Two weeks gone, Northeast Missouri. And season openers are a thing of the past, West Central Illinois and Southeast Iowa. Take a ride to the end zone with WGEM Sports Director Ben Marth for a glimpse at the second week of the Tri-State high school football season.
-- Impressive debut for Quincy Notre Dame. There's no argument. The balance on offense stuck out most - 216 rushing yards and 206 yards passing. Included in that, Jackson Connell's increased role with the rock paid dividends with 175 yards of total offense and three touchdowns, Reed Hyer had seven receptions for 135 yards and two scores, and Nick Wellman threw for 206 yards and three TD's. The unsung heroes? The offensive line, tight end Brady Gilliland, and fullback Mitchell Maas, they all deserve a game ball for giving ample time to Wellman and the others. By the way, the Raiders play their next four games at home.
-- Takeaway from Hannibal: they are a still a work in progress. Still, JaQuez McGruder rushed for 87 yards and 5.4 yards every time he touched the ball. I wonder if his workload will increase as the season goes on. There's something special about him.
-- Despite taking the opening kickoff for a 91-yard touchdown from Adonte Crider and touchdown runs from Jake Kelley and Logan Ross, Quincy High stumbled defensively in getting doubled-up by Belleville West. According to Matt Schuckman from the Herald-Whig, star tailback Jirehl Brock left the game in the second half with a shoulder injury. The Blue Devils can ill-afford to lose him for an extended period of time. But the Blue Devils will bounce back and I imagine that starts next week at Alton.
-- They make have lost a trio of 1,000-yard running backs from a year ago but there's plenty to like about the new arsenal in the backfield for Bushnell/West Prairie. Most notably, Nate Ferguson who rushed for 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The leadership of senior quarterback Devin Yocum and a beefy offensive line will also carry the Sparclones this fall. They are undoubtedly a team to watch for the duration. All the pieces are in place for a playoff run.
-- Hats off to Brown County's Devin Tynan who tied the Hornets all-time touchdown record in a one-sided win over West Central. Tynan had five TD's in the opener. Keep an eye on: the defense. Alex Ebbing's influence on that side of the ball is something to watch. Ebbing will have that group playing at a consistent high level.
-- Monroe City made some astounding improvements on the defensive side of the ball and it showed, even though the Panthers did surrender 28 points to Macon. Head coach David Kirby told us on The 5th Quarter there was a significant emphasis made defensively at practice this week. Monroe City only allowed eight points in the second half.
-- Paris is 2-0 with less than 20 players on its roster. Enough said. And the Coyotes have only given up a combined six points in wins over Harrisburg and Salisbury. It should be interesting next Friday when they visit Scotland County who has dropped consecutive games and will certainly be a hungry opponent.
-- I knew Todd Kelly would be one of those off-the-radar candidates for Player of the Year and his performance in Unity-Payson's win over Greenfield may have just officially put him in the early conversation. Kelly scored twice, had an interception, and a fumble recovery. The dude can flat out fly and he makes plays.
-- Fort Madison proved the level of excitement for that program is off the charts, thanks to head coach Tony Shiffman. His Bloodhounds answered the challenge with a emphatic shutout of Davis County. Shiffman has the "it" factor as a coach and his leadership has his team in belief of the process. I thought it was telling when he was a guest on The 5th Quarter and said the win was something "we expected, this is what we anticipated happening."
-- Big fan of new names to track: Central Lee's Austin Gaylord is the latest. The Hawks quarterback accounted for 214 yards of offense and two touchdowns in their win over Keokuk. And kudos to Nick Ehret on his first win as head coach.
-- What's not to like about Palmyra's Peyton Plunkett? The Panthers fed the big fella 23 times for 226 yards and he averaged 9.8 yards every time he carried the ball. I still think Kevin Miles' team is in need of a complimentary part to take some of the pressure off Plunkett and signal caller Jacob Kroeger. The maturation of a junior-led offensive line is of intrigue as well.
-- Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in Hardin at the Central/Calhoun game. It seemed like a war and old fashioned football with every play seemingly more important than the last one. The Panthers are another area team I expect to be much better a month from now. Back-to-back home games coming up with North Greene and Jacksonville Routt should allow Brad Dixon's team an opportunity to get on track.
-- Illini West's Nick Vorhies was running past and over defenders in the Chargers win over United to the tune of three touchdowns. There doesn't seem to be much that scares him. I'll let our Sports Extra highlights serve as evidence.
-- A business trip to the Show-Me State ends with success for West Hancock. Tell me something I didn't expect. The Titans have now won 10 consecutive regular season games. After three more games with Missouri squads, Travis Cook's team invades QND in Week 5. I'm not telling you to mark your calendars for September 22. Oh wait, yes I am.
All out of time and I'm hungry. Have a great weekend and thanks for watching and reading.