Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lindy lets a SEMO name slip, plus a look ahead to the weekend

A national publication is picking SEMO defensive lineman Edgar Jones to be one of the best college football players on the Football Championship Series (formerly Division I-AA) level this year.

Trouble is, Jones graduated last year, a fact that must have gotten past the editors and forecasters behind Lindy's annual football guide. They made the same slip with Alex Miller of UMass, who also made Lindy's preaseason All-America team, even though he graduated, too.

Just in case that doesn't shake your confidence in Lindy's preseason predictions, the magazine picks Ohio Valley Conference member Tennessee-Martin No. 17 in its poll. Eastern Illinois is 19. Others of note are Southern Illinois at No. 12 and Appalachian State at No. 1.

Among things to do this weekend ...

• The annual Perry County Community Rodeo opens Friday and wraps up Saturday at the East Perry Fairgrounds near Altenburg. Events start both nights at 7:30 p.m. Four of the IPRA's eight points leaders are entered, along with a host of local competitors, including Jeremy Nice of Jackson, Matt Cissell of Perryville, Jerry Seabaugh and Brent Menz of Delta, Jeremy Brocke of Cape Girardeau, Chris Evans of Benton, Brian Glueck of Friedheim, Steve Reisenbichler of Perryville, and Carey Margrabe of Gordonville.

• Fredericktown Raceway hasn't held a night of auto racing since closing in late 2004, but the track is scheduled to reopen Friday night with new owners and management, who say the track will have a newer look after months of renovations. Racing starts at 7 p.m. Crate-style late models and open-wheel modifieds are among the weekly classes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Baseball highlights the week for local high school and KIT teams

As busy as last week was with state high school championships, the OVC tournament and sectional baseball and soccer, this week's schedule isn't slowing down much.

Two Southeast Missouri teams are still in the hunt for a state high school baseball championship, and both play semifinals Wednesday starting with West County vs. Houston at 10 a.m. and Valle vs. New Haven at 4 p.m. The semifinals and finals will be in Springfield.

Moving up a level, the Sikeston Bulls of the KIT League begin their second season Friday at Owensboro, Ky., with new management, including first-year coach Jamie Puckett, a Sikeston High School graduate. Fred Johnson is the team's new general manager. The Bulls open the home schedule the following Thursday.

The KIT's Farmington Firebirds also open the season Friday on the road at Fulton, Ky., and open their home schedule the following Friday.

The Capahas, Cape Girardeau's amateur summer baseball team, begin their 41st season Friday against Valmeyer, Ill.

This week's other local baseball option is the Frontier League's Southern Illinois Miners, a new Class A team in Marion that opens their home season tonight against Evansville at the new Rent One Park. But good luck getting in: The game is sold out.

Another big debut is set for Friday with the opening of Fredericktown Raceway, which last competed in late 2004 and has underdone massive renovations over the past several months. Crate-division late models and modifieds are among the classes scheduled to compete each week.

One last racing note: The Midwest All Star Series event that was rained out Friday at Auto Tire & Parts Racepark near Benton is expected to be rescheduled, but no date has been set.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Almost nine months later, a new landscape for local sports

A national sports columnist this week lamented the growing popularity of local sports web sites, bashing their tendency to glamorize high school athletes and elevate them to superstar status.

Gone are the days when high school athletes enjoyed the thrill of competition, he says, instead replaced by the thrill of touting an athlete's sports accomplishment in front of a worldwide web audience.

Of course they're the opinions of a newspaper columnist, whose industry faces a startling crisis in both circulation, ad revenue and overall public perception, and whose industry helped begin the perceived crisis that has him grumbling now.

Truth is, when debuted Sept. 1, the intent was to serve as a sort of archive of local sports information. The plan to feature historical information on local sports teams, racetracks and other venues that was already available through a variety of sources and a little research. Our goal was never to be an updated news site.

And yet over the past nine months, as our region's other media sources dropped the ball again and again, we found ourselves pursuing and scooping one story after another, then watched as other media tried to catch up days later.

Will Bogan's move from the University of Memphis to SEMO was news here days before it reached other outlets. The same goes for more than a dozen local coaching hirings and firings. SEMO basketball player injuries, defections and other scoops. Even brackets and live championship results from a half-dozen local Christmas basketball tournaments, including one sponsored by the Southeast Missourian.

Thanks to determination from the almost 50,000 visitors to our site, and thanks to bloggers David Unterreiner, Jay Bartolone and Mark Unterreiner, we've had a tremendous nine months, and we've done it with exclusive news and original opinions, largely avoiding the recycled headlines that you already saw in local newspapers.

As we head into the summer, I'd love to hear your ideas for making our site better and to continue our evolution. E-mail me at, or head back to our home page and share your opinions on our feedback form.

And thanks for a great run so far.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What we'll see in light of the MSHSAA vote

A measure to split private schools and public schools in separate playoffs wasn't just defeated this week. It was blown out of the water by a 321-92 vote. MSHSAA members, whose votes were announced Thursday, emphatically said they like the playoffs just the way they are.

Except, of course, in football, where schools voted to change the playoffs starting in 2008 to include district champions and second-place finishers. That puts the MSHSAA under pressure to find a fair way to organize the overlapping playoffs, which would see district runners-up go on the road to play at district champions in the round of the playoffs.

One of the most overlooked votes was a milestone that has been defeated in the past: the establishment of an affiliate registered school category for small private schools that can't or don't want to become full MSHSAA members. Under the ARS plan, schools can register as affiliate members and schedule MSHSAA members for regular-season contests. In the past, schools such as Eagle Ridge Christian School in Cape Girardeau and New Salem Academy in Marble Hill have pushed for a similar rule and the scheduling benefit that it brings. Expect most (and maybe all) of the eligible private schools across Southeast Missouri to take advantage of the membership program.

ARS teams still will not be eligible for the MSHSAA playoffs.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

You think the MSHSAA situation is extreme? Check out the news from Florida

While Missouri coaches and administrators debate the pros and cons of their vote whether to split high schools into two individual associations, state legislators in Florida have taken it upon themselves to do that.

But now the real surprise: The whole process is being done without the involvement of coaches, administrators or even the Florida High School Athletic Association, which oversees state high school sports.

In a vote Tuesday, the Florida Senate voted to push the state's private schools out of the FHSAA and into their own private organization. That means the schools would have their own playoff system, much like the proposal that's being debated in Missouri. The biggest difference, however, is that in Missouri, individual schools were given a vote (those results should be known later this week).

In Florida, officials at the FHSAA said they were never even notified of the Senate measure, nor were they included in any discussions.

"Nobody said anything to us," FHSAA commissioner John Stewart told the St. Petersburg Times in this story published Wednesday.

The measure is expected to be approved by the House this week, then will go to Gov. Charlie Crist for his signature.

The bill's top supporter says he introduced the measure because the FHSAA is "rude" and "arrogant" and doesn't listen to the complaints of its private school members.

And yet the head of the Florida Council of Independent Schools told the Times that his group didn't doesn't even support the bill. Most of Florida's private schools don't support the split either, he said, even though it appears on the fast track toward being approved.

The bill will allow private and public schools to compete during the regular season, then stage separate playoffs with the public and private champions meeting at the end of the playoffs for a final championship game.