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.


Turkey Tourney Preveiw: New Athens Yellow Jackets

By Steve Dunford 

The New Athens Yellow Jackets make their debut this year in the 43rd annual Christopher Thanksgiving Tournament.

They were supposed to make their debut last year, but there was a contract snafu and they were in the Carlyle Kaskaskian Classic.

New Athens has an enrollment of 165, and they play in the Cahokia conference.

I asked Yellow Jacket coach Conrad  Widdersheim to tell about his team.  “I have three seniors: center Jaxon Heintz (6’6″), guard/forward Joel Mattingly (5’11”) and guard Landon Deutschman (5’9″); 1 junior guard George Schneider (5’8″) and 1 sophomore guard/forward Joe Range (6’1″) in my starting five. I’ve got a collection of 4 other sophomores and 1 freshman coming off my bench. Heintz is the only returning starter from last year and he has been an all-conference selection the past two years.”

They open with the Thompsonville Tigers on Tuesday Night at 6:15 p.m.  I asked him what his game plan was going up against the Tigers.  “We don’t know a lot about Thompsonville. We got the chance to play them this summer, but in the summertime so many kids are missing it’s tough to gauge a team. We’ll just do what we’ve been working on which is playing tough defense and taking high-quality shots.”

The Tournament opens on Monday night with Wayne City facing Norris City Omaha-Enfield at 6:15 p.m.  Christopher will face Waltonville at 7:45 p.m.  Zeigler-Royalton faces Webber Township at 7:45 p.m.

Turkey Tourney/GEC Preview: The Norris City-Omaha-Enfield Fighting Cardinals

By Steve Dunford 

Since this is my first preview, I am going to do some housekeeping things.  Through feedback from last season,  readers shared with me they would like to see stories from the conferences the seven high schools that I cover, which are the six county schools and the Hamilton County Foxes.

Instead of a long conference preview, I am going to feature each team in short previews. I am going to introduce you to the NCOE fighting Cardinals, since this is their second year of them playing in the Christopher Thanksgiving Tournament.

Their enrollment is 193.  They play in the Greater Egyptian Conference.  The GEC is a 1A conference with schools 6 that consists of Thompsonville, Crab Orchard, Galatia, Carrier Mills, Pope County, Hardin County, and Gallatin County.

The school is in Norris City, which has a population of 1,500.  The village is located in the Southwest corner of White County.  The district contains the southern part of White, and the Northern part of Gallatin County.

The Cardinals had a record of 7-18 last year.   They are coached by Evan Wylie, who is in his third year.

NCOE plays a style that is unique to Southern Illinois.  They run and gun and their goal is to jack at least 40 three-pointers a game.  They press for 32 minutes and have at least three at all times at the scorers table to run in and out.

They lost 6′ 1″ Matt Long to graduation.  Long was a guard for the team that would not be shy to chuck it from at least 30 feet.  Another senior form last years squad, Cooper Wells who was 6’3″ and played the three spot.  He liked that 22 foot baseline jumper.

The lineup that Coach Wylie will go with 6′ 1 Jeb Baumgarte in the middle.  He is very physical on the inside.  He cleans up the boards and puts in a lot of stick backs.  He will kick also kick out offensive rebounds for a three point attempt.

Joining Bumgarte on the inside will be Brandon Skaggs  a 6′ 2″ Junior. and  Colton O’ Neal a 6′ 0″ forward.  In the back court will be playing the point will be 5′ 10″ senior Evan Healy.  The two guard will be 5′ 10″ sophomore Trey Simmons.   All of them had some varsity minutes last season, and can shoot the three.

The bench will be made of mainly freshmen.  Coach Wylie said they have a strong class coming in and all are around 5′ 10″ or 5′ 11.”  They will be put in the fire quickly.

FORECAST:  In the Christopher Thanksgiving Tournament, I see them getting fourth place,  losing to Thompsonville in the third place game.  I see them finishing seventh in the Greater Egyptian Conference.  I used some sabermetrics to come up the formula to determine the middle of the pack in the pre-season rankings.

This is a conference that is tough to play on the road.  The schedule is less favorable to the Fighting Cardinals.   Honestly I could have easily had a four way tie for fourth.

I am going to rank strength of schedule.  I am going to put the Fighting Cardinals at fourth.  They play in the Eldorado Holiday Tournament.  They also have cross county rival Carmi-White County as well as their close neighbors the Hamilton County Foxes as well.  If they get in the winners bracket at Chirstopher, they have the chance to go up against tough teams like Christopher, Webber Township, and the first of the possibility of five games against the Thompsonville Tigers.

This is just speculation.  They take the hardwood Monday night against the Wayne City Indians at the Turkey Tourney.





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

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.


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 –


Week Six High School Scoreboard

Black Diamond

(6-0)  *Sesser-Valier-Waltonville-Woodlawn 20  Chester 6 (3-3)

(5-1)   *Eldorado 54  Christopher-Zeigler Royalton 6 (0-6)

 (6-0)  *Fairfield 50  Edwards County 0 (2-4)

(3-3)  Carmi-White County 44  Johnston City 14 (1-5)

Hamilton County (0-5) at Vienna-Goreville (3-2)

Southern Illinois River to River Ohio

(4-2)(2-1)  West Frankfort 44  Murphysboro 38 OT (1-5)(1-2)

(4-2)(2-1)  Benton 35  Harrisburg 28 (3-3)(1-2)

(5-1)(3-0)    Herrin 49  Massac County 0

Southern Illinois River to River Mississippi

(6-0)(3-0)  *Anna Jonesboro 35  Pinckneyville 0 (0-6)(0-3)

(4-2)(2-1)  Carterville 54  Nashville 21 (3-3)(1-2)

(5-1)(2-1)  DuQuoin  55  Sparta 20 (1-5)(1-2)

South Seven

(5-1)(2-1)  Belleville Altoff 32  Marion 28  (3-3)(2-1)

(5-1)(3-0)  Centralia 41  Cahokia 30 (2-4)(1-2)

(2-4)(1-2)  Carbondale 41  Mt. Vernon 8 (0-6)(0-3)

*Clinched playoff spot

Week 6 Preview: Eldorado (4-1) vs Christopher-Zeigler-Royalton (0-5)

by Steve Dunford

CZR signal caller Bryce Pratt earlier in the year against Carmi-White County. (Thank you Randall Risley)

The Eldorado Eagles will be facing the C-Z-R Bearcats this evening at Spann Field.  The Eagles are in contention tonight to clinch another playoff berth, which they have several consecutive playoff appearances.

I spoke with long time Eldorado assistant and first year head coach Joe Clark yesterday.  He told me coming into tonight’s game the Eagles are a little banged up but do not have anyone out over nagging injuries.

We began to talk about the Bearcat program, he gave me some interesting insights.  He began to talk about the tough times the program went through in Saline County in Brandon Hampton’s first few years.  He said one year things would click.

He also compared it to the SVWW program as well, and coach John Shadowen’s second tour of duty.  He said it takes baby steps.  He said in year two they made the playoffs, and now they are sitting tied for the conference lead at 5-0.

He sees Anthony Hargorve making similar strides with the Bearcats.

Clark then talked about Bearcat QB Bryce Pratt.  “He said, I don’t know if he would be our QB but he would definitely be somewhere in the backfield for us.  One day the yards he has been passing for will add up into some TD’s.  That night might be tonight, and we have to be ready for it.

He went on to talk about the BDC race and how week eight and nine will be something to watch and see, as Fairfield will have them and SVWW back to back.

If C-Z-R would win tonight, it would probably be the upset of the decade. or maybe in the history of the program.   There have been some ugly comments on social media about the program in general.  I was in a conversation with someone over the summer.  I said a 2-7 record would be very optimistic.  This is going to take time.

I am going to make a bold prediction.  In 2019 the Bearcats will be playing in Week 10 in the 2A playoffs.  Fill the stands up at Spann Field with orange and blue tonight, and enjoy the homecoming festivities.



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