By PAUL STURM C-T Sports Editor
Eleven players from C-T-area 2012 high school football teams, including junior Tyler Clampitt of the Chillicothe Hornets, have been named All-State in 11-man-style play by the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association (MSSA).
In addition to the honor accorded by the media group, which has been selecting All-State teams for about a half-century, four other players from area 11-man programs have been included on the Missouri Football Coaches Association's (MFCA) 3-tier All-State squads. The MSSA picks only first and second All-State teams.
In the 8-man ranks, four members of the state-semifinalist Southwest Livingston Wildcats have been tabbed for the 8-Man Coaches Association's 2012 All-State teams.
On the MSSA's Class 3 second-team is Chillicothe's Clampitt as a defensive back. He was a third-team choice by the MFCA. Only players whose head coaches are members of the coaches' association are eligible for consideration for the group's All-State teams.
On the 8-man level, Southwest Livingston junior lineman Jordan Konopasek was a 2-way first-team choice, with junior quarterback/running back Ethan Crowe first-team on offense as the "all-purpose" back and second-team at linebacker.
A third Wildcat, senior defensive back Mason Mehrhoff, also got first-team laurels from the coaches. Senior defensive tackle John Anderson is second-team.
In 11-man Class 1, undefeated state champion Hamilton has six MSSA All-State selections – three of them first-teamers, while the coaches' group included nine – eight on the first team.
The MSSA picks were running back Derrick Hughes, offensive lineman Matt LaPiana, and defensive back Kellen Overstreet on the first team, and defensive lineman Kolby Reeder, defensive back Devan Hughes, and linebacker Jake Angle on the second team.
The MFCA had those six on its first team (some at different positions), along with offensive lineman Shawn Cook and Jalen Richman at defensive back. On its third team was linebacker Keithan Litton.
Polo has two Class 1 first-teamers in the media determinations – running back Zach Freeman and linebacker Justin Hicks – and second-team defensive lineman Wiley Martin. The same trio was on the MFCA's second team at those spots, with Mason Misel a third-team offensive lineman, as well.
In Class 2, Trenton senior placekicker Seth Acton had the nod as the tops in the class from both groups, while Brookfield had one selection on the MFCA list – senior offensive lineman Trent Hoover.
As related in last Wednesday's article on his inclusion on the MSSA's all-northwest district squad, Chillicothe's Clampitt produced a great season's worth of pass defending statistics in half a season's action.
The team's starting quarterback with only a couple of sophomores behind him at season's start, the talented athlete was withheld from use on defense except in the most limited situations through the first month of the season.
Page 2 of 6 - He announced himself as a defensive playmaker midway through the middle game of the 9-game regular season when, inserted at safety in the final minute of the first half of the then-0-4 Hornets' Homecoming game against Cameron, he read a pass route down the seam near midfield, stepped in front of the target to pick off the pass, and raced untouched to the end zone to convert a 10-7 deficit into a 14-0 lead in a game CHS won 20-7.
After interceptng another pass in the second half of that game, Clampitt appeared more frequently in the secondary the following week before becoming a more-or-less full-time player there in week seven.
He intercepted two more in that seventh game against Savannah and three in CHS' second win of the year at St. Joseph: Benton in the regular-season finale shutout.
His eighth pick of the year came in the district playoffs opener on a nearly-identical play to his first, a late-first-half pass down the seam he cut off before it reached its target and ran back for six points that firmly turned the tide Chillicothe's way en route to a victory, this one eventually 30-8.
The Hornets' finale saw them dominated by unbeaten California on the road and Clampitt injured when pinned against a goalpost by a pass rusher late in the first half. Before that happened, however, he had made his ninth theft of the season (and in the past six games).
That total is tied for the second-most in a season in Chillicothe history, just as his three thefts against Benton is for a game. With nine for his career now, he is only four from breaking the career record shared by Buddy Beetsma and previous All-Staters Doug Switzer and Bryce Young.
"He anticipates the ball very well," Hornets head coach Phil Willard, himself a former defensive back in high school and college, details. "He also has good jumping ability and great hands."
Although his limited playing time on defense made for low tackle numbers, the CHS coach says Clampitt demonstrated he is a "very good tackler."
Given Clampitt's production, size (6'2", about 175 pounds) that could translate to a safety spot at the small college level, and obvious ball-hawking ability, Willard made it clear at his team's postseason awards event that, starting quarterback or not, Clampitt will be a starter in the secondary in 2013 if healthy, both for the team's benefit and Clampitt's future.
"We have a couple of guys now who have some (junior-varsity and varsity) experience at quarterback, which will give us the freedom to use Tyler in more ways next season," Willard says.
Southwest Livingston's 6', 175-pounds Konopasek was a stalwart on both lines for the 10-3 Wildcats.
"Jordan has taken to heart that hard work pays off. Over the past couple of years he has constantly been striving to make himself better and this year it paid off for him," saluted SLHS head coach Tyler Anderson.
Page 3 of 6 - He ranked among the team leaders in tackles game in and game out defensively, finishing the year with 120, second only to linebacker E. Crowe. On top of that, his 191⁄2 quarterback sacks set a new state record for 8-man ball. He forced eight fumbles and recovered two.
"He found himself as one of our defensive leaders and a staple on our offensive line," Anderson declared.
Offensively, he helped power an attack that generated over 4,500 yards.
"I am very excited that he is a junior and has another year to develop mentally and physically," his coach commented.
Crowe was second-team All-State as his team's quarterback last year, but was used both there and as a running back this year, leading to his "all-purpose" selection as a first-teamer.
He finished the season with about 2,270 rushing yards and 40 touchdowns and 1,065 yards and 22 touchdowns throwing. His approximately 3,330 yards from scrimmage was nearly 200 more than the state's next-highest total and his 62 combined touchdowns dwarfed all other 8-man players in the state. In spite of his hundreds of touches, he only fumbled twice.
"Ethan is like having another coach on the field," reports T. Anderson. "He has worked extremely hard for all of his success and acknowledgements. He is one of the smartest football minds I have had the privilege of coaching and relays it to his team very well on the field."
Defensively, the junior led the District 4 champions, who finished behind only state champion North Andrew in the Platte Valley Conference, in tackles with 149, an average of about 111⁄2 a game. The tackles total was third in the state ranks. He had at least 61⁄2 sacks and intercepted two passes.
Mehrhoff sat out a couple of games and part of another with injury, but averaged about 10 tackles a game. He also made four interceptions.
His value may have been best illustrated when he didn't play.
Facing Hardin-Central in the third week of the season, he suffered a slight muscle pull in the first half and was held out of the rest of the game by his head coach. Without him, an 8-6 Southwest halftime lead turned into a 34-8 loss as a backup HCHS quarterback exploited his absence with numerous key runs.
When the teams rematched in the district finals two months later and Mehrhoff on the job all game, that quarterback had little impact and Southwest Livingston cruised, 50-8.
"Mason was one of the main reasons for our success," notes his coach. "His leadership was invaluable and was called upon many times throughout the year when we were unfocused or were dealing with injuries. He made sure the team stayed on track."
With Konopasek alongside and E. Crowe behind him and ranging to make plays, big Wildcats nose tackle J. Anderson did his job, "shutting down A-Gaps and eating up double-teams," coach Anderson stresses. "…We are going to miss John's big presence in anchoring the middle line of our defense and also offensively in our power sets."
Page 4 of 6 - Like most interior linemen, he didn't amass a lot of tackles – about 35, but he did make 31⁄2 sacks and even intercepted a pair of screen passes he read.
For Hamilton's honorees, whose statistical exploits were described in the C-T's Dec. 5 all-district article, the superlatives are about all used up for a program which now has won 57 of its last 58 games and three state titles in four years.
The hard-running Hughes (5'11", 194 pounds) easily surpassed 2,000 rushing yards in his senior campaign and scored 40 times on the ground as he repeats as a first-team All-Stater.
LaPiana (6', 221, sr.) was honored on the offensive line by the media group and the defensive front wall by the coaches.
As a blocker, he helped pave the way for more than 4,000 team rushing yards and a good many more through the air. As a defender, he was in on upwards of 70 total tackles – close to 50 unassisted, while sacking the quarterback at least a half-dozen times.
Likewise, Angle (5'10", 155, sr.) was honored on opposite sides of the ball by the two groups – on offense by the MSSA and at linebacker by the MFCA. He ended up with about 100 tackles in 15 games, including five or more sacks.
End Reeder (6'1", 185, sr.) was first-team on the coaches' team and second on the media's after being second-team for the coaches last year. The MFCA named him its Class 1 defensive player of the year.
He had 61 tackles and four sacks through the first 12 games before suffering a game-ending elbow dislocation while rushing the passer in the first quarter of the Hornets' come-from-behind state-quarterfinals win over Wellington-Napoleon. He returned to start and play with the elbow tightly-bandaged and that right arm significantly constricted in its ability to be used in the semifinals and finals, yet still made his presence felt numerous times each game.
"He was probably our best defensive player," head coach Dave Fairchild, the coaches group's coach of the year, says.
MSAA repeat first-team defensive back Overstreet (5'10", 191, soph.) was honored as an "all-purpose" offensive player by the coaches' association.
Offensively, he topped 1,000 yards rushing for the season, averaging more than 10 yards a carry. He also caught passes for well over 500 yards and had about 15 combined touchdowns.
Defensively, he made three of his four interceptions of the season in the state semifinals and finals and returned two of those three for touchdowns. He was in on about 70 tackles from his cornerback spot.
For good measure, he also was a potential game-changer as a kick returner, highlighting that aspect of his game by returning the game-opning kickoff about 80 yards for a score in the semifinals blowout.
The two selecting groups at least agreed on Hamilton's Dev. Hughes (5'10", 175 sr.) as a top defensive back.
Page 5 of 6 - Nearly a 1,000-yards rusher himself, even with twin brother's and Overstreet's prolific production in the ground game, Dev. Hughes led the Hornets in interceptions with at least seven and broke up at least five more, while making about 65 total tackles. Like Overstreet, he also was a very good kick returner.
Cook (5'10", 191, jr.) should be back as the Hornets chase a fourth state title in five years in 2013 after helping anchor the prolific offensive line with LaPiana and Angle this season. He was second-team on the MFCA's 2011 All-State team.
Richman (6'2", 178, sr.), who was a part of that blocking unit (and also a fine pass catcher) as tight end, garnered MFCA kudos for his play in the secondary. An extremely good run supporter and open-field tackler, he was in on about 100 tackles, ranking right with linebacker Angle at the top of the team charts. He also picked off one pass and broke up at least nine, according to his coach.
Litton, who figures to join Overstreet and emerging potential star quarterback Drew Finch in the starting offensive backfield next year after having a triple-digits game this season as a backup, made a big mark as a linebacker alongside Angle this season.
Called "a very physical player" by Fairchild, he also was right around the century mark in total tackles. He capped his breakout sophomore year in the state-championship game win over Ste. Genevieve: Valle by running his second interception of the season back about 40 yards for the final touchdown in the last minute.
Polo's Freeman (5'9", 189, sr.) repeats as an MSSA All-State ballcarrier – elevated from the second team last year to the first alongside Hamilton's Der. Hughes this year – after having another 2,000-yards rushing season.
Possessing "great feet and vision," according to PHS head coach Kyle Ross, he went for 2,203 yards on 242 carries (nine yards per run) and 28 touchdowns as the Panthers went 8-4 and finished second to Hamilton in the district.
For his career, Ross reports, Freeman finished with 4,206 rushing yards (9.7 avg.) with 53 rushing touchdowns.
Ju. Hicks repeats as a first-team MSSA All-State and MFCA second-team linebacker after being a unanimous all-Grand River Conference pick and all-district.
"Powerful" and a "great leader," in Ross' view, the 20111-12 Class 1 state wrestling champion in the 195-pounds class recorded 131 total tackles on the gridiron this fall.
Sophomore Polo defensive end Martin (5'8", 210) also was an unanimous pick at that spot by GRC coaches and all-northwest district for the MSSA after setting a PHS single-season record with 10 quarterback sacks. He had two other tackles for losses and 64 total stops.
Ross calls him "very physical, strong, and explosive," noting Martin can squat-lift 500 pounds, bench-press 320, and yet run a sub-5-seconds 40-yards dash.
The huge Misel (6'4", 293, soph..) "has good feet and a great work ethic," Ross says.
Page 6 of 6 - He was the top blocker for Freeman and the run-dominated Polo attack. In his first two years, the center has helped open holes that PHS ballcarriers have used to gain about 8,000 rushing yards and over 100 touchdowns.
Despite his youth, Misel is "extremely smart," his coach relates, and makes the offensive line calls at the line of scrimmage.
In nominating Seth Acton for all-district consideration, Trenton head coach Wes Croy opined, "He might be the best (Class 2) kicker in the state." It proved to be a sentiment with which the media and fellow coaches concurred.
Acton (5'11", 155, sr.) was perfect on all 24 touchdown-conversion kicks he tried this fall and went five of seven on field goals. His longest made field goal was from 42 yards, but he just missed on a 47-yarder that high the right upright. His other miss was from 39 yards into the wind and also just missed, according to the THS coach.
The Bulldog averaged nearly 52 yards on 45 kickoffs, including eight touchbacks in '12.
Brookfield's Hoover (6'1", 195 sr.) led the blocking unit which allowed the Bulldogs to amass just over 3,000 yards of total offense in eleven games, 2,427 of those on the ground.
"Trent is one of the finest young men I've ever had the pleasure of coaching. He is extremely dedicated to being the best football player and teammate he can be on and off the field," coach Nile Thudium says.