Christopher Junior Bearcats Class M State Champs

By Steve Dunford 

Thank you Mindy Vanfossan

INA, IL –  The Christopher Elementary School Bearcats won the Southern Illinois Junior High School Athletic Association State Championship by defeated the Nashville Hornets 35-30, Friday Night, at Rend Lake College.

Christopher defeated Belleville Emge 50-44 in the quarterfinals, and defeated Johnston City 55-49 in the semi-finals.

Colin Sveda led the Jr. Bearcats with 15 points in the championhip game, Peyton Mazur added 11, Mason Goins eight, and Isaac Queen Chipped in a free thorw.

Trey Cole, Logan Kirkpatrick, and Laighton Mixon played in the championship but did not score.

The CES roster is round out by Brett Janello, Scout Hudgens, Isreal Queen, Matthew Traiter, Josh Bevis, Dakota Killup, Samuel Rettig, Avery Hoppers, Tyler Mueller, and Troy Robbins.

The team manager is Brenden Whitmer.

The Junior Bearcats are coached by Russ Hobbs, who has been coaching junior high basketball in Christopher, for over 40 years.


Tigers put up 31 fourth quarter points in win over Shawnee

By Steve Dunford 

THOMPSONVILLE –  It was not a pretty start, with the Tigers up 23-16 at halftime, but T’ville outscored Shawnee 50-29 in the second half to pick up a 73-45 win.

“It took us a while to get going.  We are going to have to play better in future games than we did in the first half.”  The Tiger coach Pete Gordon said after tonight’s win.

Anthony Darge led the Tigers with 20 points tonight 18 in the second half.  Corbin Fitch added 18.  All ten Tigers that saw action got in the scoring column.

Trenton Matlock tied Darge with a game high 20 for the Redskins and Austin Warren added 14.

Thompsonville improves to 9-7 on the season.  They will face Agape Christian from Marion,  at 2:00 p.m. in the Martin Luther King Shootout at Meridian, weather permitting on Saturday.

Shawnee falls to 0-7 on the season.  They also face Agape in their next game on January 16th.

With Thompsonville having a non-conference game tonight, and Gallatin County idle, the scores from all three games in the GEC were shockers.  Crab Orchard beat Carrier Mills 74-60, in a game that was a lot tighter than I expected. Galatia upset Hardin County 57-48, and NCOE upset Pope County 55-40.

The conference tournament coming up in a couple weeks will be interesting.  It sounds like there will be a lot of upsets that week.

Box Score

THOMPSONVILLE (73)  Darge 10 0 0-0 20. Fitch 7 0 4-6 18, Raubach 0 3 0-0 9, Roberts 2 1 0-0 7, Kirkman 0 2 0-0 6, Chullen 2 0 0-0 4, Bybee 0 1 0-0 3, Kessler 1 0 1-2 3,  Jones 1 0 0-0 2, Furlow 0 0 1-2 1

SHAWNEE (45)  Matlock 6 2 2-4 20, Warren 1 4 0-0 14, Rose 1 1 0-0 5, Johnson 1 0 1-2 3, Wills 1 0 1-2 3,  McLane 0 0 0-0 0 Ballzel 0 0 0-0 0 Nickelson 0 0 0-0 0, Poindexter 0 0 0-0 0 Schafer 0 0 0-0 0

Score By Quarters

THOMPSONVILLE (9-7)    12 – 11 – 19 – 31  –  73

 SHAWNEE (0-7)    9 – 7- 9 – 20  –  45


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




Chistopher Lady Bearcats finish third in the SIJHSAA State Tournament


PINCKNEYVILLE, IL –  Just like the boys, the CES Lady Bearcats softball team took home third place at the SIJHSAA State Tournament by defeating Creal Springs Adams, 12-7.

Also like the boys, they fell to Trico in the semi-finals by the score of 4-1 on Tuesday.

Congratulations on a great season.  -sd


Bearcats take 3rd Place in the SIJHSAA State Tournament Thursday

PINCKNEYVILLE, IL –  Peyton Mazur hit a base clearing double driving in three runs as the Christopher Bearcats defeated the Hardin County Cougars 6-3 in eight innings, two win third place in the SIJHSAA state tournament on Thursday afternoon.   Mazur started on the mound for the Bearcats, pitching six innings and scoring two runs.     Mazur threw a no hitter in the Bearcats quarterfinal win over O’Fallon Carrel.

Mason Goins pitched two innings of scoreless relief to pick of the win for the Bearcats.  Bryson Cullum took the loss for the Cougars.

“When we lost the coin toss, for the third straight time. And with the rain the other day thought maybe I was just in it for bad luck,. We scored 1st but then gave it back on some defensive mishaps too early in game. First  batter hits to 1st base, we drop ball running to bag to get the out. Then  a hit to RF by Cougar Catcher Jake Vaughn kept turning to the far corner of the field for an in the park homerun.

Then we start 2nd inning out with an error at 2B where pop up drops on grass. Start third with single. Eventually scoring on wild pitch. We got out of the inning on a heads up play by pitcher Peyton Mazur covering third on blip hit behind third.
Offensively bottom of order came through big in the 5th. 7-9 got on base and scored for us.”, said Bearcat coach Tim Leffler.

The rain Coach Leffler referred to was a big inning Trico put together in the semi-final game during a down pour, before play was stopped in a 5-4 loss to the Pioneers in the semi-finals.

A full box score of the game is below.




CF Colin Sveda 3 1 1 1
C-Trey Cole 4 2 2 0
3B-P Mason Goins 3 1 0 0
P-3B Peyton Mazur 4 0 1 3
SS Scout Hudgens 4 0 0 0
1B Trent Mazur 4 0 0 0
LF Briar Rowland 2 1 0 0
2B Carson Hobbs 3 1 1 0
DH Kade Harbison 3 0 1 1

RF Chase Cole 0 0 0 0

TOTALS 30 6 6 5


P- 3B Smith 4 1 2 0
SS Ben Vaughn 3 1 1 0
C J Vaughn 4 1 1 2
3B-P  Bryson Cullum 3 0 0 0
1B Lance Ditterline 4 0 0 0
LF Levi Snyder 3 0 1 0
2B Morgan Frickor 3 0 0 0
CF Walker Bebout 2 0 0 0
RF Levi Borum 3 0 0 0
TOTALS 29 3 5 2

HARDIN COUNTY 201 000 00 — 3

Mazur, Trey Cole, Carson Hobbs, B Vaughn. 2B–Peyton Mazur,
Trey Cole (2). HR–J Vaughn. HBP–Briar Rowland. SB–Trey


Peyton Mazur 6.00 4 3 2 2 9 1
Mason Goins (W) 2.00 1 0 0 1 6 0

Smith 5.33 4 3 3 0 7 0
Cullum (L) 2.67 2 3 3 2 3 0

PB–Trey Cole, J Vaughn. WP–Peyton Mazur (3), Smith.
SO–Trent Mazur, Peyton Mazur (3), Colin Sveda, Kade
Harbison, Briar Rowland (2), Carson Hobbs, Mason Goins,
Snyder, Cullum (2), Bebout, B Vaughn (2), Borum (2),
Ditterline (2), J Vaughn (2), Frickor (3). BB–Colin Sveda,
Mason Goins, Cullum, Bebout, B Vaughn.


SIJHSAA Baseball/Softball State Tournament Brackets

Please click on the link below for the SIJHSAA full brackets for the tournament.  There are several teams in the conferences of the Franklin County schools still alive.


Mazur Throws a No Hitter in Jr. Bearcats Quarterfinal Win

By Steve Dunford

PINCKNEYVILLE, IL Peyton Mazur throws a no hitter and struck out nine batters in a 10-0 win for CES over O’ Fallon St. Claire.  He also went 2-4 from the cleanup spot driving in two and scoring once.

Also leading the Christopher offense was Gabe Sveda, who went 2-2, scoring four times with 2 RBI’s, Trey Cole went 1-4, scored twice with an RBI.  Mason Goins went 1-2 with a run, Scott Hudgens was 1-4 with an RBI, and Briar Rowland was 2-2 and scored a run.

The Junior Bearcats will face the Trico Pioneers in the semi-finals on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville.   The girls also play Trico at 3:00 in Pinckneyville.

The game will be broadcast on WXAN-FM 103.9 in Ava.  Richard Blakely will call the game.  Below is a link to stream the game online.


Christopher Junior High Girls Softball Advances to the Semi Finals in the SIJHAA State Tournament

by Steve Dunford

PINCKNEYVILLE, IL –  The CES Lady Bearcats advanced to the semi-finals of the SIJHSAA State Tournament, by beating Shiloh out of the St. Louis Metro East area.

Leading the Christopher offense was  Amiah Hargrove who went  2-2 with three runs scored and an RBI, Courtney Parke 3-4 with three RBIs Hanna Burzynski 3-4 with a home run and  two RBI’s and, and  Tori Crain 1-1 with two walks, was hit by a pitch and  two runs scored.

The Lady Bearcats will face the Trico Lady Pioneers in the semi-finals on Tuesday at 3:00 P.M. at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville.   Coach Brooke Jones said the defeated Trico earlier in the year 13-2,

The CES boys baseball team also made the semi-finals and will also play the Trico Pioneers.

Both the boys and girls games will be broadcast by Richard Blakely on WXAN-103.9 FM in Ava.

Here is a link to stream the broadcast.

Good luck to both teams.


Benton Jr. Rangers heading to state

By Steve Dunford

BENTON, IL-  The Benton Junior Rangers will open play against O’Fallon Carrel in the SIJHSAA Class L State Tournament in Centralia, Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m.

They advanced with a walk off victory scoring two runs in the bottom of the 7th, beating Hamilton County in the regional championship game held at McLeansboro.

Asher Wyant picked up the win in relief pitching 4 1/3 innings, allowed no earned runs, and struck out three .  Andrew Bell was the starter for Benton pitching 2 2/3 innings, allowed one earned run, and no walks.

At the plate the Rangers pounded out 11 hits on the afternoon.  They  were led by Reid Bumgarte (2-3 RBI), Chase Thomas (2-3) and Jacob Kinsman (2-4)

Picking up base hits for the Jr. Rangers were Wyant (1-4 RBI), Mason Tiefffel (1-3 RBI), Tyler Chamness (1-3), Seth Tate (1-3), and Chase Rubenacker (1-2)

Benton coach Brett Blondi  commented about the regional win and advancing to state. “That was our 3rd walk off win of the season. These kids never say quit .  I am really proud of how they have competed all year and looking forward to seeing them compete in the state tournament. Hopefully they come out and play well. ” 

The Rangers enter the state tournament with a 17-3 record.  It is ironic that all the teams that advanced to state from Franklin County won by a 4-3 margin in come from behind wins.

There will be coverage on all Franklin County teams throughout the State Tournament.



Junior Bearcats – Lady Bearcats heading to state

by Steve Dunford

Normally I would separate this out into two stories.  The reason I like sports in general, is you can not predict the outcome.

Last Thursday, the Christopher Junior high boys baseball and junior high softball girls teams played in Class M. Regional Championship games.  Both faced Sesser-Valier.  The both won by the same final score of 4-3, the boys won in eight innings.

In the boys’ game Christopher Junior High Boys Baseball Coach Tim Leffer also added this which was ironic, “Colin Sveda was at the plate last year with the winning run on, facing the same pitcher, Gavin Woodland.  Last year he struck out, this year he hits a screamer into the right centerfield gap for the walkoff. ”   Some other events that took place in the eighth inning that coach Leffler told me about sounded like game 6 of the 2011 World Series.


Peyton Mazur and Mason Goins split time on the mound for the Bearcats last Thursday.  Including the game winning RBI’s mentioned above, Seveda drove in all four on the afternoon from the leadoff spot, which all the runners reached by a walk or HBP.  Trent Mauzr went 2-3 at the plate as well on the afternoon.

The Bearcats improved to 16-2 on the season after their win.   It was their third win of the season over Sesser-Valier, in which Coach Leffler said is not an easy task.

The only two blemishes on the Bearcats record was a 2-0 loss to Benton and a 10-9 loss to Carterville, who will be playing in the quarterfinals of the Class L State Tournament in Centralia on Saturday.

The Bearcats opening round game of the state tournament will be against O’ Fallon St. Clare Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m., at the Perry County Fairgrounds in Pinckneyville.

Now on to the girls.  I was going to use ladies first, but the bottom of the eighth in the boys game on Thursday added to one of the bizarre things that happened on the afternoon.

As mentioned above, the Christopher Lady Bearcats came away with a 4-3 win last Thursday to win the Johnston City Class M Regional crown.

Hannah Burzynski pitched a two hitter for the win, going 2-3 at the plate with a double and an RBI.  “She has been a big part of all our wins and is great under pressure. The top of the 7th was pretty intense with runners on and being up by one, but she’s gotten the job done all year and I know she will help carry us through the tournament,” according to Lady Bearcat softball coach Brooke Jones.

Courtney Parke went 1-3  with a double and 2RBI’s at the plate on the afternoon, and McKenzie Jackson went 1-2.

It was also a come from behind win for the Lady Cats as they gave S-V the lead early on from some miscues in the field.  It was also their third win of the year as well over the Lady Devils.

The Lady Cats also drew a Metro East team in the first round of the state tournament as they will face Shiloh in the quarterfinals of the Class M State Tournament, at 3:30 p.m., also at the Perry County Fairgrounds.

Good luck to both teams, and we will be keeping an eye on you down the tournament trail.






Benton, West Frankfort, Illinois News | Franklin County News