Mac on Sports

Alan Huss New Mexico Assistant
    Alan Huss, who once assisted Jeremy Moore at Eisenhower and who headed the Decatur Christian international basketball program, is the new New Mexico assistant coach.
    New Mexico has announced Tuesday that its men's basketball program hired LaLumiere head coach Huss to serve as an assistant under Craig Neal.
    Huss guided La Lumiere to an 86-22 record in four seasons at the school and finished the 2013-14 campaign ranked No. 14 nationally by MaxPreps.
    Perhaps more importantly as it relates to his new position, Huss lured a long line of Division I-caliber talents to a school with no track record of basketball success on a national level.  The release did not include the international players he brought to Decatur Christian that went on to play Division 1 basketball.  He also was responsible for attracting Jeremy Robinson from Mississippi to Eisenhower to team with guard Lewis Jackson.
    "I've seen Alan as a great possible addition to our staff for some time now," Neal said in the New Mexico press release.  "Now is the right time for him, and our program, to add Alan to the Lobo family.  He is really going to help us in our recruiting efforts regionally and nationally.  I think he's going to bring a lot of experience from being a head coach and building a program into a national power."
    New Mexico's move continues a recent trend of college programs hiring successful high school coaches. 
    Huss will be replaced at La Lumiere by Shane Heirman, a former player at Tulsa who has served as an assistant in the program for the past three years.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Trez Spates Makes Commitment to SIU
    ShawnTrez Spates committed Saturday to SIU Carbondale where he will play for the Salukis.
    "He really connected with the staff there and the way they recruited him," said MacArthur head coach Derek Spates of his nephew.  "He really liked the campus and felt comfortable there.
    Coach Spates said Trez was the top player on the coaches board at defensive back which is where they envision him playing when he gets down there next fall.
    "The football program there speaks for itself," said the coach about where Trez is headed.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Beckman: Quarterback Competition Continues
    Champaign -- Illinois opens its season at 11 a.m. in Memorial Stadium against Youngstown State and head coach Tim Beckman reiterated this afternoon at his pre-Camp Rantoul competition that he and his staff aren't ready to name a starting quarterback yet.
    "I know you guys will be asking about the quarterback," said Beckman in his introductory comments.  They've been battling great.  They're fun out there to watch. We've been able to take each one of those quarterbacks and give them an opportunity to be with either the ones or the fours.
    "That's just the way this thing works out, they've got to be able to respond to the different front, they've got to be able to respond to different wide receivers and to different running backs," said the head coach, who begins his third season on the sidelines this fall.
    Those quarterbacks need no introduction, but here they are--Wes Lunt, the transfer from Oklahoma State, and the two returning Illini QBs--Aaron Bailey and Reilly O'Toole.
    Beckman said O'Toole's arm is much stronger this season than it was last year and is throwing the deep ball well.  He also informed that O'Toole is a real leader on the field.  "He's showing tremendous leadership."
    The coach also the heart-and-soul of any Big Ten team, including his Illini, is the offensive front which is says is that to this year's team.  "They are more mature, they have continuity," said Beckman, who was as positive as ever in his remarks to the media in the Memorial Stadium squad room.
    "I'm really happy with the progress we've made this past week and look forward to getting up to Camp Rantoul where it is 24-7 football in an NFL-type atmosphere," said the coach.
    Beckman said he's excited about this team because for the first time since he's been there he has depth in which to keep players fresh throughout the season.  "We want to win September, five games for practical purposes Aug. 30 game against Youngstown State counting as a September game.  We want to be fresh in October and November when we're in the Big Ten season and win November," said the coach, adding this year's depth will allow him and his staff to keep players fresh and not wear out them early in the season as happened the last two years when he didn't have the experience and numbers he has now.
    He also wants a season-ending bowl game to reward his players for all their hard work.
    I will have more on Tim Beckman's press conference in future print editions of the Decatur Tribune as he gets the Illini ready for their home opener Aug. 30 against Youngstown State.  I've been to each of the coach's previous two pre-Camp Rantoul pressers where he's always been positive, but for the first time I feel he has the talent on both sides of the ball to get to that bowl-qualifying six victories.

PBL Gets Okaw Invite
    It didn't take long for the remaining five members of the new Okaw Valley Conference to invite a sixth team to replace the departing Maroa-Forsyth Trojans in 2016-17.
    Okaw Valley and Paxton-Buckley-Loda (PBL) officials have confirmed PBL has received an official invitation from the league and is seriously considering it.
    At the present time PBL is in the Sangamon Valley Conference.
    The remaining five members in the Okaw are, Monticello, Rantoul, St. Joseph-Ogden, St. Thomas More and Tolono Unity.
    Mount Zion was interested, but the Braves are probably out now unless the league expands to eight with them and Mahomet-Seymour Bulldogs.  But officials haven't indicated at this point to go in that direction.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Williams to Lanphier Lions
    Christian Williams has played his last football and basketball games for St. Teresa as he has announced he is transferring to Springfield Lanphier.
    Williams announced this afternoon that he would be playing there.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Interest High in Generals Basketball Job
    The deadline isn't until the end of the day Friday, but MacArthur Athletic Director Jason Crutcher says he's already received nine applications for the job vacated by the recent resignation of Felipe Phillips.
    "And I am sure I will be getting a lot more by the end of the week," said Crutcher in response to an e-mail from this Decatur Tribune sports editor.
    "Next week, probably mid-week, I will begin interviewing candidates for the job," said Crutcher.
    In this week's print edition of the Decatur Tribune, I write in my Irish Stew column that interest in the position would be high given the new school opening in January, a new second gym being added, a refinished main gym floor and returning talent from last season's team that lost the regional final to Lincoln in overtime on the Railers home floor.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune. 

Generals Seek New Coach as Phillips Resigns
    The Decatur Tribune has confirmed that Felipe Phillips has resigned as MacArthur's boys basketball head coach.
    Phillips is resigning, according to sources, in order to spend more time with his family and to further his education.
    He has been the Generals head coach for six years, compiling a 72-86 overall-won-loss record.  His teams won three regional championships in those six seasons.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Millikin Water Retention Tank Arrives
    Officials clarified reports that water retention issues threatened the Frank M. Lindsay artificial surface construction timetable.
    But Bryan Marshall, Millikin's director of sports information, responded to my inquiry, "The plans for the project always included a concrete water retention tank that would be placed under the field. 
    "We have always planned to use a tank instead of a pond.  Since the tank was always part of the plans there have been no increased costs associated with the project," wrote Marshall.   
    He also informed, "the tank did arrive a little later than expected, but work has continued on other drainage, electrical and prep work surrounding the project.  The tank has arrived and is being installed this week (July 14-18).  The tank is under the south end of the field roughly between the 10-and 25-yard lines."
    Drainage from the turf will go into the tank which is why it has to be present since the water has to go somewhere.  
    "We are still confident that the turf and scoreboard will be done by the end of August with the lights and track to be completed by mid-September," said Marshall.
    In addition, he offered, "At this time we believe the field will be ready to open our soccer
    "We will play a soccer scrimmage on Aug. 24th at the Millikin soccer field, south of the DISC, and will have that facility ready for use in case it is needed for the women’s soccer team’s first game on Aug. 29th.  The soccer teams will still be using this facility for part of
their practice so it will be ready for games if needed.
    "Everything on the project should be ready by the football home opener
on Sept. 27th at 6 p.m.," concluded Marshall.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Maroa Board Votes Sangamo
    At tonight's (Monday) meeting, the Maroa-Forsyth school board voted to leave the new Okaw for the Sangamo.
    This news will surprise Maroa-Forsyth sports fans and many in Decatur and Macon County as most thought the board would vote to stay in the new Okaw which was Principal Scott Adreon's recommendation.
    The Sangamo is a Springfield-area based league with Athens, Auburn, New Berlin, Pittsfield, Pleasant Plains, Petersburg Porta, Riverton, Virden North Mac and Williamsville.  The Trojans will become the 10th team which means the league will not have to play any non-conference games.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Stewart Resigns as 'Dawgs Baseball Coach    
    Expressing a desire to spend more time watching his daughter play softball, Jim Stewart has resigned as St. Teresa's baseball coach.
    Dr. Ken Hendriksen, chief executive officer and principal, said, "Jim Stewart is a quality person and has been an exemplary role model and coach at St. Teresa these past years."
    Stewart leaves the Bulldogs after a very successful career on the diamonds.  Under his leadership, his teams have won Okaw Valley championships and five regional titles.  He has won over 300 games during his years in the coaching box.
    "I feel that it is time for me to follow my daughter while she competes in softball next spring," said Stewart about his decision to leave now.  "I truly love St. Teresa and will always follow and support the program."
    He bleeds orange-and-blue, having played basketball and baseball for the Bulldogs, including helping his team to the quarterfinals in basketball in the old Assembly Hall (now State Farm Center) where they fell to Ohio when Kirk Sarff coached them.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Guy Neibuhr Warrensburg-Latham Sports Legend Dies at 83
    The man who started Warrensburg-Latham football has died.
    After graduation from Illinois State University in 1960 where he started and played football for the Redbirds, Guy F. Neibuhr started teaching driver's education and social studies at Warrensburg-Latham high school where he also started the football program and became head coach.
    He also served as head track and field coach and assistant basketball coach at Warrensburg-Latham.
    The 83-year-old Neibuhr passed away at 1:05 p.m. Friday at home. 
    His son, Doug, also played and coached football for years, including at Millikin and Wittenberg.
    Guy was a former assistant football coach, head tennis coach and head track and field coach at Millikin where he was later inducted into the university's Athletic Hall of Fame. 
    Funeral services will be 10 a.m. Tuesday at Brintlinger and Earl Funeral Home, Decatur. Visitation will be 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at the funeral home. Burial will be in Boiling Springs Cemetery, Decatur. 
    Memorials may be made to Warrensburg-Latham High School Athletic Department or to donor’s choice. 
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

Decatur Baseball Icon Remembers Gwynn
    This writer always tries to localize national sports stories when he can which he is doing with the following brief on the death of one of baseball's all-time greatest hitters, Tony Gwynn.
    Frank Coppenbarger, the former Decatur Commodores clubhouse attended, who has parlayed that into a mutli-decade in major league baseball, including the Philadelphia Phillies and prior to that the St. Louis Cardinals, remembers a comment Gwynn made when he was injured in 1996, but still showed up for the All-Star game in Philadelphia where he commented, "it's the best I've seen.
    "I was really proud of that comment," recalled Coppenbarger of Gwynn's comment about how the Phillies organization put together the first class all-star game celebration and activities.  "He recognized our effort.  I'll never forget that."
    Gwynn died today (Monday) at the age of 54 and won eight batting titles during his career with the San Diego Padres.  The Hall of Famer obviously is one of the all-time best hitters.
    He also informed that Gwynn's son, Tony Jr., now plays for the Phillies and left the team for bereavement.
    I will have a brief item on this in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

IHSA Delays 'Success Factor' Implementation
    The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors this afternoon (Monday)decided to delay the implementation of recently adopted changes to the new multiplier waiver and “success factor”, until the 2015-16 school year.
    “The board believes that the changes approved to Policy 17 in February will help maintain competitive balance in the state,” said Wauconda High School Principal and IHSA Board President Dan Klett.  “However, conversations with school personnel in our respective districts led the Board to believe that more education and feedback was needed before implementing these changes.”
    Maroa-Forsyth principal Scott Adreon, who represents this area as an IHSA director, applauded the decision, telling me, "this gives us a chance to educate our members about what the 'success factor' and waiver changes are.  It also gives us a chance to get feedback from our boundaried and non-boundaried members.  I think it is good to get this feedback and this gives our membership more time."
    The principal and director also admitted he was not aware until it was brought to his attention following the February adoption that all members had not voted on the changes which were recommended by a committee of boundary and non-boundary schools and approved by the board.
    Ken Hendriksen, St. Teresa principal and chief executive officer, also liked the delay, saying it gives the non-boundaried schools a chance to present additional information to the board before such changes become policy.
    If the "success factor" had gone through as approved in February, St. Teresa would have moved up a class in cross-country because it had won four straight girls cross-country championships.
    By delaying the action implementing this and the waiver changes, St. Teresa's boys basketball team will revert back to Class 2A for 2014-15 instead of 1A.
    In addition, on Monday, the Board approved a minor change to the “success factor.” The original policy language called for a school to be subject to the “success factor” if they won two state final trophies over a four-year period. Monday’s change will now require that one of the two trophies be won in the two most recent school years in order for a school to be subject to the “success factor.”
    The Board has charged the IHSA staff with developing a presentation on the changes and how they affect membership, which they will present as a part of the annual Town Hall Meetings held in November.
    “The changes to Policy 17 are significant, so it is important that the membership has a strong grasp on their history and implementation,” said IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman. “The ‘success factor’ will affect about three percent of the membership, but the waiver changes will have a considerably larger impact. It will be a positive step to gain feedback from the membership, as well as to make sure we have a full understanding on how these changes influence other factors, such as classification cutoffs.”
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

J. Thomas McNamara
Sports Editor
Decatur Tribune

Email Tom at

Check out McNamara's "Irish Stew" every week in the print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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