Herald-Whig

So why didn't Brock make all-state?

Quincy's Jirehl Brock (21) scores a touchdown against Moline during first half action of their Western Big 6 game, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, at Browning Field.
Meg McLaughlin / MMcLaughlin@qconline.com Staff
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 20, 2017 10:30 am

The Twitterverse nearly exploded over the weekend.

No, it wasn't because LaVar Ball and President Trump debated Trump's involvement in returning home three UCLA basketball players after a shoplifting incident in China.

Instead, it was because Quincy High School junior running back Jirehl Brock was not named to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 6A all-state team.

Brock had one of the best seasons in Quincy football history this season, rushing for 1,588 yards and 23 touchdowns despite missing a game and a half with a shoulder injury. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry.

Rivals.com, a national recruiting website, ranks Brock as the No. 2 recruit in Illinois for the Class of 2019, and he's ranked No. 12 nationally at his position. He already has received scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Minnesota and Missouri. Understandably, his omission from the all-state team infuriated many who follow the Blue Devils.

So why wasn't he named to the all-state team?

A few things to consider.

1. The Chicago "bias."

Only 18 players were named to the Class 6A team. Sixteen were from the Chicago area, taking up 89 percent of the spots. The only downstate picks were Spencer Redd, a defensive back/wide receiver from Sacred Heart-Griffin, and Cameron Jones, a wide receiver from Springfield. Of the 32 teams that qualified for the 6A playoffs, 27 were above I-80 (84 percent). Of the eight quarterfinal teams, only SHG was a downstate team. When 80-plus percent of the 6A teams are from up north, it makes sense that 80-plus percent of the players on the all-state from are from the north, too.

2. Lack of playoff success.

Quincy High School has won one playoff game in school history, so coaches statewide have little reason to give the Blue Devils much respect on all-state teams. The Class 6A team is littered with players from schools rich in football success like SHG, Providence Catholic and Lombard Montini. Prairie Ridge, which has won 26 games in a row, got just as many all-state players as all of downstate.

3. Western Big Six Conference struggles.

The three WB6 teams that qualified for the IHSA playoffs -- Quincy, Moline and Rock Island Alleman -- were all knocked out in the first round by a combined score of 158-41. The conference went 12-15 in non-conference games this season, with only three victories against teams that finished with winning records. In Class 6A circles, the Western Big Six was not a strong league this year.

4. Performing before "the judges."

Brock played one game this year in the Chicago area. In a 48-28 loss to Burbank St. Laurence in the first round of the Class 6A playoffs, he carried the ball 25 times for 74 yards and two short touchdowns. In the same game, the Vikings' Toriano Clinton rushed 28 times for 416 yards, and he had three touchdown runs of 70 yards or longer. Talk about stealing someone's thunder.

5. The selection process.

When all-state teams are selected, the information available to the voters typically consists of a handful of statistics and the success of the teams for each nominated player. What typically isn't available is how many colleges have offered to each player and any highlight-reel runs like the one Brock had against Rock Island or Quincy Notre Dame. Also, all-state teams tend to be senior-dominated. Of the 72 players named to the all-state teams in Classes 5A-8A, only seven were juniors. In fact, four of the top five players in Illinois in the Class of 2019 as ranked by Rivals.com were not named to the IHSFCA All-State teams.

One last thing to consider.

If Brock belongs on the team, then who doesn't?

Two of the 18 players on the Class 6A were listed as RB/LB. One was John'te Crawford from Thornton Fractional South. He only carried the ball 119 times for 910 yards and 17 touchdowns, but the guess here is he was recognized for his defensive work. He had 96 tackles in 10 games as an outside linebacker. (Note: Brock played defense sparingly this season.)

The other was Willowbrook's Jake Jessen, who rushed for 2,053 yards this year after gaining 1,671 yards as a junior. He also made 80 tackles this season. He rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns in a second-round victory over DeKalb. Willowbrook was knocked out in the quarterfinals by No. 1-ranked Prairie Ridge.

Two running backs were named. Clinton finished with 2,577 yards on 251 carries, and he scored 27 touchdowns. St. Laurence reached the Class 6A quarterfinals before losing to Providence Catholic, which had the other all-stater in DeShon Gavin. The Celtics played Saturday in the Class 6A semifinals, and he entered the game with 1,390 yards. His biggest game this season came in a 35-34 victory over Mount Carmel when he scored five touchdowns, rushed for 206 yards and had 64 yards receiving. Gavin committed to Western Illinois University over the summer to play defensive back.

Should Brock be on this list? Yeah, probably. Regardless of stats, Brock certainly passes the eye test.

Just remember that several factors -- some that fans may not agree with -- go into the selection of an all-state team.