Coaching changes, great football match in the top 10 sports stories in Galesburg

What were The Register-Mail’s 10 best local sports stories viewed online in 2021 on

Well, moves performed by multiple coaches in the area take up most of the list.

A local football player is also doing it in a year in which COVID-19 has made things interesting for everyone – and the rest.

During the 2020-21 school year, the Illinois High School Association pushed back and condensed most sports due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Face coverings have become the norm, and who knows when they’ll go in the trash.

# 1: Hart quits his job as Streaks boys’ hoops coach

And coming in at No.1 for most-watched stories in 2021 was the news of Ryan Hart’s resignation as the boys’ basketball coach at Galesburg High School. The story was published in early May and attracted just over 6,000 views.

Hart, a 1993 Williamsfield High School graduate who attended Carl Sandburg College and then graduated from Illinois State University, guided the Silver Streaks to an overall score of 9-5 during the 2020 season – 21 pushed back, condensed and shortened.

Under Hart, Galesburg posted an overall record of 29-4, won a Western Big 6 Conference championship and finished with a No. 4 ranking in the Associated Press poll in 2019-2020.

In August 2019, Hart was hired to replace Mike Reynolds, who after 11 seasons resigned his post for a position at DeKalb High School. Hart was Reynolds’ assistant during his tenure, second-year Galesburg coach for eight seasons before becoming a strictly college assistant. The 2020-21 season was Hart’s 21st as a coach and teacher for District 205. He now teaches at Williamsfield.

# 2: A-Town beats Knoxville on the grill

Abingdon-Avon running back Drake Dejaynes follows his blockers for a first down against Knoxville in Week 8 action at Dennis Larson Field in Knoxville.

At just over 4,000 pageviews, our story of the Abingdon-Avon and Knoxville high school football teams competing at Dennis Larson Field in mid-October on a Saturday night ranks second.

The Tornadoes took a 20-19 victory over the Blue Bullets in a meeting between previously undefeated teams.

Abingdon-Avon noseguard Dusty Schultz hit Knoxville running back Payton Hankins in the two-run playoff with 1:18 left to secure the victory in the Lincoln Trail Conference case during of week 8 of the season.

# 3: Blackwell named Galesburg’s football coach

Galesburg High School football coach Derrek Blackwell calls a game against Rock Island on Friday October 1 at Van Dyke Field.  The Silver Streaks fell to the Rocks 33-30 in overtime that night.

In June, Derrek Blackwell was named the head coach of the Galesburg High School football team, and readers have seen the story 3,355 times.

Blackwell, a 2003 GHS graduate, replaced Michael “Wash” Washabaugh, who, after three seasons as a Silver Streaks mentor, handed in a resignation letter on May 6.

Galesburg started 2021 with three straight losses in Blackwell’s first season at the helm after a dozen as an assistant. However, the Streaks – and their coach – slowly resolved the issues and Galesburg went 4-2 on aggregate to close the season. Three of the Streaks’ losses were four points or less.

Galesburg was hoping to qualify for the playoffs, and there were chatter teams with 4-5 overall scores that could make the cut. In the end, none did. In fact, one team – Warrensburg-Latham – with a 5-4 record missed the playoffs.

N ° 4: ‘Wash’ stop

Galesburg High School football coach Michael Washabaugh speaks to his staff in the cabin via headphones during the Silver Streaks 27-24 loss to Moline on Friday, April 9, 2021 at Van Dyke Field.

As already mentioned, Washabaugh left his role as the Streaks football coach in May, and he did so after three seasons in charge.

During the 2020 season, Galesburg suffered four straight losses after a 2-0 start. Of the Streaks’ losses, one pair was four points or less while the other two were 15 points or less.

Galesburg went 1-8 overall and 1-4 in the league in 2018, which was Washabaugh’s first season in charge after six as an assistant. The Streaks went 2-7 overall and 1-6 in WB6 in 2019 – losing three games by six points or less.

# 5: Shay resigns as East Tennessee men’s basketball coach

East Tennessee State University men's basketball coach Jason Shay instructs the Bucs during a game on December 3, 2018 in Johnson City, TN, while still an ETSU assistant . [Dakota Hamilton/ETSU]

At the end of March 2021, Galesburg native Jason Shay’s first opportunity as NCAA Division I men’s basketball coach ended after a season with his resignation. The 1991 GHS graduate’s departure was announced by East Tennessee State University, where he had previously served as an assistant for five seasons.

The Buccaneers finished the season 20-21 with an overall score of 13-12 under Shay after losing seven of their last 10 games and a 10-5 start that had mentioned Shay as the candidate for the Coach of the Year. Southern Conference at the start of the season.

# 6: NASCAR star visits Avon

NASCAR's Kyle Busch waits in his car before a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 26, 2021 in Las Vegas.

Dave Eminian of the Peoria Journal Star had story signing # 6 on The RM’s list in 2021. It was published in early August, had nearly 3,000 pageviews, and was about the surprise visit of NASCAR star Kurt Busch at Avon’s Avcom Park Speedway.

Busch’s young son, Brexton, competed in the Outlaw Karts Racing series over the summer, and that’s how Kurt ended up in Illinois.

# 7: Father and Son Find Heaven at Field of Dreams

Brent Bernett and his son Clark Bernett, both of Galesburg, attended the MLB Field of Dreams game over the summer in Dyersville, Iowa.

In August, Brent and Clark Bernett felt like they were in baseball heaven in Dyersville, Iowa. The Bernetts joined around 8,000 other fans for the very first MLB Field of Dreams game, and it didn’t disappoint.

The New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox met on the diamond, and Tim Anderson smashed a two-run homer late in the ninth inning to give the Sox a thrilling 9-8 victory.

# 8: thompson takes back the hoops from the Streaks boys

Galesburg High School freshman basketball coach Chad Thompson chats with his team at the Silver Streaks camp on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 at the GHS Field.

At a special meeting in early June, the District 205 board of directors approved Chad Thompson as Galesburg’s last men’s basketball coach.

Thompson served as Hart’s assistant for the 2019-20 season and was previously a member of Reynolds’ staff. Thompson worked as Reynolds’ assistant at DeKalb last season when the Barbs were 18-1 and ranked No.7 in Class 4A.

Thompson is a 2011 GHS graduate who performed at Carl Sandburg and Monmouth.

N ° 9: the Galesburg field gets a makeover

SGH country house

In mid-May, District 205 announced plans to spend $ 27,000 on a branding effort inside the grounds of Galesburg High School.

About 30% of the funds came from tournament fees and the GHS Athletic Booster Club, and the rest was funded by the school district.

# 10: Barshinger adapts to life after coaching

Retired Galesburg School District educator and coach Jay Barshinger poses for a photo at GHS grounds on Wednesday, November 17.

During the 2021-22 season, Jay Barshinger can be found inside the John Thiel Gymnasium watching the Galesburg High School women’s basketball team take part in games.

But the 58-year-old won’t be sitting on the Silver Streaks bench next to Galesburg coach Evan Massey, and Barshinger won’t take part in any training either.

After 22 seasons Barshinger retired as Massey’s assistant coach. For 18 of those seasons Barshinger also coached the Streaks freshman girls.

And readers have seen the story of Barshinger’s time on the sidelines almost 2,500 times.

Matthew Wheaton can be contacted at (309) 315-6073 or Follow him on twitter @matthewlwheaton

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