By Andy Amey
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.