November to remember

November to remember

By Eric Becker/The Write Team

CARLINVILLE (Nov. 9, 2017) – We had a dilemma of sorts trying to figure out which sports story to lead with last week.

Football, volleyball or cross country? It’s a difficult decision, particularly given the fact each team has been playing very well. But based on space restrictions, we felt we did the best we could to accommodate all three.

Soccer and golf teams finished earlier, but also deserve credit for the seasons they endured as well.

Cross country is a sport sometimes overlooked, but coach Charlie Helton’s Cavaliers boys team made it back to state for a second straight year. The team also deserves credit for running in such horrid conditions at sectionals, when sleet came down about two-thirds into the boys race.

I am not afraid to admit that I hate cold weather, and that was a cold Saturday trying to take photos with gloves on my hand. Fortunately, they turned out okay, as did the team by finishing fourth and qualifying for state.

Personally, I would not run three miles for the fun of it, and I don’t know how these athletes manage to pull off such amazing feats. They deserve praise for the dedication, stamina and competitiveness needed for such a grueling sport.

***

In football, oh those Cavies! Nothing like waiting to the end to win a nail-biter against a team that was favored, however slightly, playing on their home turf.

Saturday at St. Teresa was one of those classic gridiron matchups we look forward to at this time of the year, and the Cavaliers came out on top 40-36.

The surprise may not have been the outcome, but how the defense was able to stifle St. Teresa Division I recruit running back junior Jacardia Wright.

Wright did have a kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening play of the game. But I was anxious to see how the defense would muster up on Wright.

Quite frankly, the Carlinville defense was awesome, for lack of a better term. Wright had 21 carries for 56 yards by my calculations. Different media outlets had Wright anywhere from 55 to 66 yards rushing. I had him at 56. Six carries for zero or negative yardage. His longest gain was nine yards. He entered the game with over 2200 rushing yards, none less than 100 in any of the previous.

And Kyle Dixon’s four-interception game will be one to be talked about in coffee shops in these parts for years to come. He had an interception  hat trick alone in the third quarter. He also caught 11 passes for 122 yards and two scores.

Donovan King’s touchdown reception late gave the Cavies a comeback win after they played a nearly flawless third quarter to be in position to win the game in the first place.

This team has heart and character. They’ve been to the state title game a year ago. Never underestimate the heart of a champion.

***

The volleyball Cavaliers, not to be forgotten, played in Friday’s Supersectional at Vandalia.

I was kind of surprised, but not really, if you know what I mean, about the team’s recent success in postseason.

First of all, coach Fran Struble has nearly 930 wins. She and her fine assistants will get the team ready to play.

But the kids have to execute, and they did to a tee in the sectional tournament at Nashville.

Against Pinckneyville, they weren’t scared or timid against a 34-3 Panthers team. Quite frankly, they outplayed them, and the defense was a major part.

Wesclin put up a good battle in the sectional final, but again, perseverance paid off for the Cavies, who captured their first sectional title since the 2009 team that finished third at state.

Newton was a bit too much for the Cavies, despite a battle put up in the second game. Carlinville has nothing to be ashamed about.

If you have a great setter, which Carlinville had with Sydney Bates, and hitters who can find the holes in the defense, which Carlinville had, then it shouldn’t be a surprise they made a postseason run. Defensively though, the team was solid.

Just a shame it had to end on a Friday night in Fayette County.

Congrats to all area athletes on a fine fall sports season. It’s been a pleasure to cover such dedicated, smart, team-first athletes on a regular basis.