Like brown, red and yellow leaves, area fall sports teams are quickly falling from competition.
Yes, the fall high school and college sports seasons quickly are coming to a close. The same is true with Major League Baseball. It’s been an interesting season full of lessons.
So, what have we learned?
• If you can’t defend your home turf, you probably won’t win the World Series.
The Cardinals are in a deep hole needing to sweep in Boston to win this time. The Cardinals have been in worse conditions before, so it’s not impossible.
I think most fans would feel better if the team somehow could conjure the spirit of Enos Slaughter because he knows how to beat the Red Sox. His scoring sprint from first base in the 1946 World Series gave the Cardinals the crown that year.
• The Rams are an interesting team.
If the defense can play the way it did against Seattle, the Rams can stay in any game. The offense just needs to learn how to execute, especially in the red zone. More importantly, it needs to find a way to get a rushing touchdown soon.
• It’s been a so-so year for prep football.
We’ve got some amazing athletes playing the game, but they’re mostly at the skill positions. Even the best of our teams, Sullivan, isn’t even the top seed in its district.
Quarterback has been a key. We’ve had some good ones in the area, such as Sullivan’s Justin Biermann, Union’s Blake Hulsey and Hermann’s Craig Winkelmann. Borgia has found a way to successfully incorporate three national quarterbacks into its roster. Pacific would just like to have one of its quarterbacks stay healthy for three consecutive weeks.
We’ll likely lose most of our teams this week in games. I would expect to see Sullivan, Union and Hermann playing next Wednesday.
Sullivan has found itself again and is on a seven-game winning streak. Union still has a potent spread offense. Hermann has refound its game now that it’s back to running the veer.
The next two possibilities would be Borgia and St. James, but they’re going to have to play extremely good to make it through the first round.
Borgia hung around with Westminster for a long time during the first meeting. St. James will be at home, but faces a very athletic Bishop DuBourg team.
While we had no undefeated schools in the area this year (both Sullivan and Union are 7-2), we also had no winless schools.
I like the fact that football now has a district tournament, instead of a round robin four-team district. I don’t like how every regular season game now counts toward the tournament seeding. That punishes a team which may be the largest in its conference, but helps smaller schools who play a lot of big schools.
• Volleyball is still a strong sport in this area, but overall, it seems to be stronger around the state.
MSHSAA didn’t do our teams any favors this cycle.
New Haven is seeded third in its district behind Bismarck and Ste. Genevieve Valle and it will be a task to make it past the district round.
If the Lady Shamrocks could play every match the way they played Borgia Sept. 23, making it to Saturday’s sectional is a possibility.
Hermann should win its district, but the teams there are getting better. If Hermann can win the district, it likely will see defending state champion Fatima and Lutheran St. Charles in its section. At this point, Lutheran has got to be the favorite to represent the section in Cape Girardeau.
The local Class 3 winner, likely Borgia (not going out on a limb there as Borgia has won the district in all but two of the years since 1987) will host a sectional, but it’s got to be the toughest Class 3 sectional in the state. Expect Villa Duchesne or Visitation, St. Dominic and Duchesne to be there. Honestly, I think the sectional will be tougher than the state tournament for the winner.
The good news for our Class 4 teams is that either Washington or Pacific will survive past the first round of the district. The bad news is that the winner has to play Lafayette in the semifinals.
• In soccer, we don’t have a world beater.
I would have liked to have seen Pacific in the local district rather than Warrenton. I believe a third Union-Pacific game would be just as epic as the last one.
I think the local district is up for grabs and any team which gets hot next week could host the sectional game.
If Borgia ends up winning, I expect video of last year’s sectional loss to Rolla to be shown at least a couple of times.
• Our kids will run at state.
I think we discovered that we should have some state qualifiers in cross country, but no threats to win individual titles. I believe New Haven’s Seth Schenck should be the top state finisher among local runners. I haven’t followed Karinne Lane of Hermann enough to know whether she can carry through to medal at state, although I know she’s an amazing basketball player.
• It wasn’t such a traumatic start for swimming.
Borgia started boys swimming this fall and, pardon the pun, was thrown into the deep end. It wasn’t much time from the sport’s approval to its start.
However, to its credit, the school found a qualified coach in Jennifer Alferman-Molitor of the Washington Swim Team and a number of experienced summer and club swimmers. While Borgia hasn’t had the depth necessary to win a meet yet, it’s got one state qualifier in Michael Matthews and it’s only a matter of time until the team breaks through.
I’m under the impression the girls team will have a pretty good turnout for the winter season.
• Sullivan still is the class of the area in softball, but others are catching up.
The Lady Eagles again were the last team standing in the MSHSAA playoffs, but ran into a juggernaut in the sectional round.
Ashley Crump has the closest thing to a softball dynasty in this area and will find players to fill the gaps. They get the Four Rivers Conference player of the year, Sarah Messex, back next fall and a very good supporting cast as well.
But other teams are catching up. Washington has been very good, but plays in the largest class, so things are much, much tougher. Union and Borgia have been solid, but usually are watching Sullivan raise the district trophy. St. Clair, Owensville and St. James are getting better.
• Girls golf is growing.
Borgia’s team finally is drawing numbers for Chip Thompson. And Borgia has some quality returning next year as well. If the Lady Knights can continue to develop, it’s not going to be long until the team is winning matches again.
• It’s hibernation time at ECC.
From what we’ve seen through the season, I believe the season will come to an end Saturday for the East Central College volleyball Falcons. I also believe it will be an accomplishment for this team to make the finals. Since the program was reinstated, ECC has never finished lower than second in the NJCAA Division II District O Tournament.
The soccer Falcons played Tuesday at Jefferson College. ECC hasn’t beaten its nemesis on the field in some time and would need a big upset to advance to Saturday’s title contest.