Sullivan coach has write stuff

Sullivan coach has write stuff

A decade's best
Area programs with the most wins in football (including the playoffs) during the 10-year period that ended with the 2008 season:
Tuscola    102
St. Joseph-Ogden    98
Unity    92
LeRoy    78
Salt Fork    78
Westville    73
Cerro Gordo/DeLand-Weldon    70
Prairie Central    70
Arthur-Lovington    69
Mahomet-Seymour    68


Charlie Brown all smiles now that he's wearing a whistle

Sullivan High's first-year football coach makes it clear what names he prefers.

"You can't call me Charles," he said.

Call him Charlie.

Yes, Charlie Brown.

"I imagine the kids had a few good chuckles (upon learning of his hiring), but if they do it at practice, I'll make them run," said Brown, a 1983 Unity graduate.

A former sportswriter at The County Star in Tolono and The Journal-Gazette in Mattoon, Brown has been a career assistant in football.

"Until April 16, 2009, I'd never applied for a head coaching job," said Brown, who is now 1 for 1 on those searches.

"It came out of the blue," he said. "It felt like what I had to do and I sent the resume off."

He spent five years at Mendon Unity, the last three as the defensive coordinator. He served in the same capacity for his two-year stint at Fairfield.

For the past decade, Brown has been at Rochester, coaching football for nine years and overseeing the defense eight years.

The title of "head coach" does more than change his staff status.

"It has been fun on the other side of the ball, but now I'm the offensive coordinator," said Brown, who is also Sullivan's athletic director. Brown's only regret is that he didn't pursue a head coaching job sooner.

"It has been incredibly fun and enjoyable," he said, "all of the emotions you can think of, rolled into one."

His assistants include three holdovers from the 2008 staff: John Bertetto, Chet Reeder and defensive coordinator Brent Weakly. The newcomers are former Rochester athlete Rob Love and Reeder's father, Doug.

Building interest

Last year at East Central, there were 31 athletes from the Shiloh-Heritage co-op playing football. This fall, in Alex Partenheimer's debut season as head coach, the roster has grown to 45 players.

"Kids on the team are buying into the new program and the buzz is catching on in the schools," Partenheimer said.

Among the athletes who have joined the football team for the first time are three who have excelled in basketball and baseball: Travis Hawkins, Cole Judy and Nick Umbarger.

Chasing records

By season's end, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley could have the program's top career rusher and the winningest quarterback in the lineup together.

Michael Romshek needs 256 yards to claim the all-time rushing record of 1,870, held by Jamie Sexton. Teammate Stephan Birt is closing in on the mark for wins by a quarterback (16), held by Tom McCall. Birt has 13.

Since Gibson City and Melvin-Sibley joined forces, McCall is the career passing leader with 2,667 yards. Birt has thrown for 1,274.

At Arthur-Lovington, Justin Schuring is less than 550 yards from the all-time rushing mark of 2,155 yards held by Zack Kingery. Schuring enters his senior season with 1,614 career rushing yards.

A veteran staff

Imagine being in your 44th year as a football coach and not ranking first on your high school staff in seniority. That's the situation facing Danville's John Fogleman. He has been coaching since the mid 1960s, yet trails another Viking aide, Frank Luzenske, who is entering his 47th year of coaching. The coaches on Danville's staff have totaled 200 years experience. The others: B.J. Luke, 33 years; Mitch Thomas, 19 years; Steve Luke, 18 years; Daniel Hile, 13 years; John Pendleton, 10 years; Brian Anderson, 8 years; R.J. Luke, 5 years; Marcus Forrest, 2 years and Chris Dryer, first year.

Going out on top?

Rochester is in its final year as a football-playing member of the Corn Belt Conference. Led by Purdue recruit Sean Robinson at quarterback, the school is the choice of league coaches as the top team.

Next year, Rochester will join the Central State Eight and the eight remaining Corn Belt schools will all pick up an additional non-league contest.

Moving up

As a high school freshman at Mahomet-Seymour in 2006, David Piland played briefly for the varsity team at quarterback, completing one of the three passes he attempted for five yards. He was behind starter Lyle Shallenberger.

A year later, the family moved to Texas and Piland soon emerged as a player of national prominence, completing 95 of 181 passes for 1,227 yards and 11 touchdowns for Southlake Carroll, in Dallas, last fall as a junior. He threw five interceptions and rushed for 442 yards on 102 carries.

On Tuesday, the 6-foot-3, 175-pound Piland gave a verbal commitment to the Houston Cougars. He was recruited by 13 universities, including Purdue and Northwestern. He also had scholarship offers from Portland State, Towson and Western Kentucky.

Joining forces

The co-op that paired athletes from Milford and Cissna Park together for the first time in football isn't the only new merger.

Georgetown-Ridge Farm and Chrisman – which have competed as one in baseball, cross-country, softball and track and field – are teaming up in football.

"I've been trying to get the co-op in since I've been here," fifth-year football head coach Jason Baccadutre said. "There's not a Chrisman/Georgetown co-op that's not successful. "Seeing how it went in baseball, how the kids got along, I knew they'd contribute."

Two of the Buffaloes' receivers could be Chrisman students: Derrick McCormick and Cody Owen.

"They'd never touched a football, but they're looking like they've been receivers a few years," senior running back Brandon Herrin said.

McCormick, who golfed last year, did play a year of youth football when he was in fifth grade.

The transition to the varsity brand, he said, "is more complicated than I expected, but I'm asking questions, getting more help and it's getting easier every day."

Recruiting news

Area athletes are on the radar screens for college coaches.

Among the players who have gotten letters of interest are Centennial receiver Josh Butts (Missouri, Western Michigan); Urbana receiver/punter Kyle Clevenger (Cincinnati, Eastern Illinois, Illinois State, Indiana State, Missouri, Northern Illinois, Purdue, Southern Illinois and Western Illinois); Tuscola receiver Gunnar Edwards (EIU and Illinois State); Tuscola linebacker Jordan Knerr (Ball State, Iowa State); Watseka running back Marcel Maiden (Illinois and EIU); Centennial tackle Matt Strack (Princeton) and Centennial linebacker Will Tomlinson (Colorado, Missouri, Illinois State).

Also being heavily recruited are Danville teammates Derrick Cunningham and Cameron Ford as well as Mahomet-Seymour's Nick Malinowski and Josh Raymond.

Veteran coach keeps whistle

For the 40th year, Dan Hageman is helping coach a high school football team. He started at Catlin, where he was on staff for 25 years. In 1995, Catlin and Jamaica formed an all-sports co-op. Hageman stayed on with the Storm.

"He loves the game of football and the camaraderie," Salt Fork head coach Brian Plotner said. "He is very synonymous to Catlin and Salt Fork football."

Hageman has been an assistant for all but four years in football.

One of Hageman's sons, Joe, is the team's offensive coordinator. Another son, Doug, was recently hired as athletic director at Warrensburg-Latham.

Short shots

Bloomington coach Rigo Schmelzer reported that 150 prospects from grades 9-12 reported for the first day of practice. ... Former Tuscola defensive coordinator Lenny Sementi has joined the Monticello staff as a volunteer assistant. ... Seniors Solomon Crenshaw and Mallory Lampkin have transferred from Schlarman to Danville, where 21 of the 39 varsity players have offensive positions listed as either quarterbacks, running backs or receivers. Lampkin and Crenshaw are included in the running backs/receivers category. The Vikings' top six rushers from a 2008 playoff team all return.

Fred Kroner is The News-Gazette's prep sports coordinator. He writes a weekly column about high school athletics during the school year. He can be reached at 217-351-5232, by fax at 217-373-7401 or at

Sections (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports
Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

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