Chester High School celebrated its 2019 football program with awards and appreciation on Nov. 14, as coaches, football players, parents, media and guests gathered at the CHS Cafeteria.
Eight major varsity awards were presented, the seniors were honored and the freshman and JV programs were recognized.
The eight players awards were presented by Head Coach Billy Belton.
Weight Room Warrior Award: Senior Gage Bollmann won this for the time and dedication he put into his weight room workouts. He also provided much leadership to the team and started 10 games at right guard.
Elite Warrior Award: Senior Jacob Miller recorded 68 tackles on defense, including 24 solos and 44 assists. Four tackles caused the opponents to lose yardage and he made two interceptions. Miller started 10 games at right tackle. Miller also recorded 2,775 yards of offense, 2,169 yards rushing. He averaged 217 yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry.
Young Gun Award: Sophomore quarterback Dylan Kelkhoff passed for 47 completions and 606 yards, with seven passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns and was fourth on the team in rushing with 243 yards.
'The Weapon': Sophomore Jordan Merideth ran for 475 yards and averaged nine yards per carry. He rushed for 7 touchdowns. Merideth also caught passes for a total of 159 yards (one of them touchdown) and averaged 11.5 yards per reception. Merideth returned 11 kickoffs for a total of 234 yards, ran one back for a TD and had another long run of 85 yards. On defense he had 17 solo tackles and 36 tackle; had one interception and forced one fumble. Finally, he recovered one fumble.
Offensive MVP: Senior Ethan Bert carried the ball 110 times for 595 yards and seven touchdowns. He caught 14 passes for 216 yards and 11 touchdowns. In his career, Bert rushed for 1,060 yards and 10 touchdowns. He caught passes for 753 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was also no slouch on defense: 117 tackles, four of which were for a loss; 10 sacks, five interceptions, six forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, five defensive touchdowns and 26 total touchdowns.
Defensive MVP: Senior Ethen Eggemeyer recorded 74 tackles (42 solo and 31 assists), including four for a loss and two forced fumbles. Eggemeyer also recovered one fumble. For his Yellow Jacket career, Eggemeyer had 189 tackles, 94 solo and 86 assists, including eight tackles for a loss; and four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. On offense he added 247 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry and five rushing touchdowns.
Eric Skorcz Award: Awarded to seniors Ian Reith and Brendan Murphy. Reith was first team on All-Conference Defense, with 34 tackles (19 solo and 15 assists), five sacks and six tackles for a loss. On offense, Reith caught 17 passes for 202 yards and one TD. He averaged 11.6 yards per catch.
Brendan Murphy was second team All-Conference on the defensive line. He started 10 games at defensive tackle and 8 games at offensive guard. He recorded 21 tackles, 9 solo and 12 assists. Six of his tackles were for a loss. He also forced two fumbles.
Coach Belton presents the Eric Skorcz Award each year in memory of a former Yellow Jacket who was, "a great teammate, player and overall person," and who started on both sides of the ball, Belton said. He presents the annual award to the player who most reminds him of Skorcz's play and character. Skorcz died in 2016 from complications related to diabetes.
Salute to seniors
Head Coach Billy Belton praised his seniors for a great season. The 2019 team had a second-place finish in the Black Diamond Conference with a 7-2 record; a home IHSA Class 2A playoff game; nine players selected to the 2019 All-Conference Team; two All-State Academic Team selections; and a Black Diamond Offensive Team Captain.
"These guys won only one game as freshmen and two games as sophomores," Belton marveled. "They have really grown and matured. These guys had a great senior year.
"We had a great time and a lot of great athletes. These guys worked as hard as any other team I have coached. Great senior leadership helped this team to accomplish what we did and we will really miss those guys next year. They came to work every day. I love you guys and am proud of you."
• On Ethan Bert: "Ethan is the most gifted athlete that I have ever coached. He was a three-year starter on both sides of the ball."
• On Ian Reith: Ian worked hard and he was a leader. He never complained and was an amazing player!"
• "Marisellis Malone Jr.: "Marisellis was a key man on special teams. He was a great teammate and was a top defensive players for the 2019 Yellow Jackets."
• Brendan Murphy: "Brendan was a great guard. Nobody could move him! He played on both the defense and offensive lines."
• Jacob Miller: "Jacob was a quiet leader. He played both offensive and defensive lines and is a great individual. He never missed weight room sessions, and set an example for other players regarding work ethic. We really are glad he moved here from Alabama this season."
• Ethen Eggemeyer: Ethen was the best middle linebacker that I have coached. He led the team in tackles the past two years and was the leader on defense."
• Gage Bollmann: "Gage was a hard worker. He really spent a lot of time in the weight room. He put in the time and effort to be tough. He actually ran the weight room workouts."
The final senior, Danny Clendenin, could not attend the banquet. He played wide receiver and defensive back for the Yellow Jackets.
A solid season
The 2019 Yellow Jackets finished the season with 2,775 total yards, 2,169 from rushing and 606 from passing; 34 touchdowns, 27 rushing and seven passing. The Jackets outgained their opponents by 700 yards in 2019.
The Jackets also had 10 players bring home 11 Black Diamond awards, and two All-State awards.
Ethan Bert won the Black Diamond Conference Offensive Captain Award. "Ethan was the best running backs in the conference," Belton said, noting his more than 1,000 rushing yards and 750 receiving yards, and 26 total touchdowns.
Chester also had an additional 10 All-Conference awards. First Team honors were awarded to junior Nate Heffernan, senior Ian Reith, senior Jacob Miller, senior Ethan Bert and senior Ethan Eggemeyer.
Second Team honors went to junior Tyler Holm, senior Brendan Murphy and sophomore Jordan Merideth.
Honorable mentions were bestowed to junior Caleb Parker and sophomore Isaac Jany.
Junior Nate Heffernan and senior Ethen Eggemeyer also qualified as members of the First Team Academic All-State Team, meaning they excelled at both football and in academics. Heffernan carries a 3.9 GPA and Eggemeyer a 3.5 GPA.
JV and freshmen
Freshman Coach Jacob Cowan introduced his 2019 team and praised their efforts. "They learned to play, react, and complete their assignments, and showed they have a lot of potential for the coming years," Cowan said.
Freshmen players were Aiden Blechle, Koby Jany, Gage Hasemeyer, Jesse Heath, Branden Whitley, Will Schuwerk, Jacob Handel, Jacob Powel, Andrew Partin, Conner Cowan, Aaron Welton, Clayton Grammer, Carson Dunn, Matthew James, Cullen Sonnier, Trace Fricke, Jorge Jardines, Shane Bicket, Josh Benton, Scott Bernachi, and Koda Mueller.
JV Coach Trevor Kelkhoff praised his team for its 5-1 record, saying the 2019 squad gave Chester "one of our best JV seasons in a long time."
"We had great fan support, and these guys never quit or gave up," Coach Kelkhoff said. "I was proud of their three wins in a row to finish the season."
The JV team was made up of the 21 freshmen plus 11 sophomores: Jacob Cowell, Cooper Eggemeyer, Ethan Stumpe, Brendan Baughman, Jared Landeros, Aiden Kennon, Freddie Alvarez, Isaac Maue, Gavin Young, Nathan Snider and Jerald Copple II.