Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012, 8:24 pm

E-P's Milem named Big Rivers Coach of the Year; Panthers' Inskeep shares MVP award

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By Terry Duckett, tduckett@qconline.com

Photo: Alex T. Paschal | Sauk Valley News
Erie-Prophetstown quarterback Ethan Howard fires a pass Saturday afternoon against Newman.
Returning to the IHSA state football playoffs for the first time in a decade -- and just the second time ever -- the 2012 season was a pretty good one for the Erie-Prophetstown Panthers.

When it came time for the Big Rivers Conference to hand out its postseason kudos, though, more was still to come for the Panthers, as both their head coach Chuck Milem and one of their top seniors earned the league's top awards.

Milem was named the Big Rivers' Coach of the Year after guiding E-P to a 5-4 regular-season mark; the Panthers would finish at 5-5 after a hard-fought 21-6 Class 3A first-round loss to conference rival Sterling Newman.

The Panther senior in question, running back/linebacker Zach Inskeep, shared the conference's Player of the Year award with Newman's Brian Bahrs, himself also a running back/linebacker.

What's more, Inskeep wasn't the only Erie-Prophetstown gridder to earn first-team kudos. Junior quarterback Ethan Howard got the nod after racking up nearly 1,000 combined passing and rushing yards. Another junior, Owen McConnell, was a first-team choice at defensive line.

Morrison has five first-teamers: Although the Morrison Mustangs (6-4) didn't get to defend their Class 2A state title, coach Cory Bielema's club did fare well in the All-Conference voting with five individuals being honored.

One of that quintet, senior center/linebacker Calvin Harridge, was named on both sides of the ball. Senior halfback Danny Willis also was a first-team selection.

Joining Harridge on the defensive squad was senior lineman Nolan Dykema. Offensively, senior guard Kyle Meurs was also tabbed for first-team kudos.

Junior defensive lineman Jake Willging was Fulton's lone first-team selection.