There were movers, shakers, and plenty of touchdown makers, in Week 5 of area high school football. Take the road well traveled with WGEM Sports Director Ben Marth for a look back, and a peak ahead, with quick hitters from across the Tri-States.
-- Well, if we learned anything from Friday night...it's this: Bushnell-West Prairie can play some football. The Sparclones went in to Fuzz Berges Field and made a statement in a 22-8 victory. Nate Ferguson returned and carried the rock 21 times for 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The confidence is oozing right now for BWP. Now the real fun begins. The Sparclones face a pair of unbeatens - Elmwood-Brimfield (away) and Farmington (home) over the next two weeks. Get your popcorn ready.
-- Not sure what happened to Palmyra in the season opener but they are a completely different team with four straight wins since falling flat at Macon. Despite being out-gained offensively, the Panthers used their entire arsenal in a 20-6 victory at Clark County. Noah Mencer had a pair of field goals, Dalton Perkins returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, and Corder Lehenbauer came in to relieve a sidelined Jacob Kroeger at quarterback and threw a TD pass to Jarom Alexander to seal the win. Good news for Palmyra - Kroeger left with a muscle spasm and head coach Kevin Miles told me it's not serious. Peyton Plunkett continued his Player of the Year candidacy with 103 yards rushing and 11.5 tackles. Centralia comes to town in two weeks and that should be fun.
-- There wasn't a bigger win, in my humble opinion, than Central going to Triopia and driving back to Camp Point with a 22-12 victory to run its win streak to three. Cole Williams finished with 101 yards rushing and three touchdowns but the defense stood out most. Noah Strohkirch (17 tackles) led a relentless Panthers attack for the key WIVC North win. Head coach Brad Dixon told us on The 5th Quarter that he expected a "war." And it was. Beardstown comes to Camp Point next week and a significant litmus test awaits.
-- Here's the no-brainer thought of the evening: There's no more important player to his roster in the region than Quincy High's Jirehl Brock. The junior tailback rushed for 244 yards and four touchdowns in the one-sided 49-24 victory against Galesburg in the WB6 opener. The first time he touched the ball Brock went untouched for an 80-yard score. The opposition has to account for Brock on every down which opens opportunities for Jake Kelley, Bubba Crider, and others. Having been there though I can also tell you this: the defense is getting better. And that's a scary predicament moving forward for foes. Next week it's a trip to Rock Island followed by Alleman's visit. This two-game stretch will tell us a lot about the Blue Devils. (Side note: Flinn Stadium was absolutely packed and I understand it was Homecoming, but the environment was off the charts).
-- Hats off to North Shelby for its first Homecoming win since 2008. And props to now-quarterback Mason Uhlmeyer who made the switch to go under center and all he did was finish with seven (!!) touchdowns. The versatility of the Raiders is something to marvel at. Really impressive to see multiple players move around and have success.
-- Guessing there was plenty of attention put on the defensive side of the football for Hannibal this week. A game after Mexico totaled 339 yards on the ground the Pirates rebounded by allowing Kirksville to rush for 35 yards on 22 carries. In fact, the Tigers had 71 yards of total offense. Quality showing by Mark St. Clair's squad. Add Dante Reading to the number of running backs Hannibal has at its disposal. Reading had 13 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. Gabe Worthington continues to settle in at quarterback with three touchdown passes, two of which went to underrated receiver Will Whitaker.
-- There's no such thing as a letdown in Monroe City these days. The Panthers are simply taking care of their weekly business. They have shut out two opponents in a row and outscored their last three opponents 134-6. The undefeated reigning Class 1 runner-up won't get tested until the final two weeks of the season and both are must-see affairs, at Centralia (October 6) and vs. Palmyra (October 13).
-- West Hancock's four-game swing against Missouri teams has come and gone and the Titans have four wins to show for it. It was pretty telling to hear head coach Travis Cook explain how there's still plenty of improvement to be made. The program has enviable interior focus and has a chance to win its second straight against QND with a trip to 10th and Jackson next week. And oh by the way, West Hancock has won 13 regular season games in a row. They are the real deal.
-- Speaking of Quincy Notre Dame, confidence has seemed to return thanks to a blowout victory vs. Lutheran St. Charles to improve to 2-2. After a brutal stretch - Hannibal, Alleman, and Morris, all of whom were state ranked at the time - the Raiders ran the ball and threw the ball at will against their undermanned week five opponent. The return of Zach Haley is a big plus. The talented cross country runner made his season debut Friday and is a force to be reckon with on defense. Good to see Dalton Venvertloh return to form with three touchdowns and defensive end Brady Gilliland proved his worth with a pair of first half sacks.
-- Tip of the cap to Bowling Green and Scotland County who are both proving it's not always where you start, but where you finish. Both the Bobcats and Tigers started the season 0-2 but each has run off three consecutive victories.
-- Great balance from Knox County offensively in the 32-18 home win over Harrisburg. Hayden Miller had a monster night with 270 yards of offense (132 rush, 138 receive) and three touchdowns, and two interceptions, Nick Edwards threw for 181 yards, and Cory Moubry had 100 yards rushing and a TD. The Knox County/Scotland County game in Edina on the final Friday of the month will certainly be worth the price of admission.
-- Brown County is not the 7th best team in Class 1A. They are better than that. I'm a little biased towards teams in our region, and I know the state rankings are all pomp and circumstance, but the Hornets are 4-0 and they have given up all of 41 points. I don't think you want to miss the October 6 game between Brown County and Central in Camp Point.
-- How about the Fort Madison defense? A key goal line stand in the final seconds lifted the Bloodhounds to a 21-17 victory over West Burlington/Notre Dame to make it three wins in four games to begin the season. Shance Redd-Donald and the defensive crew littered our Sports Extra highlights ad justifiably so. A trip to Washington looms next week. The Demons were undefeated entering Friday's play but lost 40-0 at Solon.
-- Central Lee also improved to 3-1 with the Austin Gaylord and Adam Rooney show on full display in the 38-0 win over visiting Albia. Gaylord accounted for 199 yards of offense and had a pair of rushing TD's. The always daunting task of playing at PCM comes next week.
I'm all out time and I missed my son's first varsity carry tonight. He got a first down so I guess it's time to pat him on his (hopefully) sleeping back. Have a great weekend and thanks for watching and reading.