TERRE HAUTE —
All things considered, it wasn’t the worst time to be without a working scoreboard.
Lightning on Friday had rendered both scoreboards at Memorial Stadium useless for Saturday night’s ninth annual Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Game, so the fans on hand got to watch two evenly matched teams go back and forth.
But even though the statistics were even enough, the score wasn’t. An opportunistic Gold team, led by a pair of Vigo County players in seemingly unlikely positions, scored in each of the first three quarters and won the game 18-0, posting the first shutout in the history of the event.
Hard-hitting defense was on display all night by both teams — the dozen or so outstanding running backs in the game averaged less than two yards per carry cumulatively, for example — and the first 10 plays of the game netted two yards. But on a third-and-13 play on Gold’s second series, quarterback Colin Smith of Cascade dropped back and fired a bomb to Terre Haute North’s Charles Dillahunt.
That play didn’t set the tone for the game as much as the ensuing series did. Black marched to three first downs, easily the best drive of the first quarter, only to have a sack and tackle for a loss — West Vigo’s Danny Creasey contributing to both — force a fourth-and-19 punt.
Gold got a pair of big plays from the passing combination of Sullivan’s Payne Fortner to Edgewood’s Derek Driver on its next series — a 42-yarder to get the team out of the shadow of its goal posts, a fingertip grab for a touchdown a few plays later — and now the score was 12-0.
And again Black drove down the field, picking up three first downs only to be stymied by back-to-back pass rushes from Turkey Run’s Riley Sunderman and North Putnam’s Eric Davis.
“We’d just stall out on a drive,” Black coach Jim Sullivan of Casey said after the game. “Mistakes. Little breakdowns here and there.”
“It’s tough coming out here. We’ve never played with some of these guys,” added the Black team’s quarterback Nick Gilliam of Greencastle. “From day one [of all-star practice] we made a tremendous [improvement] … but some didn’t bounce our way.”
Back-to-back interceptions late in the second quarter by Gold’s Chris Neidlinger of West Vigo and Black’s Luke Clapp of Tri-County (in the end zone) kept the score 12-0 by halftime, and in the third quarter Black again started to march.
Big runs by Jesse Miller of Northview, Gilliam and Dalton Livvix of Casey picked up first downs. A fourth-down option run by Gilliam picked up another, at Gold’s 22-yard line.
But Owen Valley’s Caleb Arthur snuffed a first-down run, and on third down Gilliam scrambled but only back to the line of scrimmage — a key point since Creasey, who made the stop, needed one more sack for an all-star record.
“I got two [sacks] and six tackles,” he said in mock disgust afterward, and he’d gotten the two sacks early. Better known as a Viking running back during the season — although he did see some defensive line action — the 180-pounder found himself double-teamed after that.
On fourth down, Gilliam went to the air, and his pass went off a receiver’s hands to Terre Haute North’s Vasco Billberry. The All-Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference linebacker was playing safety on Saturday, and he returned the pick 69 yards into Black territory. Two plays later his Patriot teammate Brother Scank capped the scoring with a 17-yard run.
Billberry added another interception — also off the hands of a Black receiver — in the fourth quarter, and also saw some action offensively at fullback. He caught one pass and also took a handoff, then dealt an option pitchout to Scank.
“I had a lot of fun,” Billberry said afterward. “I never got a chance to [play safety] in my conference … and the coaches told me for every turnover, I got the ball [on offense].”
“His interceptions were big,” noted Gold coach Brian Crabtree of North Vermillion. “Anytime you win the turnover battle, that increases your chances of winning.”
Those last two interceptions were the culmination of what could have been a frustrating night for Gilliam, who had at least half a dozen passes go off receivers’ hands.
“That’s gonna happen,” he said philosophically. “I’ve had plenty of games where guys were doing diving, one-hand catches for me too.”
Miller was the game’s leading rusher, while Scank’s statistics for Gold didn’t reflect his importance — or, as usual, the number of defenders he knocked backward instead of going around them. For his work during the week, he received one of the coaches choice scholarships awarded by Sir Thomas Automotive.
“I just did what I always do,” Scank said. “I knew this was the last time I’d play high school football, so I gave everything I got.”
Often banged up during the 2012 Patriot season, Scank also seemed healthy Saturday — including hurdling several tacklers with a spectacular leap in the waning seconds of the first half.
“I felt good all week,” he agreed.
“The kids played with really good intensity and great enthusiasm,” Crabtree said. “[Winning] capped a great week overall.”
“It was a blast,” said Creasey. “This was the last time I’ll play football, so I went all out. We had the first shutout ever; we made history.”
“It was all about fun,” Billberry added. “We were here to win and we won.”
“They’re great kids and they all have bright futures,” Sullivan said. “This is a fantastic opportunity for area kids to get a chance to play in this game.”
n Other winners — The other coaches choice scholarship went to Shawn McCown of Casey, while the Pete Varda Hall of Fame Scholarships chosen by players’ votes went to Dillon Bell of Terre Haute South and Dante Rehmel of North Central. The 2013 Hall of Fame class of David “Pudge” Bennett, Nick Mourouzis and Dick Ranard helped present those honors.
And for the second straight year the Derek Eitel Memorial Scholarship for academic achievements went to more than one player: Clapp, Matt Schmidlin of Palestine-Hutsonville and Jordan Hahn of Olney all finished their high school careers as valedictorians with 4.0 grade-point averages and were captains of their respective high school teams.
n Injuries — Driver was one of Gold’s busiest players, needing to play cornerback in addition to punting and catching passes.
West Vigo’s Andy Velazquez suffered a dislocated ankle and broke some bones in his leg during a Tuesday practice — he was in surgery Wednesday and in a wheelchair for festivities Friday and Saturday — and Linton’s Koye Kaiser took a big hit on the game’s opening kickoff and was sidelined the rest of the night. Either or both could have been in the defensive backfield.
On the other side of the Velazquez coin, West Vigo’s Ethan Boatman saw plenty of action at linebacker Saturday — his first game action since being injured in the Vikings’ season opener against Evansville Harrison back in August.
TERRE HAUTE —
All things considered, it wasn’t the worst time to be without a working scoreboard.
- High School
North girls, South boys win in county track rivalries
Terre Haute North’s girls team rested a bunch of its standouts but still managed to outpoint host Terre Haute South 69-63.
Meanwhile, the South boys benefited from the return of long-distance ace Jackson Bertoli to defeat the Patriots 86-45 in their annual high school track meet Thursday evening.
North baseball wins at McCutcheon; Vikings win
Zach Milam went 3-for-4 and Brett Herndon was 2-for-3 as Terre Haute North defeated McCutcheon 3-1 on Thursday in a game played at Purdue University.
Prep roundup: Bennett, Edwards boost W.Vigo baseball
Derrick Bennett went 2 for 4 and clouted a two-run homer in the sixth inning and Zach Edwards chalked up his first varsity pitching victory and also went 2 for 4 to help West Vigo defeat visiting Paris, Ill., 11-5 in high school baseball Wednesday evening.
Western Indiana Conference to expand to 12 schools
The long-rumored merger between the Western Indiana Conference and the five remaining high schools in the West Central Conference has become reality.
Late last week, the seven WIC principals and five WCC principals voted 12-0 to approve the new alignment.
“We now have 12 schools in the WIC,” proclaimed outgoing Sullivan principal David Springer, who’s serving as WIC president for the 2013-14 school year.
Busy Patriots get past Casey 7-1 in prep softball
Terre Haute North began a busy week of high school softball Tuesday, defeating Casey 7-1 at North.
The Patriots now are 6-3 and will take on Clay City, ranked second in the Class A poll, on Thursday in another home game.
PREP ROUNDUP: West Vigo baseball, softball pick up WIC victories
West Vigo won its Western Indiana Conference high school baseball opener at South Vermillion, scoring two seventh-inning runs and holding off a Wildcats’ rally.
Wabash Valley high school basketball players of the year: Their career numbers tell only part of the story
One of the prouder people in east-central Illinois, as the Tribune-Star awards its 2013-2014 high school basketball Player of the Year awards, is probably Barry Wolfe.
Vikings open busy week with victory
West Vigo defeated Shakamak 13-9 in a high school softball game played in cool, rainy conditions Monday evening at West Vigo.
Prep roundup: Yeryar's five hits lift Shakamak
Brett Yeryar went 5 for 5 with two doubles and drove in six runs to lead Shakamak to a 18-4 high school baseball victory Monday at North Central.
Terre Haute track and field athletes shine at Patriot Invitational
The Terre Haute North and Brown County girls and boys came out winners Saturday in the Patriot Invitational Track and Field Meet at Terre Haute North High School.
Prep roundup: North girls tennis beats ranked teams
Terre Haute North knocked off two state-ranked teams — No. 12 Fort Wayne Canterbury and No. 13 Delta — on its way to capturing the Delta Invitational championship for girls high school tennis Saturday.
Herrin's pitching effort leads South to win over Northview
When two good high school baseball teams get together, each using one of its better pitchers, the margin for error figures to be slim, and some defensive plays that weren’t made were the difference Friday evening as Terre Haute South beat Northview 7-1.
Stout home run sparks South softball at Sullivan
Terre Haute South junior Mariah Stout made her father proud and helped her team win its eighth game of the season at the same time Friday evening.
With the previously flat-looking Braves trailing host Sullivan 1-0 with two outs and nobody on base in the top of the second inning, Stout woke up her dugout mates by hammering a McKenzie Pirtle pitch over the fence in left-center field for a score-tying home run.
Terre Haute North baseball cruises past Warren Central
Terre Haute North swept a high school baseball doubleheader against Warren Central on Friday night by scores of 14-1 and 10-4.
PREP ROUNDUP: Sollars, Morrison lead West Vigo softball to win
Kaitlyn Sollars had a double, triple and four runs batted in and winning pitcher Leah Morrison contributed a pair of triples and a double to lead visiting West Vigo over Riverton Parke 14-1 in high school softball.
West Vigo baseball wins in rout
When Brandin Behringer drove in his first run Thursday evening, it gave West Vigo a short-lived lead in nonconference high school baseball.
The remainder of the Viking senior’s RBIs came four at a time in the bottom of the fourth inning, his grand-slam homer capping the second of consecutive seven-run innings that sent his team to a 15-3 win over visiting North Vermillion.
Prep roundup: Vikings get big hits to beat North Vermillion on softball diamond
The West Vigo softball team improved to 4-3 for the season with an 11-4 victory over North Vermillion on Thursday.
Leah Morrison busted the game open with a three-run double in the Vikings’ seven-run fourth inning.
Kenzie Little chipped in with a two-run triple in the sixth and Hannah Harden tossed a complete-game for the pitching win.
Prep baseball: Northview beats top-ranked Shakamak
Damon Bass pitched a three-hit shutout and struck out seven to lead Northview to a 7-0 high school baseball victory over Shakamak.
The visiting Knights blew open a tight game against Class A’s top-ranked team with a four-run seventh inning.
Austin Butts and Jake Harden combined for six hits for Northview.
PREP ROUNDUP: North girls tennis wins 5-0 at Plainfield
Terre Haute North’s girls tennis team swept its opening match of the high school season as it defeated Plainfield 5-0 on Wednesday.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Loss of Coach Bennett leaves hole in Marshall
My email box is a little less busy now, and there’ll be a familiar face missing on basketball trips to Marshall in the future.
Roncalli fights past North Central in extra innings on way to Braves Bash title
Roncalli became a three-time Gold Bracket champion of the sixth annual Braves Bash high school softball tournament at Terre Haute’s Miss Softball America complex Saturday night by defeating Evansville Mater Dei 7-1 in the title game.
The 12-team round-robin tournament, which started Friday evening with three pools, and concluded with bracket championships Saturday night.
Sullivan enjoys record golf day at Northview Invitational
Sullivan and No. 1 player Nathan Pirtle were top finishers in the Northview Invitational for high school boys golf teams played Saturday at Forest Park.
TH North loses to McCutcheon, beats Harrison (West Lafayette)
Terre Haute North bounced back from a big loss to host McCutcheon to defeat Harrison (West Lafayette) in a pair of high school baseball games Saturday.
The Mavericks defeated the Patriots 17-7 early Saturday, but North beat the Raiders 9-4 later in the day.
West Vigo baseball drops first two in Center Grove Classic
West Vigo hammered the baseball all over the field and had a double-digit lead through three innings early in the week at Seeger before rain washed it out short of a complete game.
TH South sweeps MIC baseball doubleheader
Justin Jenkins and Timmy Herrin led visiting Terre Haute South to a sweep of a Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference high school baseball doubleheader Saturday at Indianapolis North Central.
Opening their final MIC season, the Braves won the opener 9-6 and the nightcap 8-6.
Braves Softball Bash a 'premier' early-season tournament
The Braves Softball Bash has grown to 12 schools in 2014, with high school teams looking to gauge their early-season progress against quality competition.
The host Braves have put together a solid 3-1 start that includes a doubleheader sweep of Casey, Ill., a newcomer to the field along with West Vigo.
Golf season gets going Saturday with Northview Invitational
Most high school boys golf teams in the area will get the season started Saturday in the Northview Invitational at Forest Park.
New players will be in the lineups for many of the teams. Sullivan and Greencastle are the leaders in returning players.
PREP ROUNDUP: Allen homers in North softball win
Jazmine Allen had her first home run of the season and she and Conner Nelson combined for five hits and four RBIs as Terre Haute North defeated Sullivan 8-1 on Thursday in nonconference high school softball.
PREP ROUNDUP: South offense leads Braves to dominant win over Lincoln
Justin Jenkins had three hits and Jacob Johnson and Zach Donnelly drove in four runs apiece as Terre Haute South rolled to a 15-2 high school baseball victory Wednesday at Vincennes Lincoln.
Terre Haute North tops Sullivan, falls to Class A No. 1 Shakamak
Class A No. 1-ranked Shakamak got a big pitching performance and big hits from Braxton and Brett Yeryar Tuesday night while beating Terre Haute North 5-2 at Don Jennings Field.
- More High School Headlines
- North girls, South boys win in county track rivalries