Steve’s Bracketology: The Sesser Valier Holiday Tournament

By Steve Dunford 

Panoramic view of Sesser-Valier high school gym last season.

Over the last week, I have been asked by a few people to share my thoughts on the seedings of the Sesser-Valier and Eldorado Holiday Tournaments.  They will be released in the next few days.

I am not a coach, so I do not get a ballot to seed the teams.  I am going to go 1-16 in case they seed the teams all the way through.  In the past, both tournaments list 9-16 as unseeded.

I love to hear your thoughts.  I hope this spurs some conversation. Franklin County teams are in bold.

Goreville (#1  4-2) –  The Blackcats gave A-J all they wanted in their own tournament banged up.  They are in the middle of a two week break, which could not come at a better time for Coach Todd Tripp.  I have watched Goreville a few times this season on film.  I will get to see them live, if the Lord is willing on Saturday night against West Frankfort.

Sesser-Valier (#2 2-4) –  You might ask why I have seeded the hosts so high?  I am going to pull a “Mo” on you by answering my own question.  They hung around with every team at DuQuoin in their losses.  A blowout win over Joe Hosman’s Massac County Patriots as DQ and leaving Chester with a 15 point win on Friday upped their seed a few notches.  It is no disgrace getting beat by Okawville by 20.  

Woodlawn (#3 3-3) –  The Cardinals had a very good weekend, beating Odin by 20 and Christopher by 10.  They just keep reloading and winning.

Christopher (#4 4-1) –  The Bearcats slid a few notches after falling to Woodlawn.  They were projected as my top seed going into the game with the Cardinals.  If Young and Curry are on fire, they can be cutting the nets down two years in a row. 

Chester (#5 5-2)  –  Like Christopher, they slid down a couple of notches, after the Devils beat them on their own floor over the weekend.  A fifteen point loss to Murphysboro would not have hurt them one bit.

Odin (#6 5-3)  –  Eagle Coach Tyler Mitchell is no stranger to the SVHT.  The Eagles dropped two in a row to the top dogs of the Midland Trail, Webber Township and Woodlawn.

Cobden (#7 6-4)  –  If I ever need an attorney, I want Appleknoker coach Rhett Barke representing me.   I love to watch him coach.  They about knocked off Meridian over the weekend.

Steeleville (#8 4-4)  –  Owen Gross is one of the better players in the tournament.  Whether they go left or right, the Warriors seem to always play four games.

Johnston City (#9 2-5)  –  This is a homecoming for Indian coach Scott Burzynski.  The coach can point to his #54 jersey hanging in the commons.  I have not watched them play, but it seems that JC gets better every time out.  They might make some noise.

Thompsonville (#10 3-4)  –  A fifteen point loss at Pope County probably cost them a top 8.  If the team shows up that played in the second half against Webber Township, the Tigers can spring an upset and move right. 

New Athens (#11 4-4) –  The Yellow Jackets are solid.  Jackson Heintz will be one of the better post players in the tournament.  They waltzed through the consolation bracket of the Christopher Tournament.

Century (#12 3-4) –  They had a decent Vienna Classic.  A loss Egyptian caused their stock to plummet.

Galatia (#13 2-6) –  A lot of people comment to me about T’ville and their big front line.  Galatia equally is as deep on the inside.  They lost their backcourt due to graduation.   The Bearcats picked up a nice win over Crab Orchard Friday night.

Marissa-Coulterville (#14 4-4)  The Meteors have a couple wins against private schools in the Metro East that are in the startup phases of their program.  Steeleville beat them by 30.  This is the reason for the low seed.

Waltonville (#15 2-6)  Their wins are against winless Z-R and Sandoval.  It is going to be a tough year for the Spartans.

Zeigler-Royalton (#16 0-6)  It is no secret the Tornadoes are rebuilding.  They came an eyelash from knocking off Woodlawn last year.  



Lady Bearcats move to 4-1 with BDC win over Trico

By Jim Muir

CHRISTOPHER — The Christopher Lady Bearcats improved to 4-1 on the young season with a solid 61-42 Black Diamond Conference West victory over Trico on Monday night.

 The Lady Bearcats led only 14-12 at the end of the first quarter but outscored Trico 26-14 in the second frame to open up a 17-point halftime lead – 40-23.

Despite the stellar 4-1 start Christopher Coach Seiger Shurtz says he feels his team has a lot of room for improvement.

“We’re a young team and we have a lot of work to do to get better,” said Shurtz. “We got some shots to fall in the second quarter and put together a nice run.”

Shurtz emphasized that the defensive end of the court is where he is primarily looking for improvement.

“Defense is clearly an area where we need to improve and work on,” Shurtz said. “If we develop the right mindset we will be able to execute on the defensive end.”

Christopher had excellent balanced scoring with four players in double figures. Courtney Hoppers led the way with 12 points followed by Andrea Miller, Jayla Williams and Lauren Kent with 10 points each in the victory. Rounding out the scoring Rebecca Henson had seven points, Maya Hewitt and Carley Young each had five points and Savannah Sherman added two points.

The Lady Bearcats (4-1 and 1-0 in BDC) will travel to Goreville on Thursday night for a key BDC matchup and then play host to Cobden on Saturday night.

ABV Jack: Christopher takes tourney title

CHRISTOPHER  The host Christopher Bearcats defeated Webber Township 66-60 for the Turkey Tourney title.

There are box scores for all the games.

Click on the link from Jack Bullock of A Baseline View.

Turkey Tourney Preview: The Wayne City Indians

Wayne City Coach Jeff Morris sent this to me he said it was from a local paper where he filled out a questionnaire.  I assume the Wayne County Press

How many starters did you lose from last season?

We lost four starters and some valuable players off the bench.  The lone returning starter from last year’s team is Jaxon King.

Who, if you have an idea yet, do you look for to fill those roles?

I look for Senior Remington Henson to step into a starting position.  He is a big body that should supply a solid inside presence.  Transfer  (Overton High School, Memphis, TN)  Jayzale O’Neal (Junior) is extremely quick and has great court instincts.  I look for him to share duties at PG with King.   Juniors Dane Horton and Dalton Smith are both high energy players that are very athletic.  Sophmore Travis Dickey has really improved and will be able to spread the floor with his ability to shoot.  Junior, Nate Barbee is a high energy defensive specialist who should be able provide depth at the guard position.  Foreign exchange student Enrico Carbonetti has been impressive in practice and has shown good instincts on both sides of the basketball.  Several other players will provide valuable minutes in the rotation.

What areas do you look to improve on from last year?

Wayne City was really good last year.  To try and compare a team with so much experience to a team with so little varsity experience returning would be a little unfair.  Ultimately, we are going to work hard and try to get better every day.  Best case scenario, we are playing our best basketball by seasons end.

Who do you see being leaders on this team?

I look for King to be our floor leader with his previous varsity experience and high basketball IQ.  I also look for O’Neal to help lead the team, he has already shown his ability to communicate and help other players in practice.  Henson will also supply senior leadership for the team.

What style of game do you want to play this season?

On the defensive side we want to pressure the ball and play tough hard nose defense.  Offensively we would like to push the basketball in transition, but look for a high percentage shot if nothing is available on the break.


What are some goals you have for this season?

We haven’t really sat down and talked a whole lot about team goals for the upcoming season.   I believe most teams’ main goal for season is winning a Regional Championship and see what happens after that.   I think competing for MTC Conference among other tournaments would be our secondary goals.  I just try to tell the kids to work hard and get better every day.

What are the biggest challenges you face coming into a new program?

I would say the biggest obstacle is that everything will be new for both the kids and me.  I didn’t get hired until after summer contact day period and didn’t have any days to work with or see them play. The kids are learning a new system and how I expect things to be done.  I’m trying to learn about all the kids and their strengths and weaknesses.  Trying to do this and have a game after 2 weeks of practice is tough.  The kids have had a great attitude about everything and are working extremely hard.

What are you looking forward to the most, coming into a new program?

I enjoy the challenge and the process of being a part of a new program. The kids are extremely excited about what we are trying to do.    It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but if the kids continue to work we should have successful year.


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.


Black Diamond announces Football All Conference Team

Players of the Year

MVP – Jacob Traxler – Eldorado

Offensive Captain – Bryce Jones – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

Defensive Captain – Lance Jolly – Fairfield


QB – Clayton Smith – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

SKILL – Colten Yates – Carmi-White Co.

SKILL – Calvin Clendenin – Chester

SKILL – Dylan Hefner – Fairfield

SKILL – Jayden Lewis – Fairfield

SKILL – Luca Gualdoni – Johnston City

SKILL – Jacob Traxler – Eldorado

SKILL – Eli Gunter – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

SKILL – Lukas Gunter – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

OL – Bryce Jones – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

OL – Alex Hunsinger – Carmi-White Co.

OL – Jacob Simpson – Fairfield

OL – Nathan Foss – Vienna-Goreville

OL – Kyle Worley – Eldorado

K – Luca Gualdoni – Johnston City


DL – Braden Attebury – Eldorado

DL – Theron Stewart – Fairfield

DL – Dawson Metten – Eldorado

DL – Grant Tobin – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

DL – Mitchell Nelson – Carmi-White Co.

LB – Hunter Adams – Hamilton Co.

LB – Lance Jolly – Fairfield

LB – Peyton Rock – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

LB – Wyatt Weinbrecht – Carmi-White Co.

LB – Wyatt Roth – Chester

DB – Jaxson Crnovich – Fairfield

DB – Skylar Gray – Fairfield

DB – Nolan Dahnke – Vienna-Goreville

DB – Joe Mayberry – Eldorado

DB – Tyler Thompson – Carmi-White Co.

P – Luca Gualdoni – Johnston City


QB – Nick Meyer – Chester

SKILL – Bryce Northcott – Carmi-White Co.

SKILL – Payton Massey – Vienna-Goreville

SKILL – Cade Rivers – Edwards Co.

SKILL – Waylon Webb – Hamilton Co.

SKILL – Kobi Dagg – Fairfield

OL – Bryce Lane – Fairfield

OL – Brody Conley – Vienna-Goreville

OL – Justin Mace – Eldorado

OL – Addison Page – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

OL – Cole Carter – Carmi-White Co.


DL – Ethan Debose – Eldorado

DL – Trenton Kittinger – Carmi-White Co.

DL – Brady Kelkhoff – Chester

DL – Hunter Mabrey – Edwards Co.

LB – Josh Gunter – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

LB – Nick Heffernan – Chester

LB – Aiden Kuhn – Vienna-Goreville

LB – Johnny Steed – Johnston City

DB – Reed Basso – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

DB – Justin Lamp – Carmi-White Co.

DB – Wyatt Gilbert – Fairfield

Caleb Champan – Hamilton Co.

Thomas Combs – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

Hunter Creamer – Johnston City

Jacob Ferguson – Carmi-White Co.

Logan Frassato – Vienna-Goreville

Braden Grimes – Edwards Co.

Houston Hall – Johnston City

Jace Jenkins – Eldorado

Kadin Kiselewski – Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn

Reese Lee – Fairfield

Darrick Leiser – Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton

Austin Lemmons – Hamilton Co.

Ethan Mahon – Carmi-White Co.

Curt Meyer – Chester

Lincoln Moore – Edwards Co.

Gabriel Motsinger – Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton

Kale Oglesby – Eldorado

Bryce Pratt – Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton

Ethan Rice – Vienna-Goreville

Martin Schmittler – Edwards Co.

Logan Trent – Fairfield

Garrett Walker – Chester

43rd Annual Christopher Thanksgiving Tournament

Christopher-Zeigler Royalton’s season ends losing to Hamco last night

by Steve Dunford

This is the first year that I have wrote these for football.  The last couple years, I have wrote these after each team loses out in the post season.

High school football is a different animal than the other sports, in which you have to qualify for the post season.

This is the second 0-9 season in a row the Bearcats have put up.  They did not have a game that did not go into running clock toward the end.

I had the opportunity to be around the program a lot last season.  In the midst of a losing season, one thing that blew me away was the fan support.  Even though there have been a shuffle in roles, the coaching staff is basically the same.


Randall Risley let me use his pictures this year but I am going to post what he said about the coaching staff.

“No matter the situation, no matter the score, all of the coaches for CZR, coached, taught and encouraged the kids. They will be better players because these coaches, even, maybe especially the gruff looking Buddy Velasco, care. Now it is up to the players to, when taught, learn and when encouraged, work. I would be happy to have a son play for these coaches.”

First hand, I can attest what Randall Risley said about the coaching staff.

I remember a conversation that I had with Eldorado two weeks ago that sums up how to rebuild a program.  He was telling me about the early days when Brandon Hampton took over the program.

He said you put two or three possessions together. Then you get a win.  Then you beat a quality opponent.

I have talked to Coach Hargrove a couple of times through the season.  He always said the goal on Friday night is to increase the Football IQ.  The wins we concentrate on are on Monday Night.

I moved to West Frankfort a little over two years ago.  I caught a few games in an 0-9 season.  There was a 1-8 season the year before.  When Edwards County went in the Black Diamond, there some arm chair AD’s that were calling for West Frankfort to join the Diamond.

In week 1 they went down and nearly knocked off a good A-J team down at Anna. I was at Spann Field two years ago when I heard Adam Rosho announce the losing streak was over.  The next week the Redbirds picked up a big win over Sparta.

The next week, on a windy Saturday afternoon finishing up a suspended game, the Redbirds picked up their signature win against Harrisburg.  A few weeks later I was covering a playoff football game in Canton.

Last night a young WF team was five seconds away from making another playoff appearance.

You might be reading this and say who cares about Frankfort?  This is about Christopher.

There is a very talented sophomore class from Christopher.  There is a talented freshman class at Z-R.  I hope my few words about the Redbirds will give some optimism for 2018.

Story from the Benton News




WEEK 8 PREVIEW: Chester (3-4) at Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton (0-7)

by Steve Dunford

Thank you Randall Risley for allowing me to use your photos.

The Chester Yellow jackets make the trip to Franklin County tonight to face the C-Z-R.  Chester is coming off of a 34-7 loss to Carmi-White-County.  The Bearcats fell to the Johnston City Indians 54-0.

it is Senior Night for three seniors, Trinton Bishop, Scotty Killip, and Zach Marvel.

I have been keeping up with their JV team and they picked up a forfeit win over JC on Monday.

I asked Yellow Jacket coach Billy Belton fill me in on the S-V-W-W and Carmi game.  “We played Sesser very well. We lost 20-6, and it was 12-6 with 3 mins left in the game. Sesser and Chester both played very hard. I was proud of our boys, and how hard they played. It was a very physical game, and fun to be a part of.”

“We lost to Carmi 34-7. Carmi is a very good football team, a playoff team. They have 15 Seniors. They were big up front and they ran the ball very well. They are always well coached. Coach Simon does a great job. Nick Meyer was 10/24 133 passing, 1 TD. Keith Kiner lead the team in receiving 6-61, Curt Meyer 2-27, Calvin Clendenin 1-11 1 TD. Nick Meyer Lead the rushing attack with 69 yards. Mason Westerman added 3 Carries for 19 Yards. Over all we are healthy. We still have a great chance to make the playoffs. I feel like we have a very good football team.”

When you have three seniors and 24 kids in your program, it has been a struggle for the Bearcats.  They need a game where they can play a full 48 minutes, then make a good showing at winless Hamilton County next Friday night.


Week 8 Black Diamond Conference Schedule and Playoff Picture

by Steve Dunford

Week 8 Schedule


Chester (3-4) at Chirstopher-Zeigler-Royalton (0-7)

Vienna-Goreville (4-3) at Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn (7-0)

Johnston City (2-5) at Edwards County (2-5)

Hamilton County (0-7) at Carmi White County (4-3)

Farifield (7-0) at Eldorado (6-1)

Playoff Picture


Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn (7-0)  –  The next two weeks they will be playing for seeds and a conference crown.  Vienna will be playing to stay alive.  It seems like in the BDC things are still up for grabs in the last two weeks.  It is no different this year.  It has been several years since the Devils have been in this position.  It is very hard not to look ahead to their trip to the Train Yard on Week 9. The IHSA uses quadrants a lot in 3A.  There could be a very good possibility the Devils could draw the West Frankfort Redbirds, or the Harrisburg Bulldogs in the first round.  Benton has a slim chance of sneaking in as a 3A team.  Wouldn’t that be something to watch.

Fairfield (7-0)  –  They are in the same shape as the Devils.  They are playing for a conference title and a better seed.  The Mules are solidly in 3A.  They could also have a first round matchup with Harrisburg or WF if these teams get in.

Eldoroado (6-1)  – It will be a war hosting the Mules tomorrow night. They go to Johnston City on week 9, which they should be the heavy favorites in, but the Indians have tradition on their side.  Most likely they will go in the playoffs at the worst with a 7-2 record.  They are solidly 2A and could go very far.

Good Shape

Chester-  (3-4) –  The Yellow Jackets will be facing C-Z-R and Edwards County to finish it out.  They will definitely be 1A, where strength of schedule will help them tremendously.   I see them winning out.  A 5-4 record with 45 playoff points since the BDC is a closed conference is a guarantee of  getting in the playoffs.

Carmi-White County  (4-3) –  They host Hamco tomorrow night to clinch.  Stranger things have happened, but I think it is safe to say the Bulldogs will win this one.   There will be multiple Southern Illinois teams that will be rooting for the Bulldogs down at Vienna Saturday.  That game could have a ton of playoff implications around the state.

On the Bubble

Vienna-Goreville (4 -3) –  Coach Rude has came back and in two years, the Eagles into playoff contenders again this year, after his sabbatical of taking over the reigns of the now defunct Morthland College program.   I do not see them going to Caroll Kelly Field on Senior night and pulling the upset.  Their week nine game with Carmi could be a dandy.


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