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.