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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

The Top 10 All-Around Athletes of the Year

Sunday, June 16, 2002

ABOUT THIS LIST: The Top 10 All-Around Athletes of the Year is a collection of the top multi-sport athletes in the Standard Democrat coverage area. Athletes had to participate in at least two sports to qualify, and players that succeeded in three sports were given an edge over those who did well in two. Schools in our coverage area include Sikeston, New Madrid County Central, Portageville, Bell City, Charleston, Scott County Central, Kelly, Richland, Oran, Dexter, Chaffee and East Prairie.

Outstanding in both football and basketball, NMCC's Dereke Tipler again was our choice for Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row.

Tipler is one of those rare types of athletes that was the absolute best player in both football and basketball in Standard Democrat coverage area.

In the fall, Tipler led the Eagles' football team all the way to the Class 3A championship game with a 12-2 record. As a running back, he rushed for 2,115 yards on 220 carries, scoring 32 touchdowns. He also had 322 yards receiving on 15 catches, scoring five TDs. He broke school records for career touchdowns (62), touchdowns in a season (39) and rushing yards in a career (3,778).

He was first team all-conference, first team all-region and first team all-state.

"Dereke had a great year at running back," said NMCC football coach Steve Rogers. "He's just a great, great athletic talent."

Tipler was just as dominant in basketball, leading the Eagles back to the 3A Final Four with a 28-4 record. He averaged 20 points and eight assists this season and became NMCC's all-time leading scorer with more than 1,600 points. He was also the school's all-time assist leader with more than 600. He was first team all-conference, first team all-region, first team all-state and was a McDonald's All-American nominee.

"There's been a lot of good (point guards) but I don't see how you could say that any of them were better than Dereke," said NMCC basketball coach Joby Holland. "He has to be right there with the best of them that's ever come through."

Tipler signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Three Rivers Community College.

2. Jordy Mixon, Charleston (football, basketball)

For the last three years, Mixon has been one of the featured players on both the football and basketball teams.

In football, he helped lead the Bluejays to the state quarterfinals where they fell to eventual state champion John Burroughs to finish the season 9-3, the team's best mark since 1996.

He led the team with 1,386 yards rushing on 165 carries, averaging 8.4 yards per carry. He also scored 18 TDs this year and he averaged 45.5 yards per kick return.

He was selected first team all-state as a running back.

On defense he had 63 tackles with two interceptions.

"Jordy is an extremely talented young man," said Charleston head football coach Brent Anderson. "He's a very physical kid, and he loves contact. He likes to hit it in between the tackles, but he's gifted in the open field also. He's extremely tough to bring down."

In basketball, Mixon was undersized as a forward, but his production was anything but small.

The 5-foot-11 postman averaged 19 points and six rebounds per game in leading the Bluejays to their first district title since 1997. They reached the quarterfinals where they finished 20-9.

He was selected second team all-state in basketball.

"He had a tremendous year for us, especially for being a 5-11 postman -- we depended on him," said Charleston head basketball coach Danny Farmer. "He jumps quick, he has an accurate shot and he's extremely strong. It's not my coaching, he has developed himself by playing so much basketball."

3. Andrew Lambert, Sikeston (football, track)

Lambert is one of those athletes that can do anything. Whatever sport he chose, he excelled. It just so happens that you can only do one sport per season.

In football, the 6-foot-2 senior might have been the team's MVP. He led the team in points with 68 and was one of the state leaders in interceptions with eight.

He was selected first team all-state as a kicker after he booted 7-of-9 field goals, including three from 40 yards on more. And he was perfect on extra points the last two years, connecting on 36 in a row.

"We felt like any time we got close to the 30-yard line, we had a chance to get points," said Sikeston head football coach Charlie Vickery. "Kicking extra-points and field goals is a huge weapon."

As a defensive back, he was selected first team all-region. He collected 48 tackles along with his high interception total. And he was also the team's top receiver, with 14 catches for 340 yards with four TDs.

In track and field, Lambert took fourth in both the long (21-7) and triple jump (44-3 1/4) at the Class 3A state track meet.

His high jump of 6-9 at the district meet is just one inch shy of the school record.

"I thought he had an outstanding season," said Sikeston head track coach Jerry Dement. "He jumped in three different events and all three have different techniques. He was considered one of the top overall jumpers in the state."

Portageville was the area's surprise team in football this year, and Chillers was the biggest reason why. He led the Southern Division of the SEMO Conference in scoring with 126 points and rushed for 1,152 yards on 186 attempts.

He was first team all-conference and first team all-region for Portageville's 7-3 district championship team.

"He was one of the big reasons why we were able to turn things around like we did," said Portageville football coach Jim McKay. "He was a small athlete, but it took more people to bring him down than you would think. He had excellent work ethics. He has better than average speed, and he eludes tacklers real well. He was also an outstanding safety for us."

In basketball, Chillers played a major role on Portageville's 24-4 squad. He was one of the better outside shooters on the team, and could also took the ball inside and challenge. In an impressive win against Sikeston, Chillers nailed three 3-pointers and scored a season-high 26. He averaged nine points, five steals, and was first team All-Bootheel Conference.

"Dantwan was an overachiever," said Portageville basketball coach Jim Bidewell. "He gives you 100 percent in practice and in games. What he lacked in physical tools, he made up for with heart and desire."

In the spring, Chillers ran for Portageville's track and field team.

5. Dontay Clark, Charleston (football, basketball, track)

Clark's tremendous speed and quickness made him a dangerous weapon in football, basketball and track.

In football, he was the most explosive quarterback around -- at least with his feet.

He finished with 1,022 yards on 104 carries for a remarkable 9.8 yards per carry. He also had 18 TDs and averaged 36 yards per punt return to help lead the Bluejays to the 2A Quarterfinals.

He was first team all-region as a quarterback.

And that's not even his best position.

He was named first team all-state as a cornerback. He had 70 tackles and intercepted five passes, returning one 100 yards for a TD in the district championship game. He also caused three fumbles and recovered two.

Charleston head football coach Brent Anderson has called Clark as good of a cornerback as he's ever coached.

"Dontay is a speedy kid with super moves," said Anderson. "He's not real physical, but he's phenomenal in the open field."

In basketball, Clark was the team's point guard and top free throw shooter. He averaged eight points, three assists and three steals per game, but head coach Danny Farmer liked his ability to step up during crunch time.

"He kept us in some games when he had to," said Farmer. "He was that type of player. Not just in basketball, he could raise the level of his game in any sport."

Clark also ran track in the spring to wrap up his prep career.

6. Brian Murph, NMCC (football, basketball, baseball)

Murph got off to a good start this year, quarterbacking NMCC's football team to the Class 3A championship game. The Eagles took advantage of his ability to run the option, his strong arm and his good decisions all season.

He finished the year with 714 yards rushing, scoring 10 touchdowns on the ground. He threw for 1,238 yards with 17 TD passes, scoring 70 points overall.

He was first team all-conference and first team all-region. "I'm partial, but Murph was the best all-around quarterback in the area," said NMCC football coach Steve Rogers. "You had guys that could throw the ball for 1,500 yards and had option quarterbacks that ran for 900 or more yards. (Murph) was the total package. He was an excellent, excellent quarterback."

Murph's success carried over into the basketball season, where he played a big role on NMCC's Final Four team.

He averaged 10.2 points and 3.3 rebounds, dishing out 30 assists and pulling down 90 rebounds. He was second team all-conference, second team all-region and was named to the Carbondale Holiday All-Tournament team.

He also played baseball for the Eagles, batting .322 with one home run, two RBIs and seven runs scored.

Murph signed a letter of intent to play football for Butler County Community College in Kansas.

7. Michael Colon, Sikeston (football, basketball, track)

Colon might have been Sikeston's best all-around athlete in three different sports.

The junior helped form the last line of defense in football as a cornerback, he was one of the best defensive players on the basketball team and he was one of the best triple jumpers in the entire state.

In football, the hard-hitting Colon recorded 59 tackles and intercepted a key pass against Poplar Bluff. He also recovered a fumble for a touchdown and he was one of the team's top kick return men.

In basketball, Colon started for Sikeston's 14-12 team and was usually assigned to the opposing team's best offensive player. At 6-foot-2, Colon rebounded well against bigger post players and he could score well inside, averaging five points, six rebounds and two steals per game.

Colon was one of the track team's most valuable members, running two relays and competing in the triple and long jumps. He finished second in the state in the long jump with a leap of 44'4 3/4", marking the second year in a row he was an all-stater in that event.

He also ran legs on the Class 3A state qualifying 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 meter relays. In the long jump he was usually counted on for points and was one of the favorites to make it to sectionals in that event.

"Michael was real versatile for us this year," said Sikeston head track coach Jerry Dement. "The triple jump was his forte but he was a very good long jumper and ran on two very competitive relay teams. He had an excellent spring for us."

8. Matt Burnett, Dexter (football, basketball, baseball)

Burnett was productive in three sports for Dexter this year -- football, basketball and baseball. In football, he was a power running back with good speed and a solid stiff arm. He set a new school record with 120 points scored, leading Dexter to its first winning season in a decade.

Burnett racked up 1,717 yards on 286 carries, scoring 19 touchdowns. He was first team all-conference and all-region.

"(Burnett) catches a lot of flack for carrying the ball so much, and I give it to him a lot," said Dexter football coach Aaron Pixley. "But I wouldn't give it to him if I didn't think he was capable. Matt isn't a big slasher and he doesn't have (overwhelming) speed, but he's real tough and he breaks tackles."

In basketball, Burnett was a role player on Dexter's 24-4 squad. He averaged six points, four rebounds and was one of the better defenders on the team.

"Matt did a good job for us this year," said Dexter basketball coach Eric Sitze. "He could play inside, rebound and was good defensively. I'm looking forward to having him back next year."

Burnett finished up his stellar junior year with a solid season in baseball. He batted .340 with 11 RBIs, 20 stolen bases and 16 runs scored.

He played second base.

"His speed was definitely an asset to our team," said Dexter baseball coach Brian Becker. "He's just a good all-around baseball player. He puts the bat on the ball, and he scored a lot of runs for us."

9. Justin Lowes, Sikeston (football, basketball, track)

Lowes finished his outstanding athletic career at Sikeston as a dominating lineman and one of the best shot putters in school history.

In football, the physically superior Lowes played nose guard and simply couldn't be blocked. He registered 55 tackles with five quarterback sacks while being named first team all-region.

He was also a tremendous offensive lineman.

"I think he had an outstanding year and it basically wound up an outstanding career --

he was a three-year starter," said Sikeston head football coach Charlie Vickery. "He worked extremely hard, not only during the season, but in the offseason as well. And he is a tremendous competitor. He had a great desire to succeed."

In track and field, Lowes made his third trip to state count as he received all-state honors by placing sixth in Class 3A in the shot put with a toss of 51'1".

"Justin had a good, consistent career," said Sikeston head track coach Jerry Dement. "He was a three-time state qualifier and we were glad to see him get up there and have some individual success at the state level. He along with his throwing buddy Kevin Keller, have been a tremendous one-two punch for the last few years in the shot put."

To top it off, Lowes participated in basketball for the first time since his freshman year. Lowes has signed with Southern Illinois University in Carbondale to continue his football career.

At wideout, Dooley improved the vertical passing game of Dexter's football team this year with good timing, good routes and good hands.

He finished with 362 yards receiving on 22 catches, scoring four touchdowns.

He was second team all-region at wideout.

"Willie Dooley isn't blessed with a lot of speed, but he's a good athlete and he's got real good hands," said Dexter football coach Aaron Pixley. "He's going to catch the football if it's close."

Over the winter, Dooley was a solid role player for Dexter's 24-4 basketball team. He averaged seven points and five rebounds.

"Willie is a competitor," said Dexter basketball coach Eric Sitze. "He likes to play, he likes to compete. He likes to do whatever it takes to win."

Dooley finished up his solid junior year with a breakthrough season in baseball. He batted .357 with 14 RBIs, six doubles, four triples and scored 17 runs.

"Willie was solid at shortstop," said Dexter baseball coach Brian Becker. "He did a good job of driving in runs for us this year. He's got a lot of potential. He will throw a little bit more for us next year."

Female athlete of year

Hannah Burleson, Dexter (volleyball, basketball, track)

5-5, Sophomore

Productive in track, basketball and volleyball, Dexter sophomore Hannah Burleson was our choice for Female Athlete of the Year.

In track, Burleson dominated the area in the 100 and 200 meter dash and the long jump. She eventually qualified for state in the 100 meter dash where she took 12th place. At the district meet, she took second in the 100 meters (12.34), third in the 200 meters (27.09) and fourth in the long jump (14-10.5).

Burleson is also a two-year starter on Dexter's basketball team. At point guard, she averaged 7.5 points, four rebounds and three steals for the Lady Bearcats' record-setting 17-7 squad.

"Hannah is the type of athlete every coach wants," said Dexter basketball coach Gavin Miller. "It's 'yes sir, no sir,' and it's 100 percent for the team. She never complains and will do everything you ask her to do at a top rate of speed."

After some injuries, Burleson was also moved up from junior varsity to varsity on Dexter's volleyball team, and transformed into one of the Lady Bearcats' top setters. Just a sophomore, Dexter athletics seem to be in good shape with Burleson around for two more years.

"I expect a lot of good things out of her in all three sports," said Miller. "She's a well-rounded athlete. I think she would start at any high school in the area. She's just a well-rounded person. She wins all the beauty contests, she wins all the popularity contests and Miss Dexter things. She's that type of kid. Everything she does, she does to the best of her ability."