Today marks the halfway point in the high school football regular season. With that in mind, here are mid-season progress reports for the eight metro area small school programs.
Deer Creek-Mackinaw (4-0): The Chiefs are ranked second in the state in Class 2A and have outscored their opponents by an average of 47-14. The offensive line of Jake Golden, Hunter Mull, Caleb Miller, Matt Switzer and Cade Foffel has paved the way to 400 yards per game in offense — 329.5 of those on the ground.
Levi Scheuermann has proven to be one of the top quarterbacks in the Heart of Illinois Conference in his first year as a starter. Mull has a team-high 50 tackles on defense.
"We certainly haven’t played perfect," said coach Job Linboom, whose team has yet to commit a turnover. "We know that our toughest opponents come late in the year, so we have to find a way to stay hungry and keep improving on the little things."
Coach’s grade: A-. Next: Friday vs. Fisher (2-2).
Elmwood/Brimfield (4-0): The Trojans are ranked No. 9 in the state in Class 3A and have outscored their opponents 196-46. Eighteen different players have had at least one carry for a team averaging 311 yards rushing per game. Andrew Endres has a team-high 299 yards rushing and five TDs. Junior QB Charlie McKinty has thrown for 353 yards and five TDs. Chase Gore has a team-high 29 tackles, including five for lost yardage.
“Our offensive line has improved immensely since Week 1,” Elmwood coach Todd Hollis said. “That certainly has been a huge factor in stabilizing our team on both sides of the ball.”
Coach's grade: Moved from a C early to a B now. Next: Friday vs. West Prairie/Bushnell-Prairie City (4-0).
Farmington (4-0): The Farmers are ranked No. 3 in Class 2A and have outscored opponents 162-41. Junior QB Hayden Bradt has completed 68 percent of his passes for an area-high 838 yards and 11 TDs, with eight different receivers catching passes. Defense has two shutouts in a row, against Illini West and Peoria Heights. Evan Marion has 50 tackles, nine for lost yardage.
“We have done a lot of things well but if we are working for the A we've got to put together a string of consistent games and we need to show we are mature enough to play well on the road,” said Farmington coach Toby Vallas.
Coach’s grade: Incomplete. Next: Friday at Havana (0-4).
Princeville (4-0): The Princes have scored the most points (222) and allowed the least (22) of any area small-school team against programs with a combined 4-12 record. Biggest test comes Sept. 29 at 1A No. 8 ranked Annawan/Wethersfield for LTC supremacy. Princeville has out-rushed teams an average of 357-59 yards per game. Adam Snedden has a team-high 606 yards rushing and 13 TDs. Cam Kessling leads the defense with 30 tackles.
“Very happy with our first four games,” said Princeville coach Jon Carruthers. “We still are not a polished team, though. We have had some penalties and mental mistakes that could hurt us in tight ballgames. We are still working on our players’ individual techniques. Every player has room for improvement.”
Coach’s grade: A-. Next: Friday vs. United (0-4).
Eureka (3-1): The Hornets are coming off a big 21-13 Heart of Illinois Large Division victory over Fieldcrest. The only loss of the season came in Week 2 at 2A No. 8 ranked Downs Tri-Valley. The defense has allowed a league low 37 points. Senior QB Jake Bachman has 391 yards rushing and four TDs in a spread out ground attack. He’s also picked off four passes. Senior LB Preston Stahl has a team-high 45 tackles.
“We have remained healthy as a whole,” Eureka coach Jason Bachman said. “I feel like we are getting better every week. Offense continues to diversify and our defense is playing as expected.”
Coach’s grade: B to B+. Next: Big test Friday at 2A No. 5 Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley (4-0).
IVC (1-3): The Grey Ghosts earned their first win Friday, hammering a young Champaign St. Thomas More team 41-0. Junior RB Ethan Kempf had 99 yards rushing. To help ignite the offense, QB Andy Timm moved back to wide receiver and sophomore Alex Merlo took over behind center. Drake Dietrich has a team-high 31 tackles.
“Offensively, we really hadn’t been very good the first three weeks (15 points),” IVC coach Tim Heinz. “Last week, we kinda came out of our shell and that helped. They’re starting to react well.”
Coach’s grade: Improving. Next: Friday at Fairbury Prairie Central (1-3).
Tremont (1-3): First-year coach Zach Zehr recorded his first win at Tremont, a 40-22 victory against Heyworth. Senior RB Garrett Liggett, a transfer from Pekin, made his debut with 293 yards rushing and three TDs. Senior QB Logan Pflederer has 198 yards passing and three TDs. Luke Barrow leads the Turks with 24 tackles, including four fumble recoveries.
"It’s good that we’re seeing positive signs every week, with us doing more and more things right each week," said Zehr.
Coach’s grade: Trending up. Next: Friday vs. Colfax Ridgeview/Lexington (2-2).
Peoria Heights (1-3): The Patriots have lost three in a row, by a combined 163-18 against three unbeaten teams, after a season-opening 28-27 win over Cambridge Ridgewood.
"All the varsity kids are almost to the point of understanding their skill set and where to be and what to do," first-year coach Adell Hawks said of the co-op with Quest, which starts a majority of underclassmen. “We’re starting to be more physical ... Some of the things that we can work on are putting two halves together and finishing.”
Coach’s grade: C+. Next: Saturday vs. Illini West (2-2).
STAN MORRIS is a Journal Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 686-3214 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @stanmorrispjs.