WESTERN POSTS SHUTOUT IN OPENING ROUND WIN OVER BLACKFORD

Football - Western

 

BY DEAN HOCKNEY

RUSSIAVILLE, Ind. - The Blackford Bruins football team arrived in Russiaville for its Class 3A Sectional 28 football opener against Western behind schedule due to a bussing issue. The night never got better for the visiting team. Four first quarter Panther touchdowns propelled Western to a 38-0 victory in week one of playoff action.

Western took the opening drive of the game up the middle of the field, capped by a 12-yard touchdown run by Kyler Vail. That drive took 2:13 off the first quarter game clock. They were back in the end zone with just 2:25 off the clock. On the ensuing kickoff, Blackford fumbled at the 29 yard line. One play later, wideout Jacob Douglass took a handoff from quarterback Tyler Knepley, then stopped and fired a 29-yard touchdown pass to Tanner Heady to put the Panthers up 12-0 less than two-and-a-half minutes into the game.

Blackford finally got on track with Chase Mahan completing his first pass 27-yards downfield to Gavin Dyer. But the drive stalled, forcing the Bruins punt unit to take the field. A personnel mix-up forced Blackford to call a timeout, and out of the timeout they snapped the ball well over the punters head and Western had the ball with excellent field position. Four plays later, Knepley found Vail for a touchdown strike and the Panthers led 18-0 three seconds past the halfway point of the first quarter. The only downside to Western’s performance to that point was missing all three two-point conversion plays.

Western’s Black Attack defense stayed aggressive and forced another Blackford punt on its next possession. Western’s first two plays resulted in no gain, then Douglass made a great leaping catch for a 59-yard pass play from Knepley. Four plays later, Vail found the end zone for the third time in the first quarter, this one a 5-yard run. After the extra point cleared the uprights, the Panthers led 25-0 after one quarter.

With 8:26 left in the second quarter, Cameron Dessing put the game away with a 69-yard bolt up the middle to put the Panthers up 32-0. He tacked on the final score late in the fourth quarter, and the defense stood tall in the final seconds at the goal line to preserve the shutout – Western’s second of the season.

Dessing ended with a career-high 201 yards rushing and two touchdowns; Douglass rushed for 73 yards. Knepley, who only played one half due to an injury, finished 3-4 for 83 yards while Douglass stepped in and finished with 35 yards passing. The Panther offense finished with 420 yards of total offense (308 rushing, 112 passing).

Western (3-7) travels to play No. 8 Yorktown Friday night for a sectional semifinal matchup. Yorktown (9-1) defeated No. 11 West Lafayette 48-35 to advance.

DEAN’S LIST: KOKOMO JACKRABBITS COULD JUST BE THE START OF MKE ENTERTAINMENT IN KOKOMO

Get Jacked 1

THE DEAN’S LIST

By Dean Hockney, Sports Journal Publisher

The Kokomo Jackrabbits.

When I first heard the name of the new Prospect League baseball team that will play at Kokomo Municipal Stadium next summer, I had mixed emotions. The biggest question being: What does a Jackrabbit have to do with Kokomo? But when I put together the fact the team is named after the Apperson Jack Rabbit automobile from the early 1900s, I knew MKE Sports & Entertainment had, as they say in baseball, hit it out of the park.

“I love it,” said MKE owner Mike Zimmerman of the Jackrabbits name. “And it is a natural fit with the heritage. I think it is perfect.”

The Kokomo Jackrabbits have a chance to be something special in Kokomo – and not just on the baseball diamond. The MKE ownership group is an award-winning organization that has turned heads in the Milwaukee area. They are known not just for baseball, but for putting on some of the top attractions in the area – such as The Rock Bike Park, which won an award as the best bike parks in the Midwest in 2013. Could the same thing happen in Kokomo?

MKE is also huge in the world of soccer. The Milwaukee Wave is the longest running professional soccer franchise in the United States, playing in the MISL. Soccer is growing by leaps and bounds in central Indiana. This year, three Howard County teams advanced to the Sweet Sixteen round in the IHSAA tournament. And don’t forget, the 30-plus field Wildcat Creek Soccer Complex is currently being built, so soccer has a bright future in the area. Could you imagine if Zimmerman and his team got involved in promoting soccer in the area?

MKE also runs Rock League Baseball in the Milwaukee area. The Rock Sports Complex is considered a top-tier baseball facility with six diamonds – all replica models of major league parks. They had 15,000 fans and athletes visit the complex in 2014. Could something like this happen in Kokomo? Who knows? But as Mayor Greg Goodnight and city officials to team up with Mike Zimmerman and his organization, I think the sky is the limit.

Did you know Kokomo’s new baseball stadium is built specifically so a regulation sized soccer field can fit inside? Maybe the Indy Eleven could play an exhibition game or two here. There has been talk of Kokomo Municipal Stadium hosting concerts, fast pitch softball, youth sports camps and even a winter skating rink. Zimmerman is the first to admit that nine months ago, he had no idea MKE Sports & Entertainment would venture into the Midwest sports market.

“This is a natural fit,” said Zimmerman. “This is a perfect storm with a brand new stadium. Who knows what will happen.”

In the end, this could just be a baseball team that comes to Kokomo and slowly dies, but I doubt it. With MKE and its strong resume of success – it operates the No. 1 haunted attraction in Milwaukee – the Kokomo Jackrabbits could just be the start of a long relationship that becomes an economic boon to Howard County.

Until next time, remember to keep the man and ship in sports – and I’ll see you at the game.

Dean Hockney is the publisher of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana and sports editor of the Kokomo Herald. You can follow him on Twitter (@Sports_Journal) for the latest in local sports news and game reports.

 

 

KOKOMO JACKRABBITS ARRIVE IN CITY OF FIRSTS

Kokomo Jackrabbits 1

For more on the Kokomo Jackrabbits, see Dean Hockney’s story and editorial in the Oct. 21 edition of the Sports Journal of Central Indiana.

Kokomo is no longer the team-to-be-named-later. On Monday afternoon, MKE Sports & Entertainment revealed the much anticipated name and logo of the new Prospect League baseball team playing at Kokomo Municipal Stadium: the Kokomo Jackrabbits. Just under 1,000 entries were submitted for the Name the Team contest at KokomoBaseball.com. Of those entries, 15 people chose the Jackrabbits name and one winner was randomly drawn for the $2,500 grand prize.

“The Kokomo Jackrabbits playing Prospect League baseball enhances Kokomo’s identity throughout the state and Midwest,” said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight. “The name Jackrabbits is a tribute to our automotive heritage, and the team and stadium are part of Kokomo’s aim to attract people to fuel the future of our city.”

Other fans who submitted the winning entry at KokomoBaseball.com will receive a Kokomo Jackrabbits prize package, which includes tickets to the home opener and closer at Kokomo Municipal Stadium, an exclusive stadium tour, merchandise and more.

Judges chose the Jackrabbits name because of its historical importance to the city. The Apperson was a brand of automobile manufactured from 1901 to 1926 in Kokomo, Indiana. The Apperson Jack Rabbit was introduced in 1907. It was a 2-passenger roadster, equipped with a four cylinder 60 or 96 horsepower engine. Features included a four-speed transmission, 34-inch wheels and tires, Hess-Bright ignition systems and a 20-gallon round gas tank. It had a guaranteed top speed of 75 miles per hour.

MKE Owner Mike Zimmerman also introduced Greg Van Horn as field manager of the Kokomo Jackrabbits. Van Horn is currently assistant baseball coach at Princeton University. Last summer, he served as assistant coach of the Prospect League’s Chillicothe Paints and was the shortstop on the Paints 2010 squad that won the Prospect League championship for the first time and was ranked second in the nation among college summer league teams.

“I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity and am excited to be a part of bringing high level baseball back to the Kokomo community,” said Van Horn. “We are committed to putting the best possible product on the field so that our fans can enjoy a winning experience from the very beginning. I can’t wait to get going.”

Zimmerman said he is excited about bringing a summer baseball team to the City of Firsts.

“This is another big day for the city of Kokomo and its new baseball club – the Kokomo Jackrabbits,” said Zimmerman. “The new brand is strong and will certainly be a big success for merchandise sales. Our new field manager, Greg Van Horn is an up and comer and we are excited to have him lead our team”.

Ticket information and updates for the inaugural Kokomo Jackrabbits season can be found on the team’s website at KokomoJackrabbits.com, along with a Kokomo Municipal Stadium Seating Chart. Follow and friend us socially on Facebook and Twitter for further developments.

Courtesy of the Kokomo Jackrabbits and City of Kokomo