Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New galleries from Friday night, plus a recruiting note

Four days of computer glitches and connection problems brought updates on SemoSportsWeb to a crawl, but we're back today with four photo galleries and well over 120 images from a big Friday night of high school football games. Click the home page to check out the images from Farmington-Festus, Chaffee-Hayti, Potosi-Fredericktown and Park Hills Central-Ste. Genevieve.

District standings are updated as well, and check back through the day for the new SemoSportsWeb football rankings, which will include a change at the top after Farmington's loss Friday.

Will Compton of North County says he hasn't changed his mind about his commitment to Nebraska while coach Bill Callahan tries to get the Cornhuskers back on track. Compton, a senior and among the state's highest-ranked recruits, said in an e-mail over the weekend that he doesn't expect to change his mind about Nebraska any time soon, although he has official visits scheduled to Mizzou on Nov. 10 and to Illinois on Nov. 17.

Compton also was mentioned Monday in a Daily Nebraskan story that detailed the confusion and uncertainty among Nebraska recruits. "(I)t's just a confusing process right now because you committed to the coaches, you committed to a program and a coaching staff and built all these relationships with commits and the coaches," Compton said.

• Compton has the eyes of Nebraska fans on him, but Ryan Sawyer of Fredericktown is the online favorite among high school football fans in our area so far. He's in a huge lead so far in our Southeast Missouri football MVP voting, leading second-place Aaron Baker of Farmington and third-place Adam Zweigert of Jackson. Click on the home page to make your choice. We'll have the poll online until the end of football season.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Is sportsmanship on the slide? MSHSAA stats say yes

Are we a state full of bad sports? According to MSHSAA numbers, we're at least heading in that direction.

There were 376 football incidents reported to the MSHSAA from games in 2006, up from 272 the previous year. A story in Tuesday's Jefferson County Journal looks at MAFC schools' bouts with disciplinary action.

On the subject of football, be sure to vote for this season's Southeast Missouri high school football MVP. Scroll down the left side of our home page and make your choice among 12 options, or leave a comment with your own pick.

So far, Fredericktown's Ryan Sawyer has stormed through early voting for a huge lead, maybe no surprise considering he's put up well over 1,000 yards in the Blackcats' 8-0 run so far.

One of this week's top matchups features Fredericktown vs. Potosi on Friday. Check the SemoSportsWeb home page over the weekend for photos from that game. We're also planning photos from Ste. Genevieve vs. Park Hills Central and at least one other game. See the full schedule for this weekend's games here, and click here for district standings.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Who is Southeast Missouri's football player of the year?

Parity among Southeast Missouri's 33 high school football teams has allowed several players to put up big numbers with just weeks to go in the regular season.

Now that several athletes are rising to the top, it brings up the question: Who's the best of the best? If you could pick one person to build a high school program around for the next four years, who would it be?

I have a couple of names in mind, and, more than likely, you do too, so check out the poll on the left side of our home page and let us know your pick among the 12 that have generated the most buzz and put up some the best numbers in our region.

On defense, there's Nebraska recruit Will Compton of North County, William Norris of Hayti, and Waylon Sparkman of Perryville. All three have been among the area's leaders all season.

Offensively, quarterbacks Aaron Baker of Farmington, Kory Faulkner of Ste. Genevieve, Blake Parr of Kennett, and Jordan Politte of Potosi are on track to pass for well over 1,000 yards this season.

Or maybe the area's premiere athlete is a running back: Ryan Sawyer of Fredericktown, Demetrius Terry of Crystal City, and Adam Zweigart of Jackson, whose teams are a combined 20-1 heading into district games.

How about a mix of offense and defense? Shaun Jones of Hayti powers his team at quarterback and on defense, where he leads the region with nine interceptions. At Thayer, Michael Lowther is an offensive and defensive workhorse and leads the unbeaten Bobcats in rushing yards, return yards, interceptions and tackles.

So you tell us: Who's our area's No. 1 football player?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Southeast's approach to PR adds fuel to the fire

The good thing about Southeast Missouri State University's athletic department? They sure keep us guessing. And thinking. And talking.

Especially talking, since Southeast usually doesn't.

This week, No News Is Good News University stumbled its way into the media with two more headlines, first when football player Tim Holloman was declared ineligible for the rest of the season. Within three days, blogs were buzzing with news that basketball player Brandon Foust is in hot water with the school after a legal run-in on campus.

And the word from Southeast? A few standard company lines followed by a hush job. And what we've learned from Southeast athletics is that if the brush is good enough, and the rug big enough, any bad news can be swept away quickly.

T.J. Walls' injury? B.J. Smith's firing? Hardly worth a mention from the university, juding by the school's glaring lack of explanation in both cases. The result? Rumors. Assumptions. Worst-case scenarios.

Welcome to the Larry Craig School of Public Relations.

Sure, the school says honesty in sensitive situations violates privacy. Makes sense. When an award-winning coach is cut loose for unspecified violations (Smith), or when a star football player is suspended for unspecified reasons (Holloman), or when a popular athlete is said to be immobile and facing a life-threatening injury (Walls), we're best left to use our imagination, let rumors fly, or even better, forget about it.

Southeast has never had a problem using paper to issue lengthy news releases on its multitude of championships, its athletic awards, its community interaction. Its accomplishments draw headlines in local print media with regularity.

So far, it's won no rewards for its openness.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Jerrod Hull brings another title back to Southeast Missouri

It's been a good season for Scott County racers embarking on new traveling racing circuits.

Two weeks ago, Joey Mack of Benton clinched the championship of the first-year Mid-South Racing Association, a late model circuit based in Arkansas. On Friday, Jerrod Hull of Sikeston wrapped up the title in the inaugural season of the Midwest All Star Series when that tour's final event at Jacksonville, Ill., was called off.

Hull, a familiar winner in sprint events across the region, finished 232 points ahead of MASS runnerup Robbie Standridge of Springfield, Ill.

Among others from Southeast Missouri, Tim Montgomery of Fredericktown was seventh in the final MASS points; Tyler Thompson of Cape Girardeau was eighth; and Joey Montgomery of Fredericktown was 10th.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Area's list of 1,000-yard performers grows with four local names

Four Southeast Missouri high school football players have reached the 1,000-yard season mark at the halfway point of the regular season, and a handful of others are primed to get there over the final five weeks of the schedule.

Jordan Politte of Potosi became one of the region's first of three 1,000-yard passers Friday in a defeat of Perryville. Heading into the final five games of the season, Politte has thrown for 1,097 yards.

Quarterback Kory Faulkner of Ste. Genevieve toppled the 1,000-yard mark in the Dragons' win Friday over Herculaneum, putting him on track to rival his 2,222 yards passing as a sophomore last season.

A third quarterback, Aaron Baker of Farmington, has thrown for 1,033 yards and rushed for 553. At that pace, Baker could have 3,000 yards of total offense by the end of the 10-game schedule.

After five weeks, QBs Ben Mills of Dexter (662 yards), Tyler Hoog of St. Pius X (650 yards passing), Chase McClendon of Charleston (621 yards), Shawn Crump of Festus (593 yards), and Blake Parr of Kennett (570 yards) also stand to reach the 1,000-yard mark.

Among running backs, Demetrius Terry of Crystal City was the first to reach four digits, which he did Friday when his team reached 5-0 for the first time in three decades. Terry has carried for 1,016 yards this season.

Others are in line for 1,000 yards based on the first five weeks, led by Ryan Sawyer of Fredericktown with 967 yards rushing. On the list behind him: Adam Zweigart of Jackson (746 yards), Michael Lowther of Thayer (735 yards), Jake Vonderbruegge of Hillsboro (650 yards), and Kris Cottner of Perryville (630 yards).

On defense, William Norris of Hayti and Joe Gyurica of St. Pius X lead the region's 33 teams with 57 total tackles and are primed to reach 100 by the end of Week 10. Kevin Moore of Herculaneum has 52.

Football rankings are out, and a look ahead to the weekend

Jackson and Thayer debuted in state football rankings released today by the state's sports media.

In Class 5, Jackson (5-0) debuted at No. 5 heading into the Indians' annual rivalry game Thursday against Cape Girardeau Central at Houck Stadium.

In Class 4, Farmington is No. 4 after a 42-0 defeat of Sikeston.

In Class 1, Hayti is No. 4 and Thayer No. 9, both of them 5-0.

Three Southeast Missouri team received votes this week: Crystal City, Festus and Park Hills Central.

• If you haven't checked out the photo galleries from Friday night's high school football, click onto our home page for three galleries from Friday night. Keith Hente shot the Farmington-Sikeston matchup, Jake Kreulen was at the North County-Poplar Bluff overtime game, and Al Jones photographed Hayti's win at Charleston.

On each gallery page, click the link to the photographer's e-mail address to get information on ordering high-resoluation reprints of individual photos.

• The local short-track racing season is winding down quickly, but two local tracks are finishing the season with a bang this weekend.

At Farmington, St. Francois County Raceway expects a big field of sprint cars for its annual Queen's Royale, which rewards its winner $5,000 on Saturday. To the south, Malden Speedway hosts two days of racing Thursday and Friday with a full schedule of events each night, topped by late model and modified racing both nights.