Photo by Tayhlor Sims
Jersey’s Billy Ritchey
Ritchey, a senior at Jersey Community High School, is in the thick of basketball season and though his gridiron days with the Panthers are now only a memory, he can look back on a spectacular high school career.
He led the Panthers to an overall record of 6-4, with a Mississippi Valley Conference record of 4-1, losing only to league champion Highland. He also led the conference in passing, throwing nearly 2,500 yards for 28 touchdowns.
But Ritchey didn’t run the Panthers offense his entire time in high school. He had some big shoes to fill at the start of the 2013 season.
“Ritchey followed quarterback Mitch Kimbell, who is on a full ride to Syracuse University,” Jacobs said. “When Billy came in there were high expectations because we ask our quarterback to do a lot … but he just always knew where to go with the ball on our offense and that’s what makes him special.”
Ritchey was named first-team MVC this year as a quarterback, but he also made first team as a defensive back his junior year playing under Kimbell.
“He actually broke all of Kimbell’s records this year,” Jacobs said. “He had several school records for throwing the football in just one year and that just goes to show what kind of kid he is.”
However, Jacobs and Ritchey will be the first to admit that he couldn’t have such success without help from his team.
“We had a pretty good offensive line, some great receivers and a really good running back to go with him,” Jacobs said. “Ritchey’s job was to deal the cards and get the ball to the right person; and he certainly did that for us this year.”
Ritchey was unavailable for a photo at AdVantage News press time.
Civic Memorial’s Kyle Kirkpatrick
Kirkpatrick has played as the Eagles’ quarterback since week three of his junior year. When the starter ahead of him was injured early that season, he rose to the occasion and filled the role to the best of his ability.
And that same ability just earned him a scholarship to McKendree University in Lebanon, where he committed Wednesday to playing football.
“He’s just a really good athlete,” CM coach Scott Winslow said. “We put him in spots as our quarterback were he could run and throw the ball; in turn putting us in a lot of good situations to succeed.”
The Eagles ended their season at 3-6 overall and 1-4 in the league
“His best days are probably ahead of him,” Winslow said. “He’s just a tremendous kid with a lot of upsides.”
Kirkpatrick received the Alton Knights of Columbus offensive back of the year award in 2013 and as defensive back the year before.
As quarterback he was selected as first team All-Conference and All-Area.
However, Winslow believes Kirkpatrick may start off as a defensive back while at McKendree.
“He is probably a little bit better-suited for not having to carry the load as quarterback, but we truly needed him there, and that just shows you what kind of kid he is,” Winslow said. “Just playing defensive should really benefit him and help get him off on the right foot.”