Dalton Grohler has been seated in the waiting room of Cerro Gordo-Bement running backs for two years behind a couple good ones.
He came in as a freshman when Steve Isbell and Dee Woods were playing their final season. Last year, Chase McNamara was in front of him. Actually, he was beside him.
In 2014, Grohler was good enough to be on the field, as a fullback, but wasn't quite ready to be featured -- that is, until the end of the year.
"He was figuring stuff out," CGB coach Andy Kerley said. "And he was every bit as good as the senior in front of him. We started going a lot of gun, two-back stuff, just to get him out of being a fullback."
This season, nobody was in front of him. And after Week 1 against Tri-County, there's no questioning who the centerpiece of the offense is.
Grohler's 410 yards rushing is third all-time in the H&R area for a single game. He scored six touchdowns and had 10 carries of more than 20 yards.
It's not that the junior expected to put up monster numbers the first week, but he thought he'd be better. He filled out at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds.
"I definitely felt like I got a lot better between sophomore and junior year," Grohler said. "A little bit faster, stronger. A lot of speed enhancement stuff."
He has a chance to put up massive numbers with at least eight games left.
"I knew he was going to run hard and score a lot," said offensive lineman Brant Knowles. "I don't think I expected this much."
Quite a No. 2
It's hard to be overshadowed when you rush for 352 yards and six touchdowns in a game.
But Clinton running back Alec Cooley's performance on Friday night came when Grohler exploded as well. The fellow junior Cooley came halfway to matching his season yardage total from last year while surpassing his total rushing touchdowns -- five.
Cooley's big day meant his name is now atop the leaderboard in two different spots in the Maroons' record book. He passed Ontario Sneed's 322-yard game against Meridian back on Oct. 22, 2004, and his six touchdowns was a new Maroons record as well.
He helped Clinton score the most points it has scored since 2011, when the Maroons hung 67 points on Shelbyville in Week 6.
Rushing for 647 yards on 129 carries last year, Cooley only needs 296 yards to eclipse last year's mark.
Clinton takes on Fithian-Oakwood at home this Friday.
Scary start for Heath
The first night of the season was a frightening one for Tuscola junior Jaret Heath and his coach, Andy Romine.
Heath, a guard and middle linebacker, was lined up in the Warriors' extra-point block formation after a third-quarter touchdown in Tuscola's game at Westville on Friday. Heath got sandwiched by two players and went down. After the play, Heath had no feeling from his waist down.
"It was very scary," Romine said. "In my 17 years coaching, I'd put it up there with one of the scariest moments I've been associated with."
Heath was secured and carried out on a backboard, then rushed to a Danville hospital by ambulance.
"By the time he got to the hospital, he'd started recovering some feeling – it turned out to be a spinal compression," Romine said. "Our medical staff, led by Brett Taylor, did a great job, and so did the EMS on hand. They were fantastic."
Romine went directly to the hospital after the game.
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"I got there and his mom said they were doing a CAT scan, and that Jaret was concerned I was going to be mad because they had to cut his jersey off," Romine said, laughing.
Romine said Heath continued to regain feeling and was released to go home the next morning. He had no symptoms of concussion and will follow up with a sports medicine doctor this week. He could be cleared to play as early as next week.
By late Friday, Heath was ready to get back on the field.
"It was getting late and he told one of the nurses, 'I have to be at practice at 8 a.m.,'" Romine said. "She said, 'I don't think you're going to make that.'"
A&M honoring Ramsey
It's a long ways away, but Central A&M wanted to make sure they did it right.
Next season, the Raiders will name their football field after Mark Ramsey. Before their Week 1 game against Arcola, A&M will unveil a sign naming the field after the former coach, and there's plans to bring back plenty of coaches and players Ramsey worked and coached as part of the 239 wins he had at Moweaqua and Central A&M.
"I think it's going to be really cool," Central A&M AD Jess Lehman said. "Brent (Weakly) has a done a good job putting a committee together for this."
Lehman said there are other plans being made for the ceremony, but he's waiting for those to finalize before releasing the details.
Ramsey first to 250
Shelbyville's comeback win against Pawnee had an extra bonus -- Mark Ramsey became the H&R's area first coach to reach 250 wins.
According to IHSA records, Ramsey's the 23th coach in Illinois history to reach the mark. His 250-102 record includes a 60-30 record at Moweaqua from 1983-91, a 179-63 record from 1992-2012 and an 11-9 mark at Shelbyville for the past three seasons.
Only six active coaches have more wins than Ramsey, and the Hall of Famer could crack the top 20 if Shelbyville wins five more games this season.
Ready and healthy
Wyatt Beals wasn't the only casualty to injury for Sangamon Valley last year, Nate Highley also found the injury bug.
Early in the year, Highley came down with a wrist injury during a JV game. That sent Michael Lee's hand to his forehead, as the Storm coach saw Highley as a threat at receiver and the backup quarterback to Miles Hutchins.
Now a junior, Highley made up for lost time Friday, scoring on a 38-yard catch in the first quarter. He then picked up quarterback duties after Sangamon Valley built a lead and ran for an 80-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
"We didn't throw the ball a ton last year, but I wanted to get him reps at QB," Lee said, "because if Miles goes down, he's our guy."
Highley's play has allowed Lee to slow play Jimmy Staab's return. Staab's been cleared after an ankle injury he sustained during the summer, but Lee's not taking any chances unless he has to.
"He has a better chance of playing Saturday," Lee said. "If we can get Jimmy and Nate out on the field and healthy, we could become a pretty dangerous offense."
End of an era
The last of the St. Teresa vs. Maroa-Forsyth rivalry will play out on Friday, or at least until conferences are shuffled up again.
The Bulldogs own the battle, leading 15-6 since 1994. But after the Bulldogs dominated the first decade 9-1 it's leveled out. Since the '04 season, St. T only leads 6-5. Both teams have won a playoff game with Maroa-Forsyth winning 30-14 in 2004 and St. Teresa winning 35-28 in 2005.