Saturday, August 27, 2022

Polo knocks off Plattsburg 4-3 to win the Plattsburg Tournament

by Jeremy Benson,

Chloe Gilbert launched a 2-out solo home run in the bottom of the 5th inning to put the Polo Panthers up 4-3 over Plattsburg.  Hanna Vaught would retire the Tigers in the top of the 6th to clinch the Plattsburg Tournament Championship.  

Vaught pitched 6 strong innings striking out 9 Plattsburg hitters.  The Tigers scored 3 unearned runs, all on throwing errors by Gilbert.  

After allowing a run in the first, the Panthers responded with 2 runs in the bottom of the first.  Gilbert walked with one out followed by a Vaught single.  Mya Heil followed with a 2-run single scoring Gilbert and Mya Stigger, who ran for Vaught.

Plattsburg would plate two more in the 3rd, but Polo answered once again.  Kenley Moore led off with a walk.  Vaught knocked her in with a double.  After Stigger ran for Vaught again, Kendyl Fitzwater singled into center.  Stigger tried to score, but was thrown out at the plate to keep the game tied.

The game stayed tied until Gilbert redeemed herself with the long home run in the 5th.

Polo advanced to the championship game with a 10-0 victory over Maryville.  They are now 2-0 with a key conference game against defending GRC champion South Harrison at home on Tuesday.

I caught up with Polo coach Becky Ross after the game.  Her interview along with additional post-game can be heard below.

Polo Stats (Unofficial)
Kenley Moore, 0-2, 1 R, 1 BB
Chloe Gilbert, 1-2, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR, 1 BB
Hanna Vaught, 3-3, 1 RBI, 1 2B
Mya Heil, 1-3, 2 RBI
Kendyl Fitzwater, 1-2
Haley Barnett, 0-2
Emily Schmidt, 0-2
Emersyn Parker, 1-2
Jade Misel, 0-2
Cierra Stigger, 1 R

Hanna Vaught, 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 9 K, 2 BB, 1 WP

Chloe Gilbert

Photo courtesy of Becky Ross 

Polo Team with Championship Trophy

North Andrew defeats King City to open conference season

by Jeremy Benson,

It was a matchup of two top ten teams in Rosendale to open the 2022 football season.  #10 King City Wildkats traveled to North Andrew to face the #2 Cardinals in a Grand River Conference game.  North Andrew had revenge on their mind after losing to King City 62-26 a year ago.  The Cardinals only lost one senior to graduation and returned many players from an injury-plagued 2021 campaign.

King City is coming off of a season in which they made it to the state semifinals, but they lost all-state running back Parker Muff and quarterback Landon Wells.  However, they have 17 seniors ready to take over this season.

The game did not start off well for the Wildkats.  They muffed the opening kickoff, and North Andrew was able to capitalize with a 23-yard touchdown run by Hayden Ecker.

That would be the only scoring for the Cardinals in the first half.  They would continually make mistakes in the first half.  Their next possession ended in an interception by Zeke Fisher.  After a King City fumble, North Andrew returned the favor with a fumble inside the 10-yard line.  The next two possessions included a bad snap pushing the Cardinals back and then an interception after a touchdown was called back because of a penalty.

King City was able to take advantage.  They returned the Ecker fumble to their own 36.  After a 30-yard run by Ty Mooney, Fisher ran it in for a 14-yard touchdown.  The 2-pt possession was good to tie it at 8.  Their next possession was a 55-yard TD drive that ended in an 18-yard TD pass from Mooney to Samuel Derks.  The 2-pt try failed to make it 14-8, which is where it ended at the half.

North Andrew came out in the second half and marched down the field to score.  Braxon Linville ended the drive with a 6-yard TD run with 6:52 left in the 3rd quarter.  There wouldn't be any more scoring for at least another quarter, but North Andrew's most important drive of the game did not end in a touchdown.  They started at their own 1-yard line and 13 plays later were at the King City 1-yard line with a 4th down.  It appeared that Linville had a touchdown from the near official.  However, the far official had signaled he was down.  They had marched 78 yards, but were stopped 1 yard shy.  Ecker was big on the drive with 76 yards rushing.

With King City pinned deep, they were not able to get a first down and North Andrew took over at the King City 6-yard line on the next possession.  Andrew Goff scored on the next play to put North Andrew up 22-14.  Goff would later add another TD on a 19-yard run to finish out the scoring 28-14.

I caught up with both coaches after the game.  In addition, I talked to Tommy Rezac of St. Joseph Post after the game to get his thoughts. 

North Andrew Stats (unofficial)
Braxon Linville, 1-7, 10 yds, 2 int

Hayden Ecker, 195 yds, 1 TD
Andrew Goff, 81 yds, 2 TD
Braxon Linville, 33 yds, 1 TD

Hayden Ecker, 10 yds

King City Stats (unofficial)
Ty Mooney, 1-3, 11 yds, 1 TD
Zeke Fisher, 0-6

Ty Mooney, 66 yds
Ron Pulliam, 12 yds
Zeke Fisher, 11 yds, 1 TD

Samuel Derks 11 yds, 1 TD

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Preseason Previews and Jamborees

The fall sports season is upon us.  Games start to count on Friday.  But we already have had jamborees over the past week.

In addition, we have previews for both football divisions within the GRC.  In case you missed it, here are all of the pre-season and jamboree blogs and podcasts:

GRC 8-Man Preview



GRC 11-Man Preview:



North Andrew Football Jamboree



St. Joseph Christian Volleyball Jamboree



Stanberry Softball Jamboree



Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Stanberry and Albany compete in the Stanberry Softball Jamboree

by Jeremy Benson,

Stanberry Bulldogs hosted fellow GRC member Albany Warriors along with DeKalb and Stewartsville-Osborn in the softball jamboree on Tuesday, August 23.

Each game in the jamboree was 3 innings or 45 minutes (whichever came first).  Each inning was also limited to 5 runs.

The order of games was:

  1. Stanberry vs. DeKalb; Albany vs. Stewartsville-Osborn
  2. Stanberry vs. Stewartsville-Osborn; Albany vs. DeKalb
  3. Stanberry vs. Albany; DeKalb vs. Stewartsville-Osborn
Stanberry played all of their games on the south field (softball field) while the other game was played on the north field (baseball field).

Since there were 2 games happening at the same time, my goal was to attend 2 games each for both Albany and Stanberry.  I attended the following games:

Albany 6 Stewartsville-Osborn 0
Addisyn Crawford of Albany held the Wildcards of Stewartsville-Osborn hitless in 3 innings in route to a 6-0 victory.  The Warriors were unable to take advantage of a Wildcard error in the first inning, but 3 straight hits in the second inning got Albany on the scoreboard to take a 1-0 lead.  After back-to-back singles by Crawford and Zoey Weatherd, Claire Manning got an RBI single scoring Crawford.

Crawford allowed her only runner in the second inning on an error, but retired the next three to keep the lead before Albany erupted in the third.  Cory Worrell and Abigail Troncin both reach on an error.  Then Crawford was intentionally walked to load the bases.  Claire Manring plated two with a single. Weatherd singled to load the bases.  Kaylee Smith continued the strong hitting with another RBI single, and then Keylee Siddens ended the inning with a 2-run single to put Albany up 6-0.

Crawford retired the final 3 in the bottom of the third and finished with 5 strikeouts and no hits allowed.

Albany Stats (Unofficial)
Tatum Peterson, 0-2
Cory Worrell, 0-2, 1 R
Abigail Troncin, 0-1, 1 R
Addisyn Crawford, 1-1, 2 R, 1 BB
Zoey Weatherd, 2-2, 1 R, 2 RBI
Claire Manring, 2-2, 1 R, 1 RBI
Kaylee Smith, 1-2, 1 RBI
Keylee Siddens, 1-2, 2 RBI
Alexis Seiter, 0-0, 1 BB

Abigail Troncin, 3IP, 0H, 0 R, 5 K

Stanberry 10 Stewartsville-Osborn 3
Stanberry scored 10 runs in two innings to defeat Stewartsville-Osborn 10-3.  Speed, timely hitting and a bit of wildness by the Wildcards helped the Bulldogs to maximize their scoring.

In the first inning, the Bulldogs scored 5 runs on 1 hit, 4 walks and 3 hit by pitch, with the final hit by pitch plating the 5th run.  Amelia Wallace had the only hit which was a 2-run triple.

In the second inning, Stanberry again scored 5 runs on 1 hit and 6 walks.  The inning ended with a passed ball scoring the 5th run.  Since the game was at the 45-minute mark at that point, it was called after 2 innings.

Stewartsville-Osborn was able to plate 3 runs in the second inning on 2 hits, but an error by the right fielder helped plate 2 unearned runs.

Stanberry Stats (unofficial)
Katlyn James, 0-0, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SB
Katie Angle, 0-1, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Amelia Wallace, 2-2, 2 R, 3 RBI, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 SB
Kiley Mattson, 0-0, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SB
Maranda Evans, 0-0, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB, 1 HBP
Trista Lager, 0-0, 1 BB, 1 HBP
Marli Hilton, 0-0, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Morgon Showers, 0-0, 1 RBI , 1 HBP
Eva Cameron, 0-0, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB
Katelyn Stoll, 1 R

Eva Cameron 2 IP, 3H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 K, 1 HBP

Stanberry 6, Albany 5
The final game of the night was the matchup of the two GRC teams in Stanberry and Albany.  Albany got out to a quick 5-0 lead in the top of the first due to a combination of good hitting and wildness by Stanberry.  After a Siddens single, Brea Jenson reach on an error.  A walk to Jordyn Sterkis loaded the basis.  With one out, Norah Shoush was hit by a pitch and then Jenson scored on a wild pitch.  Keeleigh Fish would get an RBI with a bases loaded walk.  Lauren Houge followed that with an RBI single.  The inning ended with Kylee Preston scoring on a wild pitch.

Stanberry was able to get 2 runs back after the first two batters were retired.  Amelia Wallace walked followed by a Maranda Evans error.  Marli Hilton followed with an RBI single for the second run.

In the 2nd inning, Albany got the first two runners on via a hit by pitch and walk, but after a force out at third, Jenson hit a hard looping liner to short and Adalyn Campbell was unfortunately doubled off.

Stanberry's first four hitters in the bottom of the 2nd reached base including an RBI double by Lindsey Hailey and a 2-run single by Katelyn James.  Maranda Evans would later score James on a ground-out to the pitcher.  The four runs were enough to win it as the game ended after two innings due to the time limit.

Albany Stats (unofficial)
Keylee Sideens, 1-2, 1 R
Brea Jenson, 0-2 1 R
Jordyn Sterkis, 0-0, 1 R, 1 BB
Kaylee Smith, 0-1
Norah Shoush, 0-0, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 HBP
Kylee Preston, 0-0, 1 R, 1 BB
Keeleigh Fish, 0-0, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Lauren Hogue, 1-1, 1 RBI
Wynona Riedlinger, 0-0, 1 HBP
Adalyn Campbell, 0-0, 1 BB

Jordyn Sterkis, 2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 K, 3 BB

Stanberry Stats (unoffical)
Katlyn James, 1-2, 1 R, 2 RBI
Katie Angle, 0-2
Amelia Wallace, 0-0, 1 R, 2 BB
Maranda Evans, 0-2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB
Marli Hilton, 1-2, 1 RBI
Jayden Gust, 0-1
Dani Van Draska, 0-0, 1 R, 1 BB
Morgon Showers, 1-1, 1 R
Lindsey Hailey, 1-1, 1 R, 1 RBI

Jencie James, 2 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 K, 4 BB, 2 HBP

Other scores of the games were:
DeKalb 1 Stanberry 0
DeKalb 5 Albany 3
DeKalb vs. Stewartsville-Osborn (I don't have a score, but will update when I get one.)

I talked to both Albany coach Jeffrey Epperly and Stanberry coach Brittney McClurg after the game.  You can here their interviews along with a recap of the jamboree below.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

St. Joseph Christian finishes 5-1 in their jamboree

by Jeremy Benson,

St. Joseph Christian Lions hosted West Platte Blue Jays and East Buchanan Bulldogs at their annual Volleyball jamboree on Saturday, August 20.  The jamboree featured 3 sets against both teams.  Each set started with the score at 4-4 going to 25 points.  And unlike the regular season, the set could end without a team winning by 2.

The matchups were:

  • St. Joseph Christian vs. West Platte
  • West Platte vs. East Buchanan
  • St. Joseph Christian vs. East Buchanan
Match #1
In the first match, West Platte got out to out to a 9-4 lead after scoring the first 5 points.  The Lions cut the lead to 11-10 before West Platte extended the lead to 17-12.  After a St. Joseph Christian timeout, the Lions would hit the next shot long to fall behind by 6 points.  That is when the tide turned.  Maya Freudenthal had a kill that was just in.  The next two points featured a key block by Ella Bowman and dig by Chloe Burnahm to make it 18-15.  Christian cut it to 18-16 on the next volley.  Ella Bowman blocked a kill attempt by West Platte.  The ball hung up on the net for several seconds before coming back down.  Bowman was able to concentrate and hit it back over where West Platte double hit the ball.

After a West Platte Kill to go up 19-16, the Lions scored the next 4 courtesy of two more Bowman kills, a Jaci Jorgensen kill and an ace by Danika Wattenbarger.  The Lions were able to finish off the set with a 25-22 win.

In set #2, the Lions got out to an 8-4 lead before West Platte cut the lead to 10-9.  Then Christian went on another 4 point run.  Bowman was huge in this stretch with 2 blocks and another kill.  West Platte would close it to 14-12, but another run by the Lions ended any hope for West Platte.  St. Joseph Christian won the second set 25-18

In set #3, West Platte got off to a great start scoring the first 4 points.  Christian called a timeout, but that did not stop the Blue Jays.  They stretched it out to a 12-5 lead which led to another Lions timeout.  Too many mental mistakes by St. Joseph Christian put them into too large of a deficit.  They would close to within 3 at 13-10, but West Platte pulled away to win 25-16

St. Joseph Christian won the match 2 sets to 1 against West Platte.

Match #2
I did not cover the second match since their were no GRC teams involved, but the final scores were:
  • East Buchanan 25 West Platte 23
  • West Platte 25 East Buchanan 20
  • West Platte 25 East Buchanan 7
In the last set, East Buchanan played their 2nd string/JV, so I would not consider that one representative of their true potential.

Match #3
St. Joseph Christian faced East Buchanan in the final match of the jamboree.  The first two sets of the match were very tight.  In set #1, the Lions got out to a 10-5 start, but it was fueled by a lot mistakes by East Buchanan.  However, they were able to right the ship and took a 12-11 lead over St. Joseph Christian.  After both the runs, both teams went back and forth with the Lions eventually getting out to a 20-17 lead.  However, they had 4 straight possessions with mistakes to go down 21-20.  Both teams went back and forth until the game was tied at 24-24 until St. Joseph Christian ended it with a kill to win 25-24.

In set #2, East Buchanan got out to a strong start.  They had several big kills with some aces sprinkled in to go up 13-7.  Then the Lions went on another run to tie it at 15.  Ella Dubois, Ella Bowman and Maya Freudenthal all had kills during this run, but there was also a key stretch were the Bulldogs made mistakes to help out the Lions.  From there, the set went back and forth.  The set was tied at 23 when East Buchanan hit the ball into the net to give the Lions game point.  After that, Chloe Burnham finished the game off with a kill.  The Lions won 25-23.

In set #3, East Buchanan once again played their 2nd string/JV.  They were able to hang tough for a while.  They were only down four at 17-13, but St. Joseph Christian was able to finish it for a 25-15 victory.

Final Thoughts
I think St. Joseph Christian was the top team at the jamboree by a thin margin.  It was obvious that the Lions were a little rusty to start.  They were making errors and mental mistakes.  But when they are focused and playing well, they are very good.  They defeated two very good teams today.  They will have to clean up some mental mistakes, but their potential is very high.

I talked to Christian coach Erin Patrick after the first match against West Platte. 

Laurel DuBois, 27-30, 90.0%, 3 Aces
Danika Wattenbarger, 23-26, 88.5%, 3 Aces
Charlee Stanley, 18-20, 90.0%
Ella Bowman, 15-16, 93.8%
Chloe Burnham, 9-10, 90.0%
Maya Freudenthal, 7-11, 63.6%, 1 Ace
Total, 99-113, 87.6%, 7 Aces

Ella Bowman, 16-50, 32.0%
Chloe Burnham, 13-31, 41.9%
Jaci Jorgensen, 10-46, 21.7%
Maya Freudenthal, 5-29, 17.2%
Danika Wattenbarger, 4-11, 36.4%
Ella DuBois, 3-20, 15.0%
Total, 51-187, 27.3%

Danika Wattenbarger, 40
Ella DuBois, 3
Maya Freudenthal, 2
Charlee Stanley, 1
Chloe Burnham, 1
Jaci Jorgensen, 1

Ella Bowman, 9
Ella DuBois, 3
Chloe Burnham, 2

Maya Freudenthal, 30
Ella Bowman, 20
Chloe Burnham, 12
Charlee Stanley, 11
Danika Wattenbarger, 9
Haidyn Gardner, 9
Jaci Jorgensen, 2

North Andrew and Pattonsburg compete in the North Andrew Jamboree

by Jeremy Benson,

Two GRC teams competed in the North Andrew Football Jamboree on Friday Night.  North Andrew Cardinals hosted the jamboree and was joined by fellow GRC member Pattonsburg Panthers along with Platte Valley and DeKalb.

Each of the teams in the jamboree had the opportunity to play the other teams on offense and defense.  They would start at their own 20 yard line and have 12 plays.  If they turned the ball over or failed to make a first down, then the ball would go back to the 20 yard line.

The order of the jamboree was:
1st Quarter - North Andrew vs. Pattonsburg
2nd Quarter - Platte Valley vs. DeKalb
3rd Quarter - North Andrew vs. DeKalb
4th Quarter - Pattonsburg vs. Platte Valley
5th Quarter - Pattonsburg vs. DeKalb
6th Quarter - North Andrew vs. Platte Valley

1st Quarter - North Andrew vs. Pattonsburg
The 1st Quarter featured the two GRC teams.  North Andrew started on offense, and Hayden Ecker immediately ran 60 yards for a touchdown on the first play.  Unfortunately for the Cardinals, a penalty negated the TD.  However, two plays later, Braxon Linville connected with Gunner Lawrence on a 25-yard pass.  Hayden Ecker would get his TD on the 9th play of the quarter with a 1-yd TD.  North Andrew would end with 12 points.

Pattonsburg came out throwing on their first 4 plays and got to midfield.  On the next play, QB Gage Iddings handed off to Brody Langfitt who ran to the left and met a host of Cardinals.  It appeared that he was stopped, but he cut back to the right and broke free down the field for a 40-yard TD.  Pattonsburg was able to get the ball down to North Andrew's 19-yard line on their next possession, but were unable to gain yardage on their last 3 plays and ended up with 6 points.

2nd Quarter - Platte Valley vs. DeKalb
The 2nd Quarter was the only one that did not feature one of the GRC teams, so I did not follow this quarter as closely.  It ended up in a 6-6 tie, but Platte Valley played their JV most of the quarter.

3rd Quarter - North Andrew vs. DeKalb
In the 3rd Quarter, North Andrew only played their varsity the first 4 plays on both offense and defense.  After inserting the JV, DeKalb was able to score on the Cardinals twice.  When the Cardinals were on offense, they were able to rush for 31 yards on their first 3 plays before an incomplete pass.  However, they failed to score after the JV came in.  DeKalb came out ahead 12-0 in the quarter.

4th Quarter - Pattonsburg vs. Platte Valley
Platte Valley went on offense first in the 4th Quarter.  Platte Valley was able to score 3 times in their 12 plays.  Pattonsburg struggled to stop the Platte Valley offense.  The Panthers had 12 plays on offense and threw all 12 plays.  On the 7th play, Gage Iddings connected with Tyson Gibson on a 23-yard touchdown.  Unfortunately for the Panthers, their next possession resulted in 4 incomplete passes and ended the quarter with the Panthers behind 18-6.

5th Quarter - Pattonsburg vs. DeKalb
DeKalb started on offense first in the 5th Quarter.  They were able to score one TD to go up 6-0.  When Pattonsburg went on offense, they marched down the field on their first 4 plays (all passes), and Gage Iddings connected with Samuel Coin for a 38-yard TD.  The JV played the final 8 plays with Landon Preston at QB.  On the 11th play, it was the Preston to Preston connection that scored again with Kyler Preston scoring on a 2-yd TD reception from Landon.  The Panthers won the 5th quarter 12-6.

6th Quarter - North Andrew vs. Platte Valley
Platte Valley and North Andrew played a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors before the 6th quarter.  Platte Valley won and elected to start on defense.  North Andrew marched down the field and ran the ball all but 2 plays of their quarter.  They had the ball at the 3-yard line on their final play.  QB Braxon Linville called his own number and ran to the right, but the Platte Valley defense was able to stay in front of him and force him out at the 1-yard line.  They were 1 yard short and did not score.

Platte Valley took over and they struggled to move the ball, but eventually got to the Cardinal 20-yard line by the 10th play.  But North Andrew sacked the Platte Valley QB Aydan Blackford on the final two plays to end the 6th quarter scoreless.

For more coverage of the jamboree including interviews with Pattonsburg coach Brandon Burkhead and North Andrew coach Dwayne Williams, you can listen to the GRC podcast below.

Final Scores
Platte Valley 24-12
DeKalb 24-18
North Andrew 12-18
Pattonsburg 24-36

North Andrew Stats (Unofficial)
Braxon Linville, 2-5, 49 yards, 1 TD
Blaise Patterson, 4-10, 38 yards, 1 Int

Hayden Ecker, 59 yards, 1 TD
Braxon Linville, 48 yards
Andrew Goff, 42 yards
Billy Atkins, 20 yards
Blaise Patterson, -5 yards

Gunner Lawrence, 49 yards, 1 TD
Mattox Sybert, 28 yards
Cooper Grishow, 10 yards

Pattonsburg Stats (Unofficial)
Gage Iddings, 18-25, 182 yards, 2 TD
Landon Preston, 4-7, 36 yards, 1 TD

Brody Langfitt, 40 yards, 1 TD
Kyler Preston, 12 yards
Samuel Coin, 2 yards

Samuel Coin, 85 yards 1 TD
Kaden Locker, 37 yards
Brody Langfitt, 37 yards
Tyson Gibson, 23 yards, 1 TD
Kyler Preston, 15 yards, 1 TD
Dalton Sperry, 15 yards
Evan Schreiber, 6 yards

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

GRC 8-Man Football Preview

by Jeremy Benson,

Coaches' Pre-Season Poll

North Andrew's season last year was a difficult one.  They had multiple players out with injury.  But last year's struggles may pay dividends for them in 2022.  With many key players out, the younger players were able to gain some experience.  Now everyone is healthy and North Andrew is the coaches' pick to win the GRC 8-Man.

Here are the coaches' picks for the 2022 season for GRC 8-Man:

North Andrew
North Andrew finished 6-5 in 2021 including 2-3 in the GRC.  Owen Graham is the only graduating senior from last season.  The Cardinals will be led this season by Sophomore dual-threat Quarterback Braxon Linville, who threw for 940 yards last year, but his biggest threat is his legs.  As a freshman, Linville was able to run for 1,467 yards.  Those stats helped him earn first season all-conference at All-Purpose Back.  With Senior Running Back Hayden Ecker expected to be healthy from the start of the season, expect defenders to have a difficult time with the Cardinal rushing game.  Senior Andrew Goff will be at Fullback full-time after having to play lineman due to multiple injuries last year.  He rounds out an already talented back field.

North Andrew will welcome back several key players who missed all or the majority of last season to injuries.  Khizer Shunk and Gunner Lawrence were out the entire season and Jacob Chittum was out over half the year.  Each of them will be key to the Cardinal's success.  Shunk and Chittum will join Senior All-Conference lineman Aiden Miller to shore up what was a thin offensive line last season.

The defense will be led by Ecker, Chittum, and Goff, who all earned all-conference honors last year with Ecker being named to 1st team.

Coach Dwayne Williams said, "Our hope is to stay healthy this season and compete for a conference title.  We spent all of last season scrambling and moving players around due to injuries. We had several games where we only dressed out 12 players due to all of the injuries and started 3-4 freshmen several times as well. We are encouraged by the experience those young players gained and look forward to them contributing this season."

Coach Williams added that this has been the best summer they have had in the weight room and at camp.  The players have worked extremely hard to rehab their injuries and to get stronger.  He is hopeful that this will prevent them from missing playing time in the future.

Worth County
Last season, Worth County started the season as the 4th highest ranked GRC team in 8-Man.  They were not expected to win conference, much less make a deep run in the playoffs.  But the Tigers proved the experts wrong.  They finished 13-1, winning the GRC at 5-0 and finished second in State with their only loss being 48-42 to Drexel in the State Championship Game.

With the loss of six seniors, Worth County once again may be underestimated coming into the season.  Five of the six seniors earned first team all-conference last season with the remaining player earning second team.  Departing are Ayden Gladstone (1st-team QB/DB), Alex Rinehart (1st-team RB/LB), Jackson Runde (1st-team LB/2nd-team TE), Austin Pride (1st-team OL), Dawson Vore (1st-team DE) and Dylan Wilmes (2nd-team OL).

The task of repeating as conference champs now falls on returning players all-conference Defensive Lineman Jase Latham along with Levi Cassavaugh, Braxton Hightshoe, Dylan McIntyre, Creed Wilcox, and Tanner Ridge.  Others expected to contribute are Tyler New at quarterback, Elias Alacorn and Grant McIntyre.

Coach Jon Adwell said that "Kids are hungry. They feel like they some unfinished business to take care of."

Stanberry began last season ranked #1 in 8-man.  They maintained that ranking through the first 6 weeks in route to a 5-0 start.  However, the back half of the schedule including playoffs featured 4 games against teams that finished ranked in the top 5 of the final 8-man football polls.

The Bulldogs finished 6-4 in 2021 including 4-1 in the GRC.  They enter this season having to replace the Schwebach twins.  Austin threw for just under 900 yards as quarterback last season while also rushing for over 500 yards.  His brother Tyler led Stanberry with over 624 yards accounting for about 70% of the team's receiving yards.  Also graduating are Landon Marticke, Austin Colvin, Ethan Oldham and Ben Messner.

But the Bulldogs still have a lot of returning talent, especially at running back, where All-Conference Running Back Tucker Schieber and Grant Cameron will be lining up behind new quarterback Colby McQuinn.  Schieber will look to run for 1,000 yard for the third straight year as a junior.  Schieber also earned all-conference at punter and second team honors at DE/LB.  Lance Wallace returns after an all-conference performances at both offensive line and defensive end.  Other top newcomers include Cooper Adcock, who will play both offensive and defensive line, and Decker Hyde, starting at tight end and defensive back.

Coach Shane Hilton said that he expects the Bulldogs "to compete and be towards the top of the conference, with several new faces also to compete and improve quickly as the season progresses."

King City
King City is coming off their best season since returning to 8-man.  Their 2021 campaign ended with a State Semifinal appearance which saw them go 10-3 including 3-2 in the GRC.  The task for the Wildkats is to replace Parker Muff, Landon Wells, Sawyer McCallon and Corbin Taylor.  All four were all-conference last year with multiple players on offense and defense.

Despite the loss of four very talented seniors, King City returns a lot of experienced players with 17 seniors on this years team.  Top returning players include All-Conference players Ty Mooney, Chase Moss, and Landan Jackson plus Ron Pulliam, Dustin Walters and Jacob Boone.  They are joined by newcomers Zeke Fisher, Hunter Hass and Jacob Dierberger.

Coach Micah Breckenridge said, "We have some big shoes to replace but we have a strong senior class returning who are ready to play. I think we will be very competitive in the GRC and could be at the top if all of the pieces come together like we hope."

Albany finished the 2021 season with a record of 4-6 including 1-4 in the GRC.  They will start the 2022 campaign having to replace six seniors including Running Back Quincy Stamper who rushed for just under 700 yards.  Others in last year's senior class were Nate Doolittle, Jody King, Kirby Stevens, Ian Campbell, and Garrett Phillips.

But the Warriors were not left without any talent this season.  They return 5 experienced seniors including three that were 1st team all-conference.  Quarterback Kemper Cline earned 1st team at All-Purpose Back.  He rushed for over 1,000 yards and passed for over 500 yards last season.  Truman Runnels was 1st team at linebacker plus second team on the offensive line, and Zavien Dierenfeldt earned all-conference on special teams as 1st team kicker and 2nd team punter.  Rounding out the senior class are WR/DB Porter Davis and OL/DL Sam Miller.

Albany is expected to mix in their experienced players with a large number of newcomers who have had limited varsity playing time in the past.  Coach Doug Fountain said, "We return a measurable amount of varsity experience and feel good about a number of players stepping into varsity roles. As always, we want to be playing our best football in November."

Pattonsburg finished the 2021 season with a record of 3-7 including 0-5 in the GRC.  They return most of their team in 2022 losing only second-team all-conference QB Zane Reed.  Returning for the Panthers are All-Conference Wide Receivers Brody Langfitt (1st team) and Sam Coin (2nd team).  Both Langfitt and Coin eclipsed the 500-yard mark in receiving yards last season.  Langfitt is also a dual-threat in the back field where he ran for 436 yards.

Other key returners Gage Iddings and Kaden Locker will be joined by Tyson Gibson who will be returning after not playing his junior year.

New Pattonsburg coach Brandon Burkhead said that his goals for this year are "putting Pattonsburg back on the map, and getting back to the Panther way." 

St. Joseph Christian
St. Joseph Christian finished 0-10 in 2021.  They will be playing conference games this year after a 3-year absence which included a two-year stint at 11-man.  The Lions have fallen on hard times lately and will enter the season on a 25-game losing streak.  

The Lions will be a little more experienced than last season, but will still be young again this year.  Caleb Carlson was the lone senior to graduate from last season, but they return several players that had quality playing time a season ago.  Senior Jacob Clabaugh will start at QB.  Other returnees Cy Carlson, Levi Miller, Logan Hubble, Adam Dean, Jaren Padgett and Judson Smith will be joined by newcomers Kellen Dunn, Conner Wagers, Jonah Elderhorst, Grayson Strueby, Vail Fruechting, Shaden Morris and Aiden Martindell.

Coach Troy Schenk said that he expects improvement from 2021.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

GRC 11-Man Football Preview

by Jeremy Benson,

Coaches' Pre-Season Poll

Defending GRC 11-Man Champion Gallatin Bulldogs look to repeat as champions this year.  According to the coaches, they are the favorites to become the first GRC football team to capture back-to-back outright titles since South Harrison in 2012 and 2013.

Here are the coaches' picks for the 2022 season for GRC 11-Man:

Gallatin finished 9-3 in 2021 including 6-1 in the GRC.  They finished a game in front of South Harrison and Milan to win their 12th conference championship.  They advanced to the District Championship game before falling to Hamilton.  Of their 3 losses in 2022, Hamilton was the opponent in 2 of them.

The core of the Bulldogs team is returning including Junior Quarterback Peyton Baker.  Baker threw for over 2000 yards and rushed for over 500 yards during his sophomore campaign.  This dual-threat quarterback will be tough for opponents to defend this year.  Senior Daven Wright will be starting at running back this season.  He averaged just under 5 yards a carry last season, but will be expected to take on a bigger role in the back field this season with the graduation of Jaggar Gray.  

Senior Wide Receiver Isaac Bird and Senior Tight End Payton Fieden are expected to be the top targets for Baker this year, but also expect Wright to catch some passes out of the back field.  The Bulldogs will be protected by an experienced line which includes four senior lineman (Gabe Parker, Colt Baker, Brett Hemry, Ethan Adkinson) and Senior Fullback Logan Botcher along with newcomer Junior lineman Keegan McBroom.

Although Gallatin lost a couple of key contributors on the defense in Jaggar Gray, Carson Lang and Draygan Schweizer, most of the defense returns this year for a team that led the GRC in allowing only 15 points per game (including 11 ppg in conference).  Many of the same players mentioned above on offense are expected to play a big roll on defense as well.  In addition, Juniors Boston Bell and Owen Waterbury are expected to step in to continue the Bulldogs stinginess on defense.

Many of Gallatin's returning players earned all-conference honors last season: Peyton Baker (1st-team QB), Isaac Bird (1st-team WR/DB), Payton Fieden (1st-team TE/LB), Gabe Parker (1st-team OL/DL), Draven Wright (1st-team Athlete/DB/Returner, Hon Men K), Brett Hemry (2nd-team OL, Hon Men LB)

First-year head coach Chris Holt said that "We will be more physical in nature.  We want to compete for a chance to win a conference and district title."

Trenton finished the 2021 season 5-6 including 4-3 in the GRC.  It was a much improved campaign, in which they were right in the thick of the conference race until the final two weeks.

Trenton is losing All-Conference and All-District Caleb Johnson, who was a key player on defense.  In addition, they will have to replace over half of the offensive line with 3 seniors graduating.  Returning for the Bulldogs are All-Conference FB/LB Sam Gibson, QB Colman Griffin (who was All-Conference at punter) and All-Conference WR/DB Tucker Otto.

Coach Kevin Hixon said, "We have some good young lineman returning.  Our expectations for the season is to go out and play harder and be more competitive."

Milan was in the thick of the conference race last season.  Mid-season losses to Gallatin and Trenton left them a game out of the conference lead.  They finished 2021 6-5 including 5-2 in the GRC.  The biggest hole that the Wildcats will have to replace this season is All-State Running Back Deric Deporto.  Wildcats will also have to replace the following all-conference athletes:  Blake Eitel (1st-team OL), John Ray De LaCruz (2nd-team DB), and David Eddy (Hon Men. DB).

Milan has plenty of talented players returning this season.  They have another Deporto in the back field in Darren Deporto who was 2nd-team all-conference at running back and defensive end.  Deporto will switch to nose guard on defense this season.  Other all-conference players returning are Christian Chaparro (1st-team Kicker), Ahmet Niasse (2nd-team LB), Chase Jacobs (Hon. Men. OL), Carlos Cotto (Hon. Men. RB).  Garret Mosely also returns to join Jacobs on the line.

Jeremy Bennett missed all of last season due to injury, but will be returning for his senior season.  He was 1st-team all-conference wide receiver and honorable mention defensive back as a sophomore.  Top newcomers include Jose Garcia and Jared Gonzalez.

Mark Cole is taking over the head coach duties for John Dabney who retired.  Coach Cole said, "With the skill players returning and a large number of starters from our defense, we have high hopes to fit into the top half of the conference and be a tough out by season's end."

Polo finished the 2021 season with a 6-4 record including 4-3 in the GRC.  Other than their game against Princeton, every game was decided by 12 or fewer points.  Their biggest win came against GRC Champion Gallatin 13-12.  Coach Kyle Ross will have to replace seven key players that made at least one postseason team last season (Andrew Stone, Mason Chapman, Caleb Thompson, Braxton Mellon, Damion Tice, Jace Bolling)

Despite the loss of talent, Polo's most experience unit this season will be it's offensive line, which returns four starters (Aden Segal, Hunter Harris, Tyler Covey, Wyatt Kelly) and Senior Ty Claypool who is moving to the guard position after a great offseason in the weight room.  Sophomore Maverick Gentry will line up behind the line as quarterback and Junior Ayden Baker brings experience at the wing position.  Gentry was also a 3rd-team all-state punter last season.  Senior Zadin Owens and Sophomore Gage Gilbert will be targets for Gentry as receivers this year.  They are both big targets with good hands that also block well.  Rounding out the backfield will be Senior Luke Curp at running back and Levi Bolling at fullback.

Polo's defense was one of their strengths last year.  They held all but one opponent to 20 or fewer points last season.  Many of the offensive players will also find playing time on defense this year, including All-Conference returnees Claypool (2nd-team DB), Baker (2nd-team DB, Hon Men WR/Returner) and Gentry (Hon Men DB/P).  Other players on the defensive end include Owens, Bolling, Gilbert, Harris, Kelley, and Covey.  Freshman Tommy Ross and Seniors Zander Preacher and Landon Norton are expected to give the Panthers depth on defense.  

Coach Ross said, "We will be pretty young again, as we will only have a handful of Seniors this year.  We did gain a lot of experience with our young kids last year in some very tight ball games.  Our Freshman class has a lot of boys out and they are going to help us in the future.  Freshman Owen Horner, Dalton Gatrel, and Cody Ziegler will play some special teams and rotational time immediately.  I think we will continue to be a competitive team on the rise, as long as we can stay away from the injury bug, etc."

South Harrison
South Harrison finished 2021 with a 6-5 record including 5-2 in the GRC.  A 2-point loss to Gallatin in their opening conference game was the only thing between them and a conference title.  If they are going to challenge for a conference title this year, they will have to replace several key players who graduated.  Braydon Spurling was a very good football player and great leader.  He played mike linebacker all 4 years and was all-state his junior and senior year.  He also played offensive line and tight end.  Parker Chamberlin earned 1st-team all-conference honors at running back last season and was also the team's punter, for which he got honorable mention all-conference.  Chance Corbett was 1st-team all-conference at wide receiver.  His quickness allowed him to make some big plays on the outside.

Jad Cornett will return for the Bulldogs at quarterback where he earned 2nd-team all-conference.  He is expected to be a bigger part of the offense this season.  Grant Williams was 2nd-team all-conference at running back.  Grant will also play linebacker, and by the end of the season he was a great defender.  Beau Rainey played on both sides of the line last season earnings 1st-team all-conference on offense and 2nd-team on defense.  He is very physical and will be expected to be the leader of the line on both sides.

Top newcomers that are expected to get significant playing time are Cooper Johnson, Briar Hudlemeyer, Rugar Johnson and Crae Johnson.

Head Coach Chris Schoning thinks that his "team has the potential to play very good football. We are going to have a big mixture of Seniors through Freshmen, so that will be different for some of these guys. But I think if they can trust each other and depend on one another we will have a good season."

Maysville finished 2021 with a 3-7 record including 2-5 in the GRC.  However, the record is not indicative of how well they competed last season.  Their opponents only outscored them by 18 total points the entire season.  They had 2 losses by one score and 3 others by two scores.  They were in most games in the 4th quarter.  

For Maysville to compete again this year (and hopefully turn those into wins), they will have to replace some key players.  Departing players who were all-conference last year include: Jacob Uthe (1st-team WR) and Logan Kimbrell (1st-team DB; Hon. Men. WR).  The Wolverines will also miss Caden Israel, Zach Heintz, and Adam Owens.

Returning for the Wolverines will be Konnor Watkins (2nd-team OL/DL), Coy Sobotka (2nd-team LB), Spencer Pliley (Hon. Men. RB), Kaleb Jestes (Hon. Men. LB), Dillon Willis, Emmett Wade, Canon Scoles, Max Heintz, Kendrick Gabbard, Kobyn Metzger, and Trey Hall.

Newcomers expected to contribute will be Kris Gabbard, Tanner Evans, Gavin Kennedy, Dillon Clark, Braden Watkins, and Carson Bray.

Coach Chris McMillen said, "Although our win total from last was not where we wanted it to be, we were very competitive in all the contests. This year we are experiencing a boost in numbers which is always a good thing. With good numbers and returning a ton of experienced players our expectations are high. The guys have worked hard this summer in the weight room  and in practices so far.  They are hungry to prove themselves this season."

Putnam County
Putnam County finished the 2021 campaign with a 3-7 record including 2-5 in the GRC.  While they welcome Adam Huse as the new coach from Marshall, most of the Midget team will be returning.  Their only senior departing from last year's team was Elijah Jones who started on both the offensive and defensive lines.

The top returning players this year will be RB/LB Blaine Perkins (1st-team all-conference Athlete), WR/DB Jake Rouse (2nd-team all-conference DB), RB/DB Nico Lopez (2nd-team all-conference Returner), TE/LB Chase Simmons (2nd-team all-conference LB) and OL/DL Brayden Walter.  In addition, Chase Tomlin will be returning after missing all last year with an injury.  Joining the team this year will be TE/LB Kollin Huse, who moved with his dad from Marshall, and OL/DL Mason Robinson, who transferred from Princeton.

Coach Huse said that he is "very excited about our group of kids.  They work extremely hard.  Seventeen had perfect attendance this summer, and another 8 had 94% or higher attendance.  We return a lot of players with experience.  Many of our seniors have been starting since they were sophomores, and some even as freshman.  They have bought into our new systems and my coaching, and I feel we are looking towards a great year."

Coach Huse added that with being in a new conference, he is looking forward to seeing all of the schools in the conference and the area, and can't wait to get started.

Coming into last season, Princeton had won (at least a share of) back-to-back GRC 11-man championships.  With their title in 2017, the 2020 graduating class won 3 championships in their 4 seasons.  That class had 10 all-conference players.  

Last year, the Tigers found it difficult to replace that much talent graduating.  They finished the season 0-10 including 0-7 in conference.  The Tigers only had 2 players graduate from last year's team (Logan Smith and Luke Kelly), but they also lose Mason Robinson, who move to Putnam County, and Gavin Power, who chose not to play.

The Tigers are still young and return a lot of players who saw significant playing time last year.  All-Conference returnees Talen Holt (2nd-team WR/Punter) and Andrew Rhoades (1st-team Returner) are joined by Tyler Brown, Evan Houck, Kelby Thomas, Tyler Coffman, Nicolas Rubio, Dylan Girdner, Gabe Zeider, Hunter Foster, Ethan Rhoades, and Cooper Boxley.

Princeton doesn’t have any Mercer players this year, but added Newtown-Harris to the co-op.  Johannes Oaks will join them from Newtown-Harris.  In addition, three freshman, Kole Lewis, Chanse Glenn, and Lance Montgomery,  are expected to get playing time due to a small roster.

Coach Nathan Powell commented that, "We had a humbling season last year after coming off back to back conference championships and a district runner-up in 2020.  Our inexperience and bad coaching on my part added up on us.  The kids that hung in there and took lumps last season gained a lot of valuable experience and have come back eager to redeem themselves.  We don't have a deep bench to pull subs from this season, so for us to be successful, we are going to have to control the tempo of the game when we have the ball and be very patient with our play calls.  Defensively we are changing things up from what we have built on the past 3 seasons.  We have a lot of athleticism and we're going to try and use that to be more multiple and more aggressive with our calls."