in the spring. Also returning on offense will be junior Carter Dolbeare. As a sophomore last spring, he completed 9-of-23 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, and had 250 yards on 51 carries on the ground with two touchdowns. Giles said he is pleased with Dolbeare’s progress this summer. “He has been looking really good too,” the coach said. “I thought as the season went on, he got better. He has worked hard in the offseason, and he is a lot stronger. He has a really good feel for the offense right now.” Carsey and Coy will key the defensive side of the ball. Pults finished with a team-high 41 tackles in the spring, and Giles is expect-

PLEASANT HILL Aug 28 @Routt 1:00p Sep 3 Camp Point Central 7:00p Sep 10 Carrollton 7:00p Sep 17 @West Central 7:00p Sep 24 @North Greene 7:30p Oct 1 Calhoun 7:00p Oct 8 @Greenfield-NW 7:30p Oct 15 @Triopia 7:00p Oct 22 Beardstown 7:00p

ing a lot out of him on defense. Carsey finished right behind Pults with 36 tackles last season. Coy finished the spring with 11 tackles. Juniors Thorne Holcomb and Reece Thompson should make more of an impact this season on defense as well. Pleasant Hill plays in the WIVC-South and will travel to Jacksonville to play Routt in Week 1 before hosting Camp Point Central and Carrollton in consecutive weeks.

Calhoun hoping this is the year For the Journal-Courier

After three straight two-win seasons, 2020 was supposed to be the year the Calhoun football team got back in the playoffs. The pandemic threw a wrench in those plans as the season was moved to spring of 2021, but the Warriors gained valuable experience in the shortened season. Due to injuries and the virus during the spring season, plenty of underclassmen earned varsity minutes, including now-junior quarterback Hunter Roth. Calhoun head coach Aaron Elmore

said the team improved during the spring and played “pretty good football at the end of the year.” “It is going to be a quicker turnaround on knowing what you are doing as far as your plays on offense and defense,” Elmore said. “We had some kids who got hurt, so we had some younger kids come in, so I think it got them more prepared for the upcoming season.” Roth was thrust right into the mix at quarterback as a sophomore, and he provided some real production during the spring season. He completed 22-of-42

passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 161 yards and one touchdown on 33 carries. Elmore expects Roth and sophomore Miles Lorton to see time at quarterback. “Hunter got thrown into the fire last year, as our quarterback was hurt before the season started,” the coach said. “He has got better each day. He is a very explosive football player.” There will be plenty of opportunities in the backfield this season after a few graduations and a transfer. Senior Nate Bick and sophomores Gage Bick, Chris Stanley and Lorton will help pick

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up the load. Kyle Robeen will help anchor the offensive line at right tackle. “All these kids are very young and very athletic, so we are expecting big things from all of them,” Elmore said. Elmore said the defense has a lot of athletes and will be quick to the football. Most of the linebacking corps returns from last year, including junior August Squier, who led all returning players with 35 tackles. Fellow junior Hunter Medling and seniors Brody Caselton and Luke Wickenhauser will also be key on what Elmore considers to be a

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Jacksonville Journal Courier • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • 17

Bluejays hope to build on positives By Travis Zuellig

For the Journal-Courier

The 2021 spring season didn’t go the way the PORTA/A-C Central football team had hoped, but head coach Lonnie McAnally wants to take the positive experiences from the spring into the fall season. After a few more additions from the A-C Central side of the co-op, the size of the program increased from the spring season by 12 players, and McAnally expects the improved numbers and the positives from that season to help make the Bluejays better this fall. “The kids have really bought into how we have adjusted the

program to fit their needs,” McAnally said. “It was definitely a long 2021 season. It was a lot of stopping and starting all the way through. It was exhausting, to say the least. It will be nice to get back to the regular season.” Colby Flanders will make the switch from tight end to quarterback for his senior season, and he will be in charge of leading McAnally’s triple-option offense. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior spent more time blocking than carrying the football during the spring season, but McAnally expects his leadership to be the key to his game this season. Sophomore Hunter Stroupe will see plenty of touches at fullback. Caden Christison

WEEK BY WEEK FOOTBALL SCHEDULE Friday, Aug 27

Greenfield-NW at Beardstown 7:00p Carrollton at Camp Point 7:00p Rochester at Jacksonville 7:00p Athens at New Berlin 7:00p Mendon Unity at North Greene 7:30p Pittsfield at Pleasant Plains 7:00p PORTA/A-C at Williamsville 7:00p West Central at Triopia 7:00p y

Saturday, Aug 28

Pleasant Hill at Routt 1:00p

Monday, Aug 30

Brown County at Calhoun 7:00p

Friday, Sep 3

Beardstown at West Central 7:00p North Greene at Brown County 7:00p Calhoun at Mendon Unity 7:00p Routt at Carrollton 7:00p Triopia at Greenfield-NW 7:30p Jacksonville at Normal U-High 7:00p New Berlin at Auburn 7:00p Camp Point at Pleasant Hill 7:00p Pittsfield at Riverton 7:00p Pleasant Plains at PORTA/A-C 7:00p

and Gatlin Servis will start at running back, with senior Will Carter at wide receiver. Cole Klauzer will anchor the offensive line at center. “We have a lot of athletes in the backfield,” McAnally said. “It is actually nice for us this year. We have a full offensive line. We haven’t had that in the past, and have had to piece things together as it moved through. So, offensively we are strong up front, but we are still a fairly young team.” Former Illini West and Rushville-Industry assistant Pat Raftis was hired on as defensive coordinator to help improve a defense that allowed 36 points per game in the four contests this spring. Flanders and Klauzer, along with senior

Friday, Sep 10

Routt at Beardstown 7:00p Triopia at Brown County 7:00p Calhoun at West Central 7:00p Carrollton at Pleasant Hill 7:00p North Greene at Greenfield-NW 7:30p Glenwood at Jacksonville 7:00p New Berlin at Maroa-Forsyth 7:00p Auburn at Pittsfield 7:00p North Mac at PORTA/A-C 7:00p

Friday, Sep 17

Brown County at Camp Point 7:00p Greenfield-NW at Calhoun 7:00p Carrollton at North Greene 7:30p Jacksonville at Lanphier 7:00p North Mac at New Berlin 7:00p Pleasant Hill at West Central 7:00p Maroa-Forsyth at Pittsfield 7:00p PORTA/A-C at Athens 7:00p

Saturday, Sep 18

Beardstown at Triopia 1:00p Mendon Unity at Routt 1:00p

Friday, Sep 24

Beardstown at Brown County 7:00p Carrollton at Calhoun 7:00p West Central at Greenfield-NW 7:30p

PORTA/A-C CENTRAL

Aug 27 @Williamsville 7:00p Sep 3 Pleasant Plains 7:00p Sep 10 North Mac 7:00p Sep 17 @Athens 7:00p Sep 24 @New Berlin 7:00p Oct 1 Riverton 7:00p Oct 8 Maroa-Forsyth 7:00p Oct 15 Pittsfield 7:00p Oct 22 Auburn 7:00p

Makarthur Weatherby and juniors Isaak Espenschied and Trace Shaub, will help the defense up front. “(Raftis) has stepped in and done a really nice job changing some things around for us,” the coach said. “We are really excited to see how the kids respond. There are a lot of vet-

Jacksonville at Southeast 7:00p PORTA/A-C at New Berlin 7:00p Pleasant Hill at North Greene 7:30p Pittsfield at North Mac 7:00p Routt at Camp Point 7:00p Triopia at Mendon Unity 7:00p

Friday, Oct 1

Mendon Unity at Beardstown 7:00p Calhoun at Pleasant Hill 7:00p Greenfield-NW at Carrollton 7:00p SHG at Jacksonville 7:00p New Berlin at Pittsfield 7:00p West Central at North Greene 7:30p Riverton at PORTA/A-C 7:00p Camp Point at Triopia 7:00p

Saturday, Oct 2

Brown County at Routt 1:00p

Thursday, Oct 7

Routt at Triopia 7:00p

Friday, Oct 8

Beardstown at Camp Point 7:00p Brown County at Mendon Unity 7:00p North Greene at Calhoun 7:00p West Central at Carrollton 7:00p Pleasant Hill at Greenfield-NW 7:30p Springfield at Jacksonville 7:00p

erans here, and we have some upperclassmen that are firstyear players.” The Bluejays play in the Sangamo Conference and will start the season with 2019 Class 3A state champion Williamsville on the road before hosting Pleasant Plains and North Mac in consecutive weeks. “We open with Williamsville right out of the gate, and that is always a tough game,” McAnally said. “Our goal is to do some positive things and come out of that game with those positives for Week 2 against Plains. We feel there are some teams in the Sangamo that we could get on top of this year, so we are keeping our expectations high.”

New Berlin at Riverton 7:00p Athens at Pittsfield 7:00p Maroa-Forsyth at PORTA/A-C 7:00p

Friday, Oct 15

Calhoun at Beardstown 7:00p Brown County at Greenfield-NW 7:30p Jacksonville at Eisenhower 7:00p Williamsville at New Berlin 7:00p North Greene at Camp Point 7:00p Pleasant Hill at Triopia 7:00p Pittsfield at PORTA/A-C 7:00p Routt at West Central 7:00p

Saturday, Oct 16

Mendon Unity at Carrollton 1:00p

Friday, Oct 22

Beardstown at Pleasant Hill 7:00p Carrollton at Brown County 7:00p Camp Point at Calhoun 7:30p MacArthur at Jacksonville 7:00p New Berlin at Pleasant Plains 7:00p Williamsville at Pittsfield 7:00p Auburn at PORTA/A-C 7:00p West Central at Mendon Unity 7:00p

Saturday, Oct 23

Greenfield-NW at Routt 1:00p Triopia at North Greene 2:00p


18 • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • Jacksonville Journal Courier

TRIOPIA — First row (l-r): Tanner Shade, Brock York, Jace Beck, Ben Dixon, Nate Doyle, Brady Holder, Carter Rhodes, Ian Stock, Ticen Crawford, Jaxon Dion, Alex Schild and Joseph Lacy. Second row: Dawson Daniels, Hunter Wooldrige, Jakob Harris, Zach French, Evan Bell, Carter Lakamp, George Gallegos, Jackson Gaines, Cooper Pahlmann, Ian Kessler and KJ Beck. Third row: Cole Mchatton, David Richards, Brady Hildebrand, Steven Reynolds, Zach Bolton, Will Bateman, Ryan Snow, Jake Mueller, Brandon Bottens, Evan Murphy and Kasey Beard. Fourth row: Barrett Whitehead, Lance Bogner, Brayden Booth, Caden Moore, Sam Sullivan, Cordell Walker, Isaac Strubbe, Aiden Neathery and Caleb Carpenter.

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Jacksonville Journal Courier • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • 19

Triopia springs into fall season By Dennis Mathes

dmathes@myjournalcourier.com

The spring season served as a fall warm-up for the Triopia football team, which lost some key pieces but returns a lot for 2021. “The kids actually retained a lot of information, especially our varsity guys,” Triopia coach Adam Brockhouse said. “Heck, we were going into camp last week, and not even touching a football until then … our varsity is more or less knocking the rust off instead of having to re-install everything. So almost all of our install was in. It was just kind of piecing it back together, the fine details. It helped out a lot. … Yeah, it was hectic, but it’s going to help us out this fall.” Brockhouse said the players seemed a little worn down after a busy spring. The Trojans took some well-deserved time off in June. “It was nice,” the coach said. “During basketball season they were practicing football, then going into a gym and practicing basketball and going to a basketball game. I mean, it was a whirlwind not only for them, but for the coaching staff.” Triopia returns its entire starting backfield, including quarterback Jake Mueller, who played almost every game after the Trojans lost Connor

Musch to a broken hand in the first half of the season opener. Mueller missed Week 6, forced into quarantine because of a COVID-19 close contact. “Jake’s very consistent about what he does,” Brockhouse said. The coach said every day after lifting, Mueller has thrown the ball, on his own. “He knew that was one of his weaknesses, was arm strength, and he’s built it up,” Brockhouse said, adding that his QB looked very good in camp. All the running backs return as well, including a healthy Cordell Walker, who, in the first game last season suffered what coaches thought was a high ankle sprain that slowed him down for the rest of the season. X-rays prior to baseball season revealed two fractures — now healed. Caden Moore returns for the Trojans at fullback. “He looks good,” Brockhouse said. “He’s going to do what he does.” Especially in the wing-T offense, it’s a big advantage to return the entire backfield, which includes three of the team’s five captains. Brockhouse said they all lifted weights, even during COVID restrictions, so they’re ready. The challenge for the Trojans will be to put together offensive and defensive lines that suffered major graduation

losses. “Right now it’s a struggle,” Brockhouse said early in preseason practice. “I mean, trying to replace Owen Bell, (Sam) Stanberry and Garrett (Bell) up front, not only offensively, but losing them defensively is a huge blow. So trying to find somebody to replace them is hard.” Ty Malcomson, who had a good season this spring, and three-year starter Isaac Strubbe return at guard. Strubbe also occasionally plays at center. They’ll get help from Aiden Neathery, who could play guard, tight end or center. Finding the right players to fill out the line has been a matter of trial and error. “It’s slowly but surely,” Brockhouse said. “It’s going to take a little bit of time. Camp-wise, we did a lot of mixing and matching to see what looked good, what didn’t look good. We moved a couple of pieces around.” Brockhouse said a couple of sophomores — including 6-foot-4, 215-pound KJ Beck — have the ability to contribute. Also in the mix is Ian Kessler, of Meredosia. Brockhouse said he has a good frame, but he has to get accustomed to the offense and the speed of varsity football. Neither player has seen any varsity action, but both did a good job in camp.

The Trojans will get a boost from the return of Ryan Snow, back from a basketball injury. He didn’t play in the spring. “He looks good,” Brockhouse said. “He’s finally healthy.” The other tight end spot was up in the air early in preseason practice. Brockhouse said Brady Hildebrand, out of Virginia, is athletic and has ability, but he may have to play tackle this year. Two players — Brayden Booth and Will Bateman — have been battling for playing time at wingback. Booth saw a lot of reps last year, and Bateman, a junior, was impressive at the JV level. Evan Bell could contribute but might need a little more seasoning at the JV level before moving up to varsity. Defense was a bright spot last season, but the Trojans have some work to do there. “We lost a lot defensively,” Brockhouse said. “That’s what’s going to hurt us.” Triopia does have some players returning on defense. That group includes standout inside linebackers Malcomson and Strubbe. Junior Evan Murphy of Meredosia should also contribute. Brockhouse said he made strides at the junior varsity level. “Very athletic kid,” the coach said. Sullivan returns at noseguard. “He started late in

TRIOPIA Aug 27 West Central 7:00p Sep 3 @Greenfield-NW 7:30p Sep 10 @Brown County 7:00p Sep 18 Beardstown 1:00p Sep 24 @Mendon Unity 7:00p Oct 1 Camp Point Central 7:00p Oct 7 Routt 7:00p Oct 15 Pleasant Hill 7:00p Oct 23 @North Greene 2:00p his sophomore year,” Brockhouse said. “He’s going to be a three-year starter coming back for us.” Moore is back at defensive end, and Walker will play safety. Mueller and Bateman have been battling it out at corner. Booth, a team captain who has worked hard to become a twoway starter, returns at defensive back. Moore, who made a last-second field goal to beat Routt last year, returns as the team’s kicker. He developed a hamstring issue early last season but is fully recovered. “My seniors, some of them have finally filled out, after it felt like they were never going to,” Brockhouse said. “So they look good. We just have some pretty big holes to fill.”

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20 • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • Jacksonville Journal Courier

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Jacksonville Journal Courier • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • 21

Tigers ready to write their own story By Travis Zuellig

GREENFIELDNORTHWESTERN

For the Journal-Courier

It was pretty much a perfect spring for the Greenfield-Northwestern football team. After making the playoffs in 2019 for the sixth time in the past eight seasons, the Tigers rattled off a 6-0 record in the spring. Only one game was decided by less than a touchdown. Greenfield-NW head coach Joe Pembrook, entering his 10th season in charge, is proud of his team’s accomplishments during a “very unique” season. But he said that this 2021 team needs to make its own way. “We know that every group is different and every team writes their own chapter in Tiger football, and we can’t rest on our laurels on what we have done in the past,” Pembrook said. “We just know the target is squarely on our chest, and we understand that we will get everybody’s best game. Our kids are up to that challenge.” The Tigers will have to deal with the departure of graduating seniors Jacob Lansaw and Denver Davenport, who took a bulk of the offensive touches over the past two seasons. Pembrook said there are plenty of players ready to step into those roles. Replacing Lansaw under center will be

Aug 27 @Beardstown 7:00p Sep 3 Triopia 7:30p Sep 10 North Greene 7:30p Sep 17 @Calhoun 7:00p Sep 24 West Central 7:30p Oct 1 @Carrollton 7:00p Oct 8 Pleasant Hill 7:30p Oct 15 Brown County 7:30p Oct 23 @Routt 1:00p

Greenfield-Northwestern senior football players pose for a photo at picture day.

senior Brady Pembrook, who is moving from tight end to quarterback. As a junior, Pembrook led the team in the spring with 17 catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns, but now he will be throwing the ball more than catching it. Coach Pembrook has confidence in Brady Pembrook after he served as the back-up QB for the past two seasons.

“He is very familiar with our offense,” Pembrook. “He was our backup for the last two years so we expect him to step right in and execute at an extremely high level. He is a sharp kid that understands what we are wanting to do in our offensive systems. We are looking for him to make great decisions with the ball and lead our offense.” Davenport saw fewer

carries in the spring than he did in his junior season, allowing fellow running backs Brett Bilbruck and Drake Stuart to grow in the spring. Bilbruck rushed for 358 yards on 55 carries and added four touchdowns during his sophomore campaign. Stuart, now a senior, carried the ball 42 times for 213 yards and four touchdowns. Junior running back

Dennis Mathes | Journal-Courier

Connor Bettis will get touches out of the backfield, and senior Connor Bettis and sophomore Dylan Pembrook will be Pembrook’s main targets at wide receiver. Seniors Tyson Goode and Jimmy Stewart will anchor the offensive line. Stuart returns at middle linebacker to lead the Tiger defense this season. He finished 82 tackles in six games last

year. Seniors Goode, Prembrook and Sam Walker also return as big contributors on defense last season. That defense will be tested as the coach expects to get everyone’s best game in the WIVC-South. “We think we are going to have a very difficult schedule,” Pembrook said. “I think the teams in the South, in particular, all are going to take a step forward. It was very balanced, I thought, over the last couple of years, and I would expect anyone could knock anyone off on any Friday. When you talk about the other division in the North, it is always balanced and competitive. They are very physical.” The Tigers will travel to Beardstown for the opening Friday night before hosting Triopia and North Greene on consecutive Fridays.


22 • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • Jacksonville Journal Courier

Hawks set sights on title By Dennis Mathes

dmathes@myjournalcourier.com

The Carrollton football team had perfect attendance at camp this summer. This team knows how good it could be. “What I’m most excited about is, obviously, the experience that we bring back,” Carrollton coach Nick Flowers said. “And then overall athleticism. Up front, on the offensive and defensive front lines, we’re very athletic. … I really think that’s going to be the difference-maker this year, is how athletic we are up front. We’re not big, but we are athletic. I think you’ll see a pretty gritty Hawk team this year. We’re going to fly around pretty good.” For Carrollton, it was a positive summer — albeit a shortened one, with spring sports extending into June. “It didn’t allow us to do many early things in June,” Flowers said. “But once July hit, we were able to go full-fledged.” Carrollton scaled back on 7-on-7s, and limited travel as well. “We felt like the boys were a little bit worn out after that busy semester, that busy spring with all three sports being crammed in,” Flowers said. “And so we took a little time to heal up a little bit, and then we got after it.” The spring football season was especially aggravating for the Hawks. The team’s first game was cancelled because of COVID-19. And due to a series of quarantines, Carrollton didn’t play with a full squad until the last game of the season. “We have very high expectations. I think we do every year,” Flowers said. “It was a

Carrollton players run a play during practice.

pretty, pretty frustrating spring for us, with not — we got to play our last game with a full squad, which was against Mendon Unity. And boy, we played really good football.” The team had no COVID problems this summer. Carrollton is hoping to start with a full squad and play a full season. Players are excited, and looking forward to a more normal football season. Carrollton’s summer started with a great weight room; several lifting records were broken. Gus Coonrod broke a

Dennis Mathes | Journal-Courier

couple of them, one of which had stood since 2009. “I think it says a lot about the returners that we have, with their work ethic this summer,” Flowers said. The Hawks this season will have two options at quarterback, with Coonrod, who played well in his first year at QB, and Grant Pohlman, who missed the spring season with an elbow injury. Flowers said Carrollton will probably use both. Coonrod threw all of the 7-on-7s this summer, and did

well. “He knew our system, but it’s different knowing one or two positions, or having to be a quarterback and know what everybody’s supposed to be doing,” Flowers said. “He quickly grasped what we were wanting to do, and each and every game, got better and better.” Pohlman rejoined the team for full workouts this summer. “We’ve been easing him back into throwing,” Flowers said. “He’s cleared 100 percent to throw, and he’s actually been doing some throwing, but as far as the contact and the throwing, we just really wanted to ease him back into things and not take a chance of having a setback this summer.” The Hawks return plenty of receivers, including Kyle Leonard. “Kyle’s been going to a lot of exposure camps and a lot of camps on his own all summer long for football,” Flowers said. Carrollton also returns senior Max Arnett, who started last season as receiver, and tight end Hayden Flowers. Pohlman and Coonrod are both capable receivers, and Harley Angel will be catching passes out of the backfield. Flowers hopes this will be a breakout year for Angel, a fast, strong and an explosive runner. Junior running back Tyler Singleton could figure in at running back as well. Carrollton returns all of its starters on the offensive line, including three seniors. The line is anchored by seniors Ethan Harrelson and Travis Evans. Also returning are juniors Willie Gilmore and Matt Beiermann, as well as Matthew Camden. The same players will man

CARROLLTON Aug 27 @Camp Point Central 7:00p Sep 3 Routt 7:00p Sep 10 @Pleasant Hill 7:00p Sep 17 @North Greene 7:30p Sep 24 @Calhoun 7:00p Oct 1 Greenfield-NW 7:00p Oct 8 West Central 7:00p Oct 16 Mendon Unity 1:00p Oct 22 @Brown County 7:00p

the defensive line, keyed by Gilmore, Harrelson and Evans. Camden and Hayden Flowers return at defensive end. Angel returns at linebacker, along with Pohlman, who started at linebacker as a sophomore. The Hawks had to move some defensive backs to linebacker last year and are grateful for Pohlman’s return. “Thank goodness we get him back at linebacker because we were a little bit thin, linebacker-wise,” Flowers said. Beiermann also will play some linebacker, along with Leonard, who figures in at defensive back as well. Coonrod, Arnett, Singleton and junior Boden Flowers all will see time at defensive back. “Defensively, we probably have more depth than we’ve had in a couple of years,” Flowers said. Gilmore returns as the Hawks’ kicker, and Leonard has been working on PATs. First-team all-conference punter Hayden Flowers returns after averaging 50-plus yards on punts last season. “I look back at a lot of different teams we’ve had, and boy, we really have a good combination of players here, with experience,” Coach Flowers said. “If we keep everybody healthy, this could really be a fun fall.”


Jacksonville Journal Courier • Thursday, August 26, 2021 • 23

m

CARROLLTON — First row (l-r): Avery Banghart, Damon Combs, Carter Rimbey, Hunter Lippmann, Brenden Boomershine, Brady Carroll, Kyle Coats, Caleb Howard, Preston Harrelson and Jonathan Gilbert. Second row: Carson Grafford, Willie Gilmore, Tyler Singleton, Matt Beiermann, Karson Kraushaar, Boden Flowers, Mason Baumgartner, Konnor Campbell, Wyatt Settles and Grant Cox. Third row: Conner Luper, Kyle Leonard, Matt -Camden, Max Arnette, Gus Coonrod, Grant Pohlman, Ethan Harrelson, Harley Angel, Hayden Flowers, Travis Evans and Drew Adcock. Fourth row: Assistant coach Paul Kesinger, head coach Nick Flowers, and assistant coaches Rodney Flowers and Luke Spainhoward. Not pictured: Eli Flowers, Lucas Howard and assistant coach Zach Duba.

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