TERRE HAUTE — It’s been a high school football season Mike Stiener would have loved.
Probably the toughest kid in my class at Center Grade School and Lowell High School — or at least he would have tried to convince you he was the toughest — Mike was our team MVP in football our senior year as a 130-pound guard and middle linebacker (I was in the running for LVP, but that’s another story), flew supplies into the Middle East during the first Gulf War, and is currently the pastor of a little church in the hills of northern California.
(Of the three things you know about Mike by now, see if you can guess which one surprises people the most at our class reunions.)
Mike loved football. The only thing he loved more was football in lousy weather. I still remember a practice in the rain during which Mike dove head-first into a puddle at least 15 yards long, emerging from the other end after sliding face-down all the way through it.
Mike didn’t do his own laundry, except maybe for that one week.
So Mike would have been in his element — literally — during most Friday nights this fall. My own laundry piled up pretty quickly, but I was extremely lucky; I think I only spent two halves of two different games in the press box, even though several times the rain didn’t stop until moments before the kickoff. Plenty of mud, however.
I got my comeuppance once too. Wise guy that I am, I asked the chain gang at Zionsville — my muddiest sideline of the season — why their school didn’t have artificial turf yet. They just pointed toward the other sideline; behind it was their new field being constructed, so they’ll be relatively mud-free a year from now (when it probably won’t rain at all).
My award for best-kept, least-muddy field (even after a driving rainstorm) goes to North Vermillion, by the way.
It’s been a season with its share of fun, and with the potential of two more games to go.
If all goes as planned, by this time next week I’ll have seen three of the four teams that I’d put in a tournament at Memorial Stadium (Casey, Linton, Marshall and Rockville) for small-school supremacy; saw state-championship-caliber platoons compete most weeks in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (that would be Terre Haute North’s offense and Terre Haute South’s defense); and watched West Vigo turn into an old-school running juggernaut — for one muddy night, at least.
Steve Fields, not me, saw history being made a couple of weeks ago too, when Linton won its sectional championship over North Daviess 28-24 and Dyllanne Deischer kicked four extra points.
Dyllanne is 5-foot-2, 125 pounds, has long blonde hair and has to dress in a different locker room than the rest of the Miners. Yes, in the macho town of Linton (ask me about the car parked next to mine when I went there one afternoon to interview the Miners), the game-winning points in the biggest win of the year were scored by a girl.
Pretty sure that’s a first.
It’s been a lot of fun so far, in other words. If my teams didn’t win every time … well, Mike and I can relate. Our senior year Lowell was 0-10 and neither of us was scarred for life.
And now our Red Devils are one game — one very tough game, admittedly — from their third state-championship appearance in five seasons, with one state title already in the books. The worm will turn eventually. And now, the Amey Awards for Vigo County.
• Seniors of the Year — Aaron Allen, Nicholas Andreason (He can’t be a senior yet can he? Wasn’t he the ball boy just last week?), Steven Belleu, Joe Brentlinger, Dougie Collett, Brian Counterman, Ben King, Chris O’Leary, Shawn Riggs, Luke Sappington, Antonio Theriault, Logan Valentine, Shawn Walker and Trent Walls, North; Cody Bell, Brandon Brock, Billy Byerley, Mitchell Dagnon, Nate Drada, Joe Hamblen, Alex Land, Austin Nicoson, Bryn Schwartz, Michael Sutliff, Tanner Symon and Jeromy Wilson, South; and John Burt, Nick Cramer, Aaron Hofmann, Josh Hubbard, Don Humes, Jacob Kelley, Craig Knoepfel, Dyman Lewellyn and Jesse Murphy, West Vigo;
• Juniors of the Year — Dylan Aff, Brandon Blystone, Nick Brownfield, Lance Garrett, Luke Kernstein, Cole Lydick, Dalton Mix, Dustin Montgomery, Ryan Roach and Casey Sereno, West Vigo; Jeremiah Argudia, Elijah Beard, Joel Blakely, Josiah Blakely, Doyle Bledsoe, Kevin Bracken, Logan Buske, Dustin Galenski, Nate Hutchinson, Zack Lewis, Jimmy Maxwell, P.J. Montgomery, Tommy Moore, Isaiah Myers, Nate Schuster, Tre Stephens and Aaron Sullivan, South; and Dillen Bole, Jabari Bradshaw, Maris Clark, Andrew Fox, Daniel Gabbard, Cam Grim, Dillon Hare, Chad Holler, David Knight, Jacob Lunstrum, Michael Mace and Garrett Peabody, North; .
• Sophomores of the Year — Ben Bird, Jake Clark, Harley Elkins, Matt Flesher, Nathan Gregg, Dakota Lewellyn, Chase Silcock, Jacob Soliday and Cody Thornton, West Vigo; Enreque Brown, Warren Bryant, Stewart Dagnon, Leon Hill, Tyler King, Tsali Lough and Gabe Valadez, South; and Thomas King, Tyler Lawrence and Dakota Vermillion, North.
• Freshmen of the Year — Calvin Blank, Lee Davis, A.J. Grady, Sydney Moore and Brother Scank, North; Dillon Bell, South; and Austin Wallace.
• Senior Good Guys — Jon Brainard, Nick Graham, Broc Hudson, Victor Price and Jacob Schneider, North; Braxton Collins, Joey Etling, RaShaun Lynch, Caleb Manley, Bobby McKenna and DeAndre Shaffer, South; and Chris Waller, West Vigo.
• Most Improved — Jacob Kelley, West Vigo, and Alex Land and Isaiah Myers, South.
• Injured Too Soon — Don Humes, Craig Knoepfel and Tyler Randolph, West Vigo.
• Hitters of the Year — Cody Bell, South, for the hardest; Billy Byerley, South, for frequency; and Lee Davis and Michael Mace, North, for future leaders in this category.
• Ryan’s baseball teammates (and opponents) who made good — Jake Clark, Brentin Owen, Kevin Stewart and Cody Thornton, West Vigo; and Maris Clark, David Knight, Michael Mace, Garrett Peabody and Shawn Walker, North.
TERRE HAUTE — It’s been a high school football season Mike Stiener would have loved.
- Amey Takes Aim
AMEY TAKES AIM: WNBA is part of travel plans
Columnist prepares for vacation destinations.
Amey Takes Aim: NHL playoffs to put TVs to good use
If Jenny had known, she probably wouldn’t have bought that TV.
But four or five years ago, my Fathers Day present — for those unfamiliar with Amey family traditions, the Fathers Day one is “let’s get something we all really want and pretend it’s a gift for Dad” — was a 42-inch Vizio. It’s been used even more than the cell phone I never would have bought for myself, or the TomTom that disappeared since Jenny’s smartphone arrived.
And it came with high-def.
I’m not going to insult you by telling you how great high-def is, because to do so would be to imply that you are even farther behind the technological curve than I am. I’m guessing, however, that not all of you have yet discovered what it does for hockey.
Amey Takes Aim: Can’t bottle the joy of Amey vacations
The first bad sign was the Gatorade bottle.
In the Bataan-Death-March drive to Orlando that got the Amey family spring break vacation off to a bad start, seeing it between lanes of I-24 — as we zipped along at a 100-miles-in-five-hours clip — filled with an ominous yellow liquid was a little bit scary. And although we didn't stop to check for sure, I'm fairly certain I knew about its contents.
And the person stuck in the same traffic jam with us, the one with the existential license plate YMIHR4, couldn’t have asked a more pertinent question.
But, after seeing a lot more of Oak Grove, Ky., than we’d planned, and after enduring more traffic slowdowns in Nashville, we were on our way. Even some rain in the dark in the Smokies didn’t slow us down much, so you would think our first-day troubles were over.
You would be wrong.
ANDY AMEY: Farewell to basketball
I believe you’ve heard me say before — just about a year ago, perhaps — that a boys high school basketball season that ends with the Tribune-Star in Bankers Life Fieldhouse can’t be considered a bad one, which is why we have a little celebrating to do thanks to the Linton Miners.
Lover of irony that I am, I’ve also got to point out that this season was another branch sprouting from the Wabash Valley’s most legendary coaching tree, that of Joe Hart.
Joe never got much credit for his work at Dugger, but he took Brody Boyd, Clark Golish and the Bulldogs to a state championship game in 2000, and since then three of his former players — Joe Pigg, Clint Swan and now Joey Hart, his son — also have coached teams in the final game of the season.
Joe probably wishes he could take credit for Doc Nash, another down-home type who gave a banjo lesson earlier Saturday in leading Borden past a bigger, more athletic Triton team (banjo lesson is a Howard Sharpism, for you younger readers), but his lineage is still the best I can think of around here.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Maroons, Rox final a true Classic
I don’t make predictions nearly as often as I used to, but I had one several months ago that was proven correct last week.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Nitpicking aside, West Vigo Hall of Fame selections spot on
I can’t imagine a better first class of inductees into the West Vigo High School Athletics Hall of Fame than the one that was feted Saturday night in the Jim Mann Green Dome.
Tough bunch of people
I’m getting my warm clothes ready for a trip to Linton this week, and if a few thrills from the Miners, Casey or North Vermillion happen the next couple of weeks, I hope I get to see them.
But high school football is over in Vigo County for the season — as coach Chris Barrett of Terre Haute North said, prematurely — and I’m sadder to see it go than usual.
Walking the sidelines and doing midweek or postgame interviews enables me to meet quite a few of the guys whose names you are about to read, and haven’t been more impressed than I was this fall. What outstanding groups of young men. What a tough, tough bunch of people.
Many know that one of my favorite athletic adjectives appeared consecutively in the previous sentence.
AMEY TAKES AIM: A weekend to remember with ISU’s ’72 football team
They’re all still pretty hale and hearty, the boys of the fall of 1972 who returned to campus over the weekend to honor their former football coach.
AMEY TAKES AIM: ISU reunion raises more questions than answers
One of the wrestlers I used to hang out with occasionally claimed to be a pretty good second-story man — although he may have just been talking, since I never saw any of the goods — and it was with him in mind that I was able to get access to the Indiana State Wrestling Alumni Reunion late Saturday night.
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Flaunting the law, setting a bad example for the kids in other ways, grooming and acquiring dogs … not a typical Amey family vacation, but an appreciated one just the same.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Huntsville’s Stars, Havoc take back seat to GGS
The second-best thing about the Amey family’s spring-break trip to Huntsville, Ala., is that we left a lot of things on the table to do the next time we’re down there.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Rox well represented on Amey teams
If having the state finals in town makes it a successful girls high school basketball season, then certainly having a team to follow at the state finals makes it a very successful boys high school basketball season . . .
AMEY TAKES AIM: A feeling of pride, not disappointment, comes from watching Rox play
It’s not going to come as a startling admission that I — once the rest of the local opposition has been eliminated from consideration — am an unabashed fan of whatever team the Wabash Valley sends onward in postseason high school sports competition.
AMEY TAKES AIM: This private school plays basketball the right way
Any girls high school basketball season that ends with state championship games in Hulman Center is a pretty good one — even though I wished I’d seen Riverton Parke and Seeger knock off a couple of private schools the week before to even the public school-private school battle a little bit.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Even 2 of state’s best once had doubts
Look at them now.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Getting ready for the dance
Terre Haute North got the good news Sunday night — or did it?
AMEY TAKES AIM: Harrowing path for state hopefuls
The bad news is that the winner of Class 4A Sectional 13 in boys basketball heads northeast instead of southeast for regional play in March — to Hinkle Fieldhouse instead of Seymour as a result of Indiana High School Athletic Association’s changes.
AMEY TAKES AIM: A superior all-star arrangement
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.
AMEY TAKES AIM: The biggest & baddest of a holiday classic
There are more things to love about the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic than could fit in this newspaper, but one of this year’s best things was that for an hour or so on Wednesday, it was Justin Paddock’s world and we were just living in it.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Taking note of ISU’s latest football win
The biggest difference I’ve noticed, as I transition from the high school football beat to quasi-official status as the Indiana State football beat writer for a few weeks, is the length of the games.
AMEY TAKES AIM: IHSAA playoff draw not as bad as it could have been
First reaction to the Indiana sectional football pairings drawn late Sunday by the Indiana High School Athletic Association? It could have been a lot worse.
ANDY AMEY: Between the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & a hard place
Just in case any of you noticed — with some anticipation — the recent lack of my bylines, I can tell you that your wish (and mine) did come true. It was vacation week for the Amey family.
Amey Takes Aim: UFC fighter’s bloodines traced back to ISU brothers
As a mild-mannered reporter from a great metropolitan newspaper — or thereabouts — I admit I haven’t paid much attention to the burgeoning mixed martial arts scene.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Predators’ win is music to new fan’s ears
For many, many years, the number of live games televised on WGN has been cited as perhaps the main reason for the popularity of the Chicago Cubs (it’s got to be something besides masochism, right?).
AMEY TAKES AIM: You’ll be having a good ol’ time on vacation with the Ameys
When one of the first people you meet is Tammy Wynette’s stepdaughter, when you’ve stepped on the feet of people you haven’t met while trying to navigate Ernest Tubbs’ old Silver Eagle tour bus, and when the activities director of your resort is, well, Elvis, you might be vacationing in Nashville.
AMEY TAKES AIM: The Annual All-Amey basketball teams close out the prep season
The most encouraging boys high school basketball event I’ve attended so far in 2011 has been the Lafayette Semistate a couple of weeks ago.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Family remembers Cheryl Weatherman as caring grandmother
As far as Riley and Keely Davis are concerned, Cheryl Weatherman was simply their grandmother, and a pretty darn good one at that.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Honor to see Turkey Run girls close out memorable career
I don’t know if anyone in this part of the state could actually say they enjoy going to Fort Wayne and back, but I was glad to see the Turkey Run Warriors play one last time during the girls basketball state finals Saturday.
So many matches, so many favorites
Go ahead, ask me anything about the 224 wrestlers who competed last week at the Indiana state finals — or at least about the 112 wrestlers who survived Saturday’s first round.
ANDY TAKES AIM: A sportwriters’s lament: Oh, the games we missed
I was already tired of winter by the time that first bitterly cold snap passed through in mid-December, so it’s safe to say the season hasn’t grown on me.
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