Prep sports coordinator Fred Kroner chats at 12:30 p.m. Thursdays. Submit questions of any kind at any time.
Here we are once again. Lets check to see what's on the minds of area prep sports fans. Thanks to all who participate.
With Clifton-Central shutting out St. Joe, 27-0, last week and blowout victories against their first 3 opponents(Prairie Central, Salem, Paris), it looks like the Comets are serious contenders for the 2A State title. Does St. Thomas More have enough talent on Offensive and Defense to possibly upset them this Friday? Is PBL sound enough this year to give them a tough game on the road next week? Thanks
Hi Tyler. The rule of thumb is that a good defense trumps a good offense and Clifton Central showed that in its shutout last week on the road against St. Joseph-Ogden. The Comets dictated terms upfront, expecially with its defensive line, and didn’t allow the Spartans to get much movement. The fact that it’s the school’s third shutout in a row is a testament to the strength of the defense. Logically, it would follow that both St. Thomas More and Paxton-Buckley-Loda are going to have difficulties moving the ball as well. Certainly STM and PBL have a chance, but I would consider each the underdog. For schools to have success against Clifton Central their own defense will have to be outstanding and they will need to keep it a low-scoring game. The Comets might yield a TD now and then, but there won’t be many. The school was a state semifinalist last year in Class 2A and that’s a point I’ve made frequently over the years. Those schools that go deep into the playoffs year after year have such a huge advantage because they are getting up to an additional five weeks of practice (and game) time. Under coach Brian Spooner, Clifton has been to the playoffs seven years in a row and reached the semis twice in the last five years.
Fred, Give me your opinion on the Urbana-Spld. Lanphier game last Saturday. I saw one of the worst cases of sportsmanship ever by Coach Nathan Watson. Urbana played without a doubt one of the weakest teams in 5-A. A team they played last year and set records of 50 points, 500 yards passing and 8 td's at halftime. The difference last year the starters came out at half time. Sat. Coach Watson played his starters Until late 4th quarter.He said in todays interview they were going to set up the pass to be able to run.Never happened,passed the whole game and ran about 12 times and passed 30. All i could see was He said last week his QB was the future of Urbana Football.I guess at the expense of injury to Lanphier which had 2 starters out including their QB and keeping his own team on the field most of the game didn't matter to him as long as he could Pad the Stats for his QB of the future. He might beat Centennial and Eisenhower but 3 teams are out for revenge from last year Normal W,Macarthur and last but not least Danville. 3 and 6 at best maybe 2 and 7. I said and still say that type of coaching by Watson is sad and a shame for the School, Fans and Players.He had 1 winning Season in his career,last year and none to be on the horizon. Next year Big 12 will be the Little Seven with 3 non-coference games.Leaving Urbana and 2 Champaign Schools fighting for last place in the Conference. Bad days ahead for all Urbana Football Fans,which I am definetely not one anymore. Go St Thomas Moore future of Football in the area.
Hi Tom. Wow, where do I start? Let me say this. I was not at the Urbana game last Saturday. Instead, I was up at Fisher watching the Bunnies beat Dakota. My comments aren’t necessarily referring to the Urbana game against Lamphier, since I didn’t see it, but to scenarios I am aware of from the past, possibily some of which might have been relevant to the game you refer to. How long did the other team leave its starters in? Some coaches will keep their starters in as long as the opponent does. When a game reaches a running clock, those final minutes (sometimes quarters) go by extremely fast. There might be very few breaks. When a team has been shorthanded in past weeks, whether for injury or ineligibility, some coaches think two quarters are not enough to get their team into a flow and game-ready for what is ahead. Each game leads to another and if there are players who’ve had limited minutes they might need more time on the field to get comfortable and be ready. I also know if you’ve practiced a certain way, with a pre-set game-plan in mind, it’s not always easy to switch away from it. For example, how many people expected this to be a 50-point game? If a team has committed to a passing attack as its game plan, you can’t necessarily start calling a wide array of running plays if that hadn’t been covered in advance. Who else was available? Were there players who got banged up in the game or didn’t dress? There are so many variables, it’s hard to say why things went as they did. Sometimes a team throws a short pass route and it turns into a long TD play, which is a lot different than throwing the ball 60 yards downfield after you have a running clock. It’s hard to get programs turned around. Urbana had a nice run last year and, despite its start this year, still controls its playoff destiny though it graduated a large and talented senior group. How it turns out is hard to say, but I think in the case of all the local 4A/5A schools and their coaches, they are trying to do the things needed to be competitive on a week-in, week-out basis. Getting there is not easy when you're trying to catch up with programs that have been on solid footing for a decade, or more.
Who are the top small school teams in the area and the top players?
Great question. I think you start with the cooperative team that features athletes from Cerro Gordo, DeLand-Weldon and Bement. An already-good program was made even better a year ago when Bement joined in the coop. Look at the contributions that Bement’s Steve Isbell has made this year. Last week, in a win over a previoulsy unbeaten Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman squad, he had more than 400 all-purpose yards when you add rushing, receiving and interception or fumble returns. He scored at least one TD in all four of those ways. Quite impressive at the Class 2A level. In 1A, I see two teams that could really make some noise come playoff time: Salt Fork and Argenta-Oreana. They both have veteran teams, with a lot of seniors at key positions. In the case of Salt Fork, you have a program which has become a playoff fixture for more than a decade since Brian Plotner took over. At A-O, Chad Eisenmenger has the Bombers on the rise. They made the playoffs last year after five years out and I would expect they'd go beyond a first-round game this year. There are certainly others that could be a factor. Fisher with the size of its offensive line is going to have to be reckoned with in 1A as is Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond and, in 2A, Bismarck-Henning. It will be exciting to see who gets hot at playoff time and really makes a statement.
Fred,Is Football changing in the Central Illinois Area?After last weeks Games their sure were some big surprises not necessarily who won but the lopsided scores.
Hi Tom. Some big scores, for sure, but what about some of those college games? Good grief. Makes you think a running clock or shortening the quarters to 12 minutes after halftime might be a good idea at that level. No doubt, there is a disparity in talent at the high school level. There's not much you can do about conference games which aren't competitive because those aren't teams you can get off the schedule. It would be nice if every game were like the Danville game, which was settled in the final minute, but that's not the reality of it.
Who are the top small school teams in Volleyball?
Several come to mind and a lot of them are from the Sangamon Valley Conference. Watseka, St. Thomas More, St. Joseph-Ogden and Paxton-Buckley-Loda all have quality teams. It's no surprise at Watseka, which has been to the Elite Eight two years in a row and Tori McCoy has really made an already-good STM program even better and able to reach a higher level. I wouldn't discount Unity, which I will be seeing for the first time tonight. The Rockets are going to be a capable contender when it's all said and done. At the 1A level, Schlarman Academy and Blue Ridge come to mind first and foremost. If healthy, the Hilltoppers could be a state-caliber team come November. They have an outstanding nucleus for coach Heidi Crane, herself a former Hilltopper. It's possible Arthur-Lovington could be in the mix too when it's all said and done.
That's a wrap for this week. Great assortment of questions. We'll be back again next Thursday.