Steve’s BDC West…SIRR Ohio…GEC……Turkey Tourney picks

by Steve Dunford 

You will see individual team previews of the Black Diamond, Southern Illinois River-to-River and Greater Egyptian Conferences.  Also I have how the hardware will be distributed next Saturday night at Christopher.

In the GEC, I used a little of sabermetrics.  Four through seven are even in my book.  The rankings might not determine strength of the opponent. It is a tough league to win on the road, so I slotted these four spots who has the home schedule advantage.

The conference is divided into two divisions.  One division is NCOE, Thompsonville, Crab Orchard, and Galatia, the other is Carrier Mills, Hardin County, Pope County, and Gallatin County.  You have a home and home with each team in the division.  The first game that you play against the team in your division counts as a conference game, the second a non-conference game.

I will do as many previews as ones I have made contact with from both divisions of the Black Diamond and River-to-River as well as the GEC of who I have made contact with.

I have did the same with the Christopher Turkey Tournament, as the teams outside the three conferences at Goreville and DuQuoin.

I only with predictions from the BDC West, and SIRR Ohio divisions.

Black Diamond West

1,  Goreville

2.  Sesser-Valier 

 3.  Christopher 

4.  Chester

5.  Vienna

6.  Trico

7.  Zeigler-Royalton

Southern Illinois River-to-River Ohio Division

1.   Murphysboro

2.  Harrisburg

3,  Benton 

4.  Massac County

5.  West Frankfort 

6.  Herrin

Greater Egyptian

1,  Gallatin County

2.  Thompsonville 

3.  Hardin County

4.  Pope County

5,  Crab Orchard

6.  Galatia

7.  Norris City Omaha-Enfield

8.  Carrier Mills

Christopher Turkey Tourney

Champion:  Webber Township

Runner up:  Christopher 

Third Place:  Thompsonville 

Fourth Place:  NCOE

Consolation Champion:  New Athens

Sixth Place:  Wayne City

Seventh Place:  Zeigler-Royalton 

Eighth Place:  Waltonville

I encourage you to get on social media, agree, disagree, or throw me under the bus even.


Benton’s Zoe Carlton part of the SIRR-Ohio All Conference Team in volleyball


Drew Stokes Murphysboro

Mallorie Harris Murphysboro

Lillie Schaldemose Murphysboro

Rachel Finders Murphysboro

Bryleigh Buchanan Harrisburg

Matty Hawkins Harrisburg

Devin Butler Harrisburg

Aubrey Biggers Massac County

Brooke Stepter Massac County

Ellie Weber Massac County

Marissa Russell Herrin

Zoe Carlton Benton


Emma Banach Pinckneyville

Kylee Kling Pinckneyville

Paige Kasten Nashville

Mackenzie McFeron Nashville

Ashlyn Mavigliano Carterville

Olivia Szczepanski Pinckneyville

Clair Boget Anna-Jonesboro

Grace Haney DuQuoin

Elaine Shaneyfelt Pinckneyville

Jasmin Foster Anna-Jonesboro

Brayden Fitzgerald-Deener Anna-Jonesboro

Faith Argus Sparta


Rangers did not make the field of 256

by Steve Dunford

The field has been set by the IHSA around an hour ago.   The cutoff was at 39 playoff points to receive a postseason bid at 5-4.  The Rangers were at 36.

Even if the West Frankfort Redbirds or the Harrisburg Bulldogs were not upset last night, it would have taken an upset win by Murphysboro, Pinckneyville. or Sparta for the Rangers to have 39 points.

Parings will be announced shortly after 8:00 p.m.


West Frankfort will not make the playoffs, Benton has a very slim chance of getting in

by Steve Dunford 

I was holding the antenna out the window to pick up WFRX in the last few minutes of the game tonight.  I was heartbroken.  I might get ran out of West Frankfort for saying this, I am,  heartbroken for whom the late Bruce A. Fasol used to refer to as, the team six miles to the north.”

The Redbirds picked up playoff points from Nashville, A-J, and Herrin, which has them at 33.  It was known they had to pick up a win to get in.

The Rangers are sitting at 36 points.  They picked up three points as well from Carterville, Herrin, and AJ.  They needed a lot of help.  I was looking good in the “early returns.”   Murphy was hanging around with DuQuoin.  Harrisburg was beating Carbondale, and the Redbirds lost a heart-breaker.

Of all places, it was looking possible that both Benton and WF might get a point from Pinckneyville.  The Panthers were tied with Carlyle at halftime.

One win between Pinckneyville and Sparta really hurt both the Redbirds and the Rangers getting at large bids at 5-4.

I will be writing two stories in the morning.  I will be writing a season in review for the Redbirds, as well as the C-Z-R Bearcats.

I will also be writing an extensive breakdown for what could take place around 8:00 p.m. when the playoff parings are announced.  I will mainly focus on Class 3A.  There is one team that is for sure alive, the S-V-W-W Red Devils, who suffered their first loss tonight to the Fairfield Mules.

For what was supposed to be a rebuilding year in West Frankfort, the Redbirds were 15 seconds away from making the playoffs.  Even though the results were not what we wanted tonight, it is a great day to be a Redbird.





WEEK 9 PREVIEW: Benton (5-3) at Anna Jonesboro (8-0)

by Steve Dunford 

The Benton Rangers are playing to keep their season alive tonight as they face off against the undefeated Anna Jonesboro Wildcats.  Here are the common opponents between the two:


Benton lost 28-15 Week 1

A-J won 41-7 Week 5


Benton won 29-13 Week 2

A-J won 46-14 Week 8


Benton won 41-0 Week 3

A-J won 34-0 Week 6


Benton won 47-14 Week 5

A-J won 43-18 Week 1


Benton won 53-13  Week

A-J won 40-7 Week 3


Benton lost 19-14  Week 8

A-J won 43-14  Week

With last Friday night’s upset loss at Murphysboro, the Rangers has put themselves in a must win position.  This is what Benton Coach Bob Pankey has to say coming into tonight’s game.  “Obviously we’ve put ourselves in a much tougher situation now with the loss to Murphy. In that game, we could never really get our offense clicking and it hurt us. Now we have a tough match up with A-J this week. But as was proven last Friday night, upsets can and do happen.”

“A-J has one of the better running games in Southern Illinois with a great RB in Jayce Turner and a great wing/slot in Arieh Hart. Both have the potential to make big plays. Our goal will be to try to contain the run game well enough to get our offense on the field. And then we have to be able to establish momentum with our offense”

Benton WR Cade Thomas

This is what Anna Jonesboro coach Brett Dietering had to say about tonight’s matchup with the Rangers.  “I expect the same thing as in the past three years, a heavy dose of Hamilton Page.  It all comes down to the ability to attack the run and pass game. If Page is not hooking up with Cade Thomas, you then have to worry about stopping Blaine Pankey running the ball.”

I’ve had the opportunity to watch both teams a few times on film, and once live.  I think that Page is the best QB in Southern Illinois.  I think Turner is the best RB.  Turner and Pankey would probably go in as the number three and four linebackers in Southern Illinois.  I think they are about even, with Luke Ford being Number 1, and Jordan Bartok #2.

Yes the Rangers are coming in the underdogs.  I might get ran out of Franklin County but I have to go with A-J in this one, especially at home.  If the Rangers get defeated, they can still get in with a lot of help from their “friends.”

It is also a game that I would not be surprised if the Rangers would win, especially if Hamilton Page has a big passing night.

This is the second best game of the night in all of Southern Illinois.  Leave early, stop at Giant City Lodge for supper, grab some apples and enjoy a great night of high school football.





Playoff probabilities for S-V-W-W, West Frankfort, and Benton

by Steve Dunford 

First of all we need to continue prayers for Zeigler-Royalton head basketball coach Matt Morgan, who suffered a heart attack this evening.  He is resting comfortably in an area hospital.  Lets pray for a speedy recovery and that he will be back on the sidelines at the Christopher Turkey Tournament.

In something that I have been looking at being a possibility since week three,  The Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn Red Devils and the Fairfield Mules will be facing off against each other at the Train Yard, undefeated, with a conference title on the line.

For 3A, I was looking at the possibility of quadrants.  I found out today they were a thing of the past.  So the south will be seeded 1-16.

Going into tomorrow night’s game there are four undefeated teams in 3A from Springfield, south.  Along with the Devils and The Mules, the Anna-Jonesboro Wildcats and Carlinville.

If Carlinville beats Greenville (6-2) tomorrow night, there will be a tie for the Number one and Two seed for the south half of the bracket between the winner of the Train Yard Showdown.

The Number one seed will then have the possibility of drawing Vienna-Goreville, Mt. Carmel or Harrisburg, all with 4-4 records.  If the Eagles beat Carmi-White County on Saturday, they will be in the best playoff point shape with 40.  Harrisburg is sitting at 36, as they face Carbondale.  Mt. Carmel has 33 and they face win less Mt. Vernon tomorrow night.

There is a chance that Harrisburg and V-G could be bumped up to 4A, as the cutoff line has been dropped  to 548 which is the Eagles enrollment.  Harrisburg is six below the cutoff at 542.

For West Frankfort it is as simple as this, they have to beat Nashville to get in. They are sitting at 30 playoff points, which if they beat the Hornets tomorrow night, would be the lowest 6-3 seeded team in the south.   If all the 4-4 teams do not get in and the Devils win tomorrow night, there is a very good possibility you could see the Redbirds and the Devils match up at Carroll Kelly field a week from Saturday.

I have had a gut feeling for a couple weeks that however things turn out, the Redbirds would end up facing the winner of the Train Yard battle.

If S-V-W-W would lose and the teams on the bubble at 4-4 would get in, West Frankfort still could be a possibility.  There is also an outside chance they could end up with the DuQuoin Indians.  They have been bumped up to 3A, and that could be whether they win or lose to Murphysboro.

I went local with this.  There are numerous possibilities from the Metro East.  We can start breaking them down more around 9:00 p.m.

Now onto the Rangers.  They have a task of facing an undefeated team in A-J on the road.  They are in similar but better shape than their arch enemy’s the West Frankfort Redbirds.  Win or lose the Rangers will be Redbird fans tomorrow night, for one thing, playoff points.  They will get one if WF leaves Washington County with a win.

They will be rooting for the Harrisburg Bulldogs to beat Carbondale.  They will be rooting for Murphysboro to beat DuQuoin.  Carterville vs. Massac they will get a playoff point either way.  They will also be rooting for Pinckneyville and Sparta to pull major upsets.

If they go down to A-J and lose they will be at a lot of teams mercy.  The Rangers will be in a unfamiliar role, being underdogs. However, it is a very winnable game for Benton.  It would be well worth taking the drive to Union County tomorrow night, enjoy the scenery on the way down, and watch what I would believe to be a whale of a football game.






WEEK 8 PREVIEW: Benton (5-2)(3-1) at Murphysboro (1-6)(1-3)

by Steve Dunford

This high school football season has flown by.  It seems impossible that week eight is coming up.

The Benton Rangers 5-2 on the year and 3-1 on the Southern Illinois River to River, Ohio Division, will be travelling to Doc Bencini Field to take on the Murphysboro Red Devils.

Murpry Comes in to tonight’s game with a 1-6 record, and 1-3 in the conference.  Their only win was against Massac County who they defeated 42-20.  They had a heartbreaking loss to West Frankfort 42-36 in overtime.  They lost another heartbreaker to Harrisburg last week 17-14 on a last second field goal.

Here is what Benton coach Bob Pankey had to say about the Red Devils,  “Murphy is playing a lot of young guys. They are athletic but inexperienced. They do have the ability to make big plays. Their style of offense incorporates lots of motion and misdirection, so we have to play defense with disciplined eyes and be assignment-sound.”

Bailey Hopson, along with Cade Thomas, one of Hamilton Page’s favorite targets throughout the season.

Murphysboro Coach Gary Carter had this to say about the matchup with the Rangers.  “Benton is good at what they do on offense. The QB can throw and run and the spread formations makes it even more difficult to defend. The receivers from Benton do a nice job with their routes and catch the ball well. Defensively, I am impressed with their linebackers especially the Pankey kid, he is a good football player. We will have to play well to have a chance to win.

Jamarr McZeke  can scramble out of the pocket.  The start against WF was either his first or second start.  He liked hooking up Jordan Haskins on that drive against the Redbirds that tied the game up in the closing seconds,  Haskins also ran back the 95 yard fumble in the closing seconds and had an interception.

Braden Caldwell is good both sides of the ball, and shows some senior leadership to this young team.   Sophmore Zane Caraway will be one of the best running backs in the Ohio his senior year.  He is one of the top ones already.  Another sophomore Jake Hoppendstedt, will be a good one as well, and is a significant contributor for the Red Devils.

Benton will have a big advantage on the line.  Offensively, Hamilton Page will have a lot of time to pass.  He could hit 200 yards.  Defensively, the linebacker corps of the Rangers could cause McZeke some problems.

I thought the linebacker corps for Benton and Harrisburg are comparable.  McZeke was 1-5 with two interceptions against Harrisburg.  However Murphy picked up 287 yards on the ground.

This is a must win for the Rangers tonight.  They will not have enough playoff points to get in at 5-4.  It is going to be a war down at A-J next week.

I am going with the Rangers by 20.  This game has the potential to be a shootout.  It is a great atmosphere for High School football and I would encourage you to make the trip down there tonight.


Ranger Stats

Story of the Murphysboro-Harrisburg Game from the Harrisburg Register




Week 8 Southern Illinois River to River- Ohio schedule and playoff outlook

by Steve Dunford

Week 8 Schedule

Benton (5-2)(3-1) at Murphysboro (1-6)(1-3)

Massac County (0-7)(0-4) at West Frankfort (4-3)(2-2)

Harrisburg (4-3)(2-2) at Herrin (6-1)(4-0)

Playoff Outlook


Herrin (6-1)  – The Tigers have cruised through the SIRR-Ohio field and have not been tested.  They should beat the Harrisburg Bulldogs tomorrow night.  It is senior night at the Graveyard II.  The Tigers will go to Breese Central on Week 9.  The Cougars has snuck up on the Tigers in the past.  Benton, West Frankfort and Harrisburg will turn into big Tiger fans, hoping for another playoff point.

On The Bubble

Benton (5-2)  –  The Rangers might have the best record of the three but they could be the most vulnerable.  The Murphy game is a must win, however I think the Rangers will be favorites. They have 28 playoff points right now.  It will be an uphill battle going to A-J on Week 9.  If they happen to get upset tomorrow night, they will be big Harrisburg Bulldog, West Frankfort, and praying that Murphysboro could turn into spoilers against the DuQuoin Indians.  A win tomorrow night and Benton will breathe easier.  Benton is 4A by eight students.  There is an outside chance they could be bumped down to 3A.

West Frankfort (4-3) –  Of the three on the bubble, West Frankfort has the easiest schedule.  They will take care of Massac County on Senior Night, and they travel to Nashville on Week 9 as the favorites.  The Redbirds in the playoff conversation again this year is great for the program, basically in a rebuilding year.

Harrisburg (4-3) –  It would be one of the upsets of the year if they beat Herrin tomorrow night.  They should beat Carbondale in Week 9.   Their tough schedule should help them pick up a lot of playoff points in week 9, so they should get in at 5-4.  If Fairfield, S-V-W-W or Anna Jonesboro go undefeated, they would be likely first round opponents, however the state is sliced up.  The Bulldogs are listed as 3A, but there is a chance they could be bumped up to 4A.



Hamilton Page up for WSIL-TV/Banterra Player of the Week

For the third time this season,  Benton QB Hamilton Page is in the running for WSIL-TV-Banterra player of the week.  Page, had another 200+ yard passing game against Massac County last week.

Previous winners from Franklin County have been West Frankfort running back Madison Allen, and S-V-W-W fullback Peyton Rock.

Voting ends at midnight tonight.

Links to Week 7 football stories involving Franklin County Schools

Benton 53 Massac County 13

Link to the story from Rick Hayes – Benton  News

Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn 62 Hamilton County 34

Link to the story from Richard Blakley – Benton News

Johnston City 54 Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton 0

Link to the story from Jimmy Dean – Benton News

Herrin 52  West Frankfort 6

Link to the story from Dave Broy –


Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News