Monday, December 28, 2009

There could be a Scott County Central vs. Sikeston, Part II

Don't be surprised to see Scott County Central and Sikeston play a boys basketball game before the season ends.

Administrators and coaches are trying to iron out plans for a rematch of last season's game between the two county rivals. The date and location haven't been determined, but with Sikeston still looking to fill at least one open date, the matchup has gained more appeal.

Last season's game was the first in more than two decades between the schools; it drew several thousand fans to the Show Me Center.

Sikeston found itself with openings after a mixup left it out of the Poplar Bluff Showdown that starts Tuesday. The team has filled one date with Henry County, Tenn. (3 p.m. Jan. 16 at Sikeston).

Scott Central also has spots to fill; one has been taken by a date with Portageville in January.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Want a free t-shirt? We're giving away a whole stack of 'em

We get a lot of help putting together our daily high school basketball scoreboards, and this site owes tremendous thanks to all the fans, athletes and coaches who send texts and e-mails every day to help us fill in the blanks.

On Tuesday alone, we posted scores from 41 local high school boys and girls basketball games on our scoreboard page. No other media outlet in the region came close to that number. And even with a list like that, we miss a few.

So we're upping the ante for anybody who passes along high school scores for the rest of the season: Send us an e-mail (to or a text message from your cell phone (to 573-979-5929) with the score from your game and you'll be entered into a weekly drawing for a free t-shirt.

Just be sure to indicate whether the game is a boys or girls game. That's it. It's as simple as that. Then check back on our HoopsHQ home page and follow the links to the boys and girls scoreboards.

And as always, we welcome your ideas to make our coverage of Southeast Missouri sports even better.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The unbeaten list shrinks to two

With Potosi's loss Monday at New Madrid County Central, the No. 1 team in the SEMO 33 poll is done for the season.

Who's left? No. 2 Valle is 12-0 and owes its closest game to Maplewood-Richmond Heights in a 20-12 decision Oct. 2. The Warriors have been held to less than 34 points just once, with a high mark of 69 points against Hayti last week.

Among the wins: 47-12 over Ste. Genevieve, 42-26 over Herculaneum, and 59-7 over St. Vincent.

Likewise, No. 3 Sikeston is unbeaten and has put up big numbers and big wins, and the Bulldogs have scored at least 26 points in every game this season, including 54 against Charleston and 50 against Dexter.

The wildcard: NMCC, the team that beat No. 1 Potosi and owes regular-season losses to Potosi (39-6), Sikeston (34-12) and Park Hills Central (38-28).

The next SEMO 33 poll comes out Monday -- who's No. 1?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Before you complain about Missouri's playoff system, take a look at this one

Just in case you're not a fan of Missouri's high school playoff system, here's a column published Monday by Tom Kreager of the Daily Journal in Murfreesboro, Tenn., addressing the state's disaster of a playoff system:

There was no room for error Saturday morning when the TSSAA unveiled the playoff pairings for its Division I six football classifications under the association’s new playoff plan.

But what we saw — or heard — was anything but perfection.
An all-night bracketing session resulting in errors in virtually every bracket — something assistant director Matthew Gillespie said a day earlier would be “unacceptable” if even one mistake was made.

In fact, he was correct.

What happened Saturday is not acceptable. There have been too many questions and too much criticism of the Z-plan for any error to be made by the state association.
The association had to get it right this first year to give the new plan validity.

Throughout this whole process, the association sounded like it had a firm grasp on the new playoff system. Now, the only thing that is apparent is that they do know how the teams are selected, since that was correct. But once they get to the seeding and pairings part of it, there obviously is a major problem.

If it was one mistake, you could accept it. But errors in at least four of the six classes is not acceptable.

Errors were first caught on the air during the radio broadcast. At that point, the announcements should have ceased and executive director Bernard Childress and Gillespie driven back to the Hermitage office and start rechecking them again.

Instead errors continued. Coaches began making film swaps only for some to find out hours later that the film meant nothing as they had a new opponent.

Some errors were obvious. In Class 6A, White Station was originally a sixth seed in Quadrant 4 and was going on the road.

The problem is White Station is its district champion and it is seeded first. The only other district champions in that pod are Germantown and Brighton.

How do you fix it?

Childress sounds like he ready to scrap it and bring back the old playoff system.

Coaches Ron Aydelott, Thomas McDaniel and Philip Shadowens all said Saturday they would be willing to rip up the contracts for next year’s games if that is the decision of the state association.

That may be a good solution.

If this system remains, tweaks have to be made. Part of the seeding mystery needs to be gotten rid of as its also a mystery to those in charge of the brackets.

Perhaps the first round is played a day later, giving the high school association an extra day to work on the brackets. Or perhaps, Week 10 is played a day earlier.

Whatever system is used, the state association has to get it right.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Scott Edgar formally appeals his NCAA penalty

Former Southeast men's basketball coach Scott Edgar has appealed a penalty by the NCAA that would all but keep him out of coaching for three years.

Here's the full press release from The Sports Group, a sports law firm in Birmingham, Ala.:

Scott Edgar, former Head Basketball Coach at Southeast Missouri State University, recently filed an appeal with the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee.

Montgomery, Alabama. Scott Edgar, former Head Basketball Coach at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, recently filed an appeal to the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee. Edgar, a thirty year coaching veteran whose career has included stops at the University of Tennessee, University of Alabama-Birmingham, Murray State University and the University of Arkansas filed the appeal through his counsel, Donald Maurice Jackson of The Sports Group, Montgomery, Alabama. He filed the appeal on Friday October 23, 2009, requesting that the Infractions Appeals Committee, review the findings of the NCAA Division One Committee on Infractions' August 13, 2009 decision. The Committee on Infractions imposed a three year show cause sanction against Edgar, among the most serious sanctions that can be imposed against a coach at an NCAA member institution. In Edgar's thirty year career which has included several head coaching positions, he has never been charged with previous NCAA violations.

Edgar: "I look forward to continued cooperation with all parties involved in this process as it is my ultimate goal to clear my name and continue to do what I believe I am called by My Lord and Savior to do. My calling is to coach and teach student-athletes at the highest level."

Donald Maurice Jackson, a licensed attorney and the Principal of The Sports Group, advises organizations, student-athletes, member-institutions and coaches in NCAA enforcement actions, committee matters and appeals. He has appeared before the NCAA Infractions Committee and various other NCAA committees on behalf of member institutions, student-athletes and coaches. In recent years, he has represented numerous high profile student-athletes in NCAA investigative actions, including several McDonald's and Parade All Americans. Jackson is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and a former collegiate pitcher. Jackson is the author of Fourth Down and Twenty-Five Years to Go: The African American Athlete and the Justice System.

Said Jackson: "We are optimistic that Coach Edgar will receive a fair and reasonable evaluation of the Committee on Infractions' findings. In Coach Edgar's thirty year, spotless, infractions-free career, he has demonstrated himself to be a man of considerable character and has an outstanding reputation in collegiate sports. We are hopeful that he will be able to clear his name, restore his reputation and resume his career after this process is completed".

For more information, please contact Donald Maurice Jackson at 334.467.0545 or at via e-mail.

The Sports Group is a boutique sports law firm that, among things assists universities, coaches and student athletes with addressing issues in complex NCAA enforcement actions and appeals concerning academic fraud, amateurism, eligibility, unethical conduct and institutional control issues. The Sports Group website can be located at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rain impacts Friday football schedule

All the rain this week and last week is still shuffling sporting events around the area. The latest change: Dexter's football game Friday against New Madrid County Central has been moved to Dexter, a result of a flooded field at NMCC.

It's the second time in two weeks that rain has caused a rarely-seen schedule change in football; Herculaneum had to postpone its game last week by 24 hours and move it to the field at Crystal City.

And that's not to mention softball games and soccer games in the past week that have been delayed or called off because of wet fields.

The good news is that after more rain Wednesday and Thursday, the weather will gradually clear out (and hopefully dry out). The forecast for Friday night football is mostly cloudy with a slight chance of rain with a low temperature in the upper 30s to low 40s.

One more football note: Voting will begin over the weekend for our third annual SEMO Football MVP award. Almost 10,000 fans voted last year in our exclusive online poll, and Brandon Bourbon of Potosi edged Michael Greminger of Valle for the trophy and a $100 donation to the school's athletic department.

We're still working to trim the list of candidates to 10 for this year's poll, so there's time to let us know who should be there. Who should be considered?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What's the future hold for Tony Samuel?

It started out so promising, didn't it?

The 72-3 win over Quincy set records, ignited fans and started making us think Tony Samuel really is the best thing to happen to Southeast football since Tim Billings.

The high didn't last, and five weeks later Southeast is 1-5 and stumbling through its worst start in the four-year-but-seems-much-longer Samuel era. One more loss and the Redhawks are guaranteed a losing season — in that category, to his credit, Samuel is a perfect 3-0.

But Saturday's loss wasn't just another disappointment. It was a cold, brisk whoosh of cold air in the form of Austin Peay, which had kept company with Southeast at the bottom of the Ohio Valley Conference standings before rallying with 21 straight points in the fourth quarter Saturday. And just like that, another loss.

They've been close, all of them (discounting the predictable 70-3 defeat at Cincinnati). Southeast's OVC losses have been by 6, 7, 9 and 10 points. It's the kind of scenario that leads coaches to insist that the program is turning the corner, and they need just one more year to make it all work out.

That's much like what Bobby Bowden is saying at Florida State, where he's fighting to keep his own job. "This dadgum team is so close to being 5-0," Bowden told reporters this week.

Samuel could say the same, but dadgum, how much longer does Southeast sit and wait?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Local teams will get their fill of Maplewood-Richmond Heights this season

Maplewood-Richmond Heights was a nightmare for teams around the state the past two years. This season, they'll make three trips to Southeast Missouri for regular-season games.

The Blue Devils — who won back-to-back state championships with Minnesota recruit Bryant Allen leading the way — are one of 14 teams on the sixth annual Heartland Hoopfest schedule, which was made final last week. That event Dec. 19 in Perryville will pit Maplewood — with head coach and Charleston alum Corey Frazier — against Jackson.

The full Hoopfest lineup: Herculaneum vs. Chester, Ill., at 10 a.m.; Cape Girardeau Central vs. Farmington at 11:45; St. Vincent vs. Valle at 1:30 p.m.; Jackson vs. Maplewood at 3:15; Perryville vs. Saxony Lutheran at 5; Charleston vs. Whitfield at 6:45; and Ballard County (Ky.) Memorial vs. Oakville at 8:30.

Maplewood's trip to Perryville is the first of three intriguing Southeast Missouri stops. The Blue Devils go to Charleston on Jan. 30, a rematch of last season's playoff game that saw Maplewood win 73-58; then go to Scott County Central on Feb. 20 for their first meeting.

The Perryville event is one of three shootout-style events announced so far for the upcoming season; organizers earlier announced schedules for the Pepsi Showcase in Cape Girardeau and the Riverbend Classic at New Madrid County Central.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The future of the MAFC? That's anybody's guess

Enjoy the Mississippi Area Football Conference while you can. It won't be around much longer.

Hillsboro announced this week that it's leaving the 19-team mega-league to become an independent next season. Herculaneum and five other MAFC Blue Division schools are bolting after this season. Farmington left last year.

Who's left? And what will they do? Good question.

Representatives of each of the league's remaining teams will meet Monday to hash out a future for the conference, if there is one. Speculation varies about which teams will go where and which will be left hung out to dry.

What we do know: Five of the six teams in the Blue Division — Crystal City, Grandview, St. Pius X, St. Vincent and Valle — announced in September they will leave to form their own conference. They'll be joined in that new league by Herculaneum from the White Division.

And we know Hillsboro will leave the Red Division, citing its lack of ability to compete with larger schools Fox and Seckman. It will play as an independent next year unless more teams bolt from the MAFC and create a new league that could include Hillsboro.

Hillsboro's move leaves DeSoto, Festus, Fox, Seckman and Windsor as a regional cluster in the Red Division, along with North County to their south. Farmington left the Red Division last year to join the SEMO Conference.

Herculaneum's departure leaves Fredericktown, Park Hills Central, Perryville, Potosi and Ste. Genevieve in the White Division.

Rumblings from the remaining MAFC members signal doubt for the existing league's future — coaches and athletic directors have complained about travel, parity and scheduling issues that resulted from the formation of the MAFC, and the sudden rats-off-a-sinking-ship escape of seven teams in two years could be the sign of what's to come.

Now we wait to see who's next.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Riverbend Classic, Pepsi Showcase create a tough choice for fans

We posted a story here last week detailing the lineup for the annual Pepsi Showcase high school basketball event in Cape Girardeau, and there's word today that New Madrid County Central is putting the final touches on its Riverbend Classic for that same weekend.

Both eight-team events help kick off the season over the final weekend of November (the Pepsi Showcase is a one-day event, the Riverbend Classic a two-day event), and both typically provide strong early-season tests for some of the area's top teams.

At NMCC, athletic director Diane Fowler said today that the final schedule should be out next week, but she confirmed the teams that will be involved, including new entry Lincoln High School of Dallas, Texas, a team coached by former NMCC coach Leonard Bishop. Lincoln replaces Byhalia, Miss., in this year's event.

The other teams: Charleston, Memphis (Tenn.) Central, NMCC, Pine Bluff, Ark., Poplar Bluff, Scott County Central, and West Memphis, Ark.

At Cape Girardeau, participants are Notre Dame, Cape Girardeau Central, Vianney, Lafayette, Memphis White Station, Ballard Co. (Ky.) Memorial, Fulton City, Ky., and Nettleton, Ark.

For basketball fans, it's a tough choice Nov. 28: Will you be at the Show Me Center or NMCC?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Where should SEMO set its sights after 2009?

Southeast isn't even four games into its football season and the blogosphere has an eye toward 2010.

Funny how a 1-2 start and an agonizing Family Weekend loss at home makes the eye wander.

Amid the buzz that Southeast will play Ole Miss in 2010 (99.9 percent unlikely), here are a few scheduling items to mull over while gearing up for the drive Saturday to Martin, Tenn.:

Ball State is penciled in as Southeast's FBS opponent for 2010. The date is Sept. 2 in Muncie, Ind., but there's a chance that date could change after Ball State said last week that it wants to shuffle its big-money dates with Purdue and Iowa (talk about a money game: Ball State stands to make $800,000 for going to Iowa City, but just $350,000 for playing at Purdue).

Southeast is down to play Purdue in 2011 for its annual FBS matchup, a trip likely worth about $350,000. That means any date against Ole Miss wouldn't come until at least 2012, but with the Rebels already booked with Central Arkansas, Tulane and UAB in 2012, SEMO would have a hard time finding an open spot that year, too.

On a side note, Ole Miss is scheduled to play a team familiar to SEMO in 2011 — Southern Illinois.

Looking at 2012, several teams within reasonable driving distance from Cape Girardeau do have home dates available for FCS teams looking for a payday game. Among them: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Memphis and Mizzou.

Who should it be?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chicago Cubs fans give a child-sized wave to a bad season

Another sign America has lost its sense of humor.

A couple of Cubs fans decided this phony birth announcement would be the most cathartic way to put 2009 to rest and embrace 2010 — but not everybody was in on the joke.

The ad ran in the Chicago Tribune last week right alongside the real birth announcements, and it didn't take long for bloggers and critics to chime in on the stupidity of Cubs fans so enamored with their long-suffering team that they'd name their child after it.

Rest easy, anti-Cub Nation. The "self-loathing schtick," as the ads creator described to a Tribune columnist, was just that.

But at least it's good for a chuckle.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A football player's death: Is the coach to blame?

A jury decided Wednesday that a Kentucky high school football coach wasn't responsible for the death of an athlete who died under his watch.

The coach, David Stinson of Pleasure Ridge Park High in Louisville, was found not guilty of reckless homicide in the death of a 15-year-old football player in August 2008. The player died after collapsing during workouts on a day when the heat index was 94 degrees; prosecutors said the coach withheld water and ran his practice like a boot camp. The defense insisted water was available and said that the athletes knew the risk.

It's an interesting finding, especially after a New Madrid County Central football player died just Aug. 8 just four minutes into the team's morning practice. There, coaches administered CPR, but 16-year-old Raymond Tindle couldn't be revived.

The tragedies are painful, but by all accounts, the Kentucky court made the right call in determining it an unlikely accident. But will that be the ruling next time?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Is the Tour of Missouri a boost (or a bust) for Southeast Missouri?

The race itself zipped by in a colorful, European-tinged blur — a blur that, according to most estimates, cost almost $100,000 locally and $3.04 million statewide.

Ask most of the 5,000 or so people who watched the third annual Tour of Missouri whip and wind through the hills and highways of Southeast Missouri on Monday and Tuesday (with more expected to watch the tour's Farmington-area route Wednesday). They'll tell you that the tour brought unimaginable free publicity to the region in an economy when tourist dollars are harder to come by.

But a week ago, city and state leaders were gushing over the estimate that 30,000 Cape Girardeau-area fans would line streets and county roads to wave on the tour's diverse pack of riders — the sign of brighter days just a month or so after the state balked at the idea of paying its $1.5 million share of the race's cost.

Good weather couldn't produce the fans. The days and weeks of advance publicity couldn't, either. Maybe the fans didn't exist in the first place.

As the tour's vans and trucks and trailers and stream of faithful fans head to St. Francois County, then eventually west toward Kansas City, volunteers and city crews are cleaning up and, no doubt, thinking ahead to 2010.

Will the race be back? Will taxpayers and businesses and volunteers who spent time and money see a return on the investment? Will the fourth annual Tour of Missouri even happen?

And will those estimated 30,000 Southeast Missourians care?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A 72-3 win is one way to make a statement

Tony Samuel, you got our attention.

Thirty-five unventful, ho-hum, average-at-best games into the Samuel coaching era at Southeast, the Redhawks perked up. Not three games into the season. Not seven games in. But after just a few seconds in the first game of the year.

Suddenly, an offense that last season sputtered through a 4-8 season scored 72 points and looked forceful. A defense that last season that gave up big plays and big drives way too often this time gave up just a field goal — and looked downright menacing in the process.

Sure, when all's said and done, this is the kind of win Southeast should come to expect when NAIA teams like Quincy come to town. It hasn't always happened — let's not forget last season's putrid, opening-night 35-28 overtime win against Southwest Baptist that nearly had us calling for the return of John Mumford.

But starting his fourth season with new names and faces in key positions throughout the lineup, Samuel might have taken a huge step toward wiping away three seasons worth of Samuel-era futility — for the program, for the fans, maybe even for himself.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The surprise of the week? It's No. 33

A week ago, it might have been hard for East Prairie's football team to get much notice outside of ... well, outside of East Prairie.

The Eagles lost a star running back and hadn't been known for quick starts, especially not after losing their season-opener each of the past 10 years.

But the No. 33 team in the SEMO 33 rankings was quick out of the gate Friday with a 25-6 win over Hayti on Friday. It was East Prairie's first win over the SEMO Conference South rival since 1998 — also the last time the Eagles were 1-0.

The new SEMO 33 poll will be out Monday, no doubt with an improved spot for East Prairie.

The question now: Is this a sign that East Prairie, which so often last year looked on the brink of a breakout season, is finally turning the corner? Or was Friday a blip on the radar, and more of a sign that Hayti's in for a frustrating season?

Across the 23-county region, Friday didn't provide many other surprises on the scoreboard, although wins by favorites Farmington (51-7 over North County, Malden (50-14 over Scott City) and Sikeston (42-20 over Fredericktown) were more lopsided than expected.

And Park Hills Central opened eyes in the MAFC with its 22-8 win over Maplewood Richmond Heights — a team that's obviously reeling from heavy graduation losses. Are the Rebels contenders for the MAF White title?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Football kicks off this week: Where will you be?

One game ushers in the high school football season Thursday, but most teams will wait until 24 hours later to start the trek toward November.

Cape Girardeau Central, looking for a fix to its 1-9 season a year ago, welcomes Parkway North to Houck Stadium for Thursday's inaugural game of the season. The next day, 21 games are scheduled around the region.

At least a couple of games feature longtime conference rivalries right out of the gate: North County (and first-year coach Jeromy McDowell, a former Southeast quarterback) goes to Farmington in a large-school Mississippi Area Football Conference game, and Malden hosts Scott City in a years-long SEMO Conference South rivalry.

With so many questions, coaching changes and roster turnover heading into the season, you won't have to look far for potentially great matchups: Herculaneum at Valle, Charleston at Kennett, Ste. Genevieve at Dexter, St. Vincent at Caruthersville, Grandview at Chaffee, and Fredericktown at Sikeston all have potential to give the winner a solid push heading into Week 2.

The only catch: A 40 percent change of evening thunderstorms Friday, so watch the sky and be ready to pack a raincoat.

With so many options, any nominees for our region's best game of the week?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Football is just days away, and so are the SEMO 33 rankings

Our first SEMO 33 football poll is in the works, and it's set to be posted on next Monday — four days before the start of the season, and three days after we get our first look at local teams in Friday's jamborees.

In case you weren't around to see it last season, the SEMO 33 poll is the only ranking that lists all 33 high school football teams in the region. Watch for it every Monday through the end of the playoffs.

We use input from coaches, athletes, fans, media — anybody with an opinion on high school football. And we're always looking for extra input, so share your thoughts at any time during the season with an e-mail (to or with a post on our message board.

As for Friday's jamborees, they're scheduled for 10 different sites around the region with start times of either 6 or 7:30 p.m. Click over to our 2009 football page at this link for the whole schedule, along with the full schedules for every team in our area.

Check back over the weekend and early next week for photos from at least three of Friday's jamborees.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Howard should know pro baseball plans soon

A few notes heading into the weekend:

Vince Howard Jr., who graduated from Sikeston High School in the spring, is still working on a deal to play professionally after he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in June. Vince has signed to play at Meramec Community College, and the decision is likely to be reached in about a week. Don't be surprised to see him playing at the college level, at least for the next year.

• Former Cape Girardeau Central all-state pick Mitch Craft has finished his first season of pro indoor football with a noteworthy award: Linebacker of the Year. The award was based on a fan survey. His Louisiana team lost 50-43 in an SIFL semifinal to Austin. In 11 games as a starter, Mitch was second in the league with 31 solo tackles and second with 24 assists.

• A new locally published book details a darker, seldom-seem side of boxing. The book, "8 ... 9 ... 10 ... You’re Out!," was written by former boxing promoter Rob Russen and published by BT Press, a publishing house based in Steele.

BT Press co-owner Brian Tramel calls the book a "tell-all storoy" that details the politics that help rule the sport, including the details that eventually led to the murder of a well-known boxing promoter.

The book retails for $19.99 and can be bought online at or at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

SEMO finishes 13th out of 60 teams in Arkansas fishing tournament

Southeast Missouri State doesn't just have a bass fishing team — they have a pretty good bass fishing team.

SEMO finished 13th out of 60 teams in the Under Armour College Bass National Championship on the Arkansas River near North Little Rock, Ark., over the weekend, one spot behind Mizzou and one ahead of Arkansas.

Boater Taylor Gorton and partner Mike Rains finished with a two-day weigh-in of 9.48 pounds, a little more than a half-pound behind 12th-place Missouri. North Carolina State won the event, which aired on ESPNU and paid the winning team $250,000.

A few other SEMO notes of local interest:

Bijon Jones, who left the Southeast men's basketball after last season, has signed to play at Indiana University East. Jones, of Jackson, Tenn., will have one year of collegiate eligibility. Jones started 12 games for SEMO last season and averaged 24.4 minutes, three points and 2.5 assists per game.

• A former SEMO assistant basketball coach is standing firm against critics as the new GM of the Golden State Warriors. The San Jose Mercury News featured a profile Sunday of Larry Riley; he coached the SEMO men's basketball team in the early '70s and earned his master's degree there.

Keno Davis, another former Southeast men's assistant coach, has signed a contract extension as the head coach at Providence, where he recently finished his first season. He guided Providence to a 19-14 overall record; the win total was the most by a Providence coach in his first season.

Leon Powell isn't likely to play this season for the SEMO men's basketball team because of what appears to be an ACL tear. The rumor was confirmed by coach Dickey Nutt in Wednesday's Southeast Missourian. Powell played the past two seasons at an Iowa junior college and was expected to anchor the team in Nutt's inaugural season as the Redhawks' coach.

Monday, July 06, 2009

One closing, one opening for local racing fans

One surprise closing was announced this week, offset by another one that came just days earlier, both of them sure to make waves among motorsports fans in the region.

Owners of the Turkey Penn Extreme Adventure park — a massive 3,800-acre site near Doniphan with more than 40 miles of off-road trails for ATVs, motorcycles, dune-buggies and other off-road vehicles — announced this week that the facility has closed less than 6 months after it opened.

I haven't been able to reach owner Todd Smith, but a message on the company's web site late Monday announced the bad news.

"Thank you to all of you that patronized our facility," the site said. "Due to the economy we have not been able to obtain the funding needed to complete or continue operating Turkey Penn."

Just weeks earlier, plans were being discussed to develop an area suitable for truck pulls and monster truck shows, along with a slightly-banked oval track for karts, ATVs and potentially stock cars.

But just a few miles away, Rick Donnell is putting the finishing touches on an oval dirt track that could be ready for stock car racing within a few weeks.

The track, 3 miles west of Doniphan on State Route A, has been under construction for almost two years. Only a few final details are left unfinished, including the addition of lights for nighttime racing.

Weekly racing will be on Friday nights and could feature several divisions, including open-wheel modifieds, street stocks, cruisers and four-cylinders. Special events for late models, sprints and other classes could be added.

The track is a quarter-mile oval with straightaways almost 300 feet long.

It would be the fourth track in Southeast Missouri to feature stock cars on Friday nights — tracks in Doe Run, Fredericktown and Malden also compete on Fridays, while St. Francois County Speedway near Farmington holds weekly events on Saturdays.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

SEMO's football game at Cincinnati finally has a kickoff time

If you plan to follow Southeast Missouri State to Cincinnati for the Redhahwks' Sept. 12 football game, you can take all afternoon getting there.

Cincinnati announced today that kickoff for the game will be 7:30 p.m., and it said the game will air live on Fox Sports Ohio. That start time will be the latest one this season for SEMO; two others kick off at 6, including the season opener Sept. 3 against Quincy.

And one reminder if you go: Cincinnati is in the eastern time zone.

From the SIFL: Former Cape Girardeau Central all-stater Mitch Craft is having a big season with the Acadiana Mudbugs of the SIFL, an indoor football league. He's started every game on defense so far in a 4-3 season and stands third in the league in total tackles (21 solo, 12 assists).

Junior Nationals: At the USA Track & Field Junior Nationals on Sunday, a pair of Southeast Missouri athletes placed high in the field.

Alyssa Allison of Festus finished second in the junior women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, one spot better than in 2008. Crystal City's Precious Selmon was sixth in the 100-meter hurdles and 11th in the long jump.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Changes are coming for MSHSAA and OVC events

Watching the Ohio Valley Conference baseball tournament will require a longer road trip, and seeing the state high school basketball tournaments for teams in Class 1, 2 or 3 might require a little extra shuffling, too.

First, for the decision that is set in stone: The OVC recently voted to relocate its postseason tournament from Paducah, Ky., to Pringles Park, home of the Double-A West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in Jackson, Tenn. Pringles Park will host the tournament for at least three years starting in 2010; next year's tournament will be May 26-30.

And a decision being debated but not voted on (yet): The MSHSAA Board of Directors has asked for further study of an idea that would use two facilities for first-day games in the Class 1, 2 and 3 state high school basketball championships, saying the move would be "more advantageous" for the athletes involved.

The plan would help balance the schedule through the first day of the event, altering the existing schedule that calls for more than 12 hours of nonstop basketball at Mizzou Arena. The proposal being considered would use both Mizzou Arena and Hearnes Center for the first day of games.

With that idea still up in the air until a later vote, the association did approve a plan that would keep the championship events for wrestling and basketball on the Mizzou campus for at least the next four years, while track and field state championships will stay in Jefferson City for at least the next two years.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The area's best sports program? The numbers say Notre Dame

For the second year in a row, the numbers point to Notre Dame as the best athletic program out of more than 80 in Southeast Missouri.

Notre Dame finished with 36 points in the annual all-sports standings, 14.5 points ahead of runnerup Herculaneum. St. Vincent finished third, Festus fourth and Farmington, Sikeston and Valle in a tie for fifth.

Notre Dame clinched the No. 1 spot on the list when the school won the Class 3 state baseball championship.

Fifty-two of the region's 83 high schools earned points in the list, which awards points based on postseason success in each of the state's athletic competitions (10 points for a state title, 8 for second place, and so on). Click here to see the full list of all 52 schools and their ranking.

The list (at least the top two) is identical to last year, when Notre Dame won with 39 points and Herculaneum finished second with 22 (a 17-point edge). This year, Notre Dame finished with 36 points, and Herculaneum had 22.5.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A good week for local baseball (and basketball, too)

Southeast Missouri will have at least three teams in the state baseball tournament, and there's a chance two more can join the list today when Notre Dame and Salem each host Class 3 quarterfinals.

Already, Cooter (Class 1), DeSoto (Class 4) and Valle (Class 2) will represent the region in next week's semifinals at Meador Field in Springfield. Both Cooter and Valle rank among the top 10 in Southeast Missouri, but DeSoto's postseason march might be the most surprising — the Dragons were just below .500 as the fifth seed heading into the district tournament, but put together a string of upsets that included wins over the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the state coaches poll.

• 20 Southeast Missouri high school seniors will get one final taste of high school competition this weekend in Columbia as part of a state all-star game.

The Missouri Basketball Coaches Association picked 10-player rosters for eight regional teams that will play a tournament format starting today. Each roster included five alternates, all of them seniors. Finals are Saturday, and all games are at Columbia College.

The game replaces the the former MOBCA all-star game that was played each year in Springfield.

Southeast Missouri's boys team, coached by Sikeston Greg Holifield, features Austin Brewer of Eminence, Zach Curry of Bernie, Donald Dixon of Charleston, Lance Miller of Farmington, Austin Greer of Notre Dame, Josh Minner of NMCC, Michael Porter of Sikeston, Riley Raulston of Poplar Bluff, Drew Thomas of Scott County Central, and Byron Wright of Portageville.

The girls team, coached by Sheila Midgett of Jackson, consists of Molly Barnes of Farmington, Jeleea Drake of Portageville, Alex Fowler of Notre Dame, Debra Hall of Kelly, Katelyn Heil of Dexter, Cheslea Knight of Meadow Heights, Taylor Jansen of Farmington, Jodi Menz of Delta, Jill Temples of Dexter, and Brittany Walker of Portageville.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

How do you rile up a conference? Bring back David Heeb

He's proven he's a great coach and has the state championships to back it up. But David Heeb's return to Southeast Missouri is sure to stir up dust that took a long time to settle.

Heeb will return to Southeast Missouri in the fall as the boys basketball coach at Caruthersville, a program that's struggled with coaching changes and plenty of setbacks. The news of Heeb's hiring first appeared on late Sunday, and it didn't take long to circulate on message boards and stir talk of Heeb's days at Bell City and Scott County Central.

He arrived at both schools during a time when their programs were stuck in mediocrity, and both turned around not long after he walked in the door. At Bell City, the Cubs hadn't won 20 games in a season since 1981, but Heeb turned out 29 wins in his second season. At Scott Central, the Braves never really found their rhythm since Ronnie Cookson's first retirement in 1995, but credit Heeb for getting the program back on solid footing.

But at both stops, Heeb was accused of recruiting athletes. He was suspended by the MSHSAA for half a season as a result.

Now Heeb heads into a familiar situation at Caruthersville, where five coaches have led the team in the past five seasons, all with disappointing results. The Tigers haven't had a winning season since Brian Brandtner left for Bell City (to replace Heeb) in early 2005.

Already this week, coaches in the Bootheel Conference have made recruiting jokes — they're only jokes, but rival coaches are surely wondering what to expect now that Heeb has joined their club.

If the Tigers start winning again — not unlikely, considering the team's freshman class is among the region's best — how long before the recruiting charges start? How long before the fingers point and the tongues wag?

And how long before a state championship?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Football notes: Brandon Bourbon, Mitch Craft and William Moore

Potosi junior Brandon Bourbon could wind up at Mizzou in 2010 after all — word came today that couch Gary Pinkel made the offer this week for Brandon to join the Tigers as a running back. The Tigers join Kansas, Stanford, BYU and Harvard on the list of offers so far.

Among area seniors, Farmington teammates Andrew Huhman and Zach Oyler signed to play football in the fall at Missouri Valley College. They're among dozens of SEMO athletes who have signed with schools for the 2009-'10 season; the full list is here.

Mitch Craft, an all-state quarterback at Cape Girardeau Central who later played at Southern Mississippi, made his first start last week with the Acadiana Mudbugs of the new Southern Indoor Football League. Craft, playing as a linebacker with the new Louisiana-based team, had five solo tackles and three assists. The Mudbugs defeated Austin, Texas, 37-29.

• Hayti grad and Mizzou standout William Moore, who was picked by Atlanta in the second round of the NFL Draft on Saturday, became the second football player from Hayti to reach the pro level.

From Hayti historian Al Jackson: In 1961, G.W. Dean entered the pros when he signed with Toledo of the USFL; his career ended quickly after a knee injury during the exhibition season. At Hayti, Dean held rushing and scoring records after playing in just 17 varsity games; those records were later broken, but it took nearly twice as many games for it to happen.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Falcons pick Hayti's William Moore in NFL Draft

William Moore wanted Atlanta, and it looks like Atlanta wanted him.

Moore, an all-state safety from Hayti who played his final season at Mizzou back in the fall, was the 55th pick in the NFL Draft on Saturday. And before the Falcons ever said his name, Moore said he already felt Atlanta-bound.

"Everybody asked me where I’d love to go. I said Atlanta," he told the Alanta Journal-Constitution in a story published today. It’s like when I went to Missouri, I had the feeling, the players, the direction they’re headed. I know I can go in and make an instant impact.”

Read more of the AJC's story on Moore and his Mizzou days here.

And by the way, Moore is already angling to get to wear No. 25 at Atlanta — the same number he wore at Mizzou.

• With one Southeast Missouri athlete picked in one pro draft this year, another is likely to be picked in less than two months: Tyler Hansbrough of Poplar Bluff and the University of North Carolina is widely expected by NBA insiders to be a first-round or second-round selection. ESPN will broadcast the draft live from New York.

Monday, April 13, 2009

SEMO sets its 2009 football schedule

Southeast's football schedule is nearly firm for 2009, and the Redhawks are expected to make it official with an announcement soon.

Among the questions likely to come up before the season kicks off Sept. 5: Can Southeast find its defense, which went MIA for most of last season? Can the Redhawks keep focus on the game and out of the courts (case in point: Houston Lillard's public indecency charge)?

And maybe biggest question of all: Just how hot is that seat getting for coach Tony Samuel, whose teams have posted a combined three-year record of 11-23 — including last year's 4-8 season that included two wins in overtime. Will another 3- or 4-win season be enough to earn Samuel a fifth year leading the program?

This year's schedule highlights: an opener against Quincy University on Sept. 5, a payday game (likely worth $200,000 or more for Southeast) at Cincinnati on Sept. 12, and two final games at home against the Redhawks' biggest rivals — Nov. 14 against Murray State, and Nov. 21 against SIU-Carbondale.

None of this year's opponents are new to the schedule, but a couple haven't been around in a while. Southeast last played Quincy in 2001 (a 38-6 win), Southern Illinois in 2005 (a 58-23 loss), and Cincinnati in 2007 (a 59-3 loss).

The full schedule:

Sept. 5 — vs. Quincy
Sept. 12 — at Cincinnati
Sept. 19 — vs. Eastern Illinois
Sept. 26 — at UT-Martin
Oct. 3 — at Tennessee State
Oct. 10 — vs. Austin Peay
Oct. 17 — idle
Oct. 24 — at Tennessee Tech
Oct. 31 — at Eastern Kentucky
Nov. 7 — Jacksonville State
Nov. 14 — Murray State
Nov. 21 — SIU-Carbondale

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bourbon's first offer, and SEMO's best 10

Junior running back Brandon Bourbon of Potosi is on the recruiting list of a growing number of colleges, and one of them stepped up to make the first offer this week.

Stanford on Wednesday made Bourbon an offer to compete at the Pac 10 school in California at the running back spot starting with the 2010 season. Stanford is the first of several schools expected to bid for the 6-foot-1, 210-pound all-state pick. He led his team with a school-record 2,420 last season.

Mizzou is among the other schools already showing an interest.

Follow more offseason recruiting news, along with combine results, at Brandon's page on our site.

• A colleague and I were debating who should make the ultimate all-star roster for senior basketball players across our region. After some head-scratching, here's the list I came up with (in alphabetical order). On both the boys and girls list, the first three or four names were pretty easy to come up with. After that, the talent level is so balanced among about 12-15 athletes, it's hard to narrow it down to just 10.

If you were coaching a 10-person team of seniors, who would you pick?


Austin Brewer, Eminence
Zach Curry, Bernie
Dustin Ferguson, Clarkton
Austin Greer, Notre Dame
Josh Minner, NMCC
Michael Porter, Sikeston
Riley Raulston, Poplar Bluff
Antonio Riggens, Charleston
Drew Thomas, Scott County Central
Byron Wright, Portageville


Molly Barnes, Farmington
Jeleea Drake, Portageville
Alex Fowler, Notre Dame
Debra Hall, Kelly
Katelyn Heil, Dexter
Chelsea Kight, Meadow Heights
Taylor Jansen, Farmington
Jodi Menz, Delta
Jill Temples, Dexter
Brittany Walker, Portageville

Saturday, March 21, 2009

With Portageville and Scott Co. Central, it seems like old times

Put Jim Bidewell or Ronnie Cookson in a state championship game and it's hard to bet against them.

The two coaches are a combined 18-1 in state championship games, and both added to the total this week in Columbia. Cookson's Scott County Central team won 98-63 in the Class 1 final Saturday, and Bidewell's Portageville team won 60-55 in Class 2 on Friday.

It's the first title win for both coaches in more than 15 years (1993 for Central, '94 for Portageville), and it's the first time since 2004 that two Southeast Missouri boys teams returned as state champs.

Congratulations to both on a great weekend.

But the weekend puts a twist on our final SEMO Top 25 poll of the season — or does it? Scott Central, No. 2 in the Top 25, dominated the Class 1 playoffs, while No. 1 Sikeston lost in the quarterfinals to Borgia, the eventual Class 4 state champion.

Who ended the season as Southeast Missouri's No. 1 team?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dickey Nutt looks like a lock for SEMO's job

It appears Southeast has its new men's basketball coach.

It's Dickey Nutt.

Feel free to go back to napping, washing laundry, filing your nails — any of the things that are bound to add more excitement to your day than the arrival of Dickey Nutt to the Cape Girardeau city limits.

The big announcement — if you can call it that — should formally come Thursday from athletic director John Shafer at a 2 p.m. news conference. It's the culmination of a quiet search that Shafer said produced piles of quality applications, rumored to include a lengthy list of former Division I coaches, assistant coaches and others with ties to the area.

And from that pile, we bring you Dickey Nutt.

Remember the "40 minutes of hell" basketball with fired coach Scott Edgar? Get ready for 40 minutes of "oh well" with Nutt.

By all accounts, Nutt's a nice enough guy. A solid nuts-and-bolts coach, a decent recruiter, a good ol' boy born and raised in Arkansas.

He came within three wins of becoming the all-time winningest coach at Arkansas State before he got the hint — a mostly loud, less-than-subtle hint — that he was no longer welcome. He resigned in February 2008 with a resume that included 13 seasons at the school (seven of them winning seasons), one conference championship, and one short-lived trip to the NCAA Tournament. His overall record: 189 wins, 187 losses.

But after Nutt's homecoming wore off at ASU, his teams had trouble drawing 2,000 fans to home games at ASU's Convocation Center. He always had trouble selling recruits on small-town life in Jonesboro, Ark., a city even bigger than the one he's been hired to build up.

And he hardly fits the original dream candidate described by Shafer, who said in January that "you can see there's a lot of enthusiasm and people are hungry. I want to do something to help that."

But the hiring of Nutt, who turns 50 in June, was a safe, stable choice for Shafer, himself a newbie on the SEMO payroll. And for a program still trying to argue its way out of impending NCAA sanctions left over from the Edgar era, maybe a safe choice was the best choice. It was certainly an easy choice.

Even if it has all the excitement of watching paint dry.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Class 1-3 sectional matchups should be good ones

The basketball playoffs showed potential for interesting sectional rounds once the new district assignments were announced several months ago, and it looks like they've delivered.

Twelve sectional games Tuesday and Wednesday feature Southeast Missouri teams, including a few potential to be classics.

The best bets:

Class 2 boys at TRCC, 6 p.m. Wednesday: Thayer, which reached the state football championship the past two seasons, will put a tough group of athletes on the floor against Portageville, but the Bobcats don't often pair off with Bootheel talent. Neither team made it out of their district tournament last year. The winner here gets the winner of ...

Class 2 boys at Park Hills Central, 6 p.m. Wednesday: Bernie and South Iron feature two of the area's best young coaches and two of the scrappier teams in the SEMO Top 25. South Iron, which reached the state championship game last year, has the edge in experience against Bernie, which hasn't been in a sectional game since 1992.

Class 2 girls at TRCC, 7:45 p.m. Wednesday: Portageville and Couch are two of the state's top five teams in Class 2, but one of them won't even be among the state's final eight. Together, they have 50 wins and five losses this season.

Class 1 girls at Park Hills Central, 7:45 p.m. Tuesday: How far can Meadow Heights carry the excitement of winning its first district championship? The Panthers face Bismarck, another relative newcomer to the playoffs.

Still looking for another game? Here's the rest of the Tuesday and Wednesday lineup:

Class 3 boys: Bloomfield vs. Charleston at Poplar Bluff High School, 6 p.m. Wednesday
Class 3 boys: West County vs. Maplewood at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, 6 p.m. Wednesday
Class 1 boys: Clarkton vs. Eminence at Poplar Bluff High School, 6 p.m. Tuesday
Class 1 boys: Scott County Central vs. St. Elizabeth at Park Hills Central, 6 p.m. Tuesday

Class 3 girls: Greenville vs. Scott City at Poplar Bluff High School, 7:45 p.m. Wednesday
Class 2 girls: St. Vincent vs. Canton at Troy, 7:45 p.m. Wednesday
Class 1 girls: Naylor vs. Bakersfield at Poplar Bluff High School, 7:45 p.m. Tuesday
Class 1 girls: Delta vs. Tuscumbia at Park Hills Central, 7:45 p.m. Tuesday

Which one of them will be THE game to see this week?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Want a free t-shirt? Get out your phone

Thanks to the input of fans and coaches across the region, has featured the most up-to-date and most complete high school basketball scoreboard of any local media source this season.

Many of those updates are sent to our site via text messages, which allows us to post the score within minutes after the game ends. But for the rest of this week, we're going to try to generate even more texts and even faster score updates.

At the end of the week, we'll select five people who have sent the score of their boys basketball playoff game to us via text message and show our thanks with a t-shirt.

To win one, jot down this number — 573-979-5929 — and send a text message with the score immediately after any boys game you attend this week. If you're one of the five numbers chosen at random, you'll be contacted (via text) to get your name and mailing address. We'll ship the shirts out Monday.

The more texts you send, the more chances you'll have to win.

Thanks again for everything you've done to help our site keep growing month after month.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Now it's a little easier to look ahead

The buildup was there all week — or, more accurately, since their regular-season game Dec. 19 — for Friday's Sikeston-Notre Dame district championship.

Once again, two teams with great seasons. Once again, intense fan support, vocal student sections and another packed house. Once again, a talented basketball team sitting at home to watch an even more talented team aim for a state championship.

Sikeston's win over Notre Dame on Friday was a rare feat: It was the third time this season Sikeston has beaten Notre Dame, although the 49-47 score was the closest of the three. But it was the first time Sikeston was on the winning side of a district championship score since 2006, having lost to Notre Dame the past two years.

The next buildup is another one that could produce a classic finish: Sikeston at Farmington, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Mineral Area College.

Even Farmington made a dramatic entry into Friday's final round at Park Hills: The Knights scored four points in the final 0.6 seconds Thursday to eliminate Park Hills Central, and they were aiming for their third win over DeSoto in less than two months.

It all leads to plenty of questions heading into Wednesday's matchup:

Can Michael Porter win a state championship for the first time as a varsity team leader?

Can Farmington win its first-ever sectional game? The Knights have won a district title six times, but they're 0-6 in the sectional round.

Was Sikeston's 77-75 win at Farmington on Jan. 20 a sign of another close encounter to come? Was it a fluke?

And finally, with Farmington the newest member of the SEMO Conference in football, will 2008-'09 be the season a basketball rivalry is born between the schools?

Is it too early to make a prediction?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Answering reader mail

Proof that you can please some of the people some of the time ...

From a Kennett fan: "Just wondering how Hayti is ranked No. 17 and Kennett No. 22 when Kennett beat Hayti on Hayti's home court."

Easy: Kennett's win at Hayti was more than a month ago, it was a close game, and in the days since, Hayti has had the better run. In fact, Kennett just recently dropped out of the SEMO Top 25 altogether, and Hayti is No. 22.

From a New Madrid County Central fan: "Your 'who has the best chance to win a state championship' list ommits NMCC. You always seem to be reluctant to recognize NMCC or give them due credit. What's up with that?"

For starters, NMCC ranked No. 3 in our preseason SEMO Top 25, so we were optimistic. As for the poll on our home page, we listed only 10 teams who (at the time the poll was created) showed the most potential.

An anonymous e-mailer asks: "Why do you link to Brandon Bourbon's page on your site but not to any other athlete? There are many other athletes deserving of equal attention."

Maybe, but the other deserving athletes didn't get 3,251 votes in our football MVP poll — Brandon Bourbon did. Keep checking back, because there could be more individual pages coming up for other local athletes. Any suggestions?

From a Charleston girls basketball fan: "Why is Delta getting such praise when Charleston waxed them and most everyone else but the top five or six?"

In the past two weeks, Delta beat Kelly, and Kelly beat Charleston. Charleston has the potential to break into the SEMO Top 10, but not yet.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This Scott County battle was worth the wait

It's not often an event lives up to the kind of hype generated before Wednesday's game between Scott County Centrall and Sikeston.

This time, it did.

Yes, the build-up was over the top. The face painting, the photo booths, the guest appearances. It sounded like a circus, and it stillhad a circus-like feel to it.

But my biggest worry — that the events surrounding the game would turn more interesting than the game itself — didn't happen.

And that was a good thing for all of us, including the fans and the teams.

The final 15 seconds, waiting for Scott County Central to respond to Michael Porter's final two points of the game, might have been the most intense 15 seconds of any game this year. With almost 7,000 people in a sold-out Show Me Center watching, it felt like a state championship game without the trophies.

The only disappointment is that the two teams won't play again this year with the same talent on the floor. Sikeston walked away as the best team Wednesday, but if the two sides played 10 times this year, would Sikeston win 10 times? Or five? Or one?

Even more immediate: the playoffs. The one thing that could make Wednesday's game even more of an event would be if Scott County Central and Sikeston both bring championships back home. After Wednesday, it's hard to count out either one of them.

Monday, February 09, 2009

It's the game of the year, but ...

The excitement over this week's boys basketball game between Scott County Central and Sikeston became evident when the game sold nearly 7,000 tickets in less than three weeks.

It promises to be a tremendous turnout for a regular-season game in Southeast Missouri, but with tipoff at the Show Me Center 72 hours away, what began as a classic high school basketball pairing has the makings of a basketball-themed Wrestlemania.

At last count, sports site has featured 12 blogs related to the game. Statewide forum has at least 17 active threads about it. There was talk — fairly seriously, I think — of ESPN and USA Today coverage.

Today it was announced that a photobooth will be available for fans at the game, along with face-painting. America's Got Talent winner Neal Boyd might be there to sing The Star-Spangled Banner.

What's next? Dick Vitale handling play-by-play? Joan Rivers critiquing fashion on the Show Me Center red carpet? Aretha Franklin performing "America The Beautiful?"

The Barack Obama inauguration wasn't even this much of a spectacle.

Scott Central and Sikeston coaches have to be wringing their hands over the whole event, fearful that what started as a good intention for a great basketball game is beginning to turn the game intself into a side show, falling second to the surroundings and the hype itself.

At best, the game will be a good matchup, and both teams will keep their focus on the court.

At worst, you can have your face painted before the game.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Want to see Southeast Missouri athletes? Head to St. Louis

If it was a competition, the scoreboard behind the end zone would read Lindenwood 15, SEMO 3.

That's the final count of Southeast Missouri-area recruits both schools picked up on National Signing Day, that late-winter day college football programs rely on each year to tout big gains, big names and big hype for the season ahead.

The gains for Lindenwood: More than a dozen scrappy all-state football picks with name recognition and big numbers joining a team that was 11-2 and an NAIA playoff qualifier last season.

The gains for SEMO: Three solid local picks among the 28 recruits who will be counted on to help save coach Tony Samuel's job.

Linebacker Blake Peiffer of Jackson, lineman Craig Robinson of Hayti and quarterback Derek Gibson of North County all signed letters of intent for Southeast — itself a tough sell coming off a 4-8 season that included two overtime wins.

Lindenwood, a St. Louis school fast becoming a haven for local talent, gained a mix of seniors at every position, including quarterback Blake Parr of Kennett (a 2,000-yard passer in 2008), running back Joey Lewandowski of Fredericktown (a 1,900-yard rusher in '08), and Dustin Noll of Ste. Genevieve (a 1,500-yard receiver in '08).

Two other prized local recruits also went elsewhere: Linebacker Tony Martin of Park Hills Central signed with Ball State, and quarterback Kory Faulkner of Ste. Genevieve with SIU-Carbondale. SEMO, incidentally, was a blip on the radar for both.

For Samuel and the coaches that preceded him, winning the game on the field has always been just half the battle. Even harder is the fight to win local recruits and convincing Division I — even NAIA — prospects that Southeast is a destination, not a second choice. Local recruits equals local fans equals local excitement. And so on.

SEMO could ask Lindenwood how it's done.

Friday, January 23, 2009

When it comes to points, how much is too much?

You might have already heard about the Texas high school girls basketball game last week that ended with a 100-0 score.

But now the winning school is looking for a way to forfeit the game, claiming that the lopsided margin is "is shameful and an embarrassment" — even though the losing team hasn't raised much objection to the outcome.

The idea of taking a step back to forfeit a fair win brings up all sorts of issues of sportsmanship in an era were being political correct sometimes goes amuk. We've seen lopsided games locally in the past, and a couple of times even this season (recall Campbell's 98-9 win over Delta C-7 back in December).

Spectators at last week's game in Texas say that the winning team kept up a full-court press after a 59-0 halftime lead, and it kept up its three-point shooting late in the game. If your team's up 59-0 at halftime, and you're closing in on 100 points in the second half, what's the right thing to do?

First, for the background on the Texas game — and the reaction that followed — here's the story today from the Associated Press:

DALLAS — A Texas high school girls basketball team on the winning end of a 100-0 game has a case of blowout remorse.

Now officials from The Covenant School say they are trying to do the right thing by seeking a forfeit and apologizing for the margin of victory.

"It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened," Kyle Queal, the head of the school, said in a statement, adding the forfeit was requested because "a victory without honor is a great loss."

The private Christian school defeated Dallas Academy last week. Covenant was up 59-0 at halftime.

A parent who attended the game told The Associated Press that Covenant continued to make 3-pointers -- even in the fourth quarter. She praised the Covenant players but said spectators and an assistant coach were cheering wildly as their team edged closer to 100 points.

"I think the bad judgment was in the full-court press and the 3-point shots," said Renee Peloza, whose daughter plays for Dallas Academy. "At some point, they should have backed off."

Dallas Academy coach Jeremy Civello told The Dallas Morning News that the game turned into a "layup drill," with the opposing team's guards waiting to steal the ball and drive to the basket. Covenant scored 12 points in the fourth quarter and "finally eased up when they got to 100 with about four minutes left," he said.

Dallas Academy has eight girls on its varsity team and about 20 girls in its high school. It is winless over the last four seasons. The academy boasts of its small class sizes and specializes in teaching students struggling with "learning differences," such as short attention spans or dyslexia.

There is no mercy rule in girls basketball that shortens the game or permits the clock to continue running when scores become lopsided. There is, however, "a golden rule" that should have applied in this contest, said Edd Burleson, the director of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. Both schools are members of this association, which oversees private school athletics in Texas.

"On a personal note, I told the coach of the losing team how much I admire their girls for continuing to compete against all odds," Burleson said. "They showed much more character than the coach that allowed that score to get out of hand. It's up to the coach to control the outcome."

In the statement on the Covenant Web site, Queal said the game "does not reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition. We humbly apologize for our actions and seek the forgiveness of Dallas Academy, TAPPS and our community."

Covenant coach Micah Grimes did not immediately respond to a message left by The Associated Press on Thursday.

Queal said school officials met with Dallas Academy officials to apologize and praised "each member of the Dallas Academy Varsity Girls Basketball team for their strength, composure and fortitude in a game in which they clearly emerged the winner."

Civello said he appreciated the gesture and has accepted the apology "with no ill feelings."

At a shootaround Thursday, several Dallas Academy players said they were frustrated during the game but felt it was a learning opportunity. They also said they are excited about some of the attention they are receiving from the loss, including an invitation from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to see an NBA game from his suite.

"Even if you are losing, you might as well keep playing," said Shelby Hyatt, a freshman on the team. "Keep trying, and it's going to be OK."

Peloza said the coach and other parents praised the Dallas Academy girls afterward for limiting Covenant to 12 points in the fourth quarter. She added that neither her daughter nor her teammates seemed to dwell on the loss.

"Somewhere during that game they got caught up in the moment," Peloza said of the Covenant players, fans and coaches. "Our girls just moved on. That's the happy part of the story."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Where are you going this week?

There are plenty of options for high school sports throughout the week, starting with a big lineup of boys games Tuesday. The five to see this week:

1. Sikeston at Farmington. The No. 2 and No. 3 boys teams in the SEMO Top 25 meet Tuesday in a test of Farmington's 10-game winning streak (the longest current streak for a boys team in Southeast Missouri). The Knights probably won't get a test this stout again until the postseason (although regular-season games against Notre Dame and Hillsboro, among others, await).

2. Portageveville at Dexter. Two of the region's best girls teams play Thursday in a rematch of Twin Rivers' Lady Royals Holiday Classic on Jan. 3; Dexter, which is the region's only unbeaten varsity team in girls or boys basketball, won that meeting 68-45.

3. Saxony Lutheran at Notre Dame. The growing rivalry between the two Cape Girardeau County private schools hasn't featured much excitement in the past thanks to lopsided Notre Dame wins, but this year could be different — Saxony is coming off a Chester (Ill.) Invitational title and already has wins over larger schools including Jackson and Ste. Genevieve.

4. Clarkton at Hayti. The teams scored a combined 161 points in Hayti's overtime win Dec. 5, and both teams are known for blistering offenses that put up a lot of points. Hayti returned to the SEMO Top 25 this week after six consecutive wins.

5. Crystal City at Herculaneum. So far the Jefferson County Conference is a dogfight between these two teams, along with DeSoto and Hillsboro — all four, along with Windsor, are 2-1 in the league, and today's rivalry game could go a long way toward settling the fight.

What's your top pick this week?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Updates on Bell City basketball, Cooter baseball and the SEMO Top 25

There was speculation this week from several people that Brian Brandtner would return from a paid administrative leave before the weekend, but it looks like that's not the case.

The word from Bell City principal Matt Asher today is that an investigation into Brandtner continues, and Asher didn't venture a guess as to when the investigation could end or if or when Brandtner could return.

Brandtner is in his fourth season coaching the school's boys basketball team, but he was suspended late last week. Both Brandtner and the school have declined to detail the nature of the investigation.

Parker Watkins, a senior on the Cooter High School baseball team, is in Tucson, Ariz., this weekend to try out for one of the preseason UnderArmour All American teams. Parker is among 350 preseason all-Americans chasing a spot on the roster; the UnderArmour teams compete around the country during the summer.

Parker plays first base and third base for the Wildcats.

• After seeing Scott County Central's dismantling of Charleston — a team that's become much more solid since its holiday tournament — is there still doubt that Scott Central is the No. 1 team in the SEMO Top 25? The Braves have been No. 1 since mid-December, but there was plenty of debate that Sikeston deserved the spot.

One game next week that could help fine-tune the top of the rankings is a Tuesday matchup between No. 2 Sikeston and No. 4 Farmington at Farmington. Scott Central, on the other hand, is expected to sweep its league tournament next week, then face a game at Notre Dame on Jan. 27.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Farmington, North County wrestlers rank first statewide

Two Southeast Missouri wrestlers are ranked No. 1 in their divisions in Missouri high school rankings released today.

The first statewide poll of the season by include Bradley Wisdom of Farmington first in the 125-pound division of Class 3, and Cody Compton of North County first at 160 in Class 2.

Among team standings, only two teams are among the state's top 10: Farmington is fifth in Class 3, and Ste. Genevieve is No. 7 in Class 2.

Individually in Class 2, four Ste. Genevieve wrestlers are ranked: Kevin LeClere is No. 4 in 125; Jordan Ritter is No. 7 in 130; John Vogt is No. 2 in 171; and Jake Gegg is No. 3 in 215. Tyler Friend of Park Hills Central is No. 7 in 285.

In Class 3, Farmington, DeSoto, Hillsboro, North County, Poplar Bluff and Cape Girardeau Central all are represented in individual rankings.

Farmington featured several ranked wrestlers in addition to Wisdom: Todd Brackett is No. 8 in 112; Paden Sparks is No. 7 in 130; Josh Kelleher is No. 3 in 135; Brandon McDowell is No. 9 in 140; Kyle Sullivan is No. 7 in 160; Justin Heberlie is No. 8 in 189; and Les Thilking is No. 6 in 285.

For Poplar Bluff, Zach Surque is No. 9 in 112, Kelton Thompson is No. 6 in 215, and Dylan Janes is No. 7 in 285.

Cape Girardeau Central's Zach Wilson is No. 8 in 171, and Trey Grovenor is No. 4 in 285.

For DeSoto, Josh Newbury is No. 6 in 140, and Dakota Smith is No. 3 in 215. Hillsboro's Josh Sheppard is No. 5 in 215, and North County's Taylor Decker is No. 5 in 171.

In Class 4, five wrestlers from Jackson are ranked: Levi Rayburn is No. 8 in 103; Clay Rouse is No. 7 in 119; Michael Riney is No. 6 in 189; Justin Darnell is No. 4 in 215; and Blake Pieffer is No. 3 in 285.