Prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner has been on the beat nearly as long as Loren Tate. His weekly chat (12:30 p.m. Thursday) is a great source of info. Submit questions of any kind at any time and he'll be sure to respond.
Welcome to another in the weekly series of high school sport prep chats. Let's get right to the questions.
Fred,The Wright Street Trophy is up for grabs between Urbana and Central. I am going with Urbana in a close one. They have 3 Starters out for the game with inlury to QB Beckman and 2 other kids for discipline problems. Beckman will be replaced at QB by Tanner Russell he moved over from wide receiver. J Cobb will still be in the backfield. He is always capable of a BiG Game. Also Jaimin Carter will be at Tailback,. Highly touted Freshman. and Sophmore Jalen Jones returns at safety after injury last week. Will wait to see if the coaches can put it all together in a week.
Hi Tom. Honestly, I'm not sure how to handicap this game. I don't see a clearcut favorite. It might come down to a field goal, or extra-point kick, which is why I eventually made my pick with Central. I won't be surprised either way it turns out, unless it's a blowout. The last I heard was there was still a possibility that Beckman could play. What happens when injuries force a coach to make changes, and he switches another starter, is that you weaken the team in two areas. Russell is one of the best receivers around, but I understand the thought process. You'd like an experienced athete playing QB and someone who is a good leader as opposed to a younger player who hasn't yet been groomed for the rigors of a varsity game, especially a rivaly game in a series that started back in 1894. I think Russell can do a solid job at QB and -- if the line holds up -- maybe the running attack can make some headway. I agree that Cobbs has good potential and the freshman certainly had an outstanding JFL career. At some point in time, however, the team will need to complete some passes to keep the defense honest. My hope is that it's a competitive game and that each side remembers to emphasize the sportsmanship aspect.
What do you base your judgment of the nifty fifty for volleyball players?
Great question! I'm glad I have the opportunity to explain, not just for volleyball but for any of the sports where we do a Nifty Fifty in the fall. Since this is a preseason list -- at least in theory it's a preseason list! -- the starting point is with athletes in that sport who performed at a high level the previous year as underclassmen. We try to keep in mind, too, that we are looking at a vast circulation area, one which has around 50 volleyball playing schools. Most of those schools have at least one outstanding player, whether it's a go-to hitter, a quality libero or a deluxe setter. It's impossible to recognize every school because some have two -- or in a few cases, three -- athletes who truly can not be overlooked in the preseason. I've checked back at some of our previous Nifty Fifty lists and there have been cases of individuals not recognized in the preseason who are selected to the All-Area first team at season's end. It's not a prerequisite to be on one list to make the other. In truth, when we compile the "short list" that we come up with before we make cuts to get to the final 50 players, there's always between 60 and 70 names that you can make a strong case for including. We're not saying that any group of 50 players is cut-and-dried the best 50, but they are certainly 50 outstanding ones. Some times when it appears players are virutally equal, we look at something like such-and-such a school already has two players on the list and this school does not, so that's the direction we will go. Thanks for the question.
I understand Black and Finke just commited. Don't you think Alexander would be more im[ortant for this team. With this team going for guard play in the 2015 class
I don't think you can -- or should -- put a value on one high-level recruit over another. Sure if Alexander were to give a commitment, that would be wonderful fo the program, but lets not say he will be more -- or less -- important than the others. They're each going to be parts of a team. By the time we get to the 2015 class, there can be changes, whether it's players improving, moving on, coming in or whatever. I think we should be happy with the commitments that have been made, and hope that there are more.
That's a wrap for this week. We'll return again next Thursday. Thanks to all who participated this week. It's appreciated.