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- 04/11/16--14:54: _Central football co...
- 04/11/16--15:31: _New high school foo...
- 04/18/16--15:27: _Springfield footbal...
- 04/20/16--18:56: _Father/son duo now ...
- 04/29/16--14:56: _Central High School...
- 04/29/16--14:58: _It's a Hillcrest ho...
- 05/06/16--14:57: _How a Nixa teen rod...
- 05/10/16--15:51: _High school student...
- 05/21/16--19:46: _State track: New Co...
- 05/25/16--17:44: _Golf, strange cloth...
- 06/02/16--14:49: _Springfield hosts h...
- 06/03/16--21:01: _High school footbal...
- 06/04/16--14:43: _Heisman trophy winn...
- 06/09/16--19:33: _High school Athlete...
- 06/09/16--20:29: _Tebow provides insp...
- 06/10/16--13:34: _Tebow Time: 10 of t...
- 06/13/16--16:33: _New Central footbal...
- 06/20/16--03:04: _Ex-Kickapoo, Nixa c...
- 06/30/16--15:30: _Documents reveal de...
- 06/30/16--15:53: _New coach guiding 1...
- 04/20/16--18:56: Father/son duo now in charge of Rogersville basketball
- 04/29/16--14:56: Central High School names new football coach
- 04/29/16--14:58: It's a Hillcrest homecoming for new girls basketball coach
- 05/06/16--14:57: How a Nixa teen rode bulls to a college rodeo scholarship
- 05/25/16--17:44: Golf, strange clothes, friends and charity: The Allen Open
- 06/02/16--14:49: Springfield hosts high school football all-stars Friday
- 06/09/16--19:33: High school Athlete of the Year award winners named
- 06/10/16--13:34: Tebow Time: 10 of the best tweets from SW Missouri Sports Awards
- 06/13/16--16:33: New Central football coach aims to build culture
- 06/20/16--03:04: Ex-Kickapoo, Nixa coach returns to Springfield with football team
- 06/30/16--15:30: Documents reveal details of Hollister coach's statutory rape charges
- 06/30/16--15:53: New coach guiding 13-time conference champion Bolivar
Central High School football coach Lorenzo Williams is headed close to home, so a search is under way to find the next coach of the Bulldogs.
“Coach Zo” accepted a coaching position in his home state of Oklahoma, leaving Central after a total of four years, the last two as the head coach.
“You always want to leave places better than they were when you got there, and I feel like I did that at Central. I feel like I gave them everything we had,” Williams said. “We worked real hard. We had some good times, we had some bad times, but I think I gave them more than I took.”
Williams tendered his resignation from Springfield Public Schools last week. He has been hired to coach at Westmoore High School in Oklahoma City. In Oklahoma’s seven classes of 11-man football, Westmoore is among the largest in Class 6A Division I with a student population of more than 2,100.
“I knew I eventually wanted to be at that level,” Williams said.
Williams played football at University of Missouri from 2003 to 2007, and participated in two NFL training camps, but didn’t made the cut either time. He spent one season on the coaching staff at Helias Catholic in Jefferson City before coming to Central as an assistant coach.
The Bulldogs went 2-8 in Williams’ first season as head coach, but went 5-4 in the 2015 regular season and lost to Glendale in the first round of the Class 5 district playoffs to finish 5-5. It marked the first time since 2002 that Central had a winning record in the regular season.
Williams said his decision to apply and interview for the job at Westmoore was a chance to coach at a large school with good facilities, and to be closer to his hometown of Midwest City.
“It was never the kids. The kids always gave everything they had,” Williams said. “It’s going to be hard to leave the kids, I think. That’s my biggest worry.”
Williams described the emotional reaction he received when he told the Bulldogs of his impending move as, “not good.”
“It kind of came out the wrong way for them. I wish there would have been a different situation where I could have had a chance to sit down and talk to them a little bit better about the situation and what I was getting myself into,” Williams said.
Williams also serves as a boys track and field coach and an assistant wrestling coach at Central.
He’s one of three brothers in his family, and he will soon move with his wife Brittany and three kids of his own close to their grandmother in the Oklahoma City area.
“I’m going to be down the street from my mom, so she cried when I told her I got to the job,” Williams said. “A program like that is going to be great for me, I feel like. It’s pretty established, they’ve got a lot of good tradition down there already.”
The Westmoore Jaguars went 4-6 last season under coach Adam Gaylor, who departed to take the defensive coordinator position at nearby Mustang, Oklahoma. Prior to that season, the Jaguars experienced four consecutive winning seasons.
The 2016 schedule for Williams and the Jaguars includes games against Oklahoma Class 6A Division I state champion Jenks, and runner up Broken Arrow.
Central will lose four senior football players to graduation, but will stand to return a nucleus of starters that includes running back Garrett King, quarterback Quintin Batson, leading tackler C.J. Oliver at linebacker and defensive back Tyrone Walker. Williams encouraged his players to be positive.
“I tell them take everything I taught you, apply it. It’s not about the coach, eventually I wasn’t going to be your coach anyway,” Williams said.
A public document that is part of the Moore Public Schools Board of Education agenda for a Monday, April 11 meeting includes a note of recommendation signed by Moore Public Schools Athletic Director Brian Fitzgerald. In that document, Fitzgerald recommends the school board hire Williams to serve as the Westmoore High School varsity head football coach and to teach business, physical education and health.
tmp1460412197228.jpgtdunhamusatodayFrom left, Central High School football coach Lorenzo Williams and wide receiver Junior Torres during a 7-on-7 training session at Parkview's JFK Stadium in the summer of 2015.Central coach Lorenzo Williams at the Missouri State Football camp on July 29, 2013.Central High School football coach Lorenzo Williams (second from left) coached the Bulldogs for a total of four seasons.Central coach Lorenzo Williams at the Missouri State Football camp on July 29, 2013.From left, Central High School football coach Lorenzo Williams and wide receiver Junior Torres during a 7-on-7 training session at Parkview's JFK Stadium during the summer of 2015.
New class and district assignments for high school football will slightly change the postseason landscape when district playoffs begin in October 2016.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association announced new class and district assignments for football teams for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Springfield will host the 2016 state championship games at Plaster Stadium, and the games move to Faurot Field at University of Missouri in Columbia in 2017.
Kickapoo remains in football’s largest class following a run to the Class 6 semifinals in 2015, which was the furthest the Chiefs have lasted in the Class 6 playoffs.
This 2015 Chiefs (12-1) became the first team in the history of Springfield Public Schools to win 12 games in a single season and made just the third football semifinal playoff appearance since the high school opened in 1971.
Willard slides into a Class 5 district with Parkview, Nixa, Republic, Carthage and Neosho.
Central and Glendale remain in a Class 5 district together alongside Branson, Ozark, Lebanon and Waynesville.
The Ozark Conference now has three Class 4 teams with Camdenton dropping down a class and entering a district with Hillcrest, West Plains, plus non-conference opponents Bolivar, Marshfield, and proverbial powerhouse Webb City, among others.
Aurora and Reeds Spring met in a Class 3 district championship game in 2015 and remain grouped together. Mt. Vernon and Monett are also part of the new Class 3 District 4.
New high school football district assignments for 2016 and 2017 seasons
Class 6 District 4
Lee’s Summit North
Lee’s Summit West
Class 5 District 4
Class 5 District 5
Class 4 District 5
Class 3 District 3
Class 3 District 4
Class 2 District 3
Class 2 District 4
El Dorado Springs
Class 1 District 2
Class 1 District 3
Class 1 District 4
8-man Class 1 District 4
tmp1460414858335.jpgtdunhamusatodayThe Kickapoo High School football team will continue to play in Class 6 for the next two seasons.
He scored more touchdowns than any other ball carrier to ever play for his school.
Malachi Stout passed on chances to play football at small colleges for a narrow chance at the big stage.
Stout will leave Kickapoo as the school’s career and single-season touchdown leader with 42 touchdowns as a senior and 59 for his career. The journey that led to him committing to walk on to the football team at NCAA Division I Arkansas State University was stressful, but Stout wants to take his chance at living a dream than to risk regretting it later in life.
“That was nothing like I ever imagined it would go, but I just trusted in God, let the process play out and I couldn’t be happier with the end result,” Stout said.
Stout rushed for 1,474 yards and was second on the Chiefs (12-1) in receiving with 379 yards in 2015. The Chiefs won 12 games and reached the semifinals of the Class 6 playoffs.
“I was just worried about winning every week, but in the back of my head there was always that burden,” Stout said. “The next four years of my life was a mystery at that point.”
At the end of his senior season, college teams seemed lukewarm on recruiting Stout, despite his output on the gridiron and Kickapoo’s success.
“We had a great team, a great squad, a great run. Team success brings individual success, and so I had a lot of that as well, so I was thinking at least I’d find a home, somewhere that I wanted to be,” Stout said. “It had always been my goal to go to a Division I school.”
Stout had some NAIA and NCAA Division II teams express interest in his services, but they weren’t the Division I offers he dreamt of as a child.
“That hit pretty hard. I wasn’t really worried up until January came, because that’s when things really start getting hot (in football recruiting),” Stout said.
Walk-on players usually aren’t guaranteed a spot on college teams from season to season. There is a real chance Stout could be seeking other opportunities in two years, but he was willing to take that risk and try for a walk-on spot as the recruiting season rolled along.
Frustration built for the running back as Feb. 3, 2016 approach. The first day football players can sign a national letter of intent to play NCAA football worried Stout and Chiefs coach Kurt Thompson.
“It’s not my job to tell them who to recruit, but this young man did everything we asked of him,” Thompson said. “This young man just wanted an opportunity, and didn’t get those.”
On the day before Signing Day, Stout turned down a football scholarship offer from an in-state Division II program. It was the most solid offer he had.
“I felt like I would have been settling or sold myself short,” Stout said. “At that point, that was really scary. Here I am, Signing Day is tomorrow. I have no idea where I’m going to school yet, so that was definitely a trying point in my faith.”
Thompson returned to coach Kickapoo in the summer of 2015, having previously coached the Chiefs from 1998 to 2006. The first stint afforded Thompson the chance to coach Stout’s older brothers and to meet his parents.
“I don’t worry about him. He’s going to make good decisions,” Thompson said. “He’s got a great mom and dad at home that are right in there with him. I know they were frustrated, he was frustrated, I was frustrated. I was hoping he would have more opportunities.”
Thompson didn’t share much of his frustrations with Stout or with his family.
“I tried not to dwell on it. I kind of acted like it wasn’t any big deal, because I know it was ripping (Stout’s) guts out,” Thompson said. “We said, ‘you have to have a great senior year and do all these things,’ well, he did all that. There is no character flaw there.”
When it seemed that few college football coaches wanted to talk to him, Stout increased his prayers for guidance.
“I’d had that inner battle with myself. Am I being selfish by chasing my dream to play football? Because right now I have no opportunity in front of me, so I’m thinking to myself maybe this isn’t where God wants me to be,” Stout said. “I kept talking to God, and I’m like, he’s blessed me with the passion and ability for this, and I can use that as a platform for Him, to glorify Him.”
Stout is interested in a career in the ministry or in performance athletic training, the latter of which he intends to pursue at Arkansas State, the former of which may come later in life.
First comes college football, which he will pursue as a walk-on with the Red Wolves. With help from Thompson and from his former high school coach, Stout got noticed by the Arkansas State staff.
Joel Wells, who left Kickapoo in 2015 to coach high school football at Harrison, Arkansas, got Stout in touch with an Arkansas State recruiting coordinator.
Arkansas State’s coaches invited Stout to visit Jonesboro. He took in a tour of the facilities, sat in some player meetings and took in a spring practice. His commitment to accept a walk-on offer happened shortly after his return to Springfield.
Thompson continues encouraging the running back’s dream.
“To me as a high school coach, he’ll be successful. If he wants to go play Division I football, go do it,” Thompson said. “He’ll make the best of it whether he plays or not. He’ll get a four year degree and graduate from college and be a tremendous young man.”
While Stout’s chances to see action in the Sun Belt Conference may be limited, he’s happy he will have any type of chance.
“I didn’t want to have any doubt about what I could do,” Stout said. “I’m just really, really blessed and happy that I have this opportunity in front of me.”
Stout’s 42 touchdowns as a senior set a Springfield Public Schools single-season record, and only the NFL’s Dorial Green-Beckham scored more touchdowns in a career for a Springfield Public Schools team.
Arkansas State closed the 2015 regular season with an eight-game winning streak and fell to Louisiana Tech in the New Orleans Bowl and finished the overall season 9-4.
tmp1461018913350.jpgtdunhamusatodayKickapoo running back Malachi Stout (40) scored 59 tourchdowns in his high school career.Senior Malachi Stout (left) scored 42 touchdowns for Kickapoo in his final season of high school football.Kickapoo High School running back Malachi Stout (40) scores a touchdown as he is being hit by Falcons defensive back Cameron Coleman (4) during first-quarter action of the Chiefs' game against Glendale High School at Pottenger Stadium, Sept. 17, 2015
Rogersville has its new boys basketball coach, and that coach will enjoy a homecoming of sorts.
Local product Mitch McHenry has been tabbed to lead the Wildcats in the 2016-2017 season. McHenry steps in for coach Rod Gorman, who retired after 20 seasons at Rogersville.
McHenry, just 26 and a first-time head coach, joins the same faculty as his father, Rogersville girls basketball coach Denny McHenry.
“I grew up watching my dad be a head basketball coach,” Mitch McHenry said, and then added a joke. “It’s going to be interesting when we have to fight over gym time.”
What’s more, Matt McHenry is finishing up his junior year at Rogersville having played basketball for Gorman’s Wildcats this year. Mitch McHenry has coached Matt in the past when he helped out with his younger brother’s summer teams.
“(Matt) was really excited when he found out I was applying for it, he was pretty pumped. We have a great relationship. I’ve been able to coach him for a couple of summers already,” Mitch McHenry said. “He’s a tough kid. He’s a very coachable kid.”
Gorman amassed 525 victories in his coaching career, 384 of them with the Wildcats, and coached Rogersville to nine Central Ozarks Conference championships. McHenry has the task of following Gorman’s path.
“I definitely have big shoes to fill. He’s a hall of fame coach. He’s the highest of the high,” McHenry said of Gorman. “It was something that was a draw for me too, because he’s been at Rogersville for 20 years and has been running the program the right way.”
Gorman is also the athletic director at Rogersville, so his retirement led the school district to hire current Glendale athletic director Joe Spurlin to fill the athletic director’s role.
The Logan-Rogersville Board of Education completed hiring Spurlin and McHenry at a Tuesday night meeting.
McHenry most recently served as an assistant to coach Dick Rippee at Kickapoo, helping the Chiefs reach the Class 5 state championship game with a record of 29-3. Prior to coaching at Kickapoo, McHenry assisted hall-of-famer Steve Jenkins on the Evangel basketball coaching staff.
“A big reason why I’ve been given this opportunity is I was able to coach under two coaches who gave a lot of responsibility to their assistant coaches,” McHenry said. “Coaching under them I got to see them not only carry themselves, not only be great coaches, but they are great men. They are high character men. The identity of the program and the character of the players is important to them.”
McHenry grew up in Republic and attended Evangel University, where he graduated in 2013 with a degree in physical education.
McHenry played four years of college basketball at Evangel from 2008 to 2012, and played two seasons of football for the Crusaders in 2012 and 2013. He was a two-time recipient of the NAIA basketball Champion of Character Award and won the NAIA’s national Pattison Scholarship for exemplifying academic and athletic ability, character and leadership excellence and community service.
Rogersville will compete in Class 4 District nine for the next two seasons against Hillcrest, Bolivar, Marshfield, Reeds Spring and West Plains.
McHenry will teach high school physical education at Rogersville.
Fresh off its first winning regular season since 2002, the Central Bulldogs have a new football coach.
Springfield Public Schools announced the hiring of Sean Nevills on Friday afternoon. Nevills presently serves as an assistant on coach Justin Conyers’ staff at Battle High School in Columbia.
Nevills returns to Springfield, having bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Missouri State, where he worked on the football staff as a student video assistant. Prior to moving to Columbia, Nevills was the head football coach at Study Middle School.
Nevills replaces Lorenzo Williams, who has been hired to coach at Westmoore High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
The Bulldogs went 2-8 in Williams’ first season as head coach, but went 5-4 in the 2015 regular season and lost to Glendale in the first round of the Class 5 district playoffs to finish 5-5. It marked the first time since 2002 that Central had a winning record in the regular season.
Central will lose four senior football players to graduation, but will return a nucleus of starters that includes running back Garrett King, quarterback Quintin Batson, leading tackler C.J. Oliver at linebacker and defensive back Tyrone Walker.
In Oklahoma’s seven classes of 11-man football, Westmoore is among the largest in Class 6A Division I with a student population of more than 2,100.
Nevills was on the coaching staff when the Battle Spartans won the 2014 Class 5 football state championship by beating Nixa 25-22 in the final game.
Nevills’ hiring is contingent on approval by the Springfield Board of Education.
Justin Gerald will be the next girls basketball coach at Hillcrest High School.
Gerald presently teaches at Miller High School, where he is the girls basketball coach, football defensive coordinator and track coach.
Gerald returns to his alma mater. He was an ALL-USA Ozarks football selection during 2003, his senior year. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Methodist University and previously worked as an assistant football and basketball coach at Hillcrest. He also worked at Reed Academy in Springfield..
Hillcrest won the Class 4 District 11 championship this season and posted an overall record of 16-12.
Gerald replaces coach Jeni Hopkins, who will retire from Springfield Public Schools after 16 years at Hillcrest. Before that, she coached for eight years at Greenwood Laboratory School. She will return to Greenwood to become the counselor for students in grades 8-12.
Hopkins retires with a career record of 332-206, six total district championships and a final four appearance with the Hornets in 2015. Twenty of her players have gone on to pursue college basketball.
Gerald’s 2015-2016 Miller Cardinals were 18-11 and won the Class 2 District 12 championship. They lost to four-time state champion Crane in the sectional playoffs.
Gerald’s hiring is contingent on approval by the Springfield Board of Education.
Nixa senior Gavin Michel earned a college scholarship eight seconds at a time.
He was a sophomore in high school when he connected bull riding to the pursuit of a college degree.
“I thought hey, if they’re going to pay for my school, I might as well climb on,” Michel recounted.
Michel signed a letter of intent to accept a college rodeo scholarship Wednesday at a ceremony at Nixa High School. How serious was the event? Serious enough that the head coach of the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions traveled about 400 miles to attend the ceremony in person.
Texas A&M-Commerce rodeo coach Dameon White is happy to have landed the commitment of the No. 1-ranked bull rider in the Missouri High School Rodeo standings. Michel is a two-time qualifier for the National High School Finals Rodeo, held annually in Gillette, Wyoming.
“I am proud to have Gavin on my team. As a university coach, we do not pick very many bull riders, and Gavin is a bull rider,” White said.
College rodeo participants can compete in an array of events such as team roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling and tie down roping, but the bull riders stand out as specialists, a different breed of cowboy. Competitors from the same school combine their points earned in each rodeo for an overall team score used to compare them to teams from other colleges.
Scholarships are limited on college rodeo teams, White explained. He usually favors riders who have two years of experience competing for junior college teams.
“I usually pick transfer students,” White said. “He don’t need to go to a juco, he can step right in to the university level and compete, and hopefully you all will be hearing that he makes the college national finals this time next year.”
Michel got his start in rodeo as a tyke, and it wasn’t on the back of a bull.
“I started riding sheep. I was a mutton buster whenever I was 4 years old, and I progressively moved up from sheep, to calves, to steers and eventually bulls,” Michel said.
Michel was 14 the first time he climbed on the back of a bull. Rodeo bulls weigh more than 2,000 pounds.
“It was crazy, just the rush. Whenever you are climbing on a bull, it’s a 2,000-pound animal. It just wakes you up,” Michel said.
Michel was a sixth-grader when he learned another event, team roping, with a friend named Landon Potts. Michel continued climbing the ladder toward bull riding but roped calves with Potts along the way. On Nov. 26, 2014, Potts was one of four teenagers killed in a single-vehicle accident on Pleasant View Road in Christian County. Potts was 17.
Michel continues to practice team roping, though bull riding is still his primary event. He hopes to have a chance at competing in roping before his college career concludes. While most freshmen bring computers, televisions and small refrigerators into the dorms, Michel’s list of school supplies includes a horse that he will take from Nixa to Commerce, Texas.
Injuries have been part of Michel’s rodeo career, as is the case for most competitive cowboys. His list of injuries includes a broken ankle and a broken left wrist, the wrist attached to the hand Michel uses to hold onto the bull rope as he attempts to stay aboard for eight seconds.
The thrill of competition kept him coming back.
“For a while I was stuck in a rut when I was 15, where I would get to about six seconds on a bull and I would be like, ‘Oh man, I’m on a bull,’ and I would jump off. It would scare me,” Michel said. “I’m past it now and I love it, I just crave it.”
Michel said he plans to major in Agricultural Sciences, using what A&M-Commerce calls the “broadfield option,” a mixture of 11 different degree programs.
“Not many places offer that many (programs), so Ag-Broadfield basically covers everything from zoology, to plants to ranch management. It’s all-in-one,” Michel said.
As White explained, Michel will ride bulls against cowboys from NCAA Division I schools such as Texas, TCU, Texas A&M, Sam Houston State and McNeese State in the Southern Division of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
“It’s just like football, basketball, baseball, volleyball — you get a scholarship, you come and you compete in an event of the sport of rodeo,” White said.
tmp1462572427157.jpgtdunhamusatodayNixa senior Gavin Michel (front, center) signed a letter of intent to join the rodeo team at Texas A&M University-Commerce at a ceremony May 4, 2016 at Nixa High School.
A class project and some t-shirts turned into a surprise donation of more than $2,000.
Greg Kemper worked as an assistant football and track coach at Nixa for 17 years. He’s wrapping up his first year at Glendale High School as a site intervention coordinator, working with students who are struggling academically or behaviorally. In 2004, Kemper’s wife Liz gave birth to twin boys born with a rare condition called twin to twin transfusion. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, twin to twin transfusion occurs when part of one twin’s blood supply moves into the other twin in the womb.
Eleven years and more than 20 surgeries later, Harrison and Hudson Kemper are still living with the complications of twin to twin transfusion. At birth, Harrison weighed one pound, 10 ounces. Hudson weighed two pounds.
Hudson had his lower right leg amputated at the age of six months. Harrison suffers from epilepsy and is also on the autism spectrum. The Kemper family has done its best to share fulfilling lives together.
“It’s been lots of complications. Overall, we’re doing great, it’s just the financial hardship of having to do all kinds of surgeries, therapies and very expensive medications that a lot of times aren’t covered by insurance,” Greg Kemper said.
A group of Glendale High School sophomores turned an assignment in their world history class into a fundraising opportunity to help offset the Kemper family’s medical bills.
“He’s funny. He’s very sweet,” soccer player Reagan Richardson said of Greg Kemper. “He’s a nice person and he has a big heart, which is great because you don’t find that in a lot of people.”
Football fans know Ben Mauk as a former Wake Forest and University of Cincinnati quarterback. In Springfield sports circles, he’s known as the offensive coordinator for a Falcons team that posted more than 500 yards from scrimmage and 44 points per game. However, Mauk is also a history teacher.
Mauk tasked his students to design and sell a product influenced by one of history’s key turning points.
“We were trying to learn the concepts and the ideas from the Industrial Revolution through student projects. They designed their own product and went around and tried to market it and sell it,” Mauk said.
Mauk also taught his students a bit about what the Kemper twins have gone through.
“(Mauk) is a kind person and he likes to help other people,” Richardson said. “Especially since Mr. Kemper is such a big part of our school, it would be great to help him and his family.”
Richardson, Lexie Dodd and Dawson Roberts decided to go into the textile business. They learned about wages, working conditions, supply pricing, marketing and selling t-shirts with a Falcon logo that bear the slogan, “Flock is family.” They presented their product “Shark Tank style” and convinced an outside investor to match their profits dollar for dollar for the cause of helping the Kemper family.
“We knew we were going to give the profit to (Kemper) the whole time,” Dodd said. “He is very humble, even with everything he’s going through with his kids, he’s very humble and happy about everything.”
The students didn’t tell Kemper about their plan as they continued to sell shirts for $15 each and rocketed past their initial fundraising goal of $200.
“We were trying to sell between 100 and 150 t-shirts, and I think we got right in between that,” Roberts said.
On Monday morning, Mauk and the three students surprised Kemper just outside the library at Glendale. They presented him with a check for $2048.40, and then Richardson apologized to Kemper for lying to him about the reason for their t-shirt sales.
The money has been deposited into Harrison and Hudson’s donation account at Great Southern Bank. The Kemper family also maintains a GoFundMe site for its ongoing expenses.
“I don’t want people to think we’re asking for money or something, it’s not like that,” Greg Kemper said. “I didn’t even know what was going on. I’m just completely blown away by the kindheartedness and the quality of kids that we have here.”
Want to give?
Harrison Hudson Donation Fund
c/o Great Southern Bank
1451 E. Battlefield
Springfield, MO 65804
tmp1462921387529.jpgtdunhamusatodayThree Glendale High School students surprised educator Greg Kemper with a donation of $2,048.40 to a medical fund for Kemper's twin sons who suffer from the affects of twin to twin transfusion. From left, Dawson Roberts, Reagan Richardson, Kemper and Lexie Dodd.From left, Harrison and Hudson Kemper.
Springfield’s New Covenant Academy celebrates its speediest girls
tmp1463885709423.jpgtdunhamusatodayFrom left, Claire McCune, Claire Workman and Katie McCune of New Covenant Academy all won multiple medals in distance running at the 2016 Missouri State High School Activities Association Track and Field Championships.
It’s said that the Masters is “a tradition unlike any other.” A tournament in Nixa is trying to give Augusta National a run for the moniker.
Iowa State football signee Chase Allen describes the Allen Open as “an annual celebration of athleticism and prestige.” The son of former Missouri State football coach Terry Allen converted his family’s yard into a nine-hole, par 3 golf course for a tournament that featured an all-star cast of high school athletes past and present and, in its second year, a donation to charity at the end.
“This year we wanted to make it special, so we decided to donate all of the proceeds to the Logan Middleton Memorial Scholarship, and we’re really excited about that part of it now,” Allen said.
Logan Middleton was a Nixa High School graduate and basketball standout who was one of four teenagers killed the night before Thanksgiving in 2014 in a vehicle accident in Stone County.
Each of the 30 players who played golf in Allen’s yard on Wednesday donated at least $5 to a scholarship fund set up in Middleton’s memory. The Allen Open generated $232 for the fund in one day. The scholarship is awarded annually at the Greenwood Blue and Gold high school basketball tournament.
“Logan would have definitely been here participating with us today. I’m not sure how good of a golfer he was, but we always think about him, we like to make sure that he lives on through our lives,” Allen said.
The Allen Open was born out of a group of friends’ desire to play golf alongside their desire to avoid spending money.
“One time we really wanted to go golfing and started looking at some course prices around here like, ‘man, this is expensive.’ We just wanted to hit some balls around and have some good times and play some golf, it’s a great sport,” Allen said.
Allen designed the course layout, marked the tee boxes, printed off scorecards and rules sheets and scheduled tee times for all participants. Each hole is about 80 yards long. The tournament began with the playing of the national anthem, and the rules of golf were strictly enforced.
“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing,” Allen said.
Three of the holes involve a water hazard and the No. 8 hole requires players to hit their ball over or around a playground set.
“There are some treacherous, treacherous holes out there. You’ve got to really be smart,” Allen said.
Reed Johnson, one of Nixa High School’s top golfers who recently played in the Class 4 state championship tournament, won the inaugural Allen Open in 2015. His bid to defend his title was cut short by Springfield Catholic golfer Nate Bailey won the tournament by blistering the course in 38 strokes to finish 16-under-par. Nixa assistant basketball coach Brock Blansit was the runner up with a 47, nine shots off the lead.
Parker Dent, one day after pitching a complete game shutout in Nixa’s 4-0 win over Webb City in the Class 5 sectional baseball playoffs, finished in third place.
Johnson described the Allen Open as, “just a bunch of friends. We’re out here playing and especially this year we’re helping out the Logan Middleton cause. We were good friends with Logan, it’s pretty nice to be able to do that.”
Outrageous golf attire is also a key part of the tournament. Two players donned cowboy boots with jean shorts. Tristan Ridenour played two rounds of nine holes in a kilt. Basketball and tennis standout Garrett Bacon channeled his inner Gary Player and wore all black.
“You’re not supposed to dress up, you’re supposed to dress out, so you’ll see lots of colors out here, lots of patterns you don’t normally see,” Allen said.
Johnson sported normal golf attire because he was also scheduled to play a match at Twin Oaks on the same day. In spite of only using a pitching wedge to play his round at the Allen Open, he carried a full golf bag through all 18 holes.
Even with its newfound element of charity, the tournament at the Allen home retained its original intent of enjoying golf and friendship on a not-too-serious level.
“I’d say it’s still pretty goofy, but we’re just out here trying to have fun,” Johnson said.
tmp1464224109911.jpgtdunhamusatodayPlayers gather in front of the Allen family residence in Nixa for the national anthem prior to the start of the 2016 Allen Open golf tournament.From left, Hayden Harris watches as former Nixa High School football quarterback and basketball guard Dawson Mills hits his tee shot on hole No. 2 at the 2016 Allen Open.Nixa's Chase Allen hits a tee shot on the second hole of a nine-hole golf course he created in his backyard in order to host the Allen Open golf tournament.
The bright lights of Friday night will go on one more time for the high school football class of 2016.
The 15th annual Sertoma Grin Iron Classic showcases two teams of recently graduated high school all-stars in a clash of East versus West.
A total of 35 players from this year’s all-star rosters earned all-state status from the Missouri High School Football Coaches Association.
Carl Junction coach Doug Buckmaster will coach the West All-Stars, while the East All-Stars are led by Lebanon coach Will Christian.
The coaches had one week of practices to prepare their teams.
“It’s very unique, you get 45 people with a variety of different backgrounds, and you in essence get six days to put in what honestly takes a month or two,” Christian said. “You try to put that in to make the ballgame as crisp and sharp and fan-friendly as it can be.”
Christian anticipates a close game. It’s his third time to be involved with the Grin Iron Classic.
“We want this game to be exciting so that it raises a lot of money and is a good event for the Tooth Truck,” Christian said.
Tickets for Friday’s Grin Iron Classic are $6 and can be purchased at the gates at JFK Stadium. Proceeds benefit the Tooth Truck, a mobile dental clinic for at-risk children run by Ronald McDonald House. The all-star game kicks off at 7:30 p.m.
Last year’s Grin Iron Classic generated $15,000 for the Tooth Truck. The West won the game 27-0.
“The West has dominated this series,” Christian said. “With that being said, we talked to our kids about the fact that we’re playing the underdog role a little bit, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
The rules of the Grin Iron Classic are modified slightly from a regular season high school football game. Offensive formations must have at least one tight end and one running back. Defenses must have at least four down linemen. The formation restrictions are lifted if the ball is spotted inside a team’s 10-yard-line.
2016 Grin Iron Classic rosters
Drew Carney, P/K Osceola
Paul Porter, DB Ava
Chaviz Nguyen, WR/DB Parkview
Andrew Raider, WR Mountain View-Liberty
Seth Hedricks, WR/DB Waynesville
Bailey Rettman, FS Rogersville
Sam Hall, QB West Plains
Dylan Mountain, QB/DB Skyline
Conner Hicks, DB Lebanon
Hunter Yeargan, RB Willard
Derek McClain, RB Salem
Brandon Horsley, RB Lebanon
Beau Kaffka, WR/SS Thayer
Tucker Hargrove, OLB Thayer
Adrian Palmer, ILB Lebanon
Anthony Riley Jr., RB Parkview
Seth Holyfield, OLB Central
Nick Haddock, OLB Reeds Spring
Brady Dawson, OLB Willard
Braydon Pender, ILB Thayer
Colton Pomeroy, FB Reeds Spring
Andrew Cobb, HB West Plains
Samuel Morton, ILB Strafford
Johnny Lewis, ILB Osceola
Dausen Neuschwander, ILB West Plains
Nate Bray, ILB Ava
Cale Cornman, OLB, DE Mountain View-Liberty
Keegan Spurlin, OL Houston
Parker Pitts, OL Camdenton
Juwon White, DE Parkview
Isaac Archer, OL Lebanon
Deidryck Tichner, DL Glendale
Matt Baker, OL Branson
Austin Reed, OL Salem
Zach Tracy, OL Ozark
Nate Mallard, OL Fair Grove
Scott Wichmer, OL Springfield Catholic
Jett Sexton, OL West Plains
Madison Davis, WR Skyline
Chipper Berry, OLB Skyline
Gerard Dietrich, TE West Plains
Corbin White, TE Willard
Marek Thompson, DL Osceola
Head coach: Will Christian, Lebanon
Defensive coordinator: Steve Ary, West Plains
Offensive coordinator: Anthony Hays, Parkview
Special teams coach: Dan Swofford, Ava
Wide receivers coach: Nate Thomas, Marshfield
Offensive line coach: Brian Sommerer, Lebanon
Offensive line coach: Jeff Klein, Parkview
Linebackers coah: Mark Whitacre, Lebanon
Honorary coach: Mike Mauk, Glendale
Kaden Roy, LB Webb City
Johnny Scott, WR Bolivar
Ryan Devore, QB Carl Junction
Alex Derryberry, QB Carthage
Colby Cornett, QB Joplin
Dausen Gourley, DB Carthage
Mason Pack, DB Kickapoo
Skylar Cahill, WR Aurora
Zack Gaudette, WR Joplin
Aaron Samek, WR Bolivar
Masen Cook, DL Webb City
Devin Hames, RB Neosho
Jonah Paszek, WR Monett
Cameron Witt, DB Monett
Keaton Burroughs, RB Webb City
Tre Woodring, LB Kickapoo
Jackson Bagley, DB Ash Grove
Malachi Stout, RB Kickapoo
Alex Coffin, OLB Joplin
Jacob LaSalle, LB Marionville
Blake Jeffries, DB Jasper
Zach Davidson, TE/P Webb City
John Saunders, LB Monett
Waylon Davis, DL Marionville
Skyler Hale, OL Republic
Blake Butler, OL/LS Seneca
Zack Boley, OL Cassville
Garrett McGuire, OL Hillcrest
Luz Rangel, DL Diamond
Zac Bray, OL Kickapoo
Joey Dankelson, OL Carl Junction
Gerritt Montgomery, OL Aurora
Hunter Wilson, DL Bolivar
Lukas Werneke, TE Neosho
Phillip Reitz, DL Joplin
Natal Bay, DL Carl Junction
Head coach: Doug Buckmaster, Carl Junction
Assistant head coach: Craig Lynch, Carl Junction
Offensive coordinator: Brenden Gubera, Carl Junction
Defensive coordinator: Kevin Carey, Carl Junction
Special teams coach: Adam Merrell, Carl Junction
Running backs coach: Chris Jones, Carl Junction
Wide receivers coach: Jamie LaSalle, Marionville
Defensive backs coach: Monwell Magee, Carl Junction
Linebackers coach: Tobin Schultz, Joplin
tmp1464904749659.jpgtdunhamusatodayKickapoo senior Mason Pack is one of the Chiefs' four all-state honorees scheduled to play for the West All-Stars in the 2016 Grin Iron Classic Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Parkview's JFK Stadium.
Jackson Bagley wanted one more chance to let loose on the high school gridiron.
The Ash Grove senior got what he wanted and more in the 15th Annual Sertoma Grin Iron Classic. Bagley’s West All-Stars pulled off a 16-15 victory over the East Friday at JFK Stadium. Bagley took home defensive MVP honors with a forced fumble, three key pass defenses and some key tackles.
Bagley also kicked the game-winning 27-yard field goal late in the third quarter.
“I’ve always dreamed of coming here (to the Grin Iron Classic) ever since one of my former players at Ash Grove went, and now I get to experience it and I got an award, so it’s even better,” Bagley said.
The West had to make a stand at its own goal line in the closing seconds of the game. The East had the ball at the West 4-yard-line with 1:23 remaining in the fourth quarter with four downs and a timeout, set up by a 22-yard catch and run from West Plains quarterback Sam Hall to Parkview’s Chavez Nguyen.
The West defense stuffed four consecutive rushing attempts up the middle as William Penn signee Bagley looked on from the cornerback position.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get any action on that last play, but I had faith in the team,” Bagley said.
Kickapoo running back Malachi Stout took home offensive MVP honors for the West. The Arkansas State signee rushed seven times for 77 yards and a touchdown.
“A win is a win, I’m just relieved,” Stout said. “All the credit goes to our defense on that win.”
Stout scored his touchdown on a 50-yard run.
“I’d only touched the ball twice previously before that play, and each time I know if I can get to the edge I can get loose,” Stout said.
Stout credited his offensive linemen for creating the daylight he needed to make one cut and sprint down the right sideline for the touchdown.
The West now holds a 13-2 all-time record in the Grin Iron Classic.
Lebanon defensive back Connor Hicks had three interceptions and was named MVP for the East.
“This was an awesome experience, definitely, playing against the West side. They had great guys, we had great guys—one of the most fun games I’ve ever played in,” Hicks said.
Beau Kaffka of Thayer was the East’s offensive MVP with two receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown.
A total of 35 players from this year’s all-star rosters earned all-state status from the Missouri High School Football Coaches Association.
The rules of the Grin Iron Classic are modified slightly from a regular season high school football game. Offensive formations must have at least one tight end and one running back. Defenses must have at least four down linemen. The formation restrictions are lifted if the ball is spotted inside a team’s 10-yard-line.
The Grin Irion Classic is part of Sertoma All-Star Weekend, which benefits a Springfield Ronald McDonald House Charities mobile dental clinic called the Tooth Truck.
Five all-star volleyball teams representing Springfield and the North, South, East and West regions of the metro area compete in the Grin Action Classic, a round-robin volleyball tournament set to take place Saturday at Parkview High School beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Last year’s Sertoma All-Star Weekend generated $60,000 for the Tooth Truck.
tmp1465013479363.jpgtdunhamusatodayWest All-Stars quarterback Alex Derryberry (9) tries to get away from East All-Stars defender Colton Pomeroy (44) during first quarter action of the Sertoma Grin Iron Classic football game held at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on June 3, 2016.East All-Stars running back Anthony Riley (33) leaps over a defender to score a touchdown during first quarter action of the Sertoma Grin Iron Classic football game held at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on June 3, 2016.East All-Stars defensive back Conner Hicks (19) grabs his second interception of the night during second quarter action of the Sertoma Grin Iron Classic football game held at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on June 3, 2016.
We’re just days away from Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow touching down in Springfield for a special salute to high school athletes.
The former Florida quarterback will appear June 9 at the News-Leader’s SW Missouri Sports Awards presented by Hy-Vee, American National Property and Casualty Company and Chevy Dealers of the Ozarks. The awards show celebrates the top performers of the thousands of athletes from 13 different southwest Missouri counties who competed this past season in 19 different sports.
In total, the News-Leader will hand out 24 individual awards. The event will take place at the Springfield Expo Center at 635 E. St. Louis St.
At Florida, Tebow played for two BCS National Championship winning teams in 2006 and 2008, and became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, which recognizes the top college football player in the nation, in 2007.
In 55 college games, Tebow passed for 9,286 yards and 88 touchdowns, and rushed for 2,947 yards and 57 touchdowns.
As a professional, he was a first-round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2010 and helped lead the Broncos to their first playoff win in five seasons in 2011. He made his ESPN analyst debut in early 2014 and currently makes regular appearances on the SEC Network.
Selected high school athletes are invited to attend the event at no cost thanks to the SW Missouri Sports Awards three title sponsors, including American National Property and Casualty Company and Chevy Dealers of the Ozarks.
“We are pleased to have this opportunity to recognize the outstanding young men and women in our area,” Chevy Dealers of the Ozarks President Ed Pinegar said “Chevy Dealers of the Ozarks spans a wide area of not only Springfield, but many other communities, we are honored to sponsor SW Missouri Sports Awards in order to assist in showing the accomplishments of these young men and women.”
Chevy Dealers of the Ozarks and American National both sponsored the inaugural SW Missouri Sports Awards, which featured keynote speaker Joe Montana, in 2015.
“American National is proud to again be part of this great event,” said Scott Campbell, executive vice president. “We support our local prep athletes, coaches and families and look forward to celebrating their dedication and success.”
Want to go?
What: 2016 News-Leader SW Missouri Sports Awards
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, June 9
Where: Springfield Expo Center
Tickets: Available to the general public for $50 at http://www.news-leader.com/sportsawards
tmp1465077066309.jpgtdunhamusatodayHeisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow will be the keynote speaker at the 2016 SW Missouri Sports Awards presented by the Springfield News-Leader Thursday, June 9, at the Springfield Expo Center.
Hunter Yeargan of Willard and Brooke Stanfield of Republic were honored Thursday as the Athlete of the Year Award winners at the second ever News-Leader SW Missouri Sports Awards banquet at the Springfield Expo Center.
Of the hundreds of high school students from southwest Missouri who compete in varsity athletics, Stanfield and Yeargan were honored for achievements in multiple sports across their esteemed careers.
Stanfield led Republic to district championships in both volleyball and basketball her senior year. The Tigers basketball team went 25-2 and held the No. 1 ranking in the Class 5 state coaches poll for much of the season. The two-time co-MVP of the Central Ozarks Conference led Republic with 15.5 points per game.
She said the best part of Republic’s basketball run was playing alongside some of her closest friends that she has had since elementary school.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to share it with anybody else,” Stanfield said. “When your teammates are your best friends, it means so much more because you’re not only playing for yourself, you’re playing for all of them.”
She holds Republic High School records in the 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash and high jump. She attained all-state status in high jump with a sixth-place finish at the state meet in 2015. An injured hamstring prevented her from competing for a state championship this spring.
Tori Mooneyham coached Stanfield in track and field and in basketball for her entire high school career.
“I think is one of the best athletes to ever come through Republic. She has God-given athleticism, pure natural ability, but she also has the work ethic and she’s made a name for herself,” Mooneyham said. “She’s one of the best track athletes in the area, and not to see her get to finish is pretty devastating.”
Stanfield signed with Drury University to play basketball and compete in track and field. She feels ready to take on the challenge of playing two college sports.
“It’s comforting to know that I can rely on the lessons I’ve learned, the skills that all my coaches have put effort into developing in me and being able to use those,” Stanfield said.
Yeargan won 53 consecutive wrestling matches at 195 pounds. His one loss of a spectacular senior season came in the championship final of the Class 3 state championship tournament.
“Anything can happen at state, as it did. Obviously, it’s not how I wanted to finish my senior year, but I’ve definitely learned for it and it’s kept a chip on my shoulder, which I think I need going into college,” Yeargan said. “You can’t get knocked down and not get back up.”
Yeargan signed to wrestle at the University of Ohio with a record of 189-11 as a high school grappler. He will drop from playing three sports to one.
“I think for the next four years, five years, that I’m ready to concentrate on one sport and give it my all,” Yeargan said.
College football coaches were also interested in Yeargan’s services at running back, but wrestling ultimately won out. Yeargan ran for second-team all-state status and surpassed well more than 3,000 rushing yards in his career.
“Hunter is a very determined individual, not only in the classroom but on the mat or on the football field,” Willard wrestling coach Justin Wisdom said. “Now he wants to be good (at wrestling) and he wants to be the best.”
Yeargan specialized in sprints on the Tigers track and field team. He placed second in the Central Ozarks Conference in the 100-meter dash.
SW Missouri Sports Awards winners
Female Athlete of the Year Award: Brooke Stanfield, Republic
Male Athlete of the Year Award: Hunter Yeargan, Willard
Team of the Year Award: Hartville Eagles boys basketball
Coach of the Year Award: Jeremy Mullins, Crane
Courage Award: David Odun-Ayo, Glendale
Boys golf: Christopher Obert, Glendale
Nominations: Christopher Obert, Glendale; Sam Holmes, Glendale; Tommy Montileone, Greenwood; Nate Bailey, Springfield Catholic; Jake Walz, Springfield Catholic; Logan Smith, Kickapoo; Josh Fronabarger, Aurora; Taylor Haltom, Ava; Seth Kovak, Nixa; Lucas Turnbull, Nixa
Girls golf: Ari Acuff, Kickapoo and Lyndsey Standage, Rogersville
Nominations: Ari Acuff, Kickapoo; Lyndsey Standage, Rogersville; Meredith Sharp, Greenwood; Beth McDonald, Nixa; Olivia Ramsey, Nixa; Katie Hamilton, Republic; Hannah Aherin, Ozark; Addie Stewart, Bolivar; Maristela Mantala, Rogersville; Amber Wilson, Camdenton
Girls tennis: Anna Rader, Springfield Catholic
Nominations: Anna Rader, Catholic; Emily Kroutil, Catholic; Meghan Zengel, Kickapoo; Coral Tracy, Kickapoo; Rachel Dwyer, Glendale; Brooke Smith, Glendale; Momoka Kikuchi, Bolivar; Erica Reynolds, Bolivar; Macy Hall, Bolivar; Whitney Wiehe, Mt. Vernon; Abby Rinker, Mt. Vernon; Hannah Nelson, Nixa; Maran Altwooll, Nixa; Hannah Todd, Nixa
Boys tennis nominations: Reid Jarvis, Glendale; Hayden Fulk, Glendale; Spencer Weller, Glendale; Michael Nacy, Republic; Jason Nayar, Springfield Catholic; Garrett Howard, Kickapoo; Ethan Chanliongco, Springfield Catholic; Gavin Litherland, Greenwood; Garrett Bacon, Nixa; William Roberts, Bolivar
Softball: Rachel Rook, Republic
Nominations: Rachel Rook, Republic; AnnaMarie McGlone, Bolivar; Ellie Lane, Pleasant Hope; Haley Bledsoe, Rogersville; Lauren Chambers, Ozark; Courtney Ince, Rogersville; Hannah Carvel, Ozark; Jenna Ogletree, Norwood; Tabitha Francka, Morrisville; Audra Metz, Rogersville; Ashlee Parker, Kickapoo; Miranda Lightfoot, Fair Play; Hailey Brown, Rogersville; Hannah Erickson, Reeds Spring
Volleyball: Kendra Sater and Paige Perry, both of Ozark
Nominations: Kendra Sater, Ozark; Paige Perry, Ozark; Emma Brand, Glendale; Kelsey Larsen, Glendale; Jane Kickham, Kickapoo; Chloe Rear, Strafford; Kaylee Larimer, Strafford; Logan Eden, Strafford; Rilie Vote, Strafford; Emma Lander, Crane; Haley Stalling, Fair Grove; Jordan Stacey, Fair Grove; Aubrey Cheffey, Nixa; Kate Bushnell, Willard; Makenzie Bouse, Willard; Laynie Dake, Mt. Vernon
Football: Mason Husmann, Aurora
First team nominations: Jacob LaSalle, Marionville; Anthony Riley, Parkview; Malachi Stout, Kickapoo; Ben Friend, Lighthouse Christian; Luke Montgomery, Glendale; Johnny Scott, Bolivar; Tanner Wright, Marionville; Chase Allen, Nixa; Skyler Hale, Republic; Martin Eidson, Willard; Garrett McGuire, Hillcrest; Hunter Wilson, Bolivar; Jess Emerson, Kickapoo; Mason Husmann, Aurora; Shaun Baker, Reeds Spring; Adam Hale, Reeds Spring; Mason Stipp, Nixa; Samuel Morton, Strafford; Tre Woodring, Kickapoo; Colton Pomeroy, Reeds Spring; Chipper Berry, Skyline; Logan Tyler, Nixa; Mason Pack, Kickapoo; Jacob Eden, Strafford; Dylan Mountain, Skyline; Joshua Scheiderer, Kickapoo
Second team nominations: Nick Haddock, Reeds Spring; Alex Huston, Glendale; Jerney Jones, Republic; Hunter Yeargan, Willard; Garrett King, Central; Skyler Cahill, Aurora; Jarrett Massie, Mt. Vernon; Brandon Emmert, Bolivar; Scott Wichmer, Springfield Catholic; Waylon Davis, Marionville; Zach Bray, Kickapoo; Austin Heatherly, Nixa; Jake Luellen, Glendale; Corbin White, Willard; Chance Davis, West Plains; Clay Loveall, Parkview; Tanner Schnelle, Aurora; Adrian Palmer, Lebanon; C.J. Oliver, Central; Seth Holyfield, Central; Cameron Witt, Monett; Conner Hicks, Lebanon; Travis Vokolek, Kickapoo; C.J. Loveall, Parkview; Tyrone Walker, Central; Anthony Guynn, Fair Grove
Boys cross country: Stephen Kielhofner, Catholic
Nominations: Stephen Kielhofner, Catholic; Austin Rieth, Catholic; Lachlan Moore, Catholic; Nathan Hall, Kickapoo; Matthew McHenry, Rogersville; Dustin Shoemaker, Humansville; Keaton Wheeler, Morrisville; Easton Sabala, Hermitage; Bailey Jones, Hermitage; Logan Bohannon, Ozark; Dalton Edwards, Glendale; Caleb Stillings, Ava; Nathan Painter, Bolivar; Shane Burns, Strafford
Girls cross country: Claire Workman, Summit Prep
Nominations: Claire Workman, Summit Prep; Katie McCune, Summit Prep; Claire McCune, Summit Prep; Adeline Holder, Branson; Tabitha Weber, Marshfield; Bailey Ray, Ava; Allison Porter, Bolivar; Laci Lindsay, Bolivar; Stephanie Penticuf, Glendale; Shelby Jackson, Buffalo; Memphis Coble, Humansville
Boys soccer: Joey Clem, Nixa
Nominations: Joey Clem, Nixa; Tustin Baker, Nixa; Parker Crawford, Nixa; Jakob Price, Nixa; Bobby Spence, Glendale; Nick Moore, Glendale; Sean Perryman, Glendale; Nicholas Lantz, Glendale; Jason Puente, Monett; Josh Ellerbee, Kickapoo; Sam Hockett, Kickapoo; Brody Johnson, Parkview; Manny Torres, Central; Jesse Salvato, Central; Jason Salvato, Central; Ben Rash, Catholic; Ethan Schroeder, Catholic; Anthony Gomez, Catholic; Kyle Cavanaugh, Fair Grove; Mason Kesterson, Fair Grove; Jack Gold, Rogersville; Matt Rowe, Greenwood
Girls soccer: Daley Townsend, Nixa
Nominations: Ari Acuff, Kickapoo; Hannah Sweany, Kickapoo; Rachel Williams, Kickapoo; Stacy Goodale, Kickapoo; Jadyn Easley, Ozark; Mikayla Putt, Ozark; Alex Johnson, Nixa; Daley Townsend, Nixa; Brooke Lannutti, Nixa; Brionna Halverson, Bolivar; Emilie Armstrong, Fair Grove; Brinn Cooper, Springfield Catholic; Kristin Knetzer, Glendale; Lexi Wapelhorst, Lebanon; Bayley Flavin, Greenwood; Emma Skornia, Springfield Catholic
Boys swimming: Samuel Senn, Kickapoo
Nominations: Samuel Senn, Kickapoo; Henry Feyh, Glendale; Frederick Weiss, Glendale; Ross Ducan, Glendale; Gabriel Ting, Central; Daniel Brinck, Nixa; Marcus Latz, Ozark
Girls swimming: Macie Beairsto, Glendale
Nominations: Macie Beairsto, Glendale; Molly Moore, Summit Prep; Krystal Caylor, Kickapoo; Kaylee Sisson, Glendale; Maddie Duncan, Glendale; Cali Hackworth, Glendale; Katie McCune, Summit Prep; Claire McCune, Summit Prep; Claire Workman, Summit Prep; Olivia Stoneman, Nixa; Kayla Herron, Kickapoo
Diving nominations: Krista Shimizu, Summit Prep; Victoria Carder, Hillcrest; Megana Swords, Central; Josie Stephens, Glendale
Wrestling: Niko Chavez, Willard
Nominations: Niko Chavez, Willard; Hunter Yeargan, Willard; Broden LeMaster, Reeds Spring; Alex Garrett, Willard; Daniel Meier, Camdenton; Kyle Caldwell, Willard; Christian Smart, Willard; Zach Dickens, Republic; Shayne Piles, Republic; Josh Keys, Camdenton; Ethan Smith, Buffalo; Joel Barrientos, Monett; Luke Moffett, Bolivar; Onis Howard, Monett; Floyd Miller, Buffalo; Ian Meyer, Monett; Cody Curnutt, Ozark; Marquise Jacoby-Davis, Kickapoo; Deidryck Tichner, Glendale; Adrian Palmer, Lebanon; Brock Carter, Rogersville; Jacob Ulrich, Branson; Matt Kahnert, Reeds Spring
Boys basketball: Jared Ridder, Kickapoo
Nominations: Isaac Johnson, Kickapoo; Chase Allen, Nixa; Kyle Cavanaugh, Fair Grove; Dallas Meinders, Walnut Grove; Brandon Emmert, Bolivar; Bryce Krueger, Bolivar; Jared Ridder, Kickapoo; Julius Walker, Greenwood; Ryan Ward, Hartville; Monty Johal, Glendale; Garrett Kesterson, Fair Grove; Tristan Oller, Republic; Jordan Walton, Glendale; Grant Dedmon, Hartville; Logan Thomazin, Walnut Grove; Kyland Hewett-Newbill, Ozark; Cameron Davis, Kickapoo
Girls basketball: Lexie Vaught, Crane
Nominations: Laura Vierkant, Kickapoo; Lexie Vaught, Crane; Kaycee Gerald, Hillcrest; Brooke Stanfield, Republic; Hayley Frank, Strafford; Abby Oliver, Strafford; Jordan Sanders, Kickapoo; Jordan Kabetske, Republic; Bayley Harman, Walnut Grove; Kaylee DaMitz, Skyline; Kylee Moore, Crane; Kaylie Rothdiener, Bolivar; Taylor Faulkner, Buffalo; Bailey Weaver, Fair Grove; Raylie Hejna, Walnut Grove; Emily Parker, Aurora; Amanda Kearney, Branson
Baseball: Kaleb Schmidt, Kickapoo
Nominations: Kaleb Schmidt, Kickapoo; Hayden Jeffryes, Walnut Grove; Kyle Smith, Willard; Connor Sechler, Bolivar; Mason Dickemann, Springfield Catholic; Tanner Wallace, Ozark; Parker Dent, Nixa; Matt Searson, New Covenant Academy; Cameron Witt, Monett; Thomas Barrett, Hillcrest; Isaac Carlson, Hurley; Westin Gann, Kickapoo; Jordan Fitzpatrick, Rogersville; Layn Hurst, Forsyth; J.D. Murders, Bolivar; Joel Ogletree, Norwood; Logan Thomazin, Walnut Grove; Owen Gann, Glendale; Cody Malan, New Covenant Academy; Riley Herron, Kickapoo; Justice Jones, Hurley; Jacob Zahn, Rogersville; Tanner Ryan, Hillcrest; Brant Schaffitzel, Hillcrest
Boys track and field: Gunnar Allison, Rogersville
Nominations: Nathan Hall, Kickapoo; Savion Hill, Hillcrest; Gunnar Allison, Rogersville; Cody Franklin, Hollister; Marcus Walton, Parkview; Dylan Mountain, Skyline; Maverick McGee, Kickapoo; Dave Hundley, Parkview; Joseph Nickell, Nixa; Jerney Jones, Republic; Phillip Canfield, Republic; Korey Robinette, Reeds Spring; Ransom Allphin, Reeds Spring; Anthony Perryman, Ozark; Stephen Kielhofner, Springfield Catholic; Austin Rieth, Springfield Catholic; Shane Burns, Strafford; Erik Savage, Hillcrest
Girls track and field: Jaslyn Williams, Central
Nominations: Jaslyn Williams, Central; Allison Bailey, Kickapoo; Claire Workman, New Covenant/Summit Prep; Addie Jones, Mt. Vernon; Elleigh Spragg, Rogersville; Tabitha Weber, Marshfield; Jesse Farrales, Nixa; Brooke Stanfield, Republic; Shelby Jackson, Buffalo; Brocklyn Barber, Ozark; Alexis Barber, Ozark; Kennedy Aurentz, Kickapoo; Stephanie Penticuff, Glendale; Sydnee Cashio, Ash Grove; Kelsey Winfrey, Lebanon
tmp1465568433135.jpgtdunhamusatodayHunter Yeargan was named the male athlete of the year during the 2016 Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016.Brooke Stanfield was named the female athlete of the year during the 2016 Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016.News-Leader prep sports reporter Rance Burger interviews Tim Tebow during the 2016 Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016.Brooke Stanfield was named the female athlete of the year during the 2016 Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016. Presenting her with the award is News-Leader President Allen Jones.Willard wrestler Hunter Yeargan was named the male athlete of the year during the 2016 Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016. Presenting him with the award is News-Leader President Allen Jones.
He may not currently be on an NFL roster, but it’s clear Tim Tebow’s presence and message continues to resonate among young athletes.
Tebow had a crowd of more than 1,000 enthralled on Thursday night at the Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center.
He talked about making decisions about which school to play for as a home-schooled student in Florida, going through the recruiting process, playing at the University of Florida and then in the NFL.
Just as important were lessons and advice for young players who will never play professional sports or even be on a college scholarship.
Such speaking engagements, plus plenty of philanthropy work through his Tim Tebow Foundation, take up much of his time these days, and it’s where he enjoys making a difference in the lives of young people.
“I love having a chance to have a platform and share, especially when you feel like you’ve got something to offer,” Tebow said before the night’s festivities began. “Especially for young athletes, because you know what they are about to go through.”
At age 28, it hasn’t been that long ago since Tebow was being recruited and in the position of many of the standout athletes in attendance on Thursday night.
One of his stories during a Q&A with News-Leader high school sports coordinator Rance Burger was about how difficult it was to choose between Alabama and Florida when he was a senior in high school.
He talked about wanting everybody around him to make the decision for him, until he picked the Gators in the final hour or so before an ESPN-televised gathering at his school.
“I like to talk about what’s really important, and how you have to focus, and be passionate about what you’re doing, and finding good people around you,” Tebow said. “That will be more of a message to the kids.
“It’s something that’s easy and tangible, and they can really go through it and process it, and hopefully be able to accomplish it.”
The biggest awards of the night were taken home by Republic’s Brooke Stanfield (Female Athlete of the Year), Willard’s Hunter Yeargan (Male Athlete of the Year), Crane’s Jeremy Mullins (Coach of the Year) and Glendale’s David Odun-Ayo (Courage Award).
Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) June 10, 2016
Team of the Year honors went to the Hartville boys basketball team.
“It is a huge honor,” Stanfield said. “I don’t know if I was more nervous about the speech I had to give, or by meeting (Tim Tebow). It was a great experience, really neat.”
Both Stanfield and Yeargan said they were still in a little bit of shock after winning the award and being honored in such a big way at the end of their senior years.
“I’m still not really sure what I think,” Yeargan said. “This and meeting Tim, it’s hitting me all at once.”
The scene of the night may have been backstage during the individual awards, when Odun-Ayo came down the stairs off the stage, only to see Tebow waiting to congratulate him.
Odun-Ayo couldn’t believe he was getting to meet Tebow and was overcome by emotion as he was getting his photo taken.
That’s what the Southwest Missouri Sports Awards is all about, said News-Leader President Allen Jones.
“Our goal is to leave the young folks inspired, pursuing their goals for the future and recognizing the success that they’ve had and encouraging them to fulfill their dreams and achieve their dreams,” Jones said.
And it played right into the decision of headline speaker.
“I don’t think we could have asked for a better speaker, to fulfill what we want as a community,” Jones said, “which is better, stronger, and also one that has resolve and perseverance, and there’s nobody better to deliver that message than Tim Tebow.”
tmp1465529496089.jpgtdunhamusatodayNews-Leader prep sports reporter Rance Burger interviews Tim Tebow during the 2016 Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016.Elizabeth Swords, left, signs up for a chance to win an autographed Tim Tebow football before the start of the 2016 Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016.Jeff Houghton, host of the "Mystery Hour" speaks during the 2016 Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016.Tim Tebow speaks during the 2016 Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016.Guests arrive on the red carpet for the 2016 Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016.News-Leader prep sports reporter Rance Burger interviews Tim Tebow during the 2016 Southwest Missouri Sports Awards at the Springfield Expo Center on Thursday, June 9, 2016.
We embraced being crazy on Twitter Thursday night when the News-Leader presented the 2016 SW Missouri Sports Awards, an event created to honor and uphold the best and finest in our area’s high school sports.
Keynote speaker and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow received a standing ovation, but the largest and most heartfelt ovation of the evening arguably belonged to Courage Award winner David Odun-Ayo, a multi-sport athlete from Glendale who competed in a multitude of sports in spite of a limb difference in his right leg.
We at the News-Leader gathered some of the top athletes in the Ozarks under one roof at the Springfield Expo Center to share a celebration of achievement and accomplishment. We also asked for the more than a thousand in attendance to share their experience on Twitter with the hashtag #NLsportsawards.
Here are some of the News-Leader staff’s favorite responses to our request:
No one was more gracious in victory than Glendale’s David Odun-Ayo. He won the Courage Award for competing and thriving in multiple sports despite the fact that he wears a prosthetic device to compensate for a limb difference on his right leg caused by a birth defect. His joy was contagious from the moment he walked on stage to the moment he left the building.
He was so overcome he went so far as to partially break up a hug with Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow to turn to those around him and say, “Oh my gosh, that’s Tim Tebow,” with Tebow himself still hugging and laughing all along.
A$APH Dave (@PlantainFuFu) June 10, 2016
Sticking with our theme of David Odun-Ayo, even in a dark photo taken backstage at an awards show, you can see how happy he was to be there. It was one of the instances in life when a photograph or even video wouldn’t do to capture the true happiness of the moment.
News-Leader (@springfieldNL) June 10, 2016
Alright, one more tweet related to Tim Tebow and Glendale’s David Odun-Ayo, but this one is the best. Tim Tebow himself watched the video of David that the News-Leader team put together. Tebow purposefully was the first person to meet David offstage after David accepted his award. David Odun-Ayo made an impression on Tim Tebow.
Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) June 10, 2016
State champion point guard Abby Oliver from Strafford managed to capture the closing seconds of Tim Tebow’s advice to high school athletes on video. Abby has one more season left to play at Strafford, and she is sure to impress.
Abby Oliver (@abbyoliver03) June 10, 2016
Bolivar soccer standout Brionna Halverson was bold enough to ask the question we all wanted to ask. How can any of us be as obviously jacked up as Tim Tebow?
Brionna Halverson (@brissc18) June 10, 2016
Springfield News-Leader Sports Editor Allen Vaughan captured some candid photos of a couple of our guest hosts. Most MSU Lady Bears fans know her as Casey Garrison, but she goes by Casey Powell now, and she can still play basketball with the best of them. Along those basketball lines, it was great to see high-flying Will Fontleroy join with us to help put on a show to honor the best in high school sports.
Allen Vaughan (@AllenVaughanNL) June 10, 2016
John Cavanaugh was probably going for a cool shot of an ice sculpture when he shot this photo. Why not? Ice sculptures are awesome, and it’s always awe-inspiring to see ice art in person. John also gave us a bit of a behind the scenes look into how the SW Missouri Sports Awards show comes together, and that’s equally cool.
John Cavanaugh (@jaccavanaugh) June 10, 2016
Confession time. We gave Ozark High School volleyball player Paige Perry the wrong plaque when she won the Volleyball Player of the Year Award. We made it right and got her the right plaque and a 100 percent correct photo with Tim Tebow.
Judging by this short video, the Missouri State volleyball signee still had an awesome time.
Paige (@paigeperry21) June 10, 2016
It’s tough to sum up half an hour of discussion in 140 characters, but Matt Battaglia sure did a great job with this quote he took away from Tim Tebow:
"We can't control everything in our lives, but 3 things we can control: our attitude, our effort, and our focus." Tim Tebow #NLsportsawards—
Matt Battaglia (@matbat77) June 10, 2016
This tweet from Carly Shull won an official NFL football signed by Tim Tebow. That’s two members of the Team of the Year Award-winning Hartville Eagles showing off their gargantuan Class 2 basketball state championship rings.
Tebow provides inspirational message at Southwest Missouri Sports Awards
Carly Shull (@Carlyshull) June 10, 2016
High school Athlete of the Year award winners named
tmp1465591388088.jpgtdunhamusatodayHeisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow (right) served as the keynote speaker at the 2016 SW Missouri Sports Awards, presented by the Springfield News-Leader.
Central needs an architect, a motivator and a builder to boost its football program, and hopes it found all three in one man.
Thirty players showed up for the Bulldogs’ first organized football workout at Harrison Stadium. New head coach Sean Nevills stepped on the field with a mission to meet the players and start building relationships right away.
“It is the community and we’re all in this together,” Nevills said. “This is a program, not just a football team.”
Nevills previously served as a student assistant on coach Terry Allen’s staff at Missouri State. He graduated in 2010 and pursued a master’s degree in sports management, which he completed in 2013. Nevills said the football coaching job opening at Central was a chance for a fresh start in a familiar place.
“It was a great opportunity to be back in the area. We spent a lot of time here. Me and my wife went to school here, finished our degrees here, got married here, our kids were born here,” Nevills said. “This is our home.”
The Bulldogs went 5-4 in the 2015 regular season and lost to Glendale in the first round of the Class 5 district playoffs to finish 5-5. It marked the first time since a 2002 campaign of 8-2 that Central had a winning record in the regular season.
“It’s a high-achieving academic school. We want our athletics to come up with that. We want character athletes that want to be a part of this, not just football,” Nevills said. “You only get four years here. Your adult life takes you from 18 years until you leave this earth, so we’re setting you up for that point in life.”
Offensive coordinator Danny Sweet and defensive coordinator Danny Marshall return to the program for the 2016 season.
Experience in building a program
Nevills last spent three years as an assistant on coach Justin Conyers’ staff at Battle High School in Columbia from 2013 to the spring of 2016. He was initially hired to be a physical education teacher, but talked his way onto the Battle staff.
“It was a new school, so it was all kind of a big, fresh start,” Nevills said. “I just called (Conyers) and I was like, ‘hey, I’ve got to do some football. It’s my passion, I can’t do without it.’”
Battle went 11-3 in 2015 and reached the Class 5 playoff semifinals. Nevills coached special teams and running backs for the Spartans.
“In those positions, you definitely want to have high energy guys,” Conyers said. “At the high school level, you’ve got to get those guys to buy in, and Sean did that.”
Conyers liked Nevills’ energy level from the start, but also liked the organizational skills that Nevills picked up as a student assistant coach at Missouri State.
“The good thing about Sean is he’s a very organized guy,” Conyers said. “For me it was great because he was a guy I leaned on on Friday night to make sure our video equipment was ready to go, to make sure our headsets were ready to go. Sean took a lot off my plate.”
Battle won a Class 5 football state championship in 2014 with an 11-4 record in just its second year of existence. Conyers believes Nevills’ experience helping to build the program at Battle will serve him well in his new undertaking at Central.
“We didn’t know any of the kids. We didn’t know anybody, We didn’t know what we were getting,” Conyers said. “It didn’t happen overnight for us. Yeah, we had some success pretty early, but it was rough that first year.”
Shifting to Springfield
Nevills also hopes to use the culture-building lessons from Columbia to build a similar on-field product at Central.
“It’s a program that hasn’t really had much success, not a lot of tradition, so it’s a way to build,” Nevills said.
Winning likely won’t start instantly, but Central’s new coach has a long term vision for how he would like his players, and everyone else involved at Central, to think about the team.
“Obviously, we want to win, I wouldn’t be here if winning wasn’t part of what I do, but we’re going to keep a positive attitude,” Nevills said. “One thing Justin Conyers over at Battle preached was family. That’s something that just doesn’t speak to the players, but it speaks to the families of those players, it speaks to the students in the school, it speaks to the families in the community.”
Former Central coach Lorenzo Williams tended his letter of resignation from Springfield Public Schools to pursue a coaching opportunity in his home state. He has been hired to coach at Westmoore High School in Oklahoma City. In Oklahoma’s seven classes of 11-man football, Westmoore is among the largest in Class 6A Division I with a student population of more than 2,100.
tmp1465861627694.jpgtdunhamusatodaySpringfield Public Schools hired former Battle High School and Missouri State University assistant coach Sean Nevills to lead the Central High School football program in 2016.
Former Kickapoo football coach Joel Wells knew leaving for Arkansas would be difficult.
The 2015 Chiefs proved the veteran coach correct with a historic 12-1 season and a trip to the Class 6 playoff semifinals.
“No question. I knew they were going to be really good and really knew they were going to go 10-0 in the regular season. They were able to advance a couple of rounds against some really good teams in the playoffs,” Wells said.
Wells visited Springfield Thursday with his new team, the Goblins of Harrison, Arkansas. The Goblins took part in the Sixth Annual Parkview 7-on-7 Tournament. Harrison went 6-1 on the day and reached the semifinals.
Branson won the tournament.
In four seasons under Wells, Kickapoo went 30-14. The Chiefs most recently went 7-4 in their first season in Class 6 football.
Wells became a member of the Missouri Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in December 2014. His career record of 166-98 spans 25 seasons.
Prior to coaching Kickapoo, Wells coached at Liberty and at Nixa, where his teams won the Central Ozark Conference Large Division four times. The Eagles were 57-18 under Wells from 2001 to 2007.
Wells had a chance to catch up with some old friends, including his former defensive coordinator Richard Rehagen, now the head coach at Nixa. Wells also caught up with Kickapoo coach Kurt Thompson, a personal friend now in his second stint with the Chiefs.
Wells and the Goblins went 4-6 in 2015.
“I think we have a really good attitude and work ethic, and I think it’s starting to pay off for us,” Wells said.
Wells said there wasn’t much difference between coaching in Missouri Class 6 and Arkansas Class 5A.
“It’s football, it’s not any different. They are still high school kids, there’s still distractions and all those things. It’s dealing with high school football players,” Wells said.
As for Kickapoo, Wells has faith in a rising senior class who were sophomores when he coached the Chiefs.
“They’re going to be good again next year,” Wells said of Kickapoo.
Wells also kept track of his high school alma mater’s trip to the football semifinals. The Aurora Houn’ Dawgs reached the Class 3 football semifinals in 2015. Wells is an Aurora native who played quarterback for the Houn’ Dawgs until his graduation in 1982.
tmp1466417716353.jpgtdunhamusatodayHarrison High School head coach Joel Wells watches his team play against Monett High School during the 2016 Parkview 7 on 7 Tournament held at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on June 16, 2016.Harrison High School head coach Joel Wells watches his team play against Monett High School during the 2016 Parkview 7 on 7 Tournament held at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on June 16, 2016.
School district officials in Hollister aren’t saying much about how they are handling the case of a teacher and coach charged with statutory rape.
Calvin Lee Thomas Jr., 34, was charged with two counts of second-degree statutory rape.
Hollister Police Chief Preston Schmidt launched an investigation June 24 when allegations surfaced that Thomas had sexual contact with a 16-year-old female student multiple times.
“Because it’s a personnel issue, and also because it’s still being investigated by the police department, the school is not in a position to put out anything more than we already have,” Hollister school spokeswoman Debbie Redford said.
Thomas was Hollister’s head track and field coach and offensive coordinator for the football team. He also taught students with special needs.
According to a statement of probable cause written by Hollister police, a 16-year-old girl’s mother contacted police June 24 and obtained a cellphone that the girl had allegedly used to communicate with Thomas.
“The text messages spoke of meeting up and taking a shower together,” the probable cause statement reads. The messages are time-stamped June 23.
According to police, Hollister school officials met with Thomas at 7:30 a.m. Monday. The superintendent told police that Thomas “admitted during the meeting to hugging, kissing and inappropriately touching” the girl.
The girl was taken to the Child Advocacy Center in Springfield for an interview. According to the police report, the girl “stated during the interview that the reason she was there was because she had sex with her coach,” and that the coach was Thomas. The probable cause statement said Thomas twice picked up the girl in Branson and drove her to Hollister to have sex at his residence.
Redford said school employees would not likely issue any further statements beyond what Superintendent Brian Wilson issued Wednesday.
“The district immediately placed the staff member on a leave of absence and barred him from being on school premises and from having contact with students. We are currently working with local law enforcement officials in investigating this matter,” Wilson said in a news release.
The Hollister school district hired Thomas four years ago.
“All prospective employees have criminal and child abuse background checks. All references and prior employers are carefully checked. In spite of these efforts, there are rare occurrences where staff members violate the trust placed in them by the community,” Wilson said.
Thomas played NCAA Division I football at University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, where he was a running back. He also competed in track and field for the Golden Lions. Thomas graduated from UAPB in 2004.
According to the police documents, the girl stated during her interview that she did not want Thomas to go to jail. Thomas allegedly told her, “If you tell, I will go to jail and things will get worse at your house.”
Detectives searched Thomas’ home and seized a set of sheets, a comforter, two laptop computers, two tablets and a cellphone.
Police did not interview Thomas when he was placed on a 24-hour hold at the Taney County Jail because he requested to have his attorney present prior to being questioned.
Thomas was no longer listed as being at the jail on Thursday evening.
If convicted, Thomas faces up to seven years in prison on each felony charge.
tmp1467326346398.jpgtdunhamusatodayCalvin Lee Thomas Jr.
A new coach leads Bolivar on a quest to win a 14th consecutive football conference championship.
He’s not really new.
Defensive coordinator Glen Johnson received an offseason promotion to head coach of the Liberators shortly after Lance Roweton resigned to become principal at Halfway High School.
Johnson set out to lead a team driven by youth through the offseason.
“It’s been busy but good. We’re a young bunch, but we’re confident in the kids that we’ve got. The junior class is strong,” Johnson said. “Obviously, Coach Roweton is a great coach. It’s one of those things I’ve been in town four years and his coordinator, so it kind of helps (the players) to have that familiar face around.”
Bolivar lost wide receiver Johnny Scott to graduation and the football program at Northeastern State University. Leading rushers Case Jones and Aaron Samek also graduated, as did all-district defensive lineman Hunter Wilson.
However, the Liberators return three-year starters in senior tight end Brandon Emmert, junior defensive lineman Zach Howard, and senior quarterback Connor Sechler.
“Having a quarterback with experience is huge,” Johnson said. “It’s been nice having a little bit of veteran influence.”
Sechler exploited Emmert’s 6-foot-6 frame and leaping ability from basketball and track and field frequently as the Liberators participated in the Parkview 7-on-7 Tournament.
In the 13 seasons Roweton has coached the Liberators, they won 13 Central Ozarks Conference Small Division championships. Roweton’s coaching record at Bolivar stands at 116-32 over 13 years.
Johnson said Liberators fans shouldn’t expect many changes to the team’s offensive and defensive schemes.
“I think the identity of Bolivar has been a split-back team that can run the football, and the last few years we’ve had some different quarterbacks, Rafe Peavey and guys that can run and can throw, so you utilize those guys when you’ve got them,” Johnson said.
Peavey is now a redshirt sophomore quarterback at Arkansas.
When Roweton announced his pending resignation at the end of March, he discussed the Bolivar football program’s future with optimism.
“It’s set up for the next guy to come in and win a ton of games. It’s my wish that the next guy take the program to a higher level than we were already at,” Roweton said. ““Nothing would please me more than to see our program soar to new heights.”
Johnson said he was ready to balance upholding a winning tradition with keeping high school football fun for the players.
“I think the kids genuinely have fun playing football. I think more than anything, they just enjoy coming out and playing,” Johnson said. “The COC success—we want to continue that, but at the same time we’ve got bigger aspirations than COC.”
tmp1467327564028.jpgtdunhamusatodayBolivar High School wide receiver Brandon Emmert catches a pass over a defender as the Liberators play Mt. Vernon High School during the 2016 Parkview 7 on 7 Tournament held at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on June 16, 2016.Bolivar High School players celebrate after a touchdown as the Liberators play Mt. Vernon High School during the 2016 Parkview 7 on 7 Tournament held at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on June 16, 2016.Bolivar High School wide receiver Brandon Emmert scores a touchdown as the Liberators play Mt. Vernon High School during the 2016 Parkview 7 on 7 Tournament held at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on June 16, 2016.