Archive for September 20th, 2011

CARDINAL memories…

I first visited Busch Stadium I as a member of the East Prairie Little League baseball program. We did this annually I;d say for at least 3-4 years; actually recall a guy falling from the railing during one of these games. I think Mr. Richard Ivie began this tradition …

From there, the family made nearly an annual trek up the old highway to St. Louis; even tho the Interstate was available for much of the stretches for years my Dad always wanted to go the old highway. Now, I’m glad he did.

Then, the college years where my interest intensified reading both the St. Louis Post Dispatch and St. Louis Globe Democrat while marticulating at SEMO and becoming friends with St. Louis kids; games became more frequent.

In 1982, my Dad – thru his company – got seats about 20 rows back of home plate for the opening playoff series with the Braves. That first night it was rained out but me and my 3 friends got to go back the next night and relish in the fun. Dad had to work.

That World Series where it was raining and cold with Keith Hernandez blasting a homer after a rain delay into the wind settling deep into the right field bleachers. We were sitting tucked up in the West side of Busch under an Arch to shield ourselves from the elements.

In 1985 I had the honor of taking my mother to an NLCS game with the Dodgers; Dad was away working so me and her went to the game. One of my most cherished memories…

It was just a year or so later that I returned to Busch with press credentials courtesy of the Daily Dunklin Democrat. I had a great hook up with then PR guy Kip Engle (who moved onto the Yankees) and he would let me go about 3-4 times a year; get me tickets (2) for Saturday and Sunday and let me have field access…

The first time I walked out of the tunnel onto the field at Busch Stadium is still etched in my mind’s eye…

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WEEK 5 preview

KENNETT RUNNING BACK DARUIS WARREN

While there’s not a showdown of the Week 4 proportions with the 75th meeting playing of the Bootheel classic Hayti -Caruthersville; a couple of interesting matchups jump off the Week 5 schedule…

MALDEN (3-1, 2-1) at DEXTER (3-1,0-0)

Dexter’s lone loss of the season is to current SEMO North power Sikeston (3-1, 1-0) in 57-30 in Week 3. The teams have a common opponent in Scott City (2-2, 1-1); Malden beat the Rams 42-21 opening week and the Bearcats romped the Rams last week 54-6.

I’m one of the few in the region who is not completely sold on Sikeston (3-1, 1-1). A couple great posts regarding an earlier post is the opinion of – seemingly – most SEMO sports observers, but I’ll remain skeptical just for advocates sake. It appears that with their schedule the Bulldogs will mount W’s and has a legitimate shot ast the NORTH crown with  Farmington that regular season ending Thursday showdowns on Oct. 27.

Dexter has put up some recent solid seasons with family names of their great 80’s teams dotting the current roster. Also still coached by a celebrated alum in Aaron Pixley, whose brother in the head man at NMCC – Arlen; I covered those Dexter teams during that glorious stretch of Bearcat football with noted QB Earl Wheeler at the helm.

Actually attended the COLDEST football game I ever covered – and any one I know who lived in SEMO; the Kennett-Dexter playoff game was actually moved back 1-day because the cold…if my recall serves me; I haven’t re-looked it up…since I wrote it and covered it; but it you have better recall of this event feel free to post comments at the end of the story.

To the game; both teams score points; the games is at Bland Stadium; Dexter is tough at home and the common opponent (SC) the Bearcats handled easier and later in the season.

DEXTER  48  MALDEN 28

CHARLESTON (2-2, 2-0)  HAYTI (3-1, 3-0)

The Jays can beat the Indians. IF they put a complete 4-quarter execution together. Offensively, Charleston can put the same type of speed on the field talented Hayti can. Defensively, the Jays have seen this type of speed in all 4 of their games so it won’t be something that haven’t played against.

In all actuality, it has been turnovers, that have throttled the Jays offense – not the opposing defense. .

In their 4-games to date Charleston has scored 27; 14; 21; 33…with double digit TO’s on the season. Defensively, the Jays have given up 22, 43, 48, 0; and those numbers came against stiff competition.

Senior Jamaul Gray is putting up All-Conference numbers – each week. Sophomore Mike Kellum had a break-out performance in the second half of the 33-0 drubbing of NMCC – possibly a signature early program win for second year coach Brett Blackman; Senior Maurice Moore and sophomore Robert Bogan missed last week but freshman Rontavious Clark continues a family tradition of Blue Jay running backs.

Last week, the Defense got on board led by Junior Kaelin Armstrong, sophomore Deiontrail Winston, junior Cole Byford, Senior Michael Baugh…among others; including senior Krushon Scott who caught two balls for 122-yard Friday showing how explosive the Jays could be with a short-passing game to accompany the running game.

Hayti’s Kannard Humes is the real deal. He is explosive; tough and competitive. The 1A Indians have been dominant in the near past sending players to the collegiate and pro ranks. Long-time friend and SEMO sports-expert Al Jackson documents the Indians program unparalleled in sports reporting. Jackson also is the long-time founder of the historic annual basketball edition that folks look forward to reading each year.

To the game; It’s key the Jays stay close in the first half; take advantage of a dump pass here and there to go with the potent running attack and come home with a ‘W’.

CHARLESTON   31      HAYTI   26

EAST PRAIRIE (1-3, 0-2) MOUNTAIN VIEW LIBERTY (4-0)

Coming off a 14-9 rival win over Mountain Grove, Liberty is again 4-0 and posed for a serious run during the playoffs. MVL opened the season with a 36-20 win over Hogan Prep; 30-22 Thayer and 44-13 over Salem.

East Prairie will have their hands full. But, the Eagles will show up and play hard. Offensive coordinator Gary Scott in an interview via Facebook says, “preps r going well. Feel good about game plan it’s just the size differential that bothers me. They play several sophomores as well.  We have to block better and tackle better to have a chance. Injuries are the same.”

To show the attitude of the game – which most observers feel the Eagles face a tough; physical game hoping only to come out healthy, Scott says when asked about looking ahead and preparing for Week 6 and homecoming with Chaffee (2-2, 1-1).

“We will cross the Homecoming bridge when we get to it. Not worried about it til Saturday.”

That’s the ticket. Its obvious the future is bright on the near horizon with the contributions Ep is getting from freshman and sophomores. With the program on good solid standing due to the work of head coach Jason Aycock the past five seasons; the excellent cooperation and relationship in the staff that sees EPJHS coach James Hodges sending ready players to the high school level; And, there apparently is further help on the way in the Jr. Eagle ranks.

Combine that with the blossoming youth (4th grade-6th grade) program in place in Ep and it’s a good bet that – yes, we will cycle down as all schools do – the Eagles will have a chance to play for SEMO South titles each year – and – with the new playoff system going into effect next year the solid schedule should help them in the rankings.

Try this one on. A freshman quarterback (Mack Marcum) starting his first varsity game against a team with added incentive to get a win – Kennett (1-3, 0-0) and still only fall 28-13, with only a one-TD deficit entering the fourth period.  Your linebackers are freshman TJ Shands and Mason Douglas. To watch these kids compete; play hard and with class is a direct result of the excellent coaching they’ve received from this program.

Injuries to seniors Phillip Latomondeer; Cody Huff and standout sophomore running back Brian Beck have constituted these changes. Senior Dalton Golightly has unselfishly moved to the backfield to shore up the blocking and add another running element. Freshman Adrian Soto is exciting to watch. Sophomore fullback/All-conference kicker candidate Frankie Nave is a load to tackle.

Seniors Blake Story, Billy Aycock, Colton Triplett and Jesse Soto have had a great 4-year run and have a chance for the ultimate 4-peat hosting Charleson Oct. 7. Key team leader Shawn King has proven for the second year a certain threat in the passing game, and if the Eagles get P-Lat back in time for the District run an exciting offense could emerge with Marcum having a few games under his belt.

Defensively, the Eagles are ‘what we thought they were’….Hard workding, solid effort. Outsized and out-exeperienced, there’s no shying from contact with Eagle defenders; ask around, opponents will tell you down the line that Ep isn’t what it used to be…They will hit you…; ask, if you think I’m being an excessive ‘homer’.

Did I mention sophomore Larry Mayab or junior Cody Smith..sophomore Damion Tipler who will be a nice watch for Eagle hoop fans;…there are others who make this a team the faithful Eagle supporters can be proud of…

To the game; I wish they come out healthy; the long-road trip to Mountain View (Google Map); and a young team having a great high school football experience. Liberty is a class program…they’re won’t be no running up the score…

LIBERTY 41   EP    14

Other games; Sikeston (3-1, 1-0) at Jackson (1-3, 0-1); it wasn’t so long a go that this was a lock – for the Indians. Got a feeling about this one;  Jackson 18 Sikeston 16…Portageville (1-3, 0-3) at Kennett (1-3, 0-0); just a hunch but could be a shootout at Metz Cherry Stadium. Two key players have returned for each team in Logan Dollins (Kennett) and Tevon Walker (Portageville). And, it Homecoming in Kennett where they take such occasion with full aplomb; remember Sheryl Crowe grew up there and her family homes sits right across the street from the High School…and the best golf course in the Bootheel sits at the edge of town; Alford’s BBq….ahh, the memories…KENNETT 35 PORTAGEVILLE 28; NMCC (0-4, 0-2) at CARUTHERSVILLE (4-0, 1-); the Tigers could easily lay claim to being the top team in SEMO; NMCC can not. C’ville 56 NMCC 6;

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POSITIVE NEWS…

The news – often times – seems to dwell on the negative; just is a fact. Not that I revel in that but it certainly seems to be the case. That’s why I do sports. Rarely, in my past journalistic experiences have I enjoyed my times in the News department; the Sports department…now that’s another story.

From Cardinal credentials in the late 80’s to covering the Blue Jays this past year at the basketball state championships. Sports – to me – have always provided positive Karma and energy….

And, what I’ve seen in this little town on the East Prairie in 2011 is astounding. How so few can provide opportunities for so many is heartwarming. Just tonite for example; well attended little league football practice/ Ep JV game; activity at the gym; homecoming floats under construction; cub scouts; cheerleading….

A town of 3,000. Gettin’ it done….

There may be a bevy of drawbacks to living in a small town. No Chinese (food). Really, no movie theater, not that I would go; lack of fast-food chains which is more than made up for by the quality fare offered up in the Prairie at the Depot; Double B; LuLu’s; Prairie Queen…etc…

There may be even – and there almost assuredly so – many other detriments to living in a small town.

But, I drove only two hours to see Bob Dylan in Memphis this summer; I also saw the Cardinals getting there in about the same time frame; …boarded a train that took me to the Gulf Coast; yeah, I’ve lived in a lot of places during my life…and I’ve enjoyed and remember fondly each place….

But there is something a little special about this little plot of turf on plant Earth…; I wish you’re lucky enough to feel the same way about the place you call Home….

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