By Joey Bennett
Nearly 60 Wabash Valley area high school graduates are playing college football this fall, along with five more serving as assistant coaches.
For the second straight fall, no players who attended area schools are competing at the 1-A Bowl Championship Series level. Stanford quarterback Tavita Pritchard is the son of former local resident Kelli (Miller) Pritchard.
About two-thirds of those are playing at the Division III or other small college levels, while many are playing at the former I-AA (now Bowl Championship Series Subdivision) level – including 10 at Indiana State.
Terre Haute North leads the Valley schools with 14 players competing, while Terre Haute South, Marshall and Northview each has six players competing. It’s a young group, with only eight players being members of the senior class at their respective schools. Such youth offers even more potential for greater success in the future.
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• Hanover-Butler game cancelled — Due to the heavy winds that devastated the Hanover College campus last Sunday, the Panthers cancelled all classes and athletic events for the past week.
Included on that list was the scheduled football game at Butler on Saturday, which will not be rescheduled. Missing out on one of their final collegiate appearances were Hanover senior offensive lineman Brock Goggins and Butler’s starting tight end, senior Luke Johnson of Terre Haute North.
• Scoring scarce — Touchdowns are normally hard to come by for the Valley graduates, many of whom are youngsters who are either waiting on their chance to shine, defensive players or offensive lineman.
North grad Justin Hall has already recorded 12 points this year, as the Marian sophomore wide receiver had caught nine passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns entering Saturday’s game with Valparaiso.
• A specialist in specialists — Cloverdale has only two players in college, but they are both kickers. Raine Young is a freshman placekicker at Manchester, while sophomore Brandon Mescall is a punter at Franklin.
• Early successes — Marian, with eight Valley grads on its roster, won two of its first three games. Included in the wins was a victory over No. 25-ranked McKendree.
Wabash is ranked No. 7 and Franklin No. 17 in the d3football.com national poll.
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Other college news:
• Mardis lands in Missouri — Wendell Mardis, the well-traveled point guard from Terre Haute North, will complete his college basketball eligibility this winter at Division II Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo.
SBU is a member of the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and will open its season with a trip to play at the University of Utah on Nov. 15.
SBU Coach Jeff Guiot commented on his team’s trip to Salt Lake City.
“We’re very excited to start things off with Utah, a high-major D-I program. We’re starting the season with this game because we have very high expectations for this team.”
The Bearcats are the reigning MIAA regular-season champions, were a perfect 15-0 at home during the 2007-08 campaign, and were ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation last season.
The Bearcats return four starters to the 2008-09 team. Matt Rogers (6-10, junior), D’Ante Harris (6-3, senior), Nick Kovacevich (6-5, senior) and Brandon Burgette (6-0, senior) will be joined by key newcomers including transfers Mardis, Tomas Brock (6-1, sophomore, Missouri State), and Gerren Rogers (6-8, junior, Lincoln College).
Mardis played one season each at Southeastern Illinois and Illinois Central junior colleges, and played last season at Division I Alabama State before transferring to SBU over the summer.
• Doss to VU — Turkey Run senior point guard Meghan Doss has made a verbal commitment to play basketball for the Vincennes University women’s team starting in 2009.
VU Coach Harry Meeks expects the 5-1 Doss to fit into his program well.
“She’s fast and almost impossible to press,” Meeks told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial. “Along with being very good at getting the ball where it needs to be, she can shoot the three like you wouldn’t believe.”
Doss averaged 14 points per game last season, shooting 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point range. Hoosier Basketball Magazine has chosen her to be a second-team all-state selection in this year’s edition.
“She’s had a great summer and is working hard on her strength, conditioning and explosiveness,” Turkey Run Coach Sam Karr told the Sun-Commercial. “She brings instant excitement to the floor and should have an outstanding senior year. Meghan will be one of the main reasons we’ll be ranked this year.”
Wabash Valley football products
Nick Murphy, Rose-Hulman, Jr.
Brandon Mescall, Franklin, So.
Raine Young, Manchester, Fr.
Ryan Roberts, Indiana State, Fr.
Shaine Tierney, St. Francis, So.
Tavita Pritchard, Stanford, Sr.
Brock Goggins, Hanover, Sr.
Dan Allen, Marian, So.
Ethan Brewer, Indiana State, Fr.
Lance Irwin, Rose-Hulman, Fr.
Troy Johnson, Indiana State, assistant coach
Derek Eitel, Rose-Hulman, Jr.
Chris Stepp, Indiana State, Fr.
Travis Johnson, Indiana State, Fr.
Morgan Miller, Greenville, Fr.
Alan Wolter, Greenville, Fr.
Tyler Howard, Greenville, Fr.
Ross Shotts, Blackburn, Sr.
Bobby Short, Rose-Hulman, Fr.
Ethan Nash, Rose-Hulman, Fr.
Ira Drummy, Anderson, Jr.
Michael Woodsmall, DePauw, Fr.
Scottie Austin, St. Joseph?s, Fr.
Joe Evinger, College of the Canyons (Calif.), So.
Matt Crooks, Marian, So.
Broc Miller, Indiana State, Fr.
Dayne Upperman, Marian, Fr.
Jered Timm, Marian, Fr.
Dylan Kruse, Marian, Fr.
Ethan Kestenman, Rose-Hulman, Fr.
Chip Keys, Eastern Illinois, Sr.
Michael Mattingly, Franklin, Fr.
Ben Wassel, Rose-Hulman, Jr.
Mitch Downs, Franklin, So.
Zach Clapp, DePauw, Fr.
Kyle Fahey, Manchester, Fr.
Josh Buis, Eastern Michigan, assistant coach
Drew Christy, Rose-Hulman, Jr.
Terre Haute North
Steve Englehart, Rose-Hulman, head coach
Kevin Dean, Rose-Hulman, assistant coach
Jared Lange, Wabash, Sr.
Drew Oehler, Wabash, Sr.
Pat Hancewicz, Franklin, Sr.
Luke Johnson, Butler, Sr.
Shawn Hines, Franklin, Jr.
Seth Woodason, Harding (Ark.), Jr.
Derek Guggenberger, Butler, Jr.
Paul McGuire, SE Missouri State, Jr.
Dan Millington, Indiana State, Jr.
Justin Hall, Marian, So.
Daniel Watson, Marian, So.
Chris Russell, Anderson, So.
Matt Seliger, Indiana State, Fr.
Jake Schaffer, Wabash, Fr.
Terre Haute South
Trent Miles, Indiana State, head coach
Kyle Toney, Indiana State, So.
Pat Duncan, Rose-Hulman, Jr.
Michael Engle, DePauw, So.
Kyle Harruff, Southern Illinois, So.
Koby Kraemer, Indiana State, Fr.
Brock Lough, Indiana State, Fr.
Zach Avary, Marian, So.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter who now teaches and coaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.