Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Brian Murph waiting for his shot at the pros

Kansas is off to a quick start, but for the first time in two seasons, the Jayhawks are doing it without New Madrid County Central all-stater Brian Murph, who left the Big 12 last season as one of its top punt return threats.

Murph completed his eligibility last season when he led the team with almost 500 yards in receptions and scored four touchdowns, including a 129-yard game against Nebraska. Murph told me this week that he's finishing up his final two courses this semester and expects to play professionally by this time next year.

"I'm also looking for a new agent," he said. "I felt like my other one didn't do everything that he was supposed to do."

• Photo galleries were posted Monday from Friday's area high school football games, and look for more photo coverage on SemoSportsWeb from throughout Southeast Missouri as football season continues. We're planning more galleries from games this week, including North County vs. Poplar Bluff and Farmington vs. Sikeston.

If you haven't seen Friday's photos, click here for Al Jones' Caruthersville-Hayti photos or click here for Keith Hente's Jackson-Sikeston gallery.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Six football teams still in the hunt for an unbeaten finish

The list of unbeaten high school football teams in the region was trimmed by three Friday in a day of surpising lopsided finishes.

Perryville (3-1) lost for the first time this season at Park Hills Central, which is 4-0. At Scott City, the host Rams (3-1) had allowed just 13 points through three games, then gave up 42 points to Fredericktown (4-0) in a loss. And Festus, No. 3 in the SemoSportsWeb poll, lost to up-and-coming Fox 18-14 and fell to 3-1.

The last of the undefeated teams in Southeast Missouri are Farmington, Park Hills Central, Jackson, Crystal City, Hayti and Thayer. Of the six, Park Hills Central and Crystal City have emerged as the biggest surprises, and Demetrius Terry added an exclamation mark to the Hornets' strong start by running for more than 250 yards against Festus. At least half of that six-team pack stands a great chance of running the tables on the regular season and going into the district schedule at 7-0.

• Valle and Malden avoided the prospect of an 0-10 season Friday when both won, and formerly winless Cape Girardeau Central won for the first time Thursday. That leaves Grandview, DeSoto, Hillsboro, East Prairie, Portageville, St. Pius X, Caruthersville, Herculaneum and Salem as the region's only teams still looking for a win.

• Sikeston was 2-0 after early-season wins, but the Bulldogs have dropped two in a row, including a lopsided 42-0 finish against Jackson. It's not the kind of momentum Sikeston wants heading into Friday's home game against Farmington, ranked No. 1 in the SemoSportsWeb.com poll. The Knights hounded Hillsboro 37-19 Friday. See our gallery of photos from the Jackson Sikeston game here.

• Is anybody still unconvinced that Fox might be the real deal? The program hasn't had a winning record in so long that coaches weren't even sure when a Post-Dispatch reporter asked Friday after the Warriors defeated Festus 18-14. It was the first time this season Festus allowed a point this season.

"I don't think any of the other teams will take us lightly anymore," running back Alex Pisoni said. And why should they? Fox is 3-1 in the Mississippi Area Football Conference's Red Division, owing its only loss to Farmington in Week 1. The Warriors are in a Class 6 district with Mehlville, Northwest and Oakville.

• Chaffee picked up its second win of the season over a Walnut Ridge, Ark., team that was expecting its own breakthrough Friday. The Red Devils are 2-2 under second-year coach Charlie Vickery and have an intriguing date Friday with their biggest rival, Scott City.

• One basketball note: Chris Trimmer was Dexter's boys basketball coach last season and was at Ste. Genevieve before that. He left Dexter for a Windsor coaching job that put him closer to his family, but he recently resigned from that position because of Meniere's disease, a disorder of the inner ear. The Jefferson County Journal described Trimmer's off-the-court battle in a story here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What to look for heading into Week 4 schedule, plus a few notes

There are plenty of big questions going into tonight's Week 4 high school football, especially at East Prairie, where Gary Scott was picked this week to replace Jason Aycock as head coach for the rest of the season. Check out the full report on our home page.

But it doesn't end there, because today's games will either end or extend hot streaks for several local teams.

At Ste. Genevieve, the host Dragons (2-1) host Crystal City (3-0) but are expected to play without junior QB Kory Faulkner, who's nursing a knee injury.

At Sikeston, Jackson (3-0) visits the Bulldogs (2-1) in what has traditionally been a SEMO North toss-up.

Fredericktown and Scott City both are 3-0, but one of them will lose tonight when they meet at Scott City. Perryville and Park Hills Central also are both 3-0 and play tonight in an MAFC showdown.

Check our home page throughout the night for updated info and scores for all 33 football teams across Southeast Missouri.

• Auto Tire & Parts Racepark in Scott County will host a budget-minded version of the popular late model class tonight in a special appearance. The crate late model class will compete along with pure stocks and cruisers. Sprints will return next week.

• Thanks to everybody who's jumped on our MySpace page. We're at 550+ friends and growing. We'll add more content to our MySpace page as time goes on, so look for us at MySpace.com/SemoSportsWeb.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Updates on Ste. Gen injuries, local schedules and a new basketball shootout

Ste. Genevieve quarterback Kory Faulkner said Sunday that his knee injury might not be severe enough to keep him from being back on the field soon.

Faulkner, a junior, left Friday's game with a knee injury in Ste. Genevieve's first possession. He sat out the rest of the game, and Ste. Genevieve lost 21-14 to unbeaten Perryville. The Dragons host Crystal City (3-0) on Friday.

Faulkner is scheduled to have his knee examined Monday. He said he's hopeful that a knee brace is all that stands between him and a return to the Dragons' lineup.

• Faulkner threw for 2,222 yards last season as a junior and already had more than 800 yards of offense after two games this season, making him an early leader as Southeast Missouri's top player of the season. With their teams 3-0, Hayti's Shaun Jones and Perryville's Waylon Sparkman have turned into two of the region's best defensive players and join Faulkner on that list. Ryan Sawyer's 267-yard rushing game Friday for unbeaten Fredericktown quickly pushed him toward the front of the line with a handful of names from Crystal City, Farmington, Festus and Jackson.

• Could Kennett be 5-1 approaching the district playoffs? After losing 34-7 to Hayti on Friday, Kennett's next three opponents are East Prairie, Portageville and Malden — which are each 0-3. At the opposite end is Caruthersville, which is 0-3 and faces Hayti (3-0), Festus (3-0) and New Madrid County Central (2-1) in the next three weeks.

• Looking for a game this week? Fox at Festus promises a classic clash Friday between a high-scoring Fox offense and a Festus defense that has set the standard among Southeast Missouri teams by shutting out its first three opponents (Seckman, Dexter, Hillsboro) 120-0.

Elsewhere Friday, Fredericktown and Scott City meet in a battle of 3-0 teams. Same goes for Perryville and Park Hills Central, both 3-0. At Malden, either the host Green Wave or Portageville will pick up their first win, and at Hillsboro, host Grandview and Valle also will try to improve to 1-3.

• The lineup is set for the inaugural Pepsi Challenge, a one-day high school boys basketball event that will bring teams from three states to the Show Me Center on Dec. 22. The games: Farmington vs. DeSoto at 10 a.m.; Poplar Bluff vs. Fort Zumwalt South at 11:45; Cape Girardeau Central vs. Vienna, Ill., at 1:30 p.m.; Lafayette vs. Pinckneyville, Ill., at 3:15; Notre Dame vs. Gateway Tech at 5; McCluer North vs. Memphis White Station at 6:45; and Jackson vs. Webster Groves at 8:30.

And in case you still don't think basketball is getting closer, winter sports practice begins Oct. 29.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Updates on local football, Mitch Craft and more

Can Farmington run the table and head into the district playoffs unbeaten? We'll have a good idea Friday night after Farmington, No. 1 in the SemoSportsWeb poll, heads to Waynesville in what might be Friday's most intriguing high school football matchup.

Waynesville (2-0) picked apart its first two opponents — Joplin and Kickapoo — by a combined 87-26 and host the Knights (2-0) Friday on a stadium recently covered with synthetic turf. It's the first of four 2-0 teams still ahead for Farmington; Sikeston, Windsor and Festus are still to come, and local rival North County (1-1) waits in Week 9.

The list of unbeaten teams could be cut in half this week when several 2-0 teams go head-to-head. Click here to check out the complete schedule for all 33 Southeast Missouri teams.

A few other notes:

• Cape Girardeau Central might be one of the most surprising teams so far — not because the Tigers lost to Parkway North and New Madrid County Central, but more because of the lopsided finishes. Coach Lawrence Brookins' Tigers have been outscored 117-23 and host an unbeaten Blytheville, Ark., team this week. The only sign of a breather comes in Weeks 4 and 5 when Central plays St. Charles and St. Charles West, which are both 1-1. Unbeaten Jackson and unbeaten Fort Zumwalt North fill Weeks 6 and 7.

• Former Central quarterback Mitch Craft says he's working to get back on the football field — possibly at Southern Miss, where he played in 2005 and '06 after redshirting in 2004, or even at South Carolina under defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix, who worked with Craft when Nix was defensive coordinator at USM. For now, Craft is rehabilitating hamstring injuries that caused him to miss three games in 2004. He said his chances of playing at USM again are 50-50, but he could formally become a Gamecock as soon as January.

• With the start of fall sports, SemoSportsWeb.com bloggers Mark Unterreiner, David Unterreiner and Jay Bartolone have ramped it up a level to keep up with pros, colleges and more than 80 high schools across Southeast Missouri — but we're aiming even higher. If you're a local athlete or a fan willing to jot down a few thoughts and opinions once or twice a week, you could join our team as a blogger. And if your passion is photography, you could show off your photos of local sporting events on SemoSportsWeb.com and make a few bucks at the same time.

Are you game? Let's talk. Drop me a note at JHall@SemoSportsWeb.com.