Six from co-champion CHS – Shaffer, Graves, Willard, Kille, Marshall, Staton – occupy 10 first-team spots on all-league team announced Sunday
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Six members of the conference co-champion Chillicothe High School Hornets have been named to the 2017 all-Midland Empire Conference football first team at 10 total positions, the loop announced Sunday afternoon.
Garnering top-squad spots from CHS, which split this season’s title with Smithville, were senior Brett Shaffer at wide receiver, defensive back, and offensive special teamer (kick returner), senior Walker Graves on the offensive and defensive lines, senior Jack Willard at punter and placekicker, senior Josh Kille at fullback, senior Trace Staton at tight end, and senior Adler Marshall at linebacker.
The half-dozen first-teamers are CHS’ most since 2007, when seven Hornets were picked at eight positions. This year’s 10 first-team posts are Chillicothe’s most since the 11-2 Hornets of 1993 had 11 (the MEC had only five teams then).
Overall, 13 Hornets received some level of recognition on this season’s all-MEC squads. Last year’s CHS team, which had more 1-way starters, had 15.
In addition to the 10 first-team berths occupied by CHS players, seven second-team spots also were claimed and Chillicotheans received honorable mention at five other positions.
Hornets earning second-team nods were offensive linemen Eric Davis and Marshall, linebacker and defensive special teamer Staton, and defensive linemen Kayde Burton, Isaih Kille, and Davis.
Honorable mention went to Isaiah Boon and Erek Brose as offensive linemen, Jon Burk at receiver, Konner Sewell and Willard in the defensive backfield, and Willard at quarterback.
The all-MEC teams are determined through voting done by the league’s eight head coaches. They cannot vote for their own players.
The meeting to select the team occurred last Monday, but, by MEC stipulation, the list is withheld from the public until all teams have finished play. With Maryville advancing to this past Saturday’s Show-Me Bowl state-championship game in Class 3, that meant disclosure was delayed until today.
Graves, the key man on the blocking unit for the CHS running attack which averaged 6.6 yards per attempt and just under 292 yards per game, is an all-conference first-team offensive lineman for a third year in a row after being honorable mention as a freshman.
He is a first-team pick on defense, where he was tied for third among the Hornets in tackles and second in sacks, for a second-successive season after being second-team in 2015.
Kille also is a repeat first-team choice from a year ago as he again far surpassed 1,000 rushing yards, this time finishing a yard shy of 1,600 while scoring 37 rushing and total touchdowns.
Marshall, shifting to linebacker this year from defensive end, topped CHS in solo tackles (by C-T tracking using NCAA criteria) with 42 and was in on 67 overall, second to fellow ’backer Staton. He recovered one fumble.
Shaffer elevated to the first-team all-MEC defensive unit after being on the No. 2 squad last year. He led the Hornets with five pass interceptions, shared third in tackles with Graves, and had a fumble recovery.
As a pass catcher, his 21 receptions gained 565 yards – 26.9 yards per snag – and produced three touchdowns. His career average of 25.85 yards per catch is a new Chillicothe record.
As a kick returner, he ran 10 kickoffs back for an average of 22.4 yards (with a longest of 62) and returned 13 punts for 148 yards – an average of 11.4 yards, highlighted by a 50-yarder for a score.
Staton, in addition to being another key component of the excellent blocking for runs, was second on the team in pass receptions (13) and receiving yardage (189), averaging 14.5 yards per catch and scoring three times.
Willard scored 55 kicking points, including making three of four field goal attempts, and boomed 43 kickoffs for touchbacks, while punting for a 38.6 yards average.
In addition to the Chillicothe choices, the 2017 all-MEC first team also included seven Smithville Warriors at seven positions, six Maryville players at seven spots, four Fighting Irish from St. Joseph: Lafayette at six positions, one at one post each from St. Joseph: Benton and Bishop LeBlond, and none from Savannah or Cameron.
In terms of overall inclusion on all levels of the elite squad, beyond Chillicothe’s 13 players at 23 positions, Smithville had 19 at 20, Lafayette 14 at 18, Maryvillle 12 at 17, Benton eight at 12, Savannah eight at nine, Bishop LeBlond six at 11, and Cameron three at four.
The Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association’s all-northwest district team will be announced Wednesday.
Maryville, although only third in this year’s confernce-championship race after winning it outright 5-consecutive times and sharing it the year before that, more than salved that disappointment Saturday, winning its fifth state championship and third in six years with a 47-9 blowout of Mount Vernon in the Class 3 title game in the Show-Me Bowl.
The Spoofhounds scored 20 points in each of the first two periods to lead 40-0 at halftime and coasted from there.