Ask News-Gazette prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner about the state football playoffs
Greetings once again. we're back for more quuestions and we'll go ahead and get started now. Thanks to all who have participated.
Two questions. First, I have noticed that if you read stories on the same football game in different papers. Most of the time each will list different stats. Is this because the reporter has to try to keep them and watch the game? I thought each school hat official stats that were released after the game.Second, I think Danville's Dennis Hightower has made a great argument with his play that he deserves area POY. Any thoughts?
Hi David. You are very observant. There are, in fact, usually discrepencies in statistics when reporters cover the same game. It's not like at the college level, where a top-flight sports information department has a staff compiling the stats, often two or three people. At the high school level, reporters are on their own. Sometimes, we're able to get some statistical information from the coaches afterwards. Sometimes, that is not possible. When I cover a game with another reporter, I try to at least check at halftime and see if I am in the same "ball park" with stats and, happily, I usually am. After playoff games, schools are supposed to release official stats. They aren't always totaled in a timely manner and often are not available when the reporter is ready to leave the game and start to write his story. I know that was the case for me last week following the Arcola at Tuscola class 1A game. If I have access to "official stats," I will almost always use them. As for Dennis Hightower, he is very much a candidate. Clearly, he is among the final three up for the award. The problem he could have now is that players from Unity and Tuscola have at least one more game -- and possibly two -- to continue making a favorable impression. I was glad that the coaches in the Big 12 Conference did the right thing and voted two quarterbacks onto the first team because Hightower and Normal West's Alex Jefferson were eqach deserving of that honor. In my mind, as of this minute, Hightower would be the frontrunner for Player of the Year, but it's certainly not a lock by any means.
Tell me it's not so. Northern teams (I-80 north) can take 6 of 8 classes in high school football playoffs!?
Your math seems accurate to me. However, I don't think more than five of those northern programs will actually win state championships. The balance of power has been up there for a while and it doesn't appear to be changing soon.
Thanks for the chats! Are you expecting any "hometown heroes" articles in the near future? The last one I recall was for Chrisman and that was many months ago (maybe I missed one?). They have only recently been a co-op in football so I guess the athlete list wasn't as long compared to other towns? I know you are really busy keeping up with current sports seasons, but what towns are you currently reviewing? Keep up the great work!
Hi Griffin. Great question. In my spare time, which has been pretty much non-existent, I have been working on another High School Heroes. Next on the list is Iroquois West and the now-defunct schools that have fed into that district, such as Gilman, Onarga and Danforth. I would like to say I am making progress on it, but the truth is it has been pretty much on hold for about a month and it may be another couple of weeks before I get back to it. Glad that's a feature you look forward to. There have been at least two High School heroes since Chrisman. I know Westville and Fisher have been after that time and it's possible there was a third one in there, too.
Fred,If Tuscola goes to Finals and wins do you think T J Onstott could be a top contender for Player of the year. It would be good to see a Defensive Player win it.
Hi Tom. I absolutely think he is a top candidate. In my mind, he's the best of the Tuscola players, but that is not to slight the contributions of others, especially Philip Meyer. The difference Meyer is primarily the quarterback whereas Onsott is an anchor on the offensive line, the placekicker after TDs and a stalwart on defense. He covers the field effortlessly from sideline to sideline. I don't give much credence to the fact that he's a Class 1A player since the majority of Tuscola's regular-season schedule is against 2A and 3A opposition. The glory usually goes to the players who put up sterling numbers on offense and contribute on defense, but this year a defensive player will certainly be afforded major consideration.
1. Who has the tougher game this weekend, Unity or Tuscola?
2. If Unity wins, do you think we will get Mt.Carmel or Greenville?
3. I think TJ Onstott is 8 tackles from the Tuscola school record. Do you think he gets it Saturday, and do you know who holds it currently and from what year(s)? Good to see a little guy doing something like that.
Hi Gary. Both schools face difficult hurdles, as you would expect in the state semifinals. One obstacle for Tuscola is playing in an environment which coach Rick Reinhart describes as a hostile one. There will be roaring noise that will make it difficult to hear, let alone think. Tuscola has played there before, so that will certainly be an advantage. Unity faces an outstanding quarterback at Aurora Christian, perhaps the best the Rockets have played this year. I'm of the opinion that one player shouldn't be able to beat you in football, so the question will be how Unity handles the others. I think the Rockets can get points on the board and defense has certainly been a strength up to now. if that continues, the season can continue for another week. Whoever wins that 3A semifinal, I think, will be playing Greenville in the finals. As for T.J. Onstott, we need to track down the exact numbers. I had heard that he was moving close to a record. He had 10 tackles last week against Arcola. Onsott may only be 5-foot-9, but watching him reminds me of the saying, "it's not the size of the player, it's the size of the heart." As for the current record-holder, I'm not sure who that belongs to.
Fred,My picks for Games this week in Central Illinois. Aurora over Tolono. Tuscola over Brown county. Maroa over Casey. Greenville over Mt Carmel. Rochester over Charleston. Joliet Catholic over Sacred Heart Griffin. Lemont over Peoria Richwoods. 10 Teams left not from North of here.Not to bad almost 3r'd of the 32 teams left. I pick Tuscola and Rochester to win State Titles.I was right about Richwoods but I believe their done.Aurora has to much offense for Tolono.Tuscola should have an easy Game with Brown County and lots of experience in Playoffs.
Hi Tom. I actually agree with six of your seven picks. For some reason, I have a good feeling about this Unity team. You were absolutely right about Richwoods. You were telling me from the time the playoffs started, it would be Richwoods and Danville in the quarterfinals. Bingo! I don't think Tuscola will have an easy time with Brown County. Remember, the Warriors have ended Brown County's season two years in a row and Brown County is coming off an emotional win over the only team it had lost to this season. I see it as a winnable game for Tuscola, but it will be a dogfight. I agree that Rochester is the favorite in 4A, especially now that its quarterback is back at full strength. Should be a fun weekend. I hope the rain stays away until all of the games are finished!!
Aurora Christian looks tough based off what i can see about them. How does Unity win this game?
Hi 3A fan. Unity wins this game by utilizing all of its weapons, whether its the passing game with Negangard over the middle or Johnson down the sidelines or the running game with Black keeping it and using his athletic ability or handing off to Lafenhagen for some tough yards. Not too many high school teams have the number of potential difference-makers that Unity has. Plus, the defense has been stout all year. Those are all factors in Unity's favor. Now, on the other side, you have a team playing at home, a team with an outstanding quarterback and one with a good playoff tradition in recent years. If Unity keeps the mistakes to a minimum, they should be in a good position for success.
That's a wrap for this week. Lets hope we still have some area football teams to talk about next week. Thanks again to those who participated.