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3 questions for Jim Ruppert: Which is this week’s best game?

3 questions for Jim Ruppert: Which is this week’s best game?
11 Sep
4:55

Jim Ruppert is the former State Journal-Register sports editor. Each week during the season he will answer three questions posed to him about the Central
State Eight Conference.
Here’s his Week 4 edition…

1. What’s the best game on this week’s CS8 schedule?

After a rainy Week Three card that included four blowouts and Chatham Glenwood’s three-touchdown win over Springfield High, the headline game for Week Four is a battle of unbeatens, Class 4A top-ranked Rochester at Decatur MacArthur.

The Generals, who lost three-year starters Amir and Armond Brummett to graduation, are perhaps the surprise team of the Central State Eight Conference so far. There was a final-minute 8-6 victory over Springfield High in Week One — the Senators did not have their top running back Justin Bivins II for that game — then a 20-14 victory over Jacksonville and last week’s 34-7 rout of Normal U-High.

MacArthur relies heavily on quarterback Deyon Jackson, who gained 186 rushing yards against U-High and scored two of the Generals’ five touchdowns.

Rochester is in a familiar spot at 3-0. The Rockets and MacArthur have two common opponents, U-High and Jacksonville. Rochester beat the Pioneers 42-7 and the Crimsons 48-0. The Rockets opened the season with a 35-8 win at Southeast.

The story at Rochester is defense.The Rockets have permitted just 15 points all season — a fourth-quarter TD and two-point conversion against Southeast and a fourth-quarter running-clock TD and PAT against U-High. More impressively, the Rochester defense has permitted just 30 rushing yards in three games. That includes a minus-51 performance last week against Jacksonville in a game in which the Rockets’ defense held the Crimsons to a school-record minus-25 total yards. Rochester defenders have 12 tackles for loss, five assisted tackles for loss and 15 sacks so far.

That’s not to say coach Derek Leonard’s team has disregarded offense. The Rockets are the CS8’s highest-scoring offense with 125 points. They’ve gained 583 rushing yards and 634 passing yards. They’ve rushed for 10 touchdowns and passed for eight more.

And don’t forget, Rochester has lost just eight games in the CS8 since joining the league in 2010. Six of those are to Sacred Heart-Griffin. One is to Chatham Glenwood (2011). And the eighth was to MacArthur in 2010

2. That schedule also includes a Sacred Heart-Griffin vs. Southeast matchup at Spartan Field — a game in which SHG coach Ken Leonard can tie the record for Illinois career coaching wins. What’s the history of that matchup?

Funny you should ask. Now that the Chicago Cubs have ended their 108-year World Series drought, Griffin/Sacred Heart-Griffin’s streak of 47 wins in 48 meetings with Southeast is the single most remarkable record still on the local books.

The teams first meet in 1967 — the year Southeast opened — and the Cyclones won 19-0. Griffin won the next six meetings, too, before Southeast won 18-16 in 1974.

We pointed out last week the number of changes that had taken place in the world between Glenwood’s 2001 win over SHG and the Titans’ 2018 victory at Ken Leonard Field at Cyclone Stadium. Well, when it comes to the things that have changed since Southeast last beat the Cyclones, consider these: neither Southeast coach Matt Lauber nor the second-longest-tenured coach in the CS8, Rochester’s Derek Leonard, were born in 1974; Ken Leonard was still a college student in 1974; Lauber is the 12th guy to serve as Southeast coach since George McLaughlin was on the sidelines for the 1974 win over Griffin.

SHG’s 47-1 record against Southeast includes one playoff game — in 1995 — and the teams did not play from 1986-89 when Southeast was in the Mid-State Nine Conference and SHG was an independent.

Since 2000, the average score of an SHG vs. Southeast game is 47-7. That’s an average of 18 seasons of running-clock games, if the rule had been in place for all 18 meetings. The Cyclones scored 50 or more points nine times in those 18 meetings. The greatest team in Southeast history, Neil Taylor’s eight-win squad of 2002, came close, losing 14-7.

In 25 CS8 meetings, SHG has outscored the Spartans 1,073-178, an average score of 43-7.

3. A third of the way through the season, who are we looking at as football Player of the Year candidates?

Much like the race for the National League MVP in baseball, there’s a long way to go before the Metro football Player of the Year will be decided. But that doesn’t mean some guys haven’t put themselves at the head of the class.

The three-games-in leader in this corner is Chatham Glenwood quarterback Luke Lehnen. The Titans junior has thrown for three touchdowns and run for six more, including all four in last Friday’s win in the rain over Springfield High. His team is 3-0 with a win over Sacred Heart-Griffin on its resume.

No. 2 on the list is SHG linebacker-running back-punter-leader Matt Brenneisen, who was tied for the conference lead in tackles after two weeks. Brenneisen embodies everything the SHG program is about.

Also on the watch list are, in no particular order, Rochester’s Clay Bruno, Springfield High’s Cam Jones, Southeast’s Stuart Ross, Decatur MacArthur’s Deyon Jackson and Glenwood’s Jason Hansbrough.

— Contact Jim Ruppert: jim.ruppert12@yahoo.com or on Twitter @JRupSJR.

Source: http://www.sj-r.com/sports/20180910/3-questions-for-jim-ruppert-which-is-this-weeks-best-game

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