Current Weather

WRUL On Air Now

7:00pm - Midnight

WROY On Air Now

Joyce Jefferson
Joyce Jefferson
7:00pm - Midnight

Gridiron Preview – Next Man Up

As the Carmi-White County Bulldogs prepare for their Week 5 matchup with the Fairfield Mules, they receive tough news regarding Southern Illinois’ leading rusher.

On the final play of Carmi’s 32-30 loss against Sesser-Valier in Week 4, senior running back Caleb Seibers was tackled from behind, rolling his ankle. 

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Seibers has broken his ankle, ending his season.

This season, Seibers rushed for 601 yards and 6 touchdowns. Now, the Bulldogs will have to turn elsewhere for the final 5+ games left in the season. 

With Seibers out, expect the workloads for junior Noah Pollard and senior Andrew Dodgson to rise. Pollard has had back-to-back 95+ yard rushing performances, including a two touchdown game against Hamilton County in Week 2. Dodgson has carried it 23 times this season for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns.

We will see some new faces in the backfield to replace #21. Junior Kale Wiggins is expected to fill in at wingback, sophomore Easton Sullivan is getting reps at fullback in the Power I formation, and we could also see senior Trayton Vickers get some carries from the wingback position. 

Defensively, Seibers played one of the toughest positions on the field, middle linebacker. Expect Kade Stockton to move from defensive end to linebacker, and Vickers will move from corner to defensive end. Beck Huff will then move to weak side cornerback. Carmi has the depth at the skill positions to fill Seibers’ positions, but it will be awfully hard to replace him. Not only from an X’s & O’s perspective, but a leadership perspective as well, Kurt Simon knows it will be hard to fill that void.

“You can’t really replace a guy like Caleb,” said Simon. “Other teammates will just have to step up big time.”

The Fairfield Mules enter Friday’s game with their worst starting record (1-3) in over two decades, but don’t let that overlook the potential of this team. The Mules’ slow start isn’t because of an untalented roster, it’s because of a brutal schedule to start the season. In Week 1, the Mules had to pick up a non-conference game with Freeburg after Vienna-Goreville’s cancellation. After an 8-point loss to Freeburg, Fairfield then had to take on Sesser-Valier in Week 3 and Johnston City in Week 4, the two lone unbeatens in the conference. This game is a must-win for Fairfield. A loss would drop them to 1-4, meaning they would have to win their final 4 games just to become playoff eligible. In a normal season, 5 wins in the Black Diamond Conference automatically gets you in the postseason, but with Vienna-Goreville’s season cancellation, nobody is guaranteed a playoff berth with 5 wins.

Say what you want about records, schedule strength, injuries, etc.

When it’s rivalry week, nothing else matters. 

The Mules graduated their do-it-all man (in both football and basketball) Eric Rogers last spring, but they’ve replaced Rogers with a talented freshman at quarterback, Jaylen Maners. Since the beginning of the Justin Townsend era, the Mules have been known to live by their foot-to-foot offense. But in 2023, Townsend is using Maners’ abilities to spread things out. Maners had his best game of his young varsity career last week against Johnston City, throwing the ball 28 times for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns. Carmi struggled against Sesser-Valier’s pass attack last week, expect the Mules to try and replicate the Red Devils’ success through the air. Maners has spread his wealth out to 4 different wide receivers. Landon Harrelson has caught 11 passes for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns. Alek Couch has caught 11 passes for 73 yards. Jay Snyder, who missed all of 2022 with a knee injury, has caught 8 passes for 76 yards and 2 touchdowns. Trey Mason (not the CWC golf coach) has caught 7 passes for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

“Their young quarterback has come a long way, and he can throw it really well,” said Simon.

When the Mules run the ball, the Dogs defense will get a heavy dose of Mason and Snyder, as well as the other Snyder brother, Latrael.

Defensively, Fairfield will continue a common trend against the Bulldogs offense, stacking the box. Last week against Johnston City, the Mules lined up with 5 down linemen, 4 linebackers, and 2 safeties. The Bulldogs saw a similar look last week against Sesser-Valier, but it didn’t stop Carmi’s run game whatsoever. The Bulldogs still ran for 328 yards. However, if the Bulldogs struggle against the Mules front 7 (or front 9 in this instance), expect them to move to the shotgun and spread formations that we’ve seen a few times so far this season.

“Fairfield is and has always been a good football team,” said Simon. “They’ve played 3 good football teams in the last 4 weeks. We have to play mistake-free and we have to play really well up front,” Simon added.

The Bulldogs will once again be without starting center, Konner Buchanan, who is dealing with a wrist injury. He is expected to be back for their Week 7 matchup with Edwards County. Austin Owen will move from right tackle to center for the 2nd straight game, and sophomore Dakota Southerd will get his 2nd varsity start at right tackle. predicts the Bulldogs to win 35-17.

Fans who can’t make the road trip to Fairfield will be able to listen to the game on 97.3 FM WRUL and watch the game on the WRUL Sports YouTube Channel.

The Taylor Eye Care pre-game show will begin at approximately 6:45 PM.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *