Who would you vote for Player of the Year in every fall sport? Ask prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner, who takes questions of any kind each Tuesday. Submit them any time
Lets get started with this week's assortment of questions. I'm happy to be here.
Great year in local volleyball this year. Who are your top 5 teams heading into next year?
Hi Jim. This is going to sound like a broken record, but I see no reason why Centennial shouldn't start out as the area's top team again next season. True, nine Charger seniors will graduate, but they will be replaced by members of a junior varisty team which compiled a 34-1 record this season. Coach Stan Bergman worked many of those younger players into varsity matches this season, so they won't be totally inexperienced. As an aside, watch out for Lexi Hall. An area coach, not affiliated with Centennial, told me she could be one of the area's top setters in 2013.
After Centennial, I'd look for Tri-County and Schlarman Academy to be equally strong -- if not better -- than this year. The Hilltoppers lose just one senior from a super-sectional team and will retain one of the area's most exciting players, Laura Gross. Non-Schlarman fans who saw her play as a sophomore raved about her athletic ability and how well she can combine both hitting and setting.
Tri-County loses some key seniors, one of which is setter Amber Meyer, who hasn't lost a conference match in her four years on varsity. The Titans certainly have a strong nucleus of hitters returning and, if a setter emerges, look for them to again be tops in the LOVC.
After those three teams, there's a lot more guesswork involved. I like how Evan Hook is building the Champaign Central program. There's a very talented group of young players coming up. Same with Ron Hoppe at Mahomet-Seymour. The Bulldogs will have a major void to fill with the graduation of hitting leader Elise Dahlke, who is headed to Parkland College, but many of the other key pieces will remain in replace.
St. Thomas More has a terrific player in Lexi Wallen and that will be a nice cornerstone for the Sabers' next two teams. Those are six teams I would expect would be among the area's best again next year ... but there's a whole club season about to start and that creates the possibility for many other players to improve their games and help their teams make that leap into the upper echelon.
Fred,Well who is the Player of The Year in all Fall Sports?
Hi Tom. Well ... that's what we're in the process of figuring out. Football, volleyball and swimming are still going, so we have nothing for certain there. My feeling in volleyball is that the top player could be one of the ones from Centennial, but which one? As for football, I still like the preliminary list of leaders I had a few weeks back which featured Kevin Carroll, frlm St. Thomas More, Cameron Mammen from Urbana and Mitch Negangard, from Unity. Perhaps now someone from LeRoy should slip into the conversation, too.
Soccer is really a tough call. In practically every year, if you lead your team to second place at state, chances are you will be the pick. However, with both Uni High and Urbana placing second in their respective classes, that creates an additional wrinkle as does the fact that both schools had at least two outstanding players throughout the course of their seasons.
In cross-country, the age-old question is whether we weight the impact a runner had on his or her team in the postseason or strictly look at times the leaders have run?
In most all of these sports, I am convinced there is not one right or wrong answer, but at least two and likely more -- depending on the sport -- who would be ideal choices. The unfortunate thing is that management says there will be no co-players of the year, so we are whittling it down to one person per sport.
Keeping watching your News-Gazette. By Thanksgiving, we'll start recognizing all of the area's best.
Fred,I want to tell you about the 2nd.Round Game at Morris. On a great fall afternoon Urbana had a Pep bus and Charter bus full of people and kids attend the game. We all tail gated in a park across the street from the school.All visited and had a great time.At game time Urbana Fans filled the Bleachers and were standing around the track.Appx.1,000 people were there plus the soccer team from their Championship Game. It was evident we were out matched from the start.They were one of the biggest Morris Teams ever.That didn't stop the Tigers from giving their all from start to finish.We played bruised and tired but played to the very end with all the heart they could muster. They should all hold their heads high.they had nothing to be ashamed of. Morris had a defesive end going to attend Indiana next year that was 6' 5 "and weighed 240 lbs. His goal was to take Cam Mammen out of the Game.Of course as in all the other Games with a target on his back it didn't happen.Cam Rushed for 88 yards and passes for 202 yards for aTotal of 290 yards for the Game..A Great Year for Urbana Football.
Hi Tom. Your points are well-taken. I think the best thing of all was how great the support was for a program which has not been accustommed to having such stellar seasons. Sometimes you don't see the fan support mushroom the first year or two. It shows how anxious the community and the school was to embrace a group of high-achievers who conducted themselves in the right way and played the way Urbana alums, as well as parents and administrators, would want to see the teen-agers play. This year, the way the brackets fell, class 5A became one of the toughest divisions because of a couple ranked 6A teams that fell into 5A along with at least one ranked 4A team which wound up being bumped into 5A. Realiostically, the game between Urbana and Morris should have been a quarterfinal contest, but that's not the way it played out. I thoroughly enjoyed my chances to see the Tigers play this season and hope this is just the start of good things for the program. I know many of the key contributors were seniors, but the cupbaord is not entirely bare when you look at returning players such as Tanner Russell, Kenny Patton and James Cobbs. That gives you a start at three key positions.
Looks like that's a wrap for this week. We'll be back next week to tackle more prep-related questions. thanks to all for participating.