TERRE HAUTE —
Despite returning only four starters from last year’s 11-1 team, the Casey Warriors football team could still be the class of the two-part Little Illini Conference in 2013.
Quarterback Nicco Stepina has at least one Division I offer (Illinois State), and coach Jim Sullivan said the rest of the new varsity starters are hungry to prove themselves.
“They’ve been behind some good groups. Now they get the chance to be the feature players. That’s how they see this season. We don’t believe tradition graduates,” said Sullivan, who enters his second year coaching a program that has had seven seasons with just one loss since 2004.
Marshall and Robinson — members of the Little Illini Egyptian Conference — will be among the teams trying to upset the Warriors, heavy favorites of the Little Illini Eastern, in 2013.
Following are a look at the above teams as well as Paris, in its final year of Apollo Conference membership before joining its Highway 1 rivals in the one 10-team Little Illini Conference in 2014.
• Casey — Stepina, who runs a 4.40-second time in the 40-yard dash, passed for 1,000 yards and ran for 800 as a junior last season while directing the Warriors’ spread system.
“He’s probably one of better athletes in small-school football in all of Illinois,” Sullivan said. “He’s the first one in the weight room and last one out. He knows the offense inside out. He’ll be a huge part of our success this year.”
The Warriors return between 15 and 20 lettermen, Sullivan said.
Senior Zack Murphy (6-1, 190), junior Ethan Williams (5-7, 150) and senior Austin Glidewell (5-7, 160) will also get carries out of the backfield.
Murphy, a four-year letterman, and Glidewell, will be big contributors. Both are among the co-captains for the Warriors and should good large portion of the team’s carries.
“Murphy’s a been a leader for us and could play anywhere. Glidewell will be a smaller kid, 5-7, 160 pounds but fairly good quickness, good strength and good pad level,” Sullivan said of Glidewell.
Center Jordan Brandenburg (6-2, 250) leads a Warrior offensive line that will include Colton Sewell (6-2, 190) and Dustin Weger (5-10, 220) at the tackle spots and Parker Buenzil (6-4, 340) and Jake Mason (6-2, 290) at guard.
On the outside at receiver will be four returning lettermen: Sam Huisinga (6-3, 155), Ethan Blankenship (6-2, 180), A.J. McNeil (5-11, 170) and Corey Carver (6-4, 190).
Defensively, Glidewell and Murphy are the captains at linebacker, with a total of about 18 guys likely to see the field.
Weger joins those two at middle linebacker, while Brandenburg plays one defensive end spot. Corey Carver and Brett Currey will battle for time at the other end.
Bryor Wilson (6-0, 360) and Bryce Currey (5-11, 220) will hold down the defensive tackle spots. Murphy plays strong safety opposite McNeil, while Huisinga is joined at cornerback by Dylan Lawrence (6-0, 160).
Sullivan is confident the Warriors will be determined to succeed. Casey opens up against a tough Olney squad. A battle with Robinson, which made the playoffs for the third time in the past four years in 2012, awaits in week 8.
“These kids feel like it’s their turn to step up and to play. That’s how they’re looking at the season. They’ve had success at all the levels they’ve played,” Sullivan said.
• Marshall — The Lions are in transition with a young squad after winning just one game in 2012.
“We’re very young. Our JV went 6-3. Late in the season a lot of those guys came up we had so many injuries. We’ll be playing a lot of sophomores and juniors. We’ve got a 46-man roster with 13 guys injured. We’re just very young, inexperienced, but there is a lot of potential talent,” coach Todd Evers said.
The Lions’ no-huddle, spread offense is led by quarterback Travis Adams, a 5-10, 170-pound sophomore.
“He played running back for us last year by necessity. He runs the ball well, he makes good reads. He’s still in the process of mastering our system,” Evers said.
Slot receiver Nick Scott (5-9, 170) has worked hard to improve to become one of the top targets going into the season for Lions.
“He was a fresh/soph guy last year. He’s progressed the best out of all of our receivers. He’s still got a ways to go,” Evers said.
Derek Davidson (6-2, 200) is another of Adams’ top targets, while also serving as backup quarterback.
“He’s a smart football player and very talented,” Evers said.
Carrying the ball will be Chad Leitch (5-9, 155) and junior Taylor Padgett (5-7, 185).
“Both are hard-nosed, downhill runners, decent blockers and both are very smart,” Evers said.
Evers likes the depth on his offensive line, and many of those linemen will play on the defensive line as well.
Senior Zack Tharp (5-11, 215) and Adams will be leaders on the defense from their linebacker spots. Carter Liken gives the Lions decent speed in the defensive backfield.
“We need guys flying to the ball, using our speed,” Evers said. “It’s a consistent speed. We’ve got a lot of guys that are about the same speed.”
The Lions open tonight against St. Joseph-Ogden before playing Cumberland of the
“It’s not an ideal team to start with. They’re a perennial playoff team, but you find out where you stand.”
• Paris — Coach Mike Brouwer and the Tigers give it one more go in the Apollo Conference this season with a veteran group of players.
Quarterback Riley Spencer (6-2, 195) returns under center after throwing for more than 1,200 yards last year.
“He’s got a good arm and gotten stronger. We’re looking for him to do some more running,” Brouwer said.
The Tigers will need more offensive firepower to improve on a 2-7 record in 2012. Fullback Hunter Morris (5-10, 195) will try to free up halfbacks Denver Brewer (6-0, 165) and Xavier Holt (5-7, 150).
Holt will be one of Spencer’s key targets at receiver, where Audie Temples (5-9, 175) led the team with 29 catches for 450 yards last fall. Logan McDaniel (5-8, 165) will be another receiving threat, and Jason Willmoth (6-3, 170) will play tight end.
Up front, Thrischon Mullenix (5-9, 220) will line up at center and is flanked by Shane Mason (5-10, 200) and Elliott Kauffman (6-0, 205) at guard and Kenvin Nguyen (5-10, 245) and Cam Malone (6-3, 240) at tackle.
“They’ve worked hard this summer. We don’t have much depth so a lot of them will be playing both ways,” Brouwer said.
Offensively, there is potential for a strong season.
“We’re looking more balanced, last year threw for more than we ran it for. This year we look to use our FB more in the offense. Depending on if Riley’s healthy, probably more passing than running, spread it to the backs,” Brouwer said.
The defense will be led up front by Malone, Kauffman and Nguyen along with Drew Wiseman (6-1, 210).
Linebackers Spencer McDaniel, Mason, Morris and Willmoth will be keys to the defense. Brewer and Holt will play cornerback, while Temples is the safety. Senior Thomas Blanford will see action as well.
“We have high expectations this year. This is the last year in the Apollo, we’d like to leave it as champions. It’d be a tough task to achieve, but I think our kids are willing and capable of getting it done,” Brouwer said. “
The improvement will have to come defensively as well.
“Defensively, we struggled last year more than anything,” Brouwer said. “We gave up more big plays than we wanted to. More experience, 4 or 5 of the seniors will be 3-year starters. Hoping that turns into big plays for us. We didn’t create a lot of turnovers.”
Paris begins final year in Apollo Conference
TERRE HAUTE —
Despite returning only four starters from last year’s 11-1 team, the Casey Warriors football team could still be the class of the two-part Little Illini Conference in 2013.
- High School
Class 2A girls: Rick Risinger coaches Heritage to fifth state title
Rick Risinger spoke this past week about defense being the key to securing a win against a talented Fort Wayne Canterbury girls basketball squad in the Class 2A state championship game.
Coach Risinger’s Heritage Christian squad rose to the occasion Saturday in Hulman Center, holding the Cavaliers to 33-percent shooting to claim the school’s fifth state title since joining the IHSAA in 2003.
The Eagles won their first title since 2009 by a score of 64-61.
Class A girls: Oregon-Davis holds off Vincennes Rivet
Oregon-Davis jumped out to a 15-2 lead when senior Alicia McIntosh drilled a 3-pointer in Saturday’s Class A state championship for girls high school basketball.
The Bobcats stretched that lead to as large as 17 before halftime, and still led by double figures with three minutes remaining.
Class 3A girls: Western over Evansville Mater Dei 38-35
Like Fort Wayne Canterbury in the Class 2A championship, two-time defending Class 2A champion Evansville Mater Dei found the going much more tough when moving up one class due to the IHSAA’s “Team Success Factor” legislation.
Mater Dei (26-2), which had an average margin of victory of 27 points throughout the season, struggled against Western’s 2-3 zone all night long in falling to the Panthers 38-35.
Class 4A girls: Bedford North Lawrence wins second straight title
Damon Bailey guided Bedford North Lawrence to a second straight state championship in his first year as head coach.
Bailey, an assistant on the Stars’ unbeaten Class 4A champions in 2013, watched his team hold off a scrappy Penn squad for a 51-41 victory Saturday night.
Central Catholic rallies to defeat Rockville
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Damon Bailey among coaches directing daughters at Hulman Center on Saturday
Father-daughter bonding was among the themes Saturday at Hulman Center as Terre Haute played host to the IHSAA girls basketball state finals for a third straight year.
Class 4A title favorite Bedford North Lawrence looked to repeat as champions late Saturday night. Former BNL state champion and Indiana Hoosier great Damon Bailey led his Stars into the game with a pair of daughters on the court. Junior Alexa Bailey, wearing No. 22 of course, is a Butler recruit and sophomore Loren is a reserve for the Stars.
Owen Valley, Edgewood in sectional final again
Things haven’t changed that much in the Class 3A boys basketball sectional. Northview was in the field for the first time and hosted the semifinals Friday night. But for the second year in a row, Edgewood and Owen Valley will play for the Sectional 28 championship tonight.
Temples’ 3-pointers help Paris advance
The prudent thing would have been to pull the basketball out, wait for an opponent to foul and run as much clock as possible in the final minute of the Illinois Class 2A Westville Sectional on Friday night. Audie Temples was thinking dagger.
Ailing Wilkey helps Rockville advance to title game
For part of Friday, doubt existed about whether flu-stricken Rockville standout Keiontre’ Wilkey would be able to play in the first semifinal game of the Class A North Vermillion Sectional for boys basketball. The junior guard gutted it out, however, and tallied 17 points to help lead the Rox over the host high school 61-53. That sent them into tonight’s sectional championship game against No. 7-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic.
Preps: Late free throws help Linton beat North Knox
Linton hit 4 of 5 free throws in the final minute and hung on to defeat streaking North Knox 47-46 in the semifinals of the Class 2A North Knox Sectional for boys high school basketball.
Former Terre Haute resident Rick Risinger looking for fifth state title in Hulman Center
An accomplished group of girls basketball coaches will make their way into Hulman Center on Saturday for the IHSAA state finals.
Damon Bailey, 1990 Mr. Basketball for state champion Bedford North Lawrence and former Indiana University great, is the most familiar name to Hoosier basketball fanatics. In his first year as a girls varsity coach, Bailey leads BNL into action in the 4A state championship game.
With 590 career wins, Fort Wayne Canterbury coach Wayne Kreiger is already a member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
Behind senior Miss Basketball candidate Maura Muensterman, Steve Goans leads Evansville Mater Dei into the Class 3A title game on the heels of consecutive 2A titles.
No answer: Spears scores 30 as Martinsvlle ends TH South’s season
Terre Haute South ran into a championship performance Wednesday night in Game 2 of the Class 4A Avon Sectional for boys high school basketball. Martinsville’s Troy Spears scored 30 points while leading the Artesians to a 65-44 victory that ended South’s season.
North falls to No. 5 Brownsburg in Class 4A Avon Sectional
Terre Haute North did not bow out of the boys high school basketball tournament Tuesday night like a team on a seven-game losing streak.
The Patriots executed their gameplan, battled back from a double-digit deficit and forced Class 4A No. 5-ranked Brownsburg to hit free throws to win the opener of the Class 4A Avon Sectional.
Brownsburg (19-2) hit six straight free throws in the final 1 minute, 15 seconds to hold off the Patriots 51-47.
Two sets of Eels win at WRV Sectional
There’ll be no Cinderella story in Dugger to end this boys high school basketball season, and a spirited upset bid also fell short Tuesday night at the Class A White River Valley Sectional.
Defensive pressure and depth made the difference in both games, as Eminence ended the Union season — perhaps its last, at least as a public school — by a 59-46 score and Clay City pulled away in the second half for a 53-44 win over Shakamak.
Paris knocks off 23-2 Clinton Central in overtime sectional thriller
Paris’ boys basketball team has learned a lot in a late-season run of success, but the one thing that set the Tigers apart on Tuesday in Class 2A Westville Sectional semifinal game was composure.
The Tigers never got rattled, never flinched and got the ultimate reward.
BOYS SECTIONAL ROUNDUP: Linton holds off Sullivan at North Knox
Linton and Eastern posted victories in the opening round of the North Knox Class 2A Sectional on Tuesday.
Linton led most of the way to defeat Sullivan 51-43 in the first game. Eastern Greene bested North Central 62-42 in the nightcap.
Linton is 16-6 and will take on North Knox and Eastern Greene faces South Knox in the semifinals on Friday. North Knox takes an 11-game winning streak into the action.
Tough roads ahead: Terre Haute North faces big challenges in its sectional
With the hope that the obligatory snow is already on the ground, high school boys basketball sectionals begin today in Indiana, and for one Wabash Valley team in Illinois.
South swimmers fall short of lofty goals at state finals
Sometimes the journey is more rewarding than the destination.
That would best describe Terre Haute South’s performances Saturday in the 77th annual IHSAA boys swimming and diving state championships at the IU Natatorium.
Center Grove deals Terre Haute North 7th loss in row
Terre Haute North and Center Grove – two teams that haven’t won much lately – struggled to put the finishing touch against the other on Friday at North.
Prep roundup: Casey falls at Robinson Regional; Paris posts upset win at home
Teutopolis finished strong Friday night to defeat Casey 47-36 and win the Robinson Class 2A Regional for boys basketball teams.
Casey, Paris to play in regional title games
Championships of Illinois regional boys high school basketball tournaments will be decided tonight.
AMEY TAKES AIM: Bringing you the Amey Teams for girls basketball
Our Wabash Valley teams won’t be represented when the Indiana girls state basketball finals return again to Hulman Center on March 8 (even though the Class 4A title will probably be decided this weekend when Lawrence North plays Bedford North Lawrence in a semistate game).
I wish some of our girls teams had been able to play longer for a purely selfish reason: that might have given me an opportunity to see one or two of their games.
South boys fall to Southport, finish regular season 8-14
Terre Haute South got an up-close look Thursday night at what a Conference Indiana championship boys basketball team looks like. And Southport is big and quick.
Southport, led by 6-foot-10 sophomore Joey Brunk and junior guard Malik Bennett overpowered South’s Braves 61-49 at Southport Fieldhouse. Brunk had 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Bennett scored 21 points.
VIDEO: Wilhelm leads South swimmers into state finals
Christian Wilhelm plans to compete in the distance freestyle when he gets to the University of Illinois-Chicago’s downtown campus.
Wilhelm emerged as a state qualifier in the 500-yard freestyle and 200 freestyle as a junior for Terre Haute South. But his senior season took a different turn and he’s hoping to make a big splash in a new event.
Casey advances to regional title game
Casey will be in the championship game of the Class 2A Robinson Regional for boys high school basketball teams Friday night. The Warriors gained their spot in the title tilt with a 55-42 victory over Marshall on Wednesday.
Cloverdale joins Pizza Hut Classic field
The Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic has a new team, but the newcomer for the 2014 tournament is led by a familiar name to Terre Haute basketball. Pat Rady’s Cloverdale Clovers, currently 19-1 this season, will join the field as a likely contender.
Preps: Northview rallies past Linton in boys basketball
Ethan Whitson, Christian Ellis and Jim Mace tallied 19, 18 and 10 points respectively as host Northview overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Linton 62-57 in boys high school basketball Wednesday night.
Terre Haute North plays well but doesn't finish at Bedford North Lawrence
Visiting Terre Haute North did everything but win a nonconference high school basketball game Tuesday at Bedford North Lawrence.
The Patriots shot better, dominated the boards and reversed the game’s momentum with a second-half defensive adjustment, but only once got the lead above a one-possession one. That cost North in the end, when the Stars scored the last six points to win 42-38.
- More High School Headlines
- Class 2A girls: Rick Risinger coaches Heritage to fifth state title