Prep football: Week 4 storylines
B-H lines up wins
On the verge of the state's Top 10 in Class 2A, 11th-ranked Bismarck-Henning hasn't had any of its first three victories settled by fewer than 35 points. It's no secret how coach Mark Dodd's team likes to move the ball. Nearly 87 percent of its offense has come from the running attack, and B-H is averaging 8.1 yards per carry thanks to the efforts of what Dodd calls "the strength of our team." The offensive line features a trio of third-year starters: left guard Austin Reinken, center Morgan Supergan and right tackle Cole Acton. Right guard Zack Akins is a two-year starter. The newcomers are left tackle Wilde Garowski and tight end Braedon Lappin-Pratt. "Our backs are pretty talented, also," Dodd said. "This is the first year we have three weapons in the backfield." Fullback Kevin Allen, halfback Patrick Ganley and wingback Ty Hufford are collectively averaging more than 10 yards per carry. "(Quarterback) Caleb (Bergman) can throw the ball, but we haven't asked him too much the last two games," Dodd said.
Sabers' schedule toughens
Sangamon Valley Conference schools coming off their first loss will take the field Friday at Momence when St. Thomas More provides the opposition. For the Sabers, it's a continuation of a brutal schedule. Entering Week 4, St. Thomas More is in the second of a five-week stretch where the combined record for those opponents is 14-1. "There are no weak teams in this conference," STM coach Dan Hennessey said. The coach's message to his team this week was simple: "You've lost games before. Step it up." On offense, the Sabers have multiple weapons with running backs Nate Stringer and A.J. Young demonstrating their prowess while receiving threats line up on each side of the field: Kevin Carroll and Michael Plecki. If teams double-team Carroll (who had an area-best 879 yards as a junior), Hennessey said "that leaves something else open, and we'll exploit that." Runners Stringer and Young "are carrying the load and doing a phenomenal job," the coach said. Quarterback Storm Joop is effectively orchestrating the offense.
Westville revises plan of attack
What started out as a running-based offense has been changed to a passing attack. The switch became necessary after Shane Overshiner (who rushed for 1,647 yards as a junior) suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the opener against Villa Grove. Overshiner tried to play in Week 2 but came out after one play. "We were forced to shift the offense to move the ball," Westville coach Guy Goodlove said. Kyle Brazas is a junior and second-year starter at quarterback. "We have to give Kyle the opportunity to see the field," Goodlove said. "We like to give our quarterback four seconds. Most of the time, he was getting 1 1/2 to two seconds. It's a matter of improving our pass blocking." The challenge becomes tougher this week. Two-way tackle Nick Woods will undergo an MRI exam today to learn the severity of a knee he injured Saturday against Salt Fork. Jake Pruitt will replace Woods on offense, and Briar Burke will get the call on defense. Brazas was 8-for-16 passing against the Storm.
Former Rocket faces alma mater
Chad Eisenmenger played football at Unity for coach Scott Hamilton and later joined Hamilton's staff as an assistant. This week, he is game-planning ways for his unbeaten Argenta-Oreana team to beat his alma mater. "It's the one week of the year I'm not a Unity fan," he said. His Bombers (who lost to Unity in 2011) are 3-0 and within one win of matching their total from his first year at the school. Playing Unity is not easy, he said, because "most of what we do, I learned from him (Hamilton). He was my mentor. He knows exactly what we'll do, and we know what they will do. It's a matter of who does it better." A-O is led by returning starter Gage Eller at quarterback and fullback Cameron Hupp, who was a wingback last fall. They are two veterans on an experienced unit. "We have seven starters back on offense and eight on defense," Eisenmenger said. "We took our lumps last year but worked hard in the offseason and earned the right to be 3-0." The offense has generated at least 32 points in each game thus far.
Titans regroup with youth
Since opening with a loss to Milford/Cissna Park, Tri-County has put together a two-game winning streak, with young players contributing mightily. Sophomore Drake Kirchner is filling in at quarterback for injured senior Luke Clapp. Freshman Michael Hudson was installed at fullback to replace Zach Gobert, who was shifted to tight end. "We needed to shore up our blocking, and Zach has done a phenomenal job," Tri-County coach Adam Clapp said. Wyatt Flesner, a first-year player as a senior, has two touchdown catches. The Titans have two senior veterans anchoring the offensive line. Center Wes Motley and tackle Wyatt Walsh are each third-year starters on offense. "They are our anchors," Adam Clapp said. "We have a handful of seniors who are great leaders, but overall for as young of a team as we are, our practices are very fundamental." As for Luke Clapp's status, his brother said, "it's more a coach's decision, but we hope he will make his way back soon." Tri-County visits Arcola on Friday.
Unheralded Sage senior emerges
Seth Chitwood is one of those success stories coaches like to tell. A senior at Monticello, Chitwood lettered as a junior but wasn't a major contributor. In this preseason, he wasn't projected as an impact player. However, he made the coaches give him a shot. "We noticed that he plays hard all the time," Monticello coach Cully Welter said. Chitwood moved into the defensive line at noseguard, and now he's a fixture. "He's a little guy (150 pounds) but real active," Welter said. "He has been a surprise." The defensive unit has been a strength for the 3-0 Sages, who are ranked fifth in Class 3A. Two of the first three wins have been by shutout. "We'll be tested pretty severely this week," said Welter, whose squad travels to Maroa-Forsyth (No. 6 in Class 2A) to play on the Trojans' artificial turf. "It's an opportunity to play against a good team at a nice venue," Welter said. Safety Vinny Strack has been another Sage catalyst, "making sure everyone is lined up where they should be," Welter said.