News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 16, 2012

AMEY TAKES AIM: A superior all-star arrangement

Andy Amey
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — I don’t work on Wednesdays, so I wasn’t able to attend the first Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association draft last week to set up the annual all-star game that will be June 23 this year.

As mentioned before, the North-South format that had been in place since the start of the all-star series was turning out one-sided, with the South winning just once in the first seven games.

This year the format was tweaked a little bit — and quite effectively, if my initial reaction means anything. Instead of picking a coach of the year from each direction, from now on two coaches of the year will be chosen and they will draft the other schools to play on the all-star teams they coach. The only restriction is that Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South have to be on opposite sides.

Coaches of the year this time are Steve Weber of Linton and Troy Burgess of South Putnam — ironically, the coaches of the last four South teams under the old format.

Steve had the South team in 2008, 2009 and 2011 — getting its only win in 2008 — and Troy was the South coach in 2010.

Now there are just Black and Gold teams, honoring corporate title sponsor First Financial Bank. (Other key sponsors, the WVFCA points out, are the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau and Pacesetter Sports.)

I don’t know who won the coin toss for the first draft pick, but once North joined Linton on the Gold team and South was added to South Putnam for the Black team, there were still 31 other schools whose athletes could be chosen (Charleston, North Daviess and Tri-County are the new WVFCA members this year).

Other schools who will contribute to Weber’s Gold team are Casey, Cumberland, Mattoon, North Knox, North Putnam, North Vermillion, Oblong, Olney, Palestine-Hutsonville, Paris, Robinson, Rockville, South Vermillion, Sullivan, Tri-County and Turkey Run.

Teams joining Burgess for the Black squad are Cascade, Charleston, Cloverdale, Edgewood, Greencastle, Lawrenceville, Marshall, North Central, North Daviess, Northview, Owen Valley, Red Hill, Riverton Parke, Union and West Vigo.

I’m not familiar with all the teams and all the players involved, but I’m already seeing a contrast of styles shaping up for the June 23 game.

Weber’s Gold team has a lot of guys with experience at quarterback, even though some of them were probably chosen at other positions.

Heath Huisinga of Casey, Kendal Butler of Cumberland, Kolten Everts of North Putnam, Dalton McCool of North Vermillion and Billy Knust of Robinson all have quarterback experience, and there may be more I don’t know about. There are also some pretty good receivers available in Colin Carver of Casey, Tyrus Moss of Mattoon, tight end Lane Clark of North Vermillion, Jake Smerage of North Putnam, Cody Jeffries of Rockville and Ryan Vernelson of Sullivan.

Two quarterbacks I see on the Black team are Jacob Duncan of Marshall and Zach Lyday of North Central, plus two more players — Damon Hyatt of Northview and Cody Thornton of West Vigo — who filled in at quarterback when needed last fall.

I also see, however, the two first-team all-Wabash Valley running backs on the Black team, Andre Strohm of Marshall and Rob Gibson of South Putnam, not to mention a couple of bruising fullback types in 250-pound Wade Custis of South Putnam and Enreque Brown of Terre Haute South. Put Hyatt at wingback and Black might never have to throw the ball (although that would waste James Ridge of Edgewood, Kody Basinger of North Central and tight ends Rodney Troutman of Marshall and Lucas Steward of South, to name a few available receivers) because Duncan and Lyday can carry it — and take the punishment — themselves.

Should be intriguing and a lot of fun — but for me, it always is. See at Memorial Stadium in June, I hope.

• Singing sensations — Not long after hearing 11-year-old Carsyn Wayland’s rendition of the National Anthem at the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic, I heard an even younger singer do an excellent job. That would be 9-year-old Noah Walton, a fourth-grader at Lyons Elementary School, who did the job recently at the Greene County Invitational.

Kudos also go to Terre Haute South’s Amanda Yacoub, who did the honors prior to her Senior Night swims at the North-South meet last week.

• Gatorade awards — Recently named Indiana’s Gatorade Athletes of the Year are Ashley Erba of Warsaw, who won the girls state cross country championship at LaVern Gibson Championship Course a couple of months ago, and Emily Wolfert of Yorktown, who played for the Class 3A state volleyball champions.

Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. at (812) 231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321. Follow @TribStarAndy on Twitter too.