Rambling through central Illinois, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
• • •
In 55 years of spending far too much time thinking about football, last Saturday was the first time I went to a game excited to watch a punter. El Paso-Gridley punter Declan Duley is a University of Illinois recruit who has been billed as the No. 1 punter in the country. We don’t see that kind of hype very often around here. But while he booted some impressive, towering kicks in practice, Duley went 1-for-3 on field goals and had his lone punt blocked by Farmington’s 5-foot-9, 225-pound center Virgil Haggard. As another famous Virgil once said, “They can conquer who believe they can.” Or, as in the case of Haggard, when they are not blocked. At any rate, Farmington’s win was fun to watch and proved the value of having a passing game to balance out a pounding run game. As for Duley, here’s hoping it was an off day and he fares better as an Illini, though some critical Farmington fans made me cringe with the cheer, “We don’t want you, go to Iowa.” … Actually, there was one other punter who made me watch his every move: Erik Bernstein, whose foot was a strength of the Cornell football team I covered from 1986-89. In a 3-0 win over Harvard on Oct. 11, 1986, Bernstein was the difference in a game that ranks among the most boring on record. Except it was at Harvard, and I attended Cornell and still hate the smirking Crimson (and the Facebook they spawned). Which is why I lit up a cigar in the press box as the game drew to an end – and was then kicked out by an over-officious, smirking stuffed shirt with no sense of humor. … As a side note, and this may anger Ye, Bernstein ranks as one of the greatest Jewish punters ever, behind Adam Podlesh, who kicked in the NFL for the Bears, Jaguars and Steelers.
• • •
You readers never make life easy, but that’s why we love you. Frankly, our weekly puzzle CryptoQuote was hanging in the balance before we got several calls and emails from readers asking us to keep it. Wrote one humble reader, “Please don’t discontinue the CryptoQuote or the Sudoku in The Weekly Post! I enjoy doing them every week. I like the crossword puzzle also, but I’m not very good at it.” The clincher came from Diana Tuttle of Trivoli, who said she does CryptoQuote every week and claims, “It really is good for your brain.” … So we will keep CryptoQuote. But barring a last-second campaign, we’re going to cut the cartoon “Out on a Limb” and maybe another to make room for more puzzles. … Also, I hear Sully got whipped on Bible Trivia by his wife and he is salty about losing.
• • •
With an election days away, some readers will say the page to the right is far too Republican and reveals a deep inner meaning about the bent of this paper. Well, the page is definitely one-sided. But what if no Democrat bothered to send us a letter or column, thereby forcing our hand? … Meetings were scheduled and checks had to be signed last Friday. Then came a call from tree guru Doug Bleichner of Yates City, which pushed all that aside. You want a quick response from TWP headquarters? Call us saying you have extra American chestnut seedlings. Bleichner knows as much about trees as John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed). … Parting shot: Let’s see, big bucks are starting to walk around during the day, the Bills are 6-1 and the Sabres just beat the Blackhawks and Red Wings in succession by finally scoring greasy goals. Plus, many trees still look gorgeous. And corn is nearing $7 a bushel again. And the new trucks tires from Jordan’s look good and also help escape slick spots. All that glorious goodness makes me fear what comes next. Some psychological experts say that is cherophobia (Google it). I say it’s being raised by Depression-era Lutherans who know better.
Contact Jeff Lampe at (309) 231-6040 or firstname.lastname@example.org