Steve’s Ramblings: The most important piece I have written

GET OFF YOUR CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING 

By Steve Dunford 

I about went home to be with the Lord tonight or I would have been seriously injured.  If I would have been killed, I know where my soul would spend eternity. It was a result of someone being on their cell phone.

I had my best day physically in a long time.  I had a minor bump in the road around 4:30 p.m.  I prayed Lord I want to be at Max Morris Gym tonight.  I want to be there bad.  The Lord granted my request.

The Odyssey Online image.

I was walking to Max Morris gym feeling great.  I might be weird but it creeps me out to walk by the DQ at night, sine it has been closed.

I was singing Christmas songs walking down there.  I get to Madison street.  There was an older Mercury with one headlight, that had to cross the highway without paying attention, doing about 40.

I could have opened the passenger side door it was so close.  I had to jump back to avoid my feet from getting crushed.

What came out of my mouth after that, I had to ask for repentance.  I received a coaster form Jodi Croslin (the teachers at FIS would understand) it was more than “a little.”

God reminded me of something.  I made a way for you to go cover the game tonight.  His word is true.  He is faithful.  He keeps his promises.

One thing that I will not be accused of in life is being an introvert.  No mater where I am at, I visit during the JV game.

Before the National Anthem, there was a moment of remembrance for Redbird Greg Smith, who was tragically killed in the University of Evansville basketball team plane crash in 1977.

I looked around, and half of the crowd knew me.  I began to think, what if Jim Johnson at the end of the game announced that I was tragically killed? What if Adam Rosoho announced at Christopher after a nice Sesser-Valier win that something would have happened to me?

Word spreads at a rapid pace on social media.  I could not help to think, what if my son was at the Christopher/S-V game tonight and heard it in the stands.

I also thought of someone that is very close to me.

This was a wake-up call.  I have been in a terrible funk over the last couple of weeks.  It was God’s way of showing me how many friends I have and there are a lot of people in this world who love me.

One of the things that got me, there was someone that I needed to make amends with at the game tonight.  That will happen soon.

Tonight I was so close to the vehicle to tell the individual was on Facebook Messenger. This is the fourth close call I’ve had walking.  Each time the person was texting or posting on social media.

I beg you please do not text and drive.  There is not one issue in your life that you can not pull over and have your conversation.

I did not about post this.  I felt there were too many I’s in it.

I hope the driver had a wakeup call as well.  For those who read this, I hope this made you think.

The book of James says like is like a vapor and it vanishes away.  This taught me, and I hope it makes you to consider live everyday to the fullest, to bring honor and glory to God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Class 1A Basketball alive and well in Southern Illinois

By Steve Dunford 

THOMPSONVILLE – It seems like high school sports are on the decline.  Most teams in the River-to-River in the Ohio and Mississippi divisions are having problems putting a freshman and/or a JV team on the football field.

In class 1A ,pitch counts for teams are causing a lot of problems in baseball.  In fact Thompsonville is having to co-op with Johnston City in baseball this upcoming spring.

The home crowd at Thompsonville last night. It was standing room only for their homecoming game.

Reed Raubach has pitched some no-hitters in the GEC for Tville.  He fired a one hitter against Joppa in a first round regional game.  Past Raubach, the Tigers took volunteers to pitch.  After the Joppa game in the regional, Crab Orchard short gamed the Tigers, a team that Raubach picked up the win against.

Most of you know that I am a T’ville guy.  When you are an alumnus and slide on a uniform for a school for several years, there is a special bond with a program.

I am not using this space to knock travel ball, especially for girls sports.  Kennedy Harris and Emma Reagan, will be taking their softball skills at the next level for Wabash Valley and Kaskaskia college respectively.

They have been integral parts of the Galatia-Thompsonville Cats (meaning Bearcats and Tigers).  They received exposure from travel ball they would never have received.

For the non-football playing conferences, such as the GEC, SEC and the Midland Trail, high school basketball is alive and well.

I am going to put the finishing touches on the coverage that represented two of those non-football playing conferences last night, who stepped out of conference play.  I was at Doc Harvey gym covering Thompsonville out of the GEC and Webber Township out of the Midland Trail.

It might have been two schools with a handful over 100 kids in their enrollment, but it was a big time atmosphere.

The Webber faithful came out in full force last night. It was good to see William McPherson there covering the game for the West Frankfort Gazette last night.

It was a full house.  What looked like a game that was going to be a blowout, became interesting down the stretch.  There was even a big time officiating crew on the game with Benton’s John Downey, Larry Barnett and John Allen, who has been with this crew this year, replacing long time retired official Mike Austin.

The crowd was standing room only.  It was homecoming night for T’ville.  I do not get into décor, but the gym looked awesome.

On the visitors side, there was a good contingency from Webber.  On a cold December night with flurries in the forecast, several people came down the blacktops on the east side of Jefferson and Franklin county to get there from Bluford.

With both teams main color as blue, with blue bleachers in Doc Harvey gym, there were seas of blue on both sides.

Even the sponsorship in the gym was blue.  Yes all the advertising is based in Marion.  I am very partial to schools that have their contract with Pepsi, because I can get a cold Diet Mountain Dew.  Culvers in Marion is owned by Aaron and Maria Walton of Thompsonville. Travis Clem, who is the school board president at Thompsonville, is also school board president of South Porte Bank.

The Tornado Student Section at Art Brandon Gym last night.

Across the county at Zeigler-Royalton, they had a pumped up student section.  Coach Matt Morgan’s team will take their lumps in the BDC West this year.

I am really impressed with freshman Gannon Dollins. Z-R plays harder than any other program in Southern Illinois.

Small school 1A basketball is alive and well.  From social media, it sounds like there was a convoy of Devil fans heading to Chester last night.  It sounds like some overindulged at an establishment on the west side of Chester.

The scene will be similar on 148 and the Waltonville-Woodlawn blacktop, with Bearcat fans heading north to watch their team face the Cardinals.

There is some negativity of the IHSA allowing teams to increase their schedule to 31 games, with unlimited tournaments.

I am hearing some rumblings of a proposed 1A tourney.  This has the potential to be a good one.  I will share some details when more comes available.

The Wayne City holiday Tournament starts today.  The “Connie” has spanned over six decades by now.   The pairings at Sesser-Valier will be coming out this week.   I witnessed full houses every session of the Christopher Turkey Tournament.  If you have never been to the GEC tournament in late March, it is a wild atmosphere.

If you follow the South Seven or River-to-River, I encourage you to go to a small high school gym across Southern Illinois.  Class 1A basketball is alive and well.

 

 

 

 

Hide those presents good … kids (and old guys) are nosy!

In the holiday classic “A Christmas Story” the main focus of the movie is the desire and outright obsession of young Ralphie to convince his parents, Santa Claus or anybody else that would listen that he desperately needs a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas.

As you will remember, at every turn Ralphie is met with the comment: ‘You’ll shoot your eye out.’

Substitute a gold Schwinn stingray bicycle for that Red Ryder BB gun and during the weeks leading up to Christmas in 1963 I could have very well been Ralphie (minus the horn-rimmed glasses).

About two months before Christmas that year I was with my dad at a West Frankfort business where he was getting tires put on an old truck that he used to haul coal. Along with tires the store sold a variety of items including bicycles.

As I sauntered around the story that day I spotted a bicycle that was unlike any I’d ever seen. It was a Schwinn stingray, metallic gold and it had what was called butterfly handle bars and a banana seat. The front tire was a little smaller than the knobby tire on the back. It had chrome all over it and a price tag of $39.95. In order to appreciate that price you have to think in 1963 dollars. The price tag on the bike amounted to more than my dad made in two days as a coal miner.

As I stared at the bike I learned an early lesson in life – there is such a thing as love at first sight.

Before we left I coaxed my dad over to the bicycle to show him. He casually glanced at it, obviously not nearly as impressed as I was and then quickly burst my bubble.

“That’s too much money for a bicycle,” he said matter-of-factly, and then turned and walked away.

Did his uncaring, detached attitude faze me? Of course not, in fact it spurred me on to scheme and plot my strategy.  In the following days I concocted every reason imaginable why I should have that bike and brought it up on a daily basis. And for every good reason I had my dad gave me the same stern answer.

“That’s too much money to pay for a bicycle,” and then he promptly changed the subject.

And the harder I would persist the more short and abrupt were his answers. I was in a gloomy mood two days before Christmas when I gathered with a group of fellow heathens to play basketball.  The house where we were playing was about four blocks from where I lived, but was located directly across the street from my Aunt Thelma. Shortly after I arrived at the game one of my friends told me that he had seen my parents at my aunt’s house earlier in the day.

“I couldn’t see exactly what they were doing but they were putting something in her garage,” he said.

Realizing even at that young age that curiosity killed the cat I still couldn’t stand it and had to do a little investigating. Shortly before dark that night I walked down the alley and with the help of a milk crate looked in the window of the garage.

And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but that gold Schwinn stingray bike. I was elated, excited, joyous … and scared to death. You see, I’ve never been able to lie about anything in my life without my eyes giving me away, so I had to pretend like the events of that afternoon never happened and then turn in an Academy Award acting performance on Christmas morning.

I’m certain I had a little extra spring in my step in the final days leading up to Christmas morning but I managed to contain my enthusiasm and keep my mouth shut (which was no small task for me even back in those days).

On Christmas morning I bounded out of bed and turned in an acting performance that was simply superb. I hooted and hollered, yelled and screamed and within a matter of minutes and still in my pajamas I was riding that spectacular bicycle down the street with the cold December air hitting me in the face. More than 50 years later I can still recall what a wonderful feeling that was and what a wonderful Christmas I had that year.

Of course, during that unforgettable Christmas in 1963 I also learned an important lesson that I filed away for future reference with my own children. Parents should never, ever hide Christmas presents in a building with a window because you can never tell when some nosy kid is lurking in the shadows.

From my little corner of the world to yours … Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Franklin County Farm Bureau News

 Gay Bowlin, Manager

Monday evening, November 27 was our 98th Annual Meeting – there were over 175 in attendance. The meeting began with the FFA students from Sesser, West Frankfort, Benton and Thompsonville at the front of the room and Derek Sample from Sesser and Acelyn Nugent from Thompsonville together reciting the FFA Creed. This was followed by the entire FFA attendees leading the Pledge of Allegiance.

We are always proud when we are able to incorporate the participation of our county FFA students and Advisors in anything that we do and appreciate that they take their time to attend our various meetings.

President Leon McClerren presented a plaque to Debbie Fisher for her 12 years of service on the Farm Bureau Board of Directors, he presented a plaque to COUNTRY Financial Rep Krista Menckowski from Sesser who signed the most Farm Bureau members in the county.

Leon also presented a plaque to the Rosalee Jones family. Rosalee recently passed away and she and her husband Henry had been Farm Bureau members for well over 60 years. Until the last two years were her health was failing Rosalee had attended at least 60 County Annual Meetings – now this is something to shoot for folks.

“Elvis” was in the building last night and made the evening very entertaining. There were a lot of comments that everyone enjoyed the entertainment.

I would like to welcome Joe Heard to our Board of Directors. Joe will be taking the At-Large seated previously held by Larry Miller.

It is getting closer and closer to Christmas and we have some farmers that would like to get their Christmas Presents early and get their crops out of the fields. Most are finished but there are still a few who are harvesting as I write this with the hopes of being finished before December starts. We such a late harvest for most all farmers they will be a very short reprieve before it all starts over again.

Did anyone go out on “Black Friday” shopping? I must admit that my daughter and I did go out for a while, just not too early. Although we were not looking for anything in particular we did find several bargains and we met a few people while waiting to pay that made the long lines much more bearable. I hope that if you went out that you too were able to find some good deals and took the time to talk to and be kind to others.

Remember we are farmers working together. If we can help let us know.

 

Steve’s Ramblings: My experience in retail on Black Friday

By Steve Dunford 

I have stood in very few long lines to make the retail score on Black Friday.  Yes, I have went to pick up a lot of things cheap from time to time.  I only had one guy get nasty.  He thought I was trying to steal stuff out of his cart, when I was

I am going to share the other side of the coin, working on Black Friday.

I worked at Walmart in Mount Vernon for five years.  You might think I am crazy, but this was my favorite day of the year to work.

The majority of the time I spent as a cashier.  The 4:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. shift was always the quickest nine hours I spent in my life.  We were well fed that day.  By the time people would get to the front of the store, they were in a good mood.   The fighting was over.  I would always here about everyone’s shopping scores.

The biggest struggle was getting from the time clock to the front of the store.

One of the most memorable conversations that I had with a customer.  He was a doctor that was in Mt. Vernon visiting relatives.  He was telling his nurses and office staff, please don’t tell your patients or even, but I am doing some research on how he feels that digital cameras can be harmful to your health.  Please don’t buy one.

Digital cameras were in their inception then.  This was about ten years ago.  The reason he was telling his staff this?  He was going to buy each of them one for Christmas.  They were around two hundred bucks each,   The tab was between $5k and $6k.  He paid cash.  I remember I wanted the cash out of my drawer.

I could tell story after story but I am going to tell a few.  There was this lady that came to the front of the store to check out.  Putting it mildly, she was either an airhead, sleep deprived, or drank several Red Bulls.

She was talking 1,000 mph. talking about her scores.  She slaps four or five of the latest Barbie’s on the belt.  She told me that she had boys at home and all nephews. She said she wanted to just beat that and a few expletives about some woman who gave her a dirty look.

I was thinking to myself this chick is either really dingy, has a serious hoarding problem, has more money than sense, or she was going to sell these for triple and her conscience was bothering her.

To get a place to park, you had to get there at by 3:30 a.m.  One year Jack Bullock was sitting in the truck with me.  He was a fellow “checkout girl” with me.  There would be times that some employees would make fun of me for being one.  I would tell them I make two bucks more an hour than you do.  They would shut up immediately.

For those of you that don’t know, Jack has a website called A Baseline View, which covers high school basketball from Springfield to Cairo.

With the opening of the season that week, I think you could guess what the conversation was about.

Overnight, we we received an inch or two of snow.  We were cracking up of everyone coming in the store in matching wind-suits or pajama pants.  We were calling them their “shopping outfits.”

ABV Jack and I, were talking about how the fundamentals of basketball has slipped.  I was on a tirade about missed free throws and players not boxing out.

There was this gang of women that had on their solid white wind suits.  As I call them, “buggies” were getting scarce.  The woman with the biggest back side of them, “boxed out” a woman to get the last one.

She was in a near sprint toward the store.    She slipped on the ice.  Jack and I were jumping out of my truck to see if she was OK.  When she was, well the gal she shoved out of the way stole her cart.  When that happened, I had me a good laugh.  Icing on the cake was the one who swiped the cart, was wearing slush and salt on her pearl white “shopping suit.”  I do not like the word karma, but poetic justice was served.

Black Friday was fun to work.  I hated to work the Saturday before Christmas.  I despised working on Christmas Eve.  People were very grouchy on both days.

I am going to share one story on the Saturday before Christmas.  There was one lady that came through my line, and had some toys in her cart.  I rang it up and it was around $70.00 I believe.  She pulls out a coffee can and dumps a mound of change that consists of pennies, dimes, and nickels.

I began to choke up.  I cry way to easy for a guy.  I have a very soft heart.  I feel like people look at me and say turn in your man card.   I was thinking this was some little grandma that saved up all year to buy her kids Christmas.

I began to reach for my wallet.  The CSM Trish Ferarro (who was found dead in her apartment a few months ago in what they thought was a heart attack, I loved her dearly) said “don’t you even dare.”  I was going put my tithe money toward the toys.

Well she was about $10 short.  She pulls a wad of $100 bills out her bra, and says can you break a hundred?  The long line behind her came unglued,  I was afraid I was going to have to go get stitches in my tongue, and Trish started the conversation with this lady saying,  “there is no kids in earshot so”, and gave her a good cussing.

Trish then told me in her words “that old hag pulls that stunt every year”.  She always gets the next person in line pick up her tab.

The second was on Christmas Eve.  It was the first year Walmart was open until 8:00 p.m.  It was dead as a door nail.  There was a guy that came in right at 7:55 p.m. griping the donuts were not fresh.

He then asked if we were open in the morning.  I said no.  He just moved to Mt. Vernon and said it was his tradition to serve fresh pastries on Christmas morning.

I took him to the freezer, and I said the Rich’s frozen donuts came from the same company we get ours.  I also told him that Grand’s cinnamon rolls were very good.

When I walking back to the register to check him out, he was grumbling,  saying  “I did not realize Illinois was in the Bible Belt

There were several that used to ask whether we were open tomorrow.  It used to annoy me because I would think, Can you get this today?  Now, I realize the people were lonely, and needed a place to hide their pain.

Today is the kickoff, of a special time of year.  It is the time of year to commemorate the son of man becoming flesh, being born in a manger.  Thirty three years later, he went to a cruel rugged cross to die for all of our sins.

Keep in mind when things are out of stock, it is not the employees fault.  Most are struggling to by Christmas for their families.  Yes, I like the lights, tinsel, trees, and some of the greatest joys in my life was being Santa Claus for kids.  Seeing their eyes light up and telling me what they wanted for Christmas, was just precious moments.

As we enter into this season, from me you will not hear Happy Holidays.  You will hear me tell a lot of people over this next month Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why not celebrate Thanksgiving every day?

By Jim Muir 

I was still in bed this morning when this question crossed my mind.

I love the fourth Thursday in November as much as anybody, the turkey and dressing and all the trimmings, pumpkin pie and getting together with family. I love the four-day weekend and leftovers and the feel of autumn in the air. While I thought about the question I used for my daily offering, I couldn’t help but think of the fact that we choose one day a year to give thanks, or we do a 30-day countdown in the month of November. But, what about the other days on the calendar? Where is our thankful-meter at on those days? And let me point out that I’m asking that question and challenging myself as much as I am anybody else.

There’s a quote that I’ve used in the past that says: ‘What if you woke up today with only the things that you thanked God for yesterday?’ That’s a question that should cause all of us to do some soul-searching. And of course that’s a question that we should ask ourselves every single day, especially in all the months that don’t start with an ‘N.’

Perhaps the best way to know the answer to that question is to give thanks to God every day for all things – make every day thanksgiving. I recently read a story that pointed out that a grateful and thankful heart is one that finds the countless blessings in the seemingly mundane, everyday life – not just in November but in the other 11 months also.

In my morning ramblings I post a lot of quotes and write about the importance of ‘attitude.’ I have often pointed out that our attitude is the one thing we are in control of every single day. I’m convinced that an attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing we can acquire. I should point out that an attitude of gratitude does not change the scenery, it merely cleans the glass you look through daily so you can see the bright colors you’ve been missing.

In all things, give thanks … every day … even on days when you don’t have pumpkin pie with whipped cream! And by doing that, we will all know the answer to the question today’s quote asks! Certainly, every day should be Thanksgiving Day! ‘
God’s blessings to you on this day! Have a wonderful Thursday and a blessed (and thankful) day! And from my little corner of the world to yours … Happy Thanksgiving!

Town-Gown Relationships

 

Canyon Texas Homecoming, From the WT Archives

Click here to read the latest article from former SIU chancellor Walter Wendler.

http://walterwendler.com/.

 

Steve’s Ramblings: Lord be with the people left behind of Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church

By Steve Dunford

The last time I have ever wept so hard over a tragedy in this country was 9-11.

In the year or so that I have written occasional editorials, I have learned that if I have something to share it is.

Sutherland Springs FBC before yesterday’s tragedy. (Texan Online photo)

Yesterday as the Associate Pastor or Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church took the pulpit, someone who had family ties to the church came in and opened fire.  Twenty-six of the congregation was killed.   Yesterday there were estimates of there were up to 30 injured, the official account of the injured is 20.

Yesterday afternoon, as severe weather was bearing down on us, my concentration was on the event.  After things were winding down, I broke down and bawled.

I went to a bible study the men of my church has on Monday morning.  I left early because I wanted to get on with getting to the task of “loading up the website.”

As I began to start, I watched a press conference that was held in this unincorporated small community of 400.

The weeping began after I watched the press conference.  Toward the tail end the pastor and his wife, Frank and Sherry Pomeroy asked to speak.  They were out of town.  However, their 14 year old daughter was killed in yesterday’s massacre.

The pastor of the church for 15 years, was emotional saying it was a tough night for his children and grand-babies.

His wife to the podium with a prepared statement.  One thing she said comfort was their daughter went with her church family that she loved so much.  Mrs. Pomeroy went on to say.  “This is more of a congregation of  parishioners, this is a family.  We played, ate, laughed, cried, and most of all worshiped together.  Most of us are gone, and our building is beyond usable again.”

Bro. Frank (I never met the man, but he is my brother in Christ)  when the press tried to bombard him with questions, he would answer with broken parts of Proverbs 3:5-6.   Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

The church streams their services on Facebook Live every Sunday, and posts their services on YouTube, which I think is visionary and one way to fulfill the Great Commission.  In fact the shooting was live, and Facebook disabled it quickly.

Several things that I read said this was in a small church.  Sometimes 200 to some was a small church.  I heard someone in the community said they ran between 50-100.

I went through several YouTube Videos.  In Sunday School there was 30-32  consistently.  For morning worship there was 50-55.  Please don’t think I am making light of the situation, but there was one Sunday there were 53 in Sunday School and 72 for church.  The numbers brought a quick smile to my face in a grave situation; they must had food after church that Sunday.

To understand the pain these people are feeling.  I want to mentally do a test.  No matter what name is on the door of your church, take the crowd that was in the worship service if you attended yesterday.  Now cut that in half, knowing they were taken.  The ones that are left, visualize 80% of them in the hospital.

This is the pain of the few people left behind in this church.  Yes there could have been 26 more residents in heaven yesterday, but there will be unbearable pain for those that will carry on.  We need to pray for this church fervently.

When the Church of Christ in the Nashville area had the shooting, it broke me, but not to near this capacity.  There was so much more that hit home.  Here is why:

  • This took place in a town of 400.  I grew up in a community of 600.  As a college student, I know there was a drifter that walked in church one night, heading toward the preacher.  It looked like he had a 9 m.m. in his pocket.  I was among several who jumped up.
  • Three of the five churches I have pastored were not not much smaller.  They had 25-30 in attendance for Sunday School and 30-35 for “church.”  The other two were smaller than that.  When you are someone’s pastor, there will be a part of you that are part of them.  I was thinking what if it would have happened at any of the five churches that I preached at.
  • This congregation was smaller, but not much than the church I attend Calvary Baptist Church.  On average, we have 35-45 in Sunday School, and 60-70 in morning worship.
  • I feel guilty for feeling that way, but it hit hard that it happened to my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters as well.   I don’t know what the statistics are, but around 30% the total that were attending a worship service in Franklin County was at a Southern Baptist Church.  This might be hitting home to a lot of you for the same reason.

I wrote an editorial about churches need to ramp up their security after the shooting in Tennessee.  Our church was in the process of doing this at the time.   I also said that if someone had a conceal/carry license, I have no problem whatsoever for them coming to church strapped on.

I used this passage of scripture then and will today:

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise hisscrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.  (Luke 22:36)

The gun debate has started, like it does on every tragedy, for stricter gun control laws.   I stand strong behind the Second Amendment for reasons what happened yesterday in the aftermath.

A private citizen that lived across the church, shot the killer, injuring him.  I say thank God he was armed, and live in a country that he has the freedom to bear arms,  or things could have got worse.  Some accounts say law enforcement was on its way.  There were calls placed about someone dressed in all black and acting weird at a convenience store close to the church.

I ask everyone that has taken the time to read this, please pray for these people fervently.  The tears were flowing while writing this.  This scripture was on my heart as soon I read about this tragedy.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me (Jesus)  before it hated you. (John 15:17)

This is being investigated as a family domestic dispute in part of it.  Even if someone was bitter and angry with a family member, there was more hatred on display for the family, it was for the body of Christ.

Again, please pray for everyone involved.  It will be a very long healing process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve’s Ramblings: How I feel the regional/sectional complexes can be fixed

by Steve Dunford 

I think the regional/sectional complexes are great, but it is broken.  Currently, there are some travel issues, putting it plain is obnoxious.

Here is some examples of recent trips off the top of my head.  On a school night in volleyball last year,  Thompsonville and Elverado went to Valmeyer for a regional semi-final game.  It is 100 miles from T’ville.  It is 75 from Elkville.

Benton and Herrin had to travel to Columbia to play a regional championship game a few years ago.

Steeleville has traveled to Crab Orchard the last two years to play in a regional.

The Class 3A regional was hosted at Salem a few years ago.  All the southern teams went here, and the northern part of the complex went to either Marion or Carbondale.

One year Sesser-Valier and Waltonville had to play a regional championship game at Crab Orchard.  Christopher was hosting a regional and they both had to drive through Christopher to get there

Here is my solution.  I had this thought the day the football playoff pairings were released.

It is a reward for 8-1 and 9-0 to host playoff games in the first round in football.  It was different this year, very few 7-2 teams hosted games.

The IHSA reimburses schools for 20% of the gate.  That is a buck a head.  They reimburse to pay for  the officials.  The host school have to pay the ticket takers, scoreboard operators, PA announcers.   and any other things that goes into hosting a game  Most schools break even or end up in the red.

I think the solution to improve the process is the higher seed plays at home.  You could still have the regional championship on Friday night, the winning team cutting down the nets, etc.

There could be increased revenue because there will be several teams across the state at home.  There could be decreased revenue if a championship game is held in a smaller gym.

No matter what the system, is there will be some that will complain, and it will not be perfect. .  There are still some calling for the comeback of two class basketball.

The regional-sectional complex is a much fairer, and balanced system.  There are several instances over the years in which there were a couple or three teams that were over or pushing the 20 win mark, where the next regional down the road, every team would be under .500.

There was always the line, “you have to play someone sometime.” however, I feel it is best to get your four best teams to the sectional if at all possible.

This is just a thought.  I would like you to share your opinion on the matter.

 

 

The next 26 hours: My second favorite time of the High School season

by Steve Dunford 

I am giddy like a kid on Christmas morning.  I am downing an unhealthy supper (a $.99 cent Totino’s pizza) with several electronic devices ready to go.  On top of that, I will be listening to two maybe three radios tonight.

One upon a time in the two class system in high school basketball, there was not a greater moment than during the Class A Sectional and a team smelling victory, with the crowd chanting ….SIU…..SIU.  The team that came out of the Supersectional that following Tuesday night would become our team, the team representing us in Southern Illinois in Champaign and later Peoria.

When the State Tournament was in Champaign I had the priveldge of going five years straight.  The first year was in 1988, my” friend Travis Clem and I took our “college day” to visit the U of I campus.  The only building we made it to was the Assembly Hall (Now the State Farm center.  I had the privilege to watch my distant cousin, Dick Corn coach his Pinckneyville Panthers in a state title game, losing a heart breaker to Pana.

The last state tournament I made it to was special as well.  I was able to witness a Franklin County team the Benton Rangers take home a third place trophy.

I remember there was a wreck on 57 on the way up.  (Some things never change.)  I did not have time to make it to my Brothers.  My buddies and I pull up at the McDonald’s on Route 45 right before you turn to go to the Assembly Hall.  The first thing I see was Kenny Irvin shaved bald with Jo Jo Liquid Papered on his head.  We walk in and everyone in the place was from “down home.”

I received my first taste of playoff football during the 2009 season.  I became a Sesser-Valier Red Devil during that stage in my life.  They just recently added the second W as they started co-oping with Woodlawn.

The Fairfield Train Yard, the site of the SVWW Devils playing the Mules tonight. Both are 8-0. (Randy Olson areasports.net photo)

Tonight is deja vu.  I can tell you where I was eight years ago tonight.  We did not make it to the Train Yard and the Devils were finishing an undefeated season.  Kendell Gibson hit either Bronson or Dawson Verhines in the end zone for a two point conversion that night.

I could not get WFIW in my driveway, because TAO was bleeding over.  I remember sitting at the North Sandusky Boat Ramp listening to it on the radio, “tailgating” with my wife or son.

When the Devils put the exclamation point on an undefeated  season, I remember listening to the late Stan David moaning on the radio, saying “that sucked, that really sucked.”

I remember the next Saturday watching a first round playoff game from Carroll Kelly field.  It seemed like three years in a row, the Devils drew Nashville in the first round.  The older you get years run together.  I know the following year they went to Nashville.

Fast forward a few months later and the Devils and Cardinals were facing each other on the hard wood in the Salem Class 1A Super-sectional.  Four class basketball was in its infancy.  The SIU Arena was undergoing renovations.

It was possibly a once in a lifetime experience.  I was able to see what became my town and my team make a State Tournament run.  I became very sick during on the way home from the Sectional Finals.  I ended up in the ER at Franklin Hospital.

I had money put back to go to Peoria, but I missed a week of work, and was unable to make the trip.  I remember on that cold March night listing to Jim Muir and either Danny Czerwinski or Tom Wheeler.  When the Devils pulled out the barnbuner, I had a “Shooter” moment.

A few days later, I had the chance to watch my team, and the only Franklin County team play in a State Championship in my lifetime.  There were also two Southern Illinois teams playing in the State Championship that day, as the Massac County Patriots

I have traded in my maroon hoodie for a red and grey one now.  The West Frankfort Redbirds are fighting to stay alive in the playoffs tonight travelling to Nashville. If they win they are in.  If they lose, time to start basketball and wrestling.  Kevin Toney is supposed to be “retired” but he has been spending a lot of time here lately in his office at Max Morris Gym.

Technology has grown dramatically over the last few years.  I will be keeping track of multiple games across Southern Illinois.  As I will, I will be saying Go Devils, Go Redbirds, and yes Go Rangers!!!!!!

What is my favorite night now?  It is 1A/2A regional final night.  Since I went to a high school of 95 kids, I love four class basketball.

The Crab Orchard’s, Carrier Mills’, Meridian’s, Christopher’s, Gallatin County’s, Goreville’sand especially Sesser-Valier and Woodlawn  experienced deep post season runs which they would not possibly had the opportunity in four class basketball.

I have a kinship to all six high schools in the county.  The Thompsonville Tigers trump everyone.  I would say the early favorites to go to Peoria from our area is Goreville in Webber Township in 1A.  I like the Harrisburg Bulldogs in 2A right now.  I would love to see the Benton Five make a deep postseason run in 3A.

It is going to be two or three special years coming up in T’ville.  The program has only played in one regional championship, losing a heart-breaker to their nemesis every time they have a good team, the West Frankfort Redbirds.

I might have the chance to see the Tigers cut down regional championship nets.

Thank you for rolling down memory lane with me tonight.  The older I get, I am evolving into a cry baby.  I wiped a lot of tears writing this.