Athletes continue careers
CARROLL COUNTY ---- Four senior athletes from our schools are going to continue their athletic careers when they enter college next fall.
Green Forest's Neil McCutcheon, Cody Parton and C.J. Matthews were all members of the Tiger record-setting football team that went 12-1 and into the Elite Eight of the Class AAA State Football playoffs.
Berryville's Emma Cantele was the starting point guard and only senior on the Lady Bobcat basketball team that went 22-10, finished second at the regional tournament, and played in the Class AAA State Tournament in Pine Bluff.
They will be on the playing fields again next fall, all at different colleges, and two in different sports. Here are their stories.
Emma, an All-Conference basketball player, is a versatile athlete who has stepped right from the hardwoods to the soccer fields in her career.
The center midfielder wasted no time this year when the state tournament ended and already has racked up six goals this season, three against the Green Forest Lady Tigers just this week.
The word has spread over the years about her aggressive and skillful play, all the way to the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, where she has been invited to join the team.
It is a NCAA Division-III program, so scholarships aren't offered, but that hasn't dampened Cantele's enthusiasm.
A trip to Clarksville with classmate Joey Curtis to check out the campus paid off. Upon arrival, admission counselor Charity Ruley said she had heard about Cantele's soccer playing from Harrison students and said she would give her name to soccer coach Justin Neese.
"Coach Neese called me a couple of weeks later, and I'm on the roster," Cantele said, beaming. She loved the campus and the small, one-on-one environment, and the chance to keep playing sports a little longer.
Neil, an All-State, All-Conference football player, is on his way Westminister College in Fulton, Mo., about one hour north of Jefferson City.
He will have an academic scholarship after scoring 29 on the ACT, and will get to play Division-III football as an outside linebacker and strong safety.
McCutcheon was the starting fullback/linebacker for the Tigers last year and rushed for 700 yards on 126 carries and scored 11 touchdowns. He had 33 solo tackles and 59 assists for the season.
Neil's father, Marc McCutcheon, coaches at Green Forest and contacted a number of schools that showed interest, including Blackburn College in Carltonville, Ill., and Rhodes College in Memphis.
As for Neil, he says, "It's always been my dream to play college football. I'm ecstatic!"
Cody, a football All-State, All-Conference defensive end, was selected as 1AAA's outstanding lineman and was the coaches choice for the All-Star football game in August.
He will be attending Blackburn College in Carltonville, Ill., 45 minutes from St. Louis, and will be playing in the same Division-III UMAC league as McCutcheon.
They could meet on the field next fall, and if they do, expect a big collision.
Cody also has an academic scholarship, with a 21 on the ACT, and expects to play defensive end, where as a Tiger he notched 29 solo tackles and 46 assists this past year.
"I'm excited," Cody said. "Just this last year I decided to go. Our success this year had a lot to do with it. I like the campus (at Blackburn). It looks real nice."
Matthews was All-State, All-Conference and voted 1AAA's Outstanding Back in football this year, and was also selected to the All-Star football game in August. He's also been All-Conference in baseball since his ninth-grade year.
So in spite of rushing for 1,461 yards on just 116 carries, scoring 21 touchdowns, and making 31 solo tackles and 24 assists on defense, the multi-sport athlete will turn his attention to baseball at Crowder Junior College in Neosho, Mo.
He will be on scholarship and playing for Coach Chip Durham, someone who knows the area as he married former Eureka athlete Angela Thurman while both were in college in Monticello.
"It's always been my goal to play college baseball," Matthews said. "I'm too small for college football, had a chance to get hurt, so thought my future was in baseball rather than football."
He batted .536 last year, so he may be on to something.
He expects to work as a catcher and outfielder, and said, "Maybe later I can work on pitching. I'm still recovering from football. I do want to thank the fans for all their support in football this year."