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Cover Story Cookin’ up Success

Jarelle Johnson has left his mark in both football and basketball at Massac County High but the personable senior has maybe left a bigger mark on his coaches’ hearts


Carbondale’s Kendell Edwards takes a handoff. Chris Kays photo

on the COVER:

Massac County’s Jarelle Johnson is a young man of many talents. Chris Kays photos

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V o lum e 3

Numbe r 3

Fe ature s

Th e L i n e U p Publisher’s Greeting..................7 From Where I Sit......................8

SISC Salutes Jerry Sloan Hamilton County legend inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame


Ask the Coach...........................10 Ask the AD..............................12 Around the Horn.....................14

From Buckner to Miami

Francis “Whitey” Rouviere was a five-sport standout at Christopher High School and proved that the distance between Buckner and Miami is not all that great

Faith on the Field....................15


SISC Standouts.......................20 Practice Makes Perfect

Ask the McDocs......................36

Hard work in the off-season pays big dividends on the gridiron for Carbondale’s Kendell Edwards


RLC Report.............................38 JALC Journal...........................40 In Focus...................................42 Murf’s Turf...............................46

Marion Native a Hit with the Volunteers

JALC alum Todd Poe steps in as assistant baseball coach


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Publisher/Editor Jim Muir

Creative Director Toby Brooks

Account Executive Cheryl Hughey


Christopher Kays Ceasar Maragni

Contributing Writers Teri Campbell Danny Czerwinski Chris Denault John Homan Roger Lipe Ceasar Maragni Mario Moccia Jim Muir Mike Murphy Jackie Myers Les Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Dell Sean Patrick Nathan Wheeler Tom Wheeler

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reetings and welcome to the October issue of Southern Illinois Sports Connection Magazine.

This month marks a first of sorts for this publication – the first month that we have charged for SISC. I wrote about the change last month and I’m happy to report that the decision was met with support and understanding from readers. Given the emails, phone calls and personal contacts I’ve received during the past few weeks about the change, it’s humbling to know that we are part of so many people’s monthly routine. It’s also gratifying to hear the comments about the quality of the stories and pictures in SISC. Simply stated, I believe we’ve made a smooth transition and be sure and check out our ad in this issue listing the growing list of businesses where SISC can be purchased. Looking ahead to this month we once again have a little bit for everybody, regardless of your taste in sports. We highlight the career of Jerry Sloan and his recent induction into the National Basketball Association Hall of Fame. When you consider that the McLeansboro native played against and guarded the likes of Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Elgin Baylor and has coached against Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James the only word to use is ‘remarkable.’ Based on that resume and the fact that Sloan is the longest tenured coach in any professional sports it’s safe to say that his accomplishments are unparalleled in pro basketball. SISC also takes a look at a couple of Southern Illinois running backs setting the gridiron on fire this season. Jarelle Johnson, of Massac County and Kendal Edwards, of Carbondale are blazing a regular season trail that has their respective teams in line for some November football. Along with those stories we also have our usual array of columns that covers the gamut from cross country, golf, and character on and off the field, horse-collar tackles and even a trek or two down memory lane. As I mentioned earlier, there’s something for every taste so I suppose the final thing to say is … the SISC Smorgasbord is open – enjoy! All the best, Jim Muir Publisher

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From where I

SIT By Tom Wheeler


’ll admit there were tears in my eyes as I watched McLeansboro native Jerry Sloan giving his acceptance speech at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame banquet. Jerry’s speech came from the heart, humble as usual and passing out praises to teammates from college in Evansville to his present associates with the Utah Jazz. Here are some quotes of his from that speech that brought back memories to this high school teammate. “This is a long way from McLeansboro, Illinois.”

Typically, Jerry let everyone know where he was from and the pride that he always shown in his hometown. I personally thought he should have said, this is a long way from Gobblers Knob. He could have then asked Michael Jordan “Michael, have you ever stopped by Tuckers Corner to drink a 16 oz, RC ?” “I was the youngest of ten kids and we lived 16 miles from town, my Dad died when I was four.” One of the reasons Jerry and David Lee were such good friends was that they were from the same area and both were the “babies “of the family. David was the youngest of 12 Lees. Both had exceptional parents, Jerry’s mom Jane was one of the most respected women in Hamilton County as were David’s parents, John and Flossie. “I went to a one room school, (Braden) all eight grades in the same class and our teacher was our basketball coach. Boys and girls all played on the same team. My best friend David Lee, had a sister (Marilyn) on the team who was better than any of us.” I remember my Dad (the BIG BEAR) telling me about the tournament the county schools would have at the High School. All teams had girls, some the better players as Jerry said, but they played to capacity crowds. He also added, “Those kids could dribble better than the kids today. Since they played on outside courts, the older guys would take the clinkers from the coal stoves and throw them into the mud puddles and then try to level them out. Needless to say the ball didn’t always bounce the way you thought it would. It also destroyed a lot of basketballs.” David always said “The court was always best when it was frozen, you could dribble then.” “Our Coach Gene Haile demanded that we practice before school and after school. We didn’t have a car to drive so we would hitch hiked the 16 miles every morning if we wanted to play.” Being a sophomore we didn’t always practice with the varsity every morning but we did practice with them after school. I can remember one morning getting to a practice early and there were Jerry and David all crunched up in a corner in front of the gym trying to get some sleep. Let me tell you, some of those mornings it was very cold. I also remember that NO ONE missed practice, not if you wanted to play. I remember David telling me that they did a lot of walking waiting on a ride. Once he said”Jerry was so tired that he just sat down alongside the road and said ‘I can’t walk another step.’”

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“I went to the University of Illinois, but didn’t stay very long. I was so homesick I couldn’t stand it so I went home and went to work in the oil fields. That was a tough job. My Mom finally asked me one day if I was going to work in the oil fields the rest of my life. I thought about it and called Arad McCutchin at the University of Evansville and the rest is history.” Working in the oil fields was nothing new for Jerry. I remember he worked there the summer after graduation because that June they had a All Star game on the stage at the DuQuoin Fair grounds and Jerry didn’t start because he had been injured at work so they didn’t know if he could play (he did). A Fox was in the starting line up as Jerry’s sidekick Curt Reed started. The next fall our football team got to go to an Illini game and when we got to our seats Jerry was there waiting for us, I remember how excited he was to show Lee and the other seniors around Champaign (don’t think they

saw much of the football game). I could go on and on about how Jerry influenced not only my family but many fans world wide. I consider the Sloans friends but if you talk

to anybody in Hamilton County, they feel the same way. I was lucky enough to get to know Kathy (who played basketball at DePaul and Evansville) as we worked the Sloan-Lee-Reed basketball camp a couple years

Dr. Brian Sloan led the Foxes to their undefeated state championship (and a NCAA championship at Indiana) and was one of my son TJ’s idols. Holly, maybe the best competitor of them all, has spent the night in Buckner , and had an elephant fall on her (That’s a story in itself). In fact, Holly and her son JJ went on a picnic at Rend Lake with my daughter Dhana and her son Hunter this fall. What an honor, this Hall of Fame deal, but for all his coaching and playing accomplishments, I think the family that he and his late wife Bobbye raised is his greatest accomplishment. You see, to this old coach, some may see Jerry for all he has accomplished (winning 1137 games for the Jazz means he has won more games for ONE pro team than any coach in any professional league). But to me he is, and will always be, McLeansboro’s Fabulous Fox! That’s the way it looks From Where I Sit this month.

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his question came to my attention while playing golf with Bob Karnes, long time southern Illinois football coach who made a schedule for this crossover right after his retirement. His idea was, basically, play your five conference games, crossover and play three teams from the other division for two years (home and home) and then play the other three division teams the next two years. Save week one or nine for a rival team for the fans. This would sure help scheduling, cut back on travel and create some great games for the area fans. I also remember Coach Karnes saying “If you can’t go 3-2 in your division and 2-2 in the other division, what good will you do in the playoffs?” He added, “with this schedule, a 5-4 record will guarantee you enough points to get you in the playoffs. “ Brett Detering, Anna-Jonesboro football coach who has an 88-44 record in 12 years as head coach. Detering has led the Wildcats to the playoffs for nine consecutive years. “I believe that each school in the River to River Conference should decide for itself whether to cross over and play schools from the other division. We, at Anna-Jonesboro choose to cross over for all four non-conference games, but I do not think it should be forced upon schools that do not

AJ Wildcats head coach Brett Detering Chris Kays photo

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wish to cross over. The Mississippi Division consists of the smaller schools and some of these schools do not wish to play teams from the Ohio Division because of the size discrepancy. I believe that out conference should respect their decision and allow each school to make decisions that are the best interest of their individual school. Some of the Ohio Division schools left the South Seven Conference because they played schools in their conference that were significantly larger. We as a conference should not force this to happen again and make the smaller schools cross over and play. Dennis Drust, Carterville High School football coach (66-12 in 8 years with the Lions) who is entering into the SIRR Mississippi Division next year. The Lions have qualified for post season play for 14 consecutive years. “I have only heard of the crossover discussion through the media and from other coaches. I am sure there are many scenarios and plans that have been discussed at conference meetings that I do not have knowledge of, but merit looking into. I do feel crossover play would reduce travel costs for administration, create more revenue due to larger crowds, as well as create new and exciting matchups throughout southern Illinois.” “Mandatory crossover would eliminate longtime rivalry games such as Marion/Herrin and Carbondale/ Murphysboro. As an assistant coach at Carbondale for six years, I got to experience the impact that this long time rivalry had on the coaches, players, schools, fans and communities of southern Illinois. For us, scheduling

West Frankfort Redbirds head coach Chad Spence Chriis Kays photo

has been difficult with other Ohio Division teams. Benton worked out a deal with Nashville and Carlyle to allow us to play week one next year. Other schools have longterm contracts that are difficult to void. For example, Freeburg would not release Frankfort from a contract which would allow us to play them next season, nor could Massac County with a school from Kentucky.” “I do not have a problem with playing other River to River teams, but I also like the flexibility of playing teams from outside of the River—such as St. Joe-Ogden, which is on our schedule for the next two years” Chad Spence, West Frankfort head football coach who has compiled a record of 32-26 in six seasons at the Franklin County school, leading the Redbirds to the playoffs three times.

Carterville Lions head coach Dennis Drust

“I am a big fan of the crossover; I feel that if we are to be a conference (both sides), we should help each school by providing crossover games. In football in southern Illinois, it is very tough to find non-conference games. Our schedule consists of 3 out of our 4 non-division games being crossovers. I would like to see both sides make all non-conference games crossover and rotate them. Example: number one from the previous year in the Ohio play number two from the Mississippi, number one in the Mississippi play number two in the Ohio and so on, 3-4 and 5-6. I think that would be great motivation and change your schedule up every year.”

Chris Kays photo

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Ask the

AD By Mario Moccia

game-day commemorative giveaway, and we have kicked around many other ideas as well. As always, any suggestions would be appreciated and considered.


or recent grads who would love to give back, is there a brick program that we can donate to? We are in the process of creating the method we will use to recognize Saluki Way gifts. One possibility is a donor wall, where we could recognize individuals who donate a specific amount to Saluki Way. Donors of smaller amounts would be recognized, as well, in an adjacent area. Once the plans are finalized, we will inform all donors and promote this through our website and the Alumni Association magazine. We appreciate your consideration of supporting this historic project. Do you have any ideas for special plans for the first game in the new stadium? The first game in the stadium will be on a Thursday night against Quincy University on Sept. 2, 2010. First and foremost, we need to do our best to ensure the game is a sell-out. I think this would be accomplished easily with a new, 15,000-seat stadium, but our biggest crowd in the past decade has only been 14,400 (the 2008 UNI game). We might put together a committee of community leaders in southern Illinois to assist us in selling tickets to achieve a sellout. There also could be a stadium dedication, a fly-over, a premium

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When will the arena extension be occupied, and would you please list some of the project milestones with schedule dates? The athletic support building is scheduled for completion in October, 2010. The football stadium is scheduled to be completed in July, 2010, and the renovation to the arena is scheduled to be finished by October, 2010. In the renovated arena, will there be a small block of seats set aside in the lower bowl for our past letter-winners, athletes and coaches? At the present time in the SIU Arena, we do not offer special seating areas for letter-winners or coaches. The current seating reallocation plan, which can be viewed at, can answer most questions on how seating in the renovated arena and new football stadium will be allocated. The current plan is in place to be the most fair, equitable and consistent to all of our supporters, while generating enough money ($20M in private giving must be raised) to pay for the completion of the project. Rumor has it that athletics is only allowing one Saluki dog at football games this season. Personally, I think the students, alumni, and children love to see the Saluki dogs at the tailgates and the games. The more dogs accessible/visible to fans the better! That rumor is incorrect. The policy has not changed from last year â&#x20AC;&#x201C; two dogs and two handlers per dog are scheduled for each game. Looking ahead to next year at the new stadium, we will re-evaluate the policy after we get a feel for how much space we have around the playing field without a track. What opportunities do you offer for volunteers to work in the Athletic Department? Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been retired for a couple of years and desire to move back north from the hot, humid south. My wife and I grew up in Carbondale, and I am 1967 graduate of SIU. I would like to work as an unpaid volunteer, perhaps in academic tutoring. We have many unpaid volunteers in the athletic department. We also have interns and graduate assistants, who are trying to break into the field of intercollegiate athletics. Traditionally, the volunteers are students trying to build up their resumes for future career opportunities, but we would certainly jump at the chance to talk to anyone who is interested in assisting us. Kristina Therriault, our Assistant AD for Academic Services, would be the one to contact, and she would ascertain what our needs are, as well as other factors (the volunteersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; background, reference checks, etc.). As you can imagine, we would need to verify all individuals who would work closely with our student-athletes. We appreciate your consideration of assisting us.

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Around the



f you’re not a Cardinal fan … or perhaps not a fan of another playoff team … chin up! Spring Training starts in just over four months from now. There’s always next year, right? My second favorite part of the year is here. My favorite time of year is obviously the spring, when baseball of all kinds is cranking up – high school, college, and the pros. Now, in the fall, it all comes to an end for the year. But oh boy how exciting is October and, now thanks to the 2009 World Baseball Classic, November baseball? Remember how strange it was to be calling Derek Jeter “Mr. November” back in 2001? I have a feeling November baseball is here to stay, especially if they expand the division series to a best-of-seven affair, or add another wild card team. No telling what Mr. Selig will come up with. Maybe he’ll decide that the two best teams in spring training will be the two wildcard teams. You never know. The regular season of the ’09 high school football season is winding down. You have to admit, it has been a pretty exciting year so far – schools with new teams, new conference champions, new playoff contenders.

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By Sean Patrick

One team that hasn’t gotten a whole lot of front page coverage so far in the area this year, even though they are off to the best start in school history, is the SIU volleyball team. At 12-1 as of this submission, the Saluki volleyball team is poised to make a run at the outright MVC conference championship for the first time in the program’s 51 year history. The only time the team shared the top spot in the conference was back in 1985. I’ve had the privilege to get to know Coach Brenda Winkeler through my wife, who serves as the primary media contact for the team. Coach Winkeler and her players have always represented SIU with class, and I wish them the best of luck on their continued success this year. As a matter of fact, two local products are currently seeing action for the Dawgs: Marion and JALC grad Caitlin Dugger, a defensive specialist, and freshman outside hitter Laura Thole of Breese Mater Dei High School. Get over to Davies Gym and check those girls out! In the world of college football, my two teams aren’t having a very good run at things so far this season. The Illini are back in the bottom of the Big Ten, and as of this weekend’s game at Miami, the Sooners are still without their Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford under center. On the other hand, the Salukis are back in the saddle, knocking off North Dakota State and Western Illinois to get the MVFC season started off on the right foot. Finally, a sentimental note about the 15th anniversary of the Carterville Cubs baseball team winning the SIJHSAA state championship in 1994. Although I’ve had a lot of memorable moments in my sports career, one of the best was the day we finished off a perfect 17-0 season on that cool autumn day in October. It’s hard to believe that’s still the only boy’s state championship in CJHS history. Oh how does time fly by so fast? Thanks again for your time, this time, until next time, so long … when we go ‘Around the Horn.’

Faith on the By Roger Lipe


Private Life / Public Life


t has happened again. A sportsperson’s private life has invaded his public life and another furious storm of controversy has erupted. A high profile college basketball coach has found his indiscretions from six years ago suddenly coming to light with brutal clarity and startling consequences. The details are still coming out in the mass media of his adulterous affair, the resulting pregnancy and the payment for an abortion, all leading to accusations of extortion by the formerly pregnant adulteress. The radio talk shows, newspaper columns, blogs, web sites and television shows are all speculating about whether the coach should be fired, should resign or should be given a total pass. The whole sports

world seems confused by the facts and their feelings of betrayal, moral outrage, disappointment and more. They do all this without any real basis for making moral judgments. Confusion reigns. Many of these people are classic secularists and would strongly hold to a highly compartmentalized world-view. They still want to make moral judgments, even though they only have arbitrary bases for making them. Bottom line – they, like the coach, have fallen into a trap of their own making. At the core of the dilemma is that we only get one life. Our private life, our public life, our work life, our Church life, our love life, our family life, our fill-in-the-blank life will keep bumping into the other areas of life because, in reality, we only have one life. As much as we may want to compartmentalize and to keep these various areas of life separate, they will invariably each invade the others. The compartmentalization is a self-deluding mirage. We rationalize and convince ourselves that these various facets of life don’t directly affect the others, but in doing so we make fools of ourselves, sooner or later.

Sometimes six years later. So what are we to do? Live a life of integrity. Be the same person all the time. Rather than living as if our lives are lived in separate compartments with no overlap, we must have our life’s vision and values fully integrated into all areas of our lives. Let’s choose to be the same person all the time. Let’s be the same people on the field of competition that we are while

tucking our children into bed. Let’s hold to the same ethical standards at work on Tuesday that we would at church on Sunday. Let’s apply the same moral standards to our lives as we do with those we follow from afar in the sport world. Let’s be like diamonds, multifaceted and wholly integrated. Let’s not be like filing cabinets, compartmentalized and foolishly disconnected.

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salutes 16 l october 2009 l



story by


Ceasar Maragni, Janet Gesell, and Kathy Wood photos by


ow far is it from Tucker’s Corner (a suburb of McLeansboro) to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts? In the case of Jerry Sloan, Hamilton County’s most famous native son, the answer to that question can’t be found in miles but should instead be determined in wins – 1,137 NBA wins to be exact. And for good measure Sloan is the only NBA coach to record 1,000 wins for the same franchise (Utah Jazz) and is one of only three coaches in the history of the NBA to win 50 or more games in 10 or more seasons and is fourth on the all-time NBA win list for coaches. The longest tenured coach in any professional sport in the United States, Sloan put an exclamation point on all those stats and an already illustrious career by being named to the NBA Hall of Fame. Along with Sloan the Hall of Fame Class of 2009 consists of Michael Jordan, David Robinson, John Stockton and Vivian Stringer. While Sloan’s travels as a successful NBA coach has taken him to nearly every major city in the nation his roots remain firmly in Hamilton County. Sloan graduated in 1960 from McLeansboro High School and then began a star-studded career at the University of Evansville before embarking on a professional career, playing in Baltimore and Chicago. Following 10 seasons with Chicago, Sloan embarked on an NBA coaching career. He spent three seasons as the Bulls’ head coach and is entering his 22nd season as head coach of the Utah Jazz. During a recent interview Sloan spoke about his longstanding ties to his Hamilton County roots. “No matter where we traveled McLeansboro has always been home,” said Sloan, who has always maintained a residence in Hamilton County. “This is where our roots are at and always will be. There is no other place in the world like McLeansboro and I’ve been lucky enough to get to see a lot of places but this is home. It was always important to come back home when I could find the time.” During an overall NBA career that has spanned parts of five decades Sloan has played against and guarded the likes of Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Elgin Baylor and has coached against Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, a feat that is unmatched in basketball history. SISC salutes the career of Jerry Sloan and his remarkable journey from Tucker’s Corner to the pinnacle of achievement – the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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Rend Lake College basketball coach Jim Waugh, left, Benton High School basketball Coach Rich Herrin, center, and Chicago Bulls guard Jerry Sloan at the Rich Herrin/Jim Waugh Basketball Camp during the 1970’s when Sloan was that year’s star attraction at the popular annual summer camp held on the Ina campus of RLC.

This beautiful sculpted acrylic award was presented to Sloan at the Class of 2009 Naismith Memorial Basktball Hall of Fame(left) induction ceremony. Also pictured is Michael Jordan’s Award (right).


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Sloan’s Chicago Bulls Jersey as it appears in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

The Class of 2009 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame show off their new hardware. Pictured left to right, C. Vivian Stringer was inducted alongside other legends such as Michael Jordan, John Stockton, David Robinson, and in this year’s class.

Sloan’s Hall of Fame ring.

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Fairfield Mule Matt Brown After an injury plagued junior season Matt Brown has put together a stellar senior year rushing for 1062 yards in 105 carries for a whopping 10.1 yards per carry. Along with his obvious football skills, Fairfield coach Justin Townsend labeled Brown as ‘just a great kid.’ “Matt is just a total team player,” said Townsend. “He gets our hard yards for us, the yards between the tackles. He’s not a vocal kid, in fact he’s kind of soft-spoken but he is definitely one of our team leaders. Matt is the kind of player that makes everybody else around him better.” Photo provided

Harrisburg Bulldog Dawson Monfort Harrisburg coach Jason Roper said Montfort’s name will be remembered along with the names of other standout Bulldog fullbacks. Through six games the bruising fullback has rushed for 971 yards in 98 carries for nearly nine yards per carry. “Dawson is a hard worker and an extremely hard lifter,” said Roper. “He’s a two-way player, one of our captains and he is really a throwback to some of the great fullbacks of the past. As a senior he’s definitely one of our team leaders.” Photo provided

Benton Ranger Quincy Hamilton Benton coach Jeremy Clodfelder said Hamilton has great attributes both on and off the field and has provided a double threat against opposing defenses. Along with his passing abilities Hamilton has rushed through six games for 583 yards on 97 carries for an average of six yards per carry. Hamilton also has 12 rushing touchdowns. “First of all Quincy is a heck of a football player, one of our team leaders and his stats are proof of his talent as a quarterback,” said Clodfelder. “But probably the best thing I can say about Quincy is that he’s the kind of kid you like to have for a son or the kind of kid you’d like your daughter to marry. He’s an all-American kid and a real asset to our team.” Photo provided

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Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn Red Devil Brock Wheatley Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn coach John Shadowens said Wheatley has worked very hard to make himself a better football player. Wheatley has rushed for 684 yards in 106 carries, averaging more than six yards per carry. While S-V-W-W has a potent offense its Wheatley that has the big-play capability that keeps defenses off balance, according to his coach. “Brock is our playmaker, our homerun hitter,” said Shadowens. “He’s the player that the other team is going to key on and know where he’s at all the time. He’s really worked hard to become a better football player and adds another important dimension to our offense.” Photo provided

Mt. Vernon Ram Margo Richardson After a first place finish in Class 2A in 2008 Mt. Vernon cross country standout Margo Richardson certainly has rested on her laurels. Richardson has compiled an outstanding senior season and is looking to repeat with another state championship run. Mt. Vernon girls cross country coach Connie Harre-Blair said Richardson’s success in cross country begins in practice. “Every year Margo has improved her times,” said Harre-Blair. “She sets goals, never has a bad practice and is always ready. Working hard is just a part of her nature. I think it might take me a couple of years after she’s gone to fully realize just how good she has been for us. Athletes like Margo do not come along very often.” Chris Kays photo

Benton Ranger Bryce Doughty Following a sterling performance in state competition last year with an 8th place finish in Class 1A where the Rangers garnered a second place finish, Bryce Doughty has helped put Benton’s golfers in contention again in 2009. Doughty won medalist honors in the regional championship victory and has had an outstanding senior season according to Benton golf coach Scott Simpson. According to the Benton coach, Doughty has been the picture of consistency throughout the entire season. “Bryce has played well all year long and he’s really never had any ups down’s, he’s just been steady for us the entire season. He had a great finish last year at state (8th place) as a junior and he has a great opportunity again this year. His game is just sound.” Photo provided

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Jarelle Johnson has left his mark in both football and basketball at Massac County High but the personable senior has maybe left a bigger mark on his coachesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; hearts

story by


photos by CHRIS KAYS

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hen Massac County football Coach Kelly Glass was asked to talk about his star senior quarterback Jarelle Johnson he began the conversation with a chuckle. “Jarelle … I could just tell you one neat story after another about this kid. But, maybe the easiest way to say it is that JJ is just the kind of kid that it’s easy to root for,” said Glass. “He’s been starting in football since he was a sophomore and I really could have probably started him as a freshman, he did start basketball as a freshman. Usually when that happens somebody is jealous or you’ve got an enemy or two because he’s a star. But that never happened here; everybody loves Jarelle and roots for him.”

Every single day Jarelle is happy and has a good time. He’s a kid that has been on his own, made it on his own for a long time and he’s just somebody that everybody likes to be around.” While most high school football players finish practice and head home for a meal and some rest, Glass points out that Jarelle, on most evenings after practice and again on weekends heads to Willy Jak’s, a popular Metropolis bar and grill where he works long hours as a short-order cook. “Back in August and September when it was hot out Jarelle would work his tail off at practice and just be wringing wet and then he’d take a shower and head to Willy Jak’s and stand behind that hot grill and sweat for four or five more hours,” said Glass. “I’d stop in there often to check on him and there was never a time when he was feeling sorry for himself. I’d walk in the door and see that big smile.”

During his 25 years of coaching at Massac County Glass has seen many athletes overcome obstacles and family hardships but puts Johnson near the top of the list. Glass, who also serves as athletic director at Massac County, said Johnson has never known his biological father and his mother has been in and out of his life. Johnson currently lives with a stepfather that is estranged from his mom, and two half-brothers.

Corey Bowman, manager at Wily Jak’s said the big ‘JJ smile’ is on display even when Coach Glass is not around.

“He has every reason in the world to have a chip on his shoulder and be mad at the world,” said Glass. “But, that’s not the case. He always has a smile on his face.

Johnson said he has always had a love for sports and despite his off-the-chart statistics, actually likes basketball more than football.

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“He’s just a great kid and an excellent employee,” said Bowman. “He’s always on time, works hard when he gets here and he’s always got that smile going and in a good mood. He’s one of the best kids I’ve ever met.”

“But, if it comes to talent I think I’m better at football,” said Johnson. “I’m getting some looks from some colleges but I’m not going to make a decision until after basketball is over. I’d really like to play college basketball but I think I would have a better chance to succeed playing football.” Johnson said his immediate focus is trying to help the Patriots make a post season run in football. Johnson gave high marks to his coaches for their encouragement both on and off the athletic field.

Back in August and September when it was hot out Jarelle would work his tail off at practice and just be wringing wet and then he’d take a shower and head to Willy Jak’s and stand behind that hot grill and sweat for four or five more hours.

“We’ve got great coaches here at Massac and with Coach Glass and Coach (Joe) Hosman and it’s not always so much about athletics as it is about life,” said Johnson. “They break it down so that basketball and football can teach you life lessons. If you’re in a game and you’re down 10 in the fourth quarter you can’t quit and in fact you have to try harder. Adversity is going to happen but it’s how you deal with it.”

leader,” said Glass. “He works hard in practice and he plays hard and people see that and follow his example.”

Hosman said it has been a joy to watch Johnson mature each year, not only as an athlete but also as a person.

Glass said if anybody didn’t know about the difficulties in Johnson’s life they would never suspect.

“We threw him right in the fire as a freshman starter in basketball,” said Hosman. “He’s one of only two freshmen I’ve ever started. Jarelle’s a leader for us not only in athletics but he’s a leader at school. He wants to be seen in a positive manner and he wants our school to be seen in a positive manner.”

“A lot of guys would say, ‘well, I’ve been dealt a bad hand here and I expect to be taken care of,’ instead he’s just the opposite, he loves people and he loves life,” said Glass. “Then you factor in that he is this great competitor and athlete and he’s just a remarkable kid.”

Depending on the success of this year’s basketball team Johnson has a chance to accomplish a feat that few have attained at the high school level.

-Kelly Glass, Massac County football coach

Glass said he’s confident that Johnson

“It’s amazing to think about it but if we have a good year this year he has a chance to win 100 basketball games during his varsity career,” said Hosman. “But the thing that stands out about JJ is that he always puts the team first ahead of any individual accomplishments and that rubs off on the rest of the team.” Johnson’s work ethic, both as an athlete and also away from the limelight, is identical, Hosman said. “He’s not a cocky young man, he’s very humble and he works just as hard off the court as he does on the court,” said the longtime Massac basketball coach. “He’ll do anything, move dirt, mow yards and he works nights as a cook to make money to pay for his car and insurance. He’s not afraid to work and his work ethic will serve him well when he gets to college.” Following the graduation last year of All-South quarterback Zack Kester, Johnson moved into the signal-caller role for the Patriots but is still the primary ball carrier. Through six games Johnson carried the ball 132 times and gained 763 yards, scoring 12 touchdowns. Glass said Johnson is a team leader and then explained that there is more than one way to lead, particularly on the football field. “He’s not necessarily a get-in-your-face type of leader but he’s definitely a lead-by-example

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Jarelle’s a leader for us not only in athletics but he’s a leader at school. He wants to be seen in a positive manner and he wants our school to be seen in a positive manner. -Joe Hosman, Massac County basketball coach

can play either basketball or football at the next level and added that the best coaching he can give his quarterback is to continue on the path he’s on, pursuing an education and then a career. “We had a good talk last week and he told me that he wanted to do what Coach (Joe) Hosman and I do, he wants to coach and be

involved in the school system,” said Glass. “I told him the very best thing in life he can do is to be a good husband and a good father because he sure doesn’t want his family to have to go through what he’s gone through.” It’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and when asked about his future he pointed to Coach Glass and said that working with young people at the high school level is a field that interests him. “I really want to be like Coach Glass,” said Jarelle. “I really like working with different people and I think I’d be really good at working with high school kids.” A mainstay on last year’s Class 2A state runner-up in basketball and the main cog in this year’s playoff bound football team, facts that prompted Glass to reflect on what life will be like at Massac County High School when Johnson moves on to college. “I enjoy seeing his smile everyday, and it brings a tear to my eye to know that so many people have so much and are spoiled rotten and he’s had to literally fight for everything he’s got and he’s just the opposite. He’s just a humble, hard-working, appreciative kid who also happens to be a great athlete,” said Glass. It’s sure going to leave a big hole to fill at this school when JJ’s gone.”

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From Buckner to Miami Francis “Whitey” Rouviere was a five-sport standout at Christopher High School and proved that the distance between Buckner and Miami is not all that great


e was an athlete, not just a one sport specialist. He lettered in football, basketball, baseball, track and boxing. He was Little All State in football, member of the Honor Society, performed in the play “Our Miss Brooks” and was elected Most Popular Boy at Christopher High School. He was awarded a full football scholarship to the University of Miami and was a good enough player to be placed in the University’s Hall of fame in 1988. He was drafted by the Washington Redskins of the NFL ahead of a quarterback by the name of Bart Starr. The top picks that year was No. 1 Gary Glick (Colorado State), No. 2 Earl Morrall (Michigan State) and No. 3 Howard Cassady (Ohio State). He played in the Senior Bowl, for the legendary coach Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns, and helped his South team win 12-2 in front of a record crowd (for that time) of 31,782 fans. Top players in the game included Sam Huff and Howard Schnellenberger. Where did this outstanding athlete grow up? Right here in down town Buckner. I’m talking about Francis “Whitey” Rouviere, a 1952 Christopher graduate who by-passed the NFL to become a dentist in Miami. In 1955 Dr. Rouviere was on the cover of SPORT magazine, ‘the’ sport magazine of the day. The article deals with the great Miami Hurricane program in which football coach Andy Gustafson (who was inducted into Miami’s Hall of fame in 1977) was quoted as saying Rouviere was “the best halfback in the country.”

The story in SPORT asked the question: How did a boy from Buckner, Illinois, a village of 750 in the coal country of southern Illinois, get to the University of Miami? The story went on to explain that Miami assistant coach George Trogdon, an Illinois native, received a letter from a Miami alumnus from Buckner about Whitey. The popular magazine relates this exchange when Trogdon: “Trogdon was instructed to stop by Buckner and look at the prodigy. While a filling station attendant refueled his car in Buckner, the coach spoke to a small boy standing by, “say kid, have you ever heard of Whitey Rouviere?” “Have I ever heard of Whitey Rouviere, “the boy exclaimed, “He is the greatest.” It was some months later before the coach discovered the young man was Rouviere’s brother. There are still many memories of Rouviere around Christopher. Ron Huie who was a sophomore on the football team that won their third straight Coal Belt Conference championship told this story. During a basketball game, Coach Clarence “Buzz” Bradley noticed Whitey during a time out; we all thought something was wrong with Whitey. Coach yelled “Huie, get over here” I

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thought I was going in for Rouviere. But coach said Whitey has broken a shoe lace, take one of yours out and give it to him so he can get back in the game. I was honored to help him. Ron didn’t say how many points his shoe lace scored that night. Buddy Velasco, a great athlete in his own rights, was also a sophomore and tells this story. “Remember back then in basketball there would be a jump ball where ever two guys grabbed the ball. I saw Whitey in a jump ball at our free throw line one night tip the ball into the basket on the jump ball” Larry Stritzel of Coello was a classmate of the Buckner athlete. Larry ran track with Whitey and remembers their mile relay went to state but didn’t place (Stritzel, Rouviere, Bob Polbinski, unsure of the fourth). “Whitey did it all in track”, Larry commented “he did the jumps, run the sprints and was strong enough to throw the shot and discus.” Stritzel remembers that Whitey, Stan Burgaski and himself attended Boys State which was quite an honor for the three. In football Larry said “Whitey was the type of runner who

could evade tacklers. Many times he would run 15 to 20 yards backwards and then pick up his blockers and go for a long touchdown. He was very electrifying for the fans and they loved him, that was just his style” There are not many Whitey Rouvier’s around anymore, the ultimate athlete, the do-it-all competitor, the “whatsport is in session because I will beat you” guy. Miami is a long way from Buckner, but as I told my students for many years, you can start in downtown Buckner and go anywhere in the world. Dr. Francis “Whitey” Rouviere proved me correct.

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Hard work in the offseason pays big dividends on the gridiron for Carbondale’s Kendell Edwards by JIM MUIR

photos by Chris Kays

arbondale’s Kendell Edwards is putting together a pictureperfect high school football season. But, as many athletes know, practice leads to perfection. Through six games the personable senior has rushed for 1,309 rushes in 190 carries through seven games – an eye-popping 187 yards-per-game average. But second year head coach Dan Koester knows firsthand that the preparation for the performances that Terrier fans are relishing every Friday night started months and months ago. In fact, Koester is quick to note that Edwards’ work ethic laid the foundation for the success he is enjoying as the area’s leading rusher. “I’ve been here two years and he’s been at every weight training session, every practice, every seven-on-seven tournament,” said Koester. “Not only is he a great young man but he just comes in and gets his work done. Kendell is a kid you can count on day in and day out.” Edwards said he sees a two-fold reason for his sterling senior season. “I worked really hard in the off-season,” said Edwards. “And I think I’m more familiar with the offense this year.

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This is Coach Koester’s second year so I understand the offense better than last year. I’m definitely more comfortable with the offense.” Sometimes in athletics high praise for an on-field performance is not matched by off-field performance. That’s not the case with Edwards, according to Koester. “For as good as Kendell is on the field he’s an even better person off the field,” said Koester. “He was elected by his teammates to be a captain, he one of those kids that leads by example. He has a great personality, all the kids like him, he’s just a well-rounded great person. When you talk to Kendell he rarely mentions his accomplishments. He sort of takes the success in stride.” Edwards also spreads the praise around the Carbondale locker room. On a recent Friday night Edwards rushed for 444 yards (seven best rushing performance ever in IHSA history). “After that game Kendell went to every offensive lineman and the tight ends individually and told them how great of a job blocking they did,” said Koester. Edwards, who also runs track, said his focus, and he stressed it’s his only focus right now, is to lead the Terriers to post season action. “We’re really happy where we are right now but we’re not through,” said Edwards. “Carbondale has not made the playoffs in a few years and we want to finish strong and play in week 10.” Edwards said he is receiving some college offers and hopes to realize his dream of taking his talents to the next level. “Yeah, I really do want to play college football,” said Edwards. “That’s a goal of mine to play at the college level.” Koester said from what he sees of his talented running back it’s certainly a goal that is within reach. “He’s a smart kid, an A-B student and he did well on his ACT,” said Koester. “I definitely believe his best football is still in front of him,” Koester said.

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Marion Native, Poe, a Hit with the Volunteers story and photos by

John D. Homan

When longtime assistant baseball coach Tim Williams accepted a new position at John A. Logan College last January, head coach Jerry Halstead knew he would be in a bind if he couldn’t find an adequate replacement – and soon. To his credit, he found one – and a darn good one at that. Marion native Todd Poe accepted the invite. The 1988 graduate of Marion High School stepped into the position vacated by Williams and immediately took over the role of hitting instructor and has worked diligently with the infielders, freeing Halstead up to work primarily with the pitchers. Poe’s credentials are solid. After a distinguished career at Marion, he attended Logan, where he was a standout performer for Halstead, batting close to .400 his sophomore year. Poe signed with SIUC after leaving the Vols, but that was the year Saluki head coach Richard “Itchy” Jones left Carbondale for the University of Illinois. Poe didn’t play for the Dawgs. He instead transferred to Birmingham Southern

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and eventually got a tryout with the New York Yankees in Tampa, but wasn’t signed to a contract. So he moved back to southern Illinois, where he hit the books full-time at SIUC and completed his bachelor’s degree there in administration of justice with a minor in psychology. Now 39, Poe has coached the Southern Illinois Bullets, a summer league team consisting of high school-age area all stars, for more than a decade. He has been a professional scout for Poe discusses hand placement with Vols’ infielder Derek Locascio. the Atlanta Braves the last six years and has provided hitting lessons for area youth the last 13 years. at bats,” he said. “The key is to limit those bad at bats. Poe purchased Future Swings in Marion from former RLC I think hitters should gauge success in 12-to-15 at-bat manager Bobby Simpson. The facility serves as a training increments. Stay within yourself. Do what you are capable ground for aspiring high school and college baseball and of doing. That’s what I always tell the kids.” softball players. He is also part-owner of River to River Outfitters, a hunting guide service which caters to the Halstead said he knows he picked a winner when he needs of deer and duck hunters, along with with former asked Poe to join him. college teammate Chris Shores. “Todd is a very intense and dedicated baseball man,” “As far as the business goes, there are hitting schools in Halstead said. “He is passionate about what he does, about every town anymore it seems,” Poe said. “But I’d like especially the art of hitting a baseball, and I like that.” to think that the success we have enjoyed here the last few years has been because of the work we put in with each Halstead said Poe relates well with the players. kid. Right now, we are instructing about 80 kids, half of “He has coached some of our guys and saw others play in which are baseball players and half softball.” summer league ball. I feel lucky to have gotten somebody Poe does have some help in the form of Joe Kretz, Brian of Todd’s caliber added to our staff. Being an alumnus who played here, I think winning games here means a little bit Chaney, Eric Barrett and Stephen Head. more to him than it would someone else.” Coaching at his alma mater, however, gives Poe the most With Poe involved in his first full year as an assistant coach, pleasure. the Volunteers are now wrapping up fall season play. The “Coaching with Jerry is a privilege I take very seriously,” he fall is a tune-up for the spring, when Great Rivers Athletic said. “I have a lot of pride in where I’m from and naturally Conference games count and the Region 24 postseason want to see Logan do well. So, it’s my job to help get these tournament commences. guys prepared to play. The goal is to get our hitters to swing at good pitches and not get themselves out. If you’re going Logan has a heavy influx of freshmen this year and was off to an 8-2 start through September. to make an out, why not make it a productive out?” Poe said the physical preparation is only part of the journey for a hitter. The best hitters fail nearly 70 percent of the time they step into the batter’s box. Therefore, mental preparation is a must. “You can’t get down after you’ve had a couple of bad

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The son of Richard Poe and Cheryl Stewart, both of Marion, Todd has a sister, Angie Colson, of Marion. He and his wife, the former Susan Harmon, reside north of Ewing in Franklin County with their two children, Tommi, 11, and Dillon, 6.

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Ask the

McDocs By Dennis McGuire & John McConnaughy

Horse-Collar Tackle Now Illegal In High School Football


ollowing the lead of the NFL and the NCAA, the National Federation of State High School Associations has banned the horse-collar tackle from high school football. The Illinois High School Association will follow that lead and apply a penalty to any player who makes a tackle by grabbing the inside collar of the shoulder pads or jersey. It will be a 15-yard personal foul from the spot of the infraction. The change was recently ratified by the board of directors of the Indianapolis-based NFHS, the governing organization for almost 19,000 high schools in the United States. The high school federation also banned grabbing an opponent’s chin strap,

along with the existing rules against grabbing the face mask or the edge of a helmet opening. Many people call the Horse Collar tackle ban the Roy William’s rule: The horse-collar tackle rose to infamy during the 2004 NFL season, in which it was implicated for six major injuries, four of which were caused by Roy Williams (including two in one game). The injuries that season included broken legs for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Ownes and quarterback Donavan McNabb, Baltimore Ravens running back Musa Smith and Tennessee Titans wide out Tyrone Calico. On May 23, 2005, NFL owners voted 27-5 to ban the tackle, with the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers voting against the ban. The first year of the ban, only two penalties were called by referees for the horse-collar tackle. Owners voted 25-7 in 2006 to expand the rule to include tackles by the back of the jersey in addition to tackles by the shoulder pads. The first addition to the list of personal fouls is the “horsecollar tackle.” The penalty is 15 yards

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enforced from the spot of the foul. A horse-collar tackle is defined as grabbing the inside back collar of the shoulder pads or jersey, or the inside collar of the side of the shoulder pads or jersey and subsequently pulling the runner down. This results in a 15 yard penalty from the spot of tackle. The key words in the rule are

“subsequently” and “pulling.” In order to have a horse-collar tackle, the runner does not have to go down to the ground immediately. It is possible a strong runner could continue to advance despite the efforts of an opponent who has grabbed the collar or shoulder pads. The rule also requires the tackler to “pull” the runner, not simply dragging them down without pulling toward the tackler. If a would-be tackler has grabbed the shoulder pads or collar of the runner but the runner is brought down as a result of a more conventional tackle, there is no foul. The second safety rule change for the 2009 season is in addition to an opponent’s face mask or any edge of a helmet opening. It is now a foul to grasp any part of an opponent’s chin strap. As with the face mask or helmet opening, incidental grasping of the chin strap results in a 5-yard penalty, while grasping and twisting, turning or pulling is penalized 15-yards. The horse-collar is particularly dangerous due to the awkward position of the player getting tackled,

who will often fall backward in a twisting motion with one or both legs trapped under the weight of his body. This is exacerbated if the player’s foot gets caught in the turf and by the additional weight of the defender. Potential injuries include sprains or tears to ligaments in the knees and ankles (including the ACL and MCL), and fractures of the tibia and fibula (the lower leg). Other potential injuries the ban eliminates are neck injuries. The ban states that a horse-collar tackle is an openfield tackle in which a defender uses the shoulder pads or jersey to immediately bring a ball carrier down. The term “open field” means that horsecollar tackles committed near the line of scrimmage will be allowed; in addition, the stipulation of “immediately bringing the ball carrier down” means that, if a defender begins to bring a player down by the shoulder pads but let’s go before the tackle is completed, he will not be penalized. In conclusion, the new rule protects athletes from season ending injuries and though somewhat controversial, is necessary.

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Report By Nathan Wheeler

doesn’t belong to me,” he said.


or those out there who think good men are hard to find, Rend Lake College would like to present Lewi Manirumva. The 19-year-old freshman running phenom at RLC – by way of Cedar Rapids, Iowa and via Burundi, Africa – came onto campus in August. Already, he has won the heart of at least one big fan and it wasn’t because of anything he did in his running shoes. Last month, the long-distance talent came across a misplaced wallet nestled in the bleachers at the RLC soccer field on campus. The wallet, belonging to freshman soccer defender Jared Rosine of Mattoon, contained more than $1,100 in cash. Manirumva did not hesitate. “I didn’t see how much money was in it,” he said. “I saw it in the bleachers at the soccer field and I just gave it to the police.” It never crossed his mind to go through the wallet. “It’s not a great thing to do. It

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Rosine said it was his first full day on campus at RLC. He normally doesn’t carry that much cash around with him, but that day he was going to pay five months rent up front, he said. Needless to say, he was relieved. “As soon as I found out it was missing, I called campus security and they said they had it,” Rosine explained. “I was worried that someone had gone through it. But everything turned out to be in there. I was pretty relieved. It was kind of an exciting first day here.” Growing up as a refugee in Burundi, Manirumva’s parents taught him at a young age to make good decisions. “I grew up with friends who were bad kids,” he said. “But whenever I did bad things my parents would punish me right there. I learned early not to steal. It’s not a good thing and I don’t feel comfortable doing things like that.” “There is a lesson here for all of us, and Lewi’s actions epitomize the qualities of behavior we should all strive to emulate,” said RLC President Charley D. Holstein. “This young man’s actions and sense of moral right are refreshing to see, especially when, sadly, for many the reaction to finding that sum of money may have been to keep

it. I am very proud of him. He has proven himself to be a fine young man on and off the cross country course.” Manirumva paced his team as a Warrior at Cedar Rapids’ Washington High, placing fourth in the 4A State Cross Country Championships last year and being named Gatorade’s Player of the Year for 2008-09 Iowa boys cross country, which put him among the top 50 high school running recruits in the nation. He was recruited and signed by RLC Athletic Director and Head Cross Country Coach Brent McLain. As a Warrior at the next level, he is playing a big part in the program’s early success. Only two meets into the 2009 campaign, the Warriors are ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s official poll released yesterday. McLain wasn’t surprised at all to find out Manirumva found the wallet and turned it in. “That’s just his nature,” his coach said. “He’s a very honest and very nice guy. He is a refugee and knows what it is like to be on both sides. He is very fortunate to have what he has now and he doesn’t in any way, shape or form want to cause anyone any harm. Turning that wallet in was never a second thought for him when it would be for a lot of people.”

As far as running goes, McLain said he likes how Manirumva is developing. “He is doing great,” McLain said. “He has only the one 8K race and he was our fifth runner. He has so much potential and once he starts trusting his training he is going to be really, really good.” Manirumva finished 14th at the Stegemoller Classic 6K race and 46th out of 334 runners in the 8K Illinois Intercollegiate Championships on Sept. 18. His teammate, reigning national champ Stephen Sambu, won both races. “I like our team. We push each other to do good together,” Manirumva said. “I’m improving. I want to do better. In high school it was shorter. It was a 5K. Now it is 8K. It’s tough. It’s very, very tough. We run against the best teams in the nation – [NCAA] Division I. It’s good training. I’m going to keep working hard and keep learning from the sophomores. They know a lot.” For all things athletic at RLC, visit online at

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Journal By Teri Campbell

sideline with me has helped me a great deal.”

Burnside and Whittington Lead Logan Volleyball With a new head coach, a new assistant coach, and just four players back from last year’s conference championship squad, the John A. Logan College volleyball team is in a transitional season. “We’ve had a lot of changes this year with me moving up to head coach and Veronica Whittington coming in as the assistant,” said Lady Vols’ head coach Bill Burnside, who spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at Logan. “We also have a lot of new players, and we’re really young with nine freshmen and only four sophomores. We’re still learning our roles.” Burnside, a native of Lewes, Del., says the head coach position has brought him added responsibility. “It’s very different being the head coach,” Burnside said. “I have head coaching experience from my time at Lambuth University so it’s not new to me, but there is a lot more pressure now since I’m responsible for all aspects of the program. Having Veronica on the

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Whittington, a graduate of Carbondale Community High School, is no stranger to Logan volleyball. She played the outside hitter position for the Lady Vols in 2002 and 2003 and was an integral part of the 2002 team that placed seventh at the NJCAA National Tournament. After graduating from Logan, she played volleyball at Tennessee Tech University where she earned a degree in nursing and currently works at Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion. “Bill contacted me about being his assistant coach, and I jumped at the opportunity,” Whittington said. “I love being a nurse, but I have a passion for volleyball. There’s nothing like being in the gym and being able to touch the ball. And I’ve always felt really comfortable at Logan. That’s primarily because of the relationship I built with Bill when I was a player. He was the person I always went to when I had any problems or concerns. I felt like I could talk to him about anything, and we formed a strong bond that has continued over the years. Being back at Logan feels natural to me.” Whittington said Burnside was not only a trusted confidant but also a great teacher. “When I went to Logan as a player, I was just a raw athlete,” Whittington said. “I had speed, but I didn’t have the technique. I learned the fundamentals, skills, and technique needed to be a quality player from Bill. I credit him with setting the foundation for everything I’ve achieved in volleyball.” Burnside says Whittington’s accomplishments resonate with the team. “The fact that Veronica played volleyball at a four-year Division I university gives her instant credibility with the players,” Burnside said. “That’s important because they respect her and listen to what she has to say. The current players really benefit from her experience.” The Lady Vols have had a rollercoaster season so far, and Burnside is hoping for a good finish. “We’ve been up and down this season and been inconsistent,” Burnside said. “There’s a lot of potential on the team, and we’ve shown flashes of strong play, but we’ve got to work hard and put it all together down the stretch.” For more information on Logan volleyball, visit the John A. Logan College athletics web site at:

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Focus By Ceasar Maragni

on his current career as an Emmy Award winning broadcaster. Recently Collins was honored by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Award for his work as a broadcaster. “He’s very deserving and is the best color commentator in all of professional sports.”, Herrin said.


t wasn’t until his junior year of high school that the hours upon hours of hard work and private practice time finally began to pay off for Franklin County Sheriff Paul Collins’ oldest son Doug. That’s when Ranger coach Rich Herrin first realized that he had something special in the skinny substitute who seemed to work harder than any kid he’d ever coached. Herrin told me recently, “Most people don’t know just how hard Doug worked to make himself a better player, and the thing that helped change him the most was how he improved his quickness. He worked harder at improving his strength and quickness than any player I’ve ever coached.” Herrin went on to say that Collins was truly a self-made success story. He added, “We had quickness drills in our practices, but Doug didn’t stop there. He spent hours upon hours on his own in his backyard, just working on those same drills.” Even with that work ethic and giant leap into prep hoop stardom during Collins’ senior year at Benton High School, Herrin admits he’s been pleasantly surprised at the level of success Collins achieved later as a college All-American at Illinois State, an Olympian, an NBA All-Star for the Philadelphia 76er’s and as an NBA head coach before embarking

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When I took this photo of Doug he was the featured speaker at the annual Benton Methodist Men’s Basketball Banquet in the spring of 1973. He was finishing his senior year at Illinois State and sported his 1972 Munich Olympics sports jacket which he had received as a key member of the United States Olympic team. Just a few years prior it was Collins himself sitting in that same church basement listening instead of speaking. People who know me more than casually know that I claim both Waltonville and Benton as my “hometowns”. It was during my first summer living in Benton, 1970, that I first met Collins. At 26 I was the oldest player on

Benton’s Coal Belt baseball team. I remember asking teammate Bobby Blondi, “Who’s that tall, skinny kid keeping things neat in our dugout?” “Oh, that’s Doug Collins.” Turns out Collins was home for the summer following his freshman year at Illinois State. He also loved baseball and became a regular at our home games at West City’s Eovaldi Field, cheering for us and keeping our dugout in order. Jump to the spring of 1985 when I took my son Brett to Atlanta as his 15th birthday present to see the Atlanta Hawks play the Philadelphia 76er’s. Brett was a big Sixers fan mostly because of Doug’s career there. Injuries had cut short Collins’ Sixers career four years prior however, and he was now early into his new career as a broadcaster for Philadelphia television and radio broadcasts. My brother Dean had driven up from Columbus, Georgia to join us for the game at the Omni. We had settled into our seats well before tip-off when I spotted Doug courtside preparing for his broadcast. At an appropriate time, I called his name and Doug turned around, broke into a big grin and made his way over to me, greeting me like a brother from the banks of the Big Muddy. When I explained to him why I was in Atlanta, he asked

Brett, “How would you like to meet Moses Malone?” Unable to contain a broad smile, my son managed to utter, “Sure!” With that Doug walked onto the court, spoke with Malone and pointed toward us. Then the two of them joined us at courtside. Malone was very gracious to us, and happily posed for a couple of quick souvenir snapshots with Brett. After that exchange, Doug I and talked about mutual friends back in Benton for awhile and then exchanged good-byes. My son was on cloud nine. Me, I was happy to see that “tall, skinny kid” again that used to cheer for us from the dugout a decade and a half earlier. I don’t think he realizes how many times I paid him back, cheering for him through the years. First during his college games, as an Olympian, then in his professional games, and then again later for his broadcasting success. But honestly, my biggest “cheer” came recently in the form of a smile on my face when I read that Associated Press story about Doug’s inclusion into the Basketball Hall of Fame, honored for his broadcasting skills. What a pleasure it’s been to see Doug’s life play out like this. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

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Turf By Mike Murphy

There are certainly some bad football teams (Kansas City, Cleveland) in the pros at the moment and some pretty good teams (Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals) that haven’t got untracked yet. Is it a hopeless scenario in St. Louis?

Rams Replace Lions for NFL Futility


wonder at what point new Rams’ coach Steve Spagnuolo thought to himself “my God what have I got myself into?” The Rams are stumbling into the new NFL season with loss after loss and seemingly with too many leaks to stop the ship from sinking. Recently an ESPN ‘Talking Head’ called the Rams the worst team/ organization in pro football. That

I will say this: the Rams are improved in some areas and making swift decisions in some areas that need fixing. Case in point, the defense does a much better job of wrapping up and tackling than in the previous few seasons. That has to be a direct connection to the new coach who ran a pretty good defensive unit with the New York Giants for the past few years. Some of the deadwood that took up space on the roster has been jettisoned and the organization seems to have a much shorter fuse than in years past. This is where we should scratch our head and wonder aloud about a certain oafish lout named Richie Incognito who continues to implode on the field and cost the Rams’ penalty yardage. I admit it’s hard to sit and watch the Rams and I can’t even remember the last time I went to the trouble of even contacting the team to get a press credential to go see them perform for free. I just sigh and watch or listen until it gets too painful and then search for the Arizona Cardinals game to slide back into my childhood memories of the Big Red. Oh sure, I know there were some bad Cardinal teams in there too, but it’s my memories and I can soften them if I want. I even can watch Kurt Warner and somehow it all gets mixed up and I think how crazy it seems that my old St. Louis quarterback now plays for my even older St. Louis team and wonder who set that deal up and why? I don’t want to throw in the towel on the Rams because I remember what it was like when St. Louis didn’t have a pro football team and how empty I felt. I scoff at the tre-jillion dollar stadium Jerry Jones built and secretly now pull for the Cowboys to lose every time they play in their new Taj Mahal but keep a wary eye on developing storm clouds over the out-of-date Edward Jones Dome. Remember the Rams would not have left Los Angeles if St. Louis wouldn’t have built them a new home.

ugly distinction had currently been the exclusive property of the Detroit Lions. Rams General Manager Billy Devaney went public last week in response to the remarks that “the Rams were in shambles” and “the Rams weren’t competing” by saying the Rams may not be a very good football team at the present but are “playing our butts off” and “haven’t given up.”

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It’s unfortunate that the there are teams like Dallas that have unveiled new digs or the New York Jets/Giants that have a new stadium in the works while the Rams stumble around in their old building with continuing discussion over their lease and needed improvements. The team is for sale, they are playing poorly, and their baseball neighbors up the street in their new home are sprucing up for the post season again and will always get top billing with the fans and media. I’d say Coach Spagnuolo is earning every penny of his contract. Let’s meet here next time.

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Want to be a Warrior?

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October 2009  

Volume 3, Number 3