#2 Wolves Win the COC….

The number two story in my countdown of top sports stories for 2017 is the 2017 Reeds Spring Football Season.  They finished 9-3, winning nine games in a row before falling in the District Championship Game.

It what was the final year for the Central Ozarks Conference – Small Division and the Wolves owned the league.  With no game really being close.  They outscored conference opponents 275-63 and no team was closer than 20 points.

It proved to be back to back titles for the Wolves. (They shared the 2016 Championship with Bolivar and Catholic)  It was their first outright conference championship since 1981.

They proved to have the most prolific offense in school history.  What most consider the most dominating offensive line the Wolves have ever fielded, paved the way for new records for yards and points.  And they opened up Kelly Newton to post new marks for individual rushing yards and touchdowns.

Austin Bradfield, Ben Moler, and Kelly Newton would all receive All-State recognition for their play.

When Reeds Spring takes the field in 2018, they will be members of the Big 8 Conference.

photo courtesy of RS parents

#3 Lady Pirates Make Run…

The number three story in this years countdown is the 2016-2017 season of Branson Lady Pirate Basketball.

We knew that Kip Bough’s bunch and a chance to be good with everything they had returning.  But, not many outside of this area knew just how good they would end up being.

Led by the most prolific scorer in school history, Amanda Kearney,  and getting key contributions from different players stepping up time and time again, the Lady Pirates exceeded expectations and picked up victory after victory.  They would win 25 games in the historic season.

Along the way Branson would silence their critics.  They beat Republic three times, Ozark twice, and dispatched of powerhouse Kickapoo to win the district championship.  It was a year that would see them advance all the way to the State quarterfinals.

All season, they backed up the confidence, this guy, had in them.

This team will be long remembered for their success.  But, to me they will also be known for the exuberance of Kearney, the toughness of Tara Utz-Deprist,  the athleticism of Lauren Garrison and Gracie Jaeger.  Plus the huge minutes that others would always find a way to shine in.

Their defense always set the tone.

photo courtesy of Ozarks Sports Zone

#4 Reeds Spring Track

The number four story in this years countdown is Reeds Spring Track.

The Wolves were small in numbers but large in points as they finished as State Runners Up.

Leading the competition going into the final event.  Reeds Spring was done and could only wait.  If John Burroughs finished third or worse the title would belong to the Wolves.  A second place finish would force a tie.  But in the end it was not to be and Burroughs won the event and took the title by a slim two points.

A great meet for the Wolves.

Four Gold Medals, A Silver, and two Bronze was the count.  When the totals were added up, the Wolves totaled 60 points.  Korey Robinette led the way.  The Senior speedster claimed gold in the 200 to go along with a silver in the 100.

Ransom Allphin won the 100 meter hurdles and added bronze on the 300 meter hurdles.

Robinette and Allphin were joined by Keenan Haynes and Colter Whitten to claim the state championship in the 4 X 100 meter relay (a great effort by all four and a finish by Robinette of which legends are made) Kelly Newton joined Robinette, Haynes, and Allphin to take bronze in the 4 X 200 meter relay.

The Wolves also got a state championship performance form Xavier McDaniel.  The big guy out did everyone in the shot put.

It is the best finish by Reeds Spring in any team sporting event.

#5 Amanda Kearney hits 2000

The number five story in my countdown takes me back to Amanda Kearney’s magical season with the Branson Lady Pirates.

The scoring machine not only smashed the all-time scoring record but she became the only Pirate, male or female to go over the 2000 mark.  The epic feat came at, of all places, Republic high school in a game the the Lady Pirates had to have.  I was fortunate enough to be on hand broadcasting the game that night.

But with Amanda it wasn’t only the points, it was the leadership.  She lead the Lady Pirates to a spot in the State Quarterfinals.

Kearney is now playing her college ball at Harding Univesity in Arkansas.

Photo courtesy of facebook
photo courtesy of Larry Plumlee
photo courtesy of twitter

#6 Kelly Newton Destroys Reeds Spring Football Records…

The #6 story of the year takes us to the Perry Phillips Broadcasting Reeds Spring Football Player of the Year….  Kelly Newton had the most explosive offensive season in Wolves Football history.

Newton made the move from halfback to fullback in the offseason and took full advantage of it.  He set the tone early and never looked back.  He crushed the single season rushing record by nearly 500 yards and also got into the endzone more than any Wolf in history.

The senior, speedster had big game after big game, rarely playing much past the half and averaging nearly 11 yards per carry on the season.  And, in true selfless fashion always have credit for his success to his teammates, most notably the offensive line.

When all was said in done he had rushed for 1940 yards and 21 touchdowns, earning him all-state honors.  He led his team to the district championship game, falling to Mount Vernon, in the most competitive game the Mountaineers had on their road to the state title game.

photo courtesy of Ozarks Sports Zone

#7 Varsity Football Comes to Forsyth

The #7 story in this years countdown is the first year of Varsity football in Forsyth.

The Panthers kicked things off this season for the first time at the varsity level.  Since, they came in mid-cycle in the MSHSAA calendar it made scheduling a little difficult and made for some out of area opponents.

Despite it being their first season at this level, the Panthers proved to be competitive.  Most first year schools are happy if they can win a single game.  But, Forsyth was much better than that, falling only one game short of .500, finishing 4-5 on the year.  Along the way, they picked up wins over Northeast (Kansas City), Diamond, Rich Hill, and Santa Fe.

Scheduling will get a lot easier next year as the Panthers move into the Mid-Lakes Conference for football.  It looks like that might be a short stay as various school movements will have the Panthers, with a group that is partially different in the 2020 season.

#8 New Faces in New Places……

# 8 on the countdown this year are the new coaches in the area.  None of the changes garnered more attention than the arrival of Anthony Hays to take over the Branson Football Program.  And, no sport saw more of a shakeup than did volleyball, nearly every school had a change there.  It was also nice to welcome a very familiar face to the coaching reins, as Chris Larson started the golf program at College of the Ozarks.

Here is a look at the changes this past year….


old coach > new coach



Becky Lipasek  > Lauren Dorris


Dan Henderson > Anthony Hays

Boys Basketball

Kirk Hanson  > Mike Linehan

Reeds Spring


Jennifer Nichols > Molly Illum


Justin Drake > Barry Yocom



Cindy Swatek > Alexis Mitchell



Jim Jullian > Byron Richardson

Blue Eye


Amanda Reagan > Taylor Pierce

School of the Ozarks

Girls Basketball

Andrea Martin > Keaundrea Scott


Boys Basketball

Derek Wilson > David Sherer


Byron Richardson > Tim Townsend


Hannah Fondrist > Becky Justis

College of the Ozarks


New Sport > Chris Larson


#9 College of the Ozarks Volleyball

Checking in at number nine on this years countdown is the College of the Ozarks Volleyball team

The Lady Cats started the year blazing hot winning their first ten matches and were undefeated through Labor Day.  But that was just the start of what ended up being a very successful campaign for Coach Stacy Muckenthaler’s team.

They would end up posting a 30-7 record before all was said and done and once again qualified for the National Championships, losing to Ottawa on the Braves home floor.  The record goes down as the best winning percentage in school history. (at least since team records are available)

Danielle Curnes and Rielly Dobbs received All-America honors.  Curnes was also named Academic ALL-American.

2017 Top Stories Countdown is Underway….

Its time to start my annual countdown of the top area sports stories of the year.  As is the case every year its strictly a matter of opinion and I do not go back and pour over stories, I work mainly from memory….so, there will be stories that you could easily make an argument for being on this list that may not show up….  with that being said I will start with #10 today and reveal one story a day leading to the top story of the year being revealed on New Years Day.

Number 10 is a story of a team that is the picture of consistency.

The College of the Ozarks women’s basketball team started a new era after the folding of the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference.  And, the results were pretty much the same.  More often than not they dominated whoever they played.   They posted a 28-5 record before falling to St Xavier in the National Quarterfinals.

Along the way they won the Association of Independent Institutions Tournament Championship.

Kelsie Cleeton and Cassidy Johnson received NAIA All-American honors.

photo courtesy of naia


Wolves End up 10th in Final Poll..

The final sportswriters football poll has finally been released for the season.  And, Reeds Spring shows up at #10.

The Wolves finished the season 9-3.  They won 9 straight games before falling to Mount Vernon in the District Championship Game.  The Mountaineers would go on the play for the State Title.

Here is a look at the final rankings, teams from SW Missouri at in bold print.


Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW
1. CBC (15), 13-1, 150, 1
2. Blue Springs, 11-3, 133, 3
3. Eureka, 12-1, 111, 2
4. Park Hill, 10-3, 104, 5
5. Rockhurst, 8-4, 64, 10
6. Hazelwood Central, 10-2, 59, 9
7. Lindbergh, 10-2, 55, 8
8. Kirkwood, 9-2, 49, 4
9. Lee’s Summit West, 8-3, 45, 7
10. Blue Springs South, 5-7, 27, NR
Dropped out: No. 6 Rock Bridge
Also receiving votes: Rock Bridge (9-2), 21; Ft. Zumwalt West (8-3), 3; Lafayette (7-4), 3; Joplin (8-2), 1


Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW
1. Staley (15), 14-0, 150, 1
2. Pattonville, 9-4, 135, 5
3. Fort Zumwalt North, 12-1, 108, 3
4. Vianney, 10-2, 103, 2
5. Fort Osage, 9-3, 92, 4
6. Carthage, 9-4, 82, 10 
7. Liberty, 8-3, 47, 6
8. Battle, 8-4, 44, 8
9. Lebanon, 8-4, 21, NR 
10. Jackson, 8-3, 20, NR
Dropped out: No. 7 Poplar Bluff, No. 9 Sedalia Smith-Cotton
Also receiving votes: Poplar Bluff (9-1), 11; William Chrisman (7-4), 5; Sedalia Smith-Cotton (9-1), 3; Ozark (7-5), 2 Webster Groves (5-5), 1


Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW
1. Webb City (15), 15-0, 150, 1 
2. Ladue, 12-3, 131, 5
3. Platte County, 11-3, 120, 3
4. Parkway Central, 12-2, 98, 4
5. Carl Junction, 10-2, 88, 2 
6. Moberly, 10-3, 52, NR
7. Harrisonville, 9-4, 47, NR
8. Hillsboro, 9-4, 39, NR
9. Rolla, 7-6, 27, NR 
10. St. Francis Borgia, 11-1, 19, 7
Dropped out: No. T4 Kearney, No. 8 Smithville, No. 9 MICDS, No. 10 Camdenton
Also receiving votes: Kearney (8-3), 17; St. Joseph Lafayette (9-3), 13; Smithville (9-2), 10; MICDS (9-3), 9; Grain Valley (9-3), 2; Camdenton (8-3), 1; Jefferson City Helias (6-6), 1; West Plains (8-3), 1


Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW
1. Maryville (15), 13-2, 54, 7
T2. Blair Oaks, 13-1, 120, 2
T2. Mt. Vernon, 10-5, 120, NR 
4. Center, 8-3, 90, 8
5. Lutheran South, 9-4, 75, NR
6. McCluer South-Berkeley, 10-1, 73, 1
7. Chillicothe, 10-2, 66, 4
8. Park Hills Central, 12-1, 58, 3
9. Eldon, 11-2, 47, 6
10. Reeds Spring, 9-3, 13, NR 
Dropped out: No. 5 Seneca, No. 9 Hogan Prep Academy, No. 10 Mexico
Also receiving votes: Mexico (8-4), 6; Seneca (9-2), 3; Owensville (8-4), 2; Pleasant Hill (5-7), 1; Hogan Prep Academy (10-1), 1


Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW
1. Lamar (15), 14-0, 150, 1
2. Lutheran North, 12-1, 126, 3
3. Lafayette County, 14-1, 122, 6
4. Trinity, 9-1, 95, 2
5. Ava, 12-1, 90, 4 
6. Clark County, 9-5, 84, NR
7. North Callaway, 11-2, 42, 7
8. Cardinal Ritter, 9-2, 31, 5
9. Caruthersville, 9-3, 25, NR
10. Palmyra, 9-3, 18, 9
Dropped out: No. 8 Lexington, No. 9 Palmyra, No. 10 South Callaway
Also receiving votes: Holden (5-7), 13; Lathrop (9-3), 13; Malden (10-2), 6; South Callaway (10-2), 5; Mtn. Grove (7-5), 2


Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW
1. Monroe City (15), 15-0, 150, 1
2. Valle Catholic, 12-2, 135, 3
3. East Buchanan, 11-3, 113, NR
4. Lockwood, 11-3, 98, NR 
5. Lincoln, 11-1, 65, 5 
6. Westran, 10-3, 60, NR
T7. Princeton, 12-1, 55, 8
T7. Thayer, 9-4, 55, NR
9. Marceline, 11-1, 38, 2
10. Hamilton-Penney, 10-2, 26, 4
Dropped out: No. 6 Pierce City, No. 7 Fayette, No. 9 Hayti, No. 10 Sarcoxie
Also receiving votes: Hayti (9-3), 12; Pierce City (11-1), 10; South Shelby (6-6), 4; Plattsburg (7-5), 2; Sarcoxie (9-2), 2; Adrian (10-2), 1; Crest Ridge (10-2), 1