Tigers earn 11 all-conference selections

Karl Asbury's impact on the Mark Twain High School football team was recognized Wednesday, as the Tigers' first-year head coach was named the Eastern Missouri Conference Coach of the Year.

Asbury took over MTHS this summer after the Tigers had combined for just five wins between 2013-14, including an 0-10 campaign two seasons ago.

But under Asbury, Mark Twain became the class of the EMC this fall, winning the conference en route to a 10-0 record. But Asbury refused to take any of the credit, saying the award is a reflection of the results his team has produced.

“I take it as a team type of award. If the team didn't do well, the coach wouldn't do well,” Asbury said.

“And it all started with (previous head coach) Mark Hudson; e put these kids in as freshmen and sophomores, and they took some beatings, but they recovered.”

Mark Twain has been powered by a group of juniors and seniors destined to make their final season together a success. Asbury said that relationship has made his job easier.

“This is like a marriage. I didn't try to turn this team into something it wasn't,” he said. “I'm happiest for the kids, especially the ones who went through that 0-10 season. To go from that to this, that's the thing – it's about the kids. The joy on their faces and the fans. That's what's special about this. It's not about what I've done or anything like that. It's about the kids.”

In his first year with the Class 1 Tigers after serving as an assistant head coach Mark St. Clair at Hannibal (Class 4), Asbury said his expectations were modest, as he didn't know what he'd get from his players after installing a new offense.

“As a coach, you're looking at your schedule – without knowing anything, without knowing the kids – you look to see where you can get some wins or maybe not,” Asbury said. “I didn't know how good the team was. It was a brand new offensive system. I didn't know how it was going to play out.

“After the Westran game (a 50-28 Mark Twain victory), when things started to roll, that's when you could start to figure out that maybe this team has some special skills and some special things that they could do.”

Those special things led to a total of 16 positional selections on the EMC All-Conference team, also announced Wednesday.

Senior running back Tyler Elledge earned a first-team selection, and has rushed for 2,332 yards and 23 touchdowns so far this season. Elledge was also named a second-team defensive back.

On the offensive line, senior Walker Sharp and junior Taron Finnegan were also named to the first team, while Sharp was also chosen as a linebacker. He has 54 tackles this season (second on the team), with a team-high 11 for a loss of yardage. Finnegan also plays defensive end for MTHS, and earned second-team honors for his production on the defensive line.

Junior Loren Carlisle earned a first-team selection as an ATH, or in other terms, a utility type player who plays a plethora of positions. Senior Nick Davenport was named to the first-team as the Tigers' place kicker. He also was chosen as the second-team tight end.

Mark Twain enjoyed several more selections on the EMC second team, with junior running backs Brandon Hamilton and Terry Monroe earning spots as running backs. Hamilton also earned a spot as a second-team linebacker after pacing the Mark Twain defense with 56 tackles this season.

On the second-team offensive line, juniors Colton Barnes and Dalton Hill were chosen. Junior Caleb Hirner was picked as a wingback/flanker.

Senior Patrick Robertson was also given a nod for the Tigers, as the defensive lineman also claimed a spot on the second team.