Ask N-G prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner about his impressions of the first week of the football season.
Welcome back to another school year and another round of weekly chats. We will try to keep this time schedule on Tuesdays, if at all possible. Lets get going!
I attended the Charleston - Rantoul Football game in hopes of seeing Dillon Cazley. I saw Cazley - only his younger brother, junior Josh Cazley. WOW. He had some ankle breaking moves and great tackles on defense. He was unstopable. He carried the ball 6 or 7 times and scored several touchdowns en route to a few hundred yards rushing. How close is Illinois looking at him? Is his brother Dillon even better? Dillon was on the sidelines in a cast and on crutches - will Dillon play this year?
Rantoul was down 49-0 before they knew what hit them. If Cazley wasn t running, Charleston quarter back Hussey was throwing perfect deep passes hitting recievers in stride. He looks better than many college quarterbacks. Does Hussey have any scholarship offers?
The word on Dillon Cazley is that he will be back soon. Whether that means this week at Peoria Manual or next week at home against Chatham Glenwood, I don't know. Josh Cazley certainly had an outstanding first game. I'm sure that will put him on the radar screen of even more coaches than he was previously. As for the quarterback, Hussey has expressed interest in Eastern Illinois, Illinois State and Indiana. Not sure how many actual offers he has. He is a person who got the chance to play as a sophomore due to an injury to the starter and he has made the most of it, never losing the position. Thanks for the questions.
How much have the Urbana & Centennial football programs improved this season? Is it possible that UHS' junior class could be a big reason to help the Tigers reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004?
I've said all along that Urbana is one of the more improved teams in the Big 12 and I think this is the year the Tigers get back to the playoffs. The Tigers' first-game loss, on the road, came against a highly regarded team and Urbana was very competitive in a 21-12 loss. I think Urbana has a very strong nucleus and -- barring injuries -- is about where I thought they'd be at this time. Not sure what to make of Centennial's come-from-behind victory against a lightly regarded Decatur Eisenhower team in week 1. The Chargers showed some big-play potential, which is very encouraging. There's also a favorable schedule in that five of the next seven games are either at home or in the Twin Cities. I'll know more about Centennial after I see them in their Week 3 homecoming game against Danville.
What are your thoughts on LOVC Volleyball! Who will be the top teams?
In the LOVC this year -- like for most of the past decade -- you start with Tri-County and go from there. Tri-County has won, or shared, eight consecutive LOVC titles and with the number of talented returnees, they are again the justifiable favorites. I'm not sure there's a conference team that can beat them this season. Heritage has a nice group of returning players and Arcola has an outstanding group of athletes, so they will be in the mix. You can't overlook Arthur-Lovington, which is coming off a 24-win season. Barring surprises, those are the top contenders.
Great state of prep football article last week! I can't imagine your job before cell phones, laptops and power steering and your phone booth story was a good laugh. I'm not sure i agree with your rule change for private schools. You mentioned a top multi-sport selection this year, so who makes your list of the best area boys who were standout 3 sport athletes in the past 30 years?
Oh goodness. There are a number who come to mind. Once you start naming people and think about it for a while, you remember others that should eb included as well. Among the ones who stand out are Dusty Burk at Tuscola. He was not only the Player of the Year twice in football, but held the school-record in the hurdles for a while and was a good baseball player. In his time at Oakwood, Darrin Fletcher was one of the best at three sports. He quarterbacked some very good football teams and was an all-conference caliber basketball player. Urbana's Kirk Mamen certainly belongs on that list. He eventually gave up baseball, but was quite profiient in that sport as well as wrestling and football. Of course, baseball was always his best sport. Shawn Fatheree, at Monticello, in the early 1990s was also quite versatile. In more recent times, how about Andrew Brewer, from Mahomet-Seymour, and Colten Unzicker, from Fisher? Their accomplishments speak for themselves. Among girls, two really stand out. Prairie Central's Melanie Ward was the first to be an All-Area first-teamer in volleyball, basketball and softball the same year and a few years back, Westville's Terra Ramsey was an All-Area first-teamer in something like seven consecutive seasons. I know she was 3-for-3 as a junior and a senior and she made at least one All-Area team as a sophomore. Those certainly aren't the only ones, but they absolutely desrve to be considered among the area's elite for multiple-sport performers.
I was reviewing the area football stat leaders for 2011. I noticed about 15 QB's and 15 RB's had over 1000 yards and 0 WR's cracked that mark. The 15 QB/RB number accounts for less than 1/3 of the area schools, so is that high or low for a year (seems low)? How rare is it for an area WR to surpass 1000 yards? Do you think it's harder for a QB, RB or WR to exceed 1000 in a year? Why aren't the area stat leaders posted weekly online?
I'll start with your last question first. The answer is because I'm not in charge. I've always thought the stats should be available online, but I've always been overruled, so they're not. Don't know if anything will ever change along those lines, but it would be nice if they did. It's clearly harder to reach 1,000 yards as a receiver than either as a rusher or passer. For 10 straight years, our area passing leader for the season has thrown for at least 2,000 yards and in nine of those years, the top rusher had at least 2,000 yards as well. But among receivers, just three times in the past decade has the athlete who led the area totaled at least 1,000 yards in a season. My theory on receivers reaching 1,000 yards is this: most teams, when they get comfortable leads, are more reluctant to continue throwing the ball. Those that emphasize an aerial attack often have multiple receivers to feature. A lot of teams now are going with one-back offenses (in addition to the quarterback), so there are fewer potential ballcarriers in the backfield than headed downfield for passes.
Welcome back Fred. Another great year of High School Football. Went to Urbana -Normal Game. Urbana had a very good game.Score was 21 to 12 but Urbana had 3 chances to score but had a interception at the 15 yard line a fumble a dropped pass in the end zone and late in the game had 4 downs to score from the 19 but didn;t get it in. Normal had the 3 touchdowns but were stopped on alll other plays. Urbana could use another wide receiver to take pressure off of Tanner Russell. need 3 db's to step it up. Jones at tailback is a lot to handle and even though Mammen ha da couple of mistakes he still had over 270 total yards. They should bne in the playoffs this year. Coach Watson has made many improvements.I followed his program over the winter spring and summer he did a very good job in the off season which should pay off.
Hi Tom. It's good to be back for another year. Mistakes often tell the tale of which team wins when you have two high schools that are fairly evenly matched. I don't see any reason to panic about Urbana's prospects this season, despite the first-game loss. I said in the preseason that six wins were achieveable and I see no reason to change, although there will be some tough games ahead. The Tigers have a good nucleus of athletes who are playmakers and can be game-changers. As you know, teams are usually made in the offseason and the season is the time for the rewards.
I know in college football that a touchback now goes to the 25 instead of the 20, does that rule also go to the high school level?
When do you think there will be a final decision in regards to the Okaw Valley Conference?
As far as I know, the touchback rule in high schools is still to the 20-yard line. There won't be anythign definitive coming from the Okaw Valley for a while. The latest proposal to save the league involves expanding from the current 12 to 16 members. Letter of interest have been sent to more than four dozen schools throughout Central Illinois and they have until Oct. 1 to indicate a willingness to enter discussions about the possibilities. It's no secret that St. Joseph-Ogden would be in favor of returning to the Okaw, but I think for that to happen, at least three other schools would need to make the move in order to have a mega league of 16 schools. If that happens, you're talking about several other conferences falling apart, so it's hard to get a good reading on what the ultimate result will be. It's too bad everything has to be football driven. In all other sports, all teams get to participate in the postseason, but there are qualification standards in football and a school's success is judged by how often they qualify for the playoffs. Thus, there will always be a group of schools (generally those with smaller enrollments) looking for something better where they can feel more competitive and able to get the six wins needed to automatically make the football playoffs.
Fred,The Central Urbana game should go Urbana's way by at least 20 points or more as they were shut out by a good Normal West team by 45-0. They are in a rebuilding year.
The saying is that teams show their most improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, so I would look for both Urbana and central to be drastically different teams than they were in their openers. Injuries are certainly a part of it, too. If Central is not at full strength this week, that could be a factor. I predict a win for the Tigers, but the Maroons certainly have recent history on their side and there's something to be said for a playing a team you are confident you can beat because you've done so for a number of years. I believe the last two games have been settled by a touchdown, or less. That trend may occur.
That's a wrap for this week. Thanks to all who participated. We'll be back in seven more days.