Football Tab 08/27/21 Telegraph/Intelligencer

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PIGSKIN PREVIEW ‘21 A look at area prep football, Including previews, schedules and photos

FOOTBALL Fall 2021 August 27, 2021 50 cents A special supplement to the Telegraph

2 • Friday, August 27, 2021 • Telegraph


Dickerson: Every game ’a fight’ By Pete Hayes

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Alton coach Eric Dickerson watches freshman quarterback Aaron Humm drop back during a preseason practice at Alton High School.

ALTON — After the shortened spring season led to off-season workouts and then official preseason practice, Alton coach Eric Dickerson’s Redbirds are ready to start squaring off against somebody else besides their teammates. Alton has a volunteer, the Belleville Althoff Crusaders, who will host Alton in the season opener Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. in Belleville. “The team has been working hard,” Dickerson said, “and it’s getting to that point where they are ready to go against someone else. “The team has been practicing with a lot of spirit and energy, they are very excited for the opportunity to play in front of fans again. “They have been working hard since summer preparing for the upcoming season.” The 2021 spring season came courtesy of the Illinois High School Association, Illinois Department of Public Health, in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dickerson said numbers

are down somewhat, just as they were last spring during the abbreviated no-playoffs season. “We’re down about 25 or 30 from what we usually would have,” he said. “I think some more may come out, but I think it’s been hard numbers-wise on everybody and not just in football, but all sports. “Kids went from sport to sport last year when they overlapped or they got jobs when seasons were postponed and they decided not to come back. There are different theories.” During the spring, the redbirds faced a numbers problem that was not pandemic-related and it forced them to forfeit a scheduled game against east St. Louis. School officials stressed that the reason for the cancellation was not coronavirus pandemic-related in anyway, but instead stemmed from the lack of available varsity level players. The Redbirds would have been without a number of players for various reasons Friday. The spring campaign featured a win over Champaign Central, which was added to the schedule. The rest of the games were against Southwestern conference teams, including two losses to Belleville West, a loss to Belleville East and a loss to Edwardsville. Dickerson said the Redbirds defense came out of the spring season with a few scars, but better for it. “Our defense did a great job

for us last year, despite all the adversity,” Dickerson said. “I look for Julian Caffey and Jaylen Telford to step up and have a good senior season. “Our defense will be anchored by Gage DePew and Ihzel Brown,” Dickerson said. “They will get some help from junior Brandon Rudd and sophomores Dalton Baumgartner and Keylon Carathers.” The Redbirds’ offense will have plenty of experience. “Our offensive line will be anchored by seniors Rashaun Johnson, Lucas Biggs, and Sam Rakoski along with junior Jaxson Sheets,” Dickerson said. “Graham McAfoos will return at quarterback, with Keith Gilchrese and Gage DePew in the backfield. I think William Harris and Samuel Elliot-Barnes will also see some time on offense.” Following the season opener at Althoff, the Redbirds will face Quincy in their home opener Sept. 3. That will be followed by a game at Collinsville Sept. 10. The Southwestern Conference opener will be Sept. 17 against Belleville West at Public School Stadium. Following five consecutive conference games, the redbirds will close the regular season Oct. 22 at Fort Zumwalt North in St. Peters, Missouri. “The conference is loaded once again, every game is going to be a fight,” Dickerson said. “Once again, I think we play in one of the toughest conferences in the state.”

Telegraph • Friday, August 27, 2021 • 3


GOOD LUCK TEAMS! Billy Hurst file | For The Telegraph

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Calhoun head coach Aaron Elmore speaks with his players. Elmore’s Warriors will open the season will open their season on Aug. 27 at home at 7 p.m. against Brown County.

Warriors out to reverse trend

By Louie Korac

For The Telegraph

HARDIN — A dry spell that’s lasted since 2017 of non-playoff competition for Calhoun Warriors football is something that Aaron Elmore would like to correct. “I feel like we’ve got as good a chance as anybody with who we have,” said Elmore, beginning his 10th season as coach with a 33-51 record. “Bottom line is there’s been some things that’s happened to us that’s been out of our control with numbers, injuries and what not. I feel like this year, the kids’ attitudes has been tremendous. We’re always pushing to be a playoff team. I feel like we got the potential to possibly get it done.” The Warriors, who were 2-4 in last season’s COVID-19 shortened season played in the spring, have not made the playoffs since 2017, the last of three straight appearances. Playoff football has been a mainstay within the Warriors football program for so many years and with the recent dry spell, the players are deter-

mined to erase three straight seasons prior to last season of 2-7 records. “I think that starting off in the practices, I couldn’t have asked for more,” Elmore said. “We have a lot of really good young football players that are coming into our football program that kind of reinvigorated it, give us some energy. I think what’s transpired is it’s kind of fed into everyone.” Calhoun’s roster features eight seniors, including end-defensive lineman Joe Stein (6-foot-3, 158 pounds), running back-linebacker Brody Caselton (6-3, 218), who Elmore said has “been doing really well on both sides of the ball for us” after getting injured last season. Other seniors include end-defensive lineman Cole Lorsbach (6-2, 202), end-defensive back Payson Camerer (5-9, 130), running back-defensive back Nate Bick (5-9, 140), offensive lineman-linebacker Luke Wickenhauser (5-10, 175), offensive and defensive lineman Kyle Robeen (6-1, 267), will anchor both sides,

and end-defensive back Nick Baalman (5-10, 156). Junior Hunter Roth (5-10, 160), who is the leading rusher to return from last season, will be the starting quarterback after taking over a role after being expected to be the backup last season. “We lost our quarterback before the season so it really helped us to help our possible quarterback for this year because he actually got thrown into the fire as a sophomore last year, so that really helped us,” Elmore said. The Warriors, who compete in the WIVC South, will open their season on Friday at home at 7 p.m. against Brown County.

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4 • Friday, August 27, 2021 • Telegraph


Rested Cavaliers are back to work By Greg Shashack

CARLINVILLE – A football season pushed back to spring forced a departure from the usual summer calendar for the Carlinville Cavaliers. “I think the kids were tired so we actually ended up shutting it down and taking the month of June off,” Cavs coach Chad Easterday said. “Then after the Fourth of July, we hit it hard, but did some things differently. … We tried to focus on giving the kids some time. We crammed a lot of sports in between January and May, which was really good for them personally, but they were tired.” So, the adjustments that began more than a year earlier when COVID-19 dramatically altered the landscape for prep athletics in Illinois have continued to disrupt routines. “It was something we never encountered before,” Easterday said. “Obviously, through covid we’ve done a lot of things we’ve never encountered. To not have football for two or three weeks in the summer was hard. But in the end, it worked out best.” After a couple weeks rest before the first practice earlier this month, the Cavaliers are back to work looking to extend their run of playoff appearances to 14 seasons in a row after a spring season without a postseason. The Cavs finished 5-1 in the 2020 season shortened to six games in spring 2021 and shared the South Central Conference championship with Southwestern and Pana. It was Carlinville’s fourth SCC title in the last five years. Extending that to five titles in six years will take big efforts from unproven talent. That starts at running back, where Easterday is banking on senior Mason Patton to be next in

Greg Shashack | The Telegraph

Carlinville coach Chad Easterday walks to the sideline before a game last season in Carlinville. The Cavs finished 5-1 in the spring season and Easterday begins his 14th season as coach with a 104-36 record.

line in a long tradition of productive ballcarriers at Carlinville. “Yes, I believe he is,” Easterday said. “He was very competitive in his role last year and Bobby beat him out as a senior. Mason’s worked really hard and, hopefully, will step in and take the job over.” Patton takes over for graduated Bobby Seal, who busted out in his first season as the featured rusher with 1,064 yards and 18 touchdowns in six games to earn Telegraph SmallSchools Player of the Year accolades. The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Patton rushed for 30 yards on seven carries as a junior. Whether he approaches the workload of 33 rushes per game that Seal shouldered or splits the burden with senior Luke Daugherty (5-8, 160) should be more in focus by Week 3. “Week 1 and Week 2 will tell us a lot,” Easterday said. “That kind of

target is a moving one and you have to be ready as a coaching staff to make some adjustments to benefit your team.” The remaining ballhandlers return from the spring with senior Ayden Tiburzi (5-10, 170) back at quarterback after completing 68 of 112 passes for 787 yards, five TDs and one interception. “It’s very nice to have a guy back,” Easterday said of QB. “He got his feet wet back there and his five-, six-game experience really helped him. And he’s done some work in the offseason, as well.” Junior Ethyn Siglock (6-1, 165) caught 18 passes for 234 yards as a sophomore and leads a receiving corps that also touts Carson Wiser (6-0, 190, sr.) and Henry Kufa (5-8, 150, jr.), with Mason Duckels (5-11, 200, sr.) giving the Cavs what Easterday calls “a morph kid” that can play

the slot or tight end. Kufa will dual sport the fall as the No. 1 player for Cavs golf. The offensive line will require some rebuilding, but that unit can build around returning starter Colton Robinson, a 6-0, 240-pound senior that will be among the SCC’s best linemen. “Obviously,” Easterday said, “he is a mainstay on both sides of the ball.” Robinson will be joined in a front five by seniors Gauge Hannah (6-1, 210), Kai Williams (5-9, 210) and Harrison Nepute (5-9, 200), with juniors Trenton Clevenger (6-4, 190) and Declan Braley (5-9, 160) contending for the open job at right tackle. Easterday compares those senior O-linemen to Patton’s situation at running back. “Other than not have their feet in that ‘fire’ on Friday night, those are kids that have been

waiting their turn and done their due diligence,” the coach said. Those linemen on offense will also rotate inside on defense along with senior Kyle Carriker (5-8, 290) and defensive end Aaron Wills (6-5, 200, sr.). The Cavs graduated their two leading tacklers in linebackers Chase Michaelis and T.J. Sims. But, again, it’s next man up at Carlinville. “We have to replace two good ones and I believe we have two good ones,” Easterday said. Three top candidates are in line to fill those two vacancies in juniors Zach Reels (5-11, 185), Jake Schwartz (5-8, 140) and Ryenn Hart (6-2, 185). The secondary is fully stocked and experienced with Siglock, Kufa, Wiser and Duckels all returning, with Charlie Kessinger (5-11, 165, sr.) and Jake Egelhoff (6-1, 170, sr.) also working in for various packages. Carlinville’s varsity roster lists 35 players, but that downturn in numbers is not a pressing concern for Easterday, who is starting his 14th season with a 104-36 record while never failing to make the playoffs. “I guess it should be, for depth purposes,” Easterday said. “But we saw this coming three years ago. We’re going to have two years of this, just because the class sizes are small. I don’t think it’s a participation issue in Carlinville, as we stand here today. It could end up to be. Our JFL numbers are consistently where they should be, so I think it’s a bell-curve thing that everyone goes through.” The number of starters returning for Pana makes the Panthers the favorite to win the SCC, in Easterday’s view. “I put Pana on top of that list,” Easterday said. “Vandalia is a close second. When you look down the list, everyone else is just shaking and fighting for that third spot. We’ll see how that pans out.”

Telegraph • Friday, August 27, 2021 • 5


Eagles want to hit ground running By Pete Hayes

BETHALTO — After a shorter offseason combined with two weeks of preseason practices, prep football is already back and Civic Memorial coach Mike Parmentier is hoping it means a quicker path to consistent play. ”The summer went very quick and very well,” Parmentier said. “Coming off the spring season was so good, because the offense and defense are pretty much in. Our kids retained a lot.” The Eagles’ retention rate will be measured for the first time in the season opener at 7 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 27) against Marquette Catholic High at Public School Stadium in Alton. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, football was on again/off again. The Illinois High School Association and the Illinois Department of Public Health classified football as a high-risk activity. Last fall, the IHSA only offered boys and girls golf, girls tennis, boys and girls cross country and girls swimming and diving. Everything else, including boys soccer, girls volleyball and football, were moved to Pete Hayes | The Telegraph the spring. It was part of a Civic Memorial head coach Mike Parmentier shouts out signals during a preseason drill. The Eagles open their season Aug. 27 against pandemic-related game of Marquette Catholic High at Public School Stadium. chess that saw some sports But it did, albeit a shorter which started Aug. 9. Everything has gone pretty spring games with 566 yards, overlap and the last ones of season with no playoffs at “Practice in August is a smooth,” Parmentier said. It’s seven touchdown and two the new “summer” season the end. But Parmentier said lot better than practice in an easy transition on offense. interceptions in six games. finish well into June. just being to play a season February, Parmentier said, We have nine starters back, On the ground, Arview There were points during the of any kind was better than referring to the preseason including our quarterback.” scored a pair of touchdowns school year, some doubted nothing at all. Off-season for “spring” football, which That Eagles quarterback is and ran for 34 yards on 15 if football would even take summer contact hours led actually had its first practices Bryar Arview, who went carries. place. up to preseason practices, in the winter. 45 of 83 through the air in

Miguel Gonzalez, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior, was CM’s leading rusher with 268 yards and six touchdowns on 45 carries. A pair of senior receivers also return. Luke Parmentier had 20 receptions in the spring for 321 yards and four touchdowns and senior teammate Logan Turbyfill had 12 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown. “I feel our offense should be pretty solid,” Mike Parmentier said. “My concerns are about the defense. We only have five starters back on that side of the ball.” While the number of returning starters may not be as large as he would like, Parmentier said there is still depth on the roster. “Depth is always a concern for most teams,” he said, “but right now we have 34 juniors or seniors, so that’s good. “Our goals are to make the playoffs and do very well against our non-conference opponents.” Besides Marquette, the Eagles’ non-conference opponents include East Alton-wood rover, Roxana and Taylorville. The Mississippi Valley conference slate will begin Sept. 17 at Triad. home MVC dates include Oct. 1 against Highland and Oct. 8 against Mascoutah. “For Class 4A and 5A, I feel we have one of the strongest conferences in the state,” Parmentier said. “ Mascoutah, Highland, Triad, Jerseyville and Waterloo are all solid teams.“

6 • Friday, August 27, 2021 • Telegraph


Hawks poised for great things By Louie Korac For The Telegraph

CARROLLTON — A sophomore group that rode the 2019 Carrollton football team to the Class 1A state quarterfinals was enough to convince veteran coach Nick Flowers that the Hawks are poised for great things. But a COVID-19 season in 2020 that was wiped out in the fall, only to be reinstated in the spring took away a junior season for many players hungry to build off a 9-3 season. And now in 2021 as those sophomores turned juniors are now seniors, Flowers and the Hawks are primed for lofty goals, and that’s OK for the coach beginning his 17th season at 122-56 and on the heels of eight straight playoff appearances to think big.

“It’s not like we’re just bringing back upperclassmen with some experience,” Flowers said. “We’re bringing back some upperclassmen and six of them started as sophomores on a quarterfinal team. They had some experience with playing in some big-time playoff games. These seniors we have, they’re determined to do something a Carrollton team hasn’t and that’s go play for a state championship and win one. That’s how we’ve been practicing. That’s a pretty bold statement going into a season, but that’s the goal that these guys have in mind. “There’s been a lot of teams that had the same goals, but realistically, it wasn’t going to happen. This group right here, we’re about as good as we’ve been across all positions, offensively and defensively. It’s going to come down to two things to avoid

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Oilers want no spring repeat By Pete Hayes

WOOD RIVER — While Illinois prep football coaches have tried to access how the recent spring football season may have impacted their programs, East Alton-Wood river coach Garry Herron knows one thing for sure: The Oilers don’t want a rerun. They went 0-6 in the spring. “The main takeaway from the spring season and our players,” Herron said, “I think would be that they don’t want a repeat performance. They want to be competitive and give us a chance to win some of those games we let slip away. We have to be better on special teams. We gave opponents too many possessions due to botched plays on pooch kicks or onside.” The Oilers were 4-5 in 2019, the last fall season for Illinois prep football. Their next fall campaign will get under way Friday (Aug. 27) at home against Madison. “We have a shot,” Herron said, “but we have to come prepared. A team with our numbers can be right on the edge.” “We only have about 38 players in the entire program,” Herron said, “but we do have a strong class of juniors leading the way. We’re hoping that our offensive line will be a strength for us. “We have a lot of new faces, but they have played a spring season, and then a full summer of workouts to help get them going for the fall season.” Dealing with numbers problems isn’t unusual for Herron,

Telegraph photo

Brendan Noel (1) and Seth Slayden (17) of EA-WR try to break up a pass intended for a Breese Central receiver last April in Wood River. Noel and Slayden return this season for the Oilers, who will open their season Aug. 27 at home against Madison.

whose teams have historically been able to make up for small numbers with hard work. The Oilers were 6-4 in 2018 and went 7-3 in 2018. Both years, EA-WR fell in in the first round of the playoffs to Carlinville. “As always for us, our biggest challenge would have to be depth,” Herron said. “We don’t

have many backups in certain positions. As in the past, we’ll have a lot of guys going both ways and will need to get creative on how we can spread around playing time.” There are players who have turned the heads on the coaching staff, Herron said. “Guys who have impressed so far are (junior) Seth Slayden

at running back and safety, (senior) Brendon Noel at corner back and wide receiver, (senior) Chase Keshner and (junior) Zach Oster.” Slayden was voted first team All-Conference in the Cahokia Conference as a defensive back as a sophomore during the spring season. Keshner, who took over for

Kenny Beachum at quarterback for the Oilers, will also play safety on defense. Oster will play middle linebacker and wing back on offense. Noel, who plays cornerback and wide receiver, can be an important piece for the Oilers on both sides of the ball. ”(Oster) is a strong kid with some good speed,” Herron said, “and Noel has good hands and runs routes very well.” New faces aren’t the only new thing the Oilers will see in 2021. EA-WR is now in the Cahokia Conference’s Mississippi Division, along with Roxana. The Oilers actually competed as a Cahokia Conference member during the spring season, while the Shells will be in their first Cahokia campaign. The other teams in the Cahokia Mississippi Division include Breese Central, Salem, Columbia and Freeburg. After the opener against Madison will come a home game against backyard rival Civic Memorial in Week Two before a game at former Prairie State Conference rival Nokomis, which is on tap to join the Cahokia Conference in 2022. Herron said the Oilers’ goals are three-fold: “We want to be competitive in the Cahokia Conference and have a winning record against non-conference teams,” he said. “and we want to beat Roxana. “Things throughout the summer preseason practice went well. This group works pretty hard and pushes themselves. They all really get along on and off of the field.”

8 • Friday, August 27, 2021 • Telegraph

2021 High school ALTON REDBIRDS

Aug. 27 – at Belleville Althoff, 7 Sept. 3 – Quincy, 7 Sept. 10 – Collinsville, 7 Sept. 17 – Belleville West, 7 Sept. 24 – at Belleville East, 7 Oct. 1 – at Edwardsville, 7 Oct. 8 – East St. Louis, 7 Oct. 15 – O’Fallon, 7 Oct. 22 – at Fort Zumwalt North, 7 —-

EDWARDSVILLE TIGERS Aug. 27 – at St. Louis DeSmet, 7 Sept. 3 – at Highland, 7 Sept. 10 – Champaign Central, 7 Sept. 17 – at O’Fallon, 7 Sept. 24 – at Belleville West, 7 Oct. 1 – Alton, 7 Oct. 8 – at Belleville East, 7 Oct. 15 – East St. Louis, 7 Oct. 22 – St. Louis CBC, 7 —-



Aug. 27 – at Marquette, 7 Sept. 3 – at EA-WR, 7 Sept. 10 – Roxana, 7 Sept. 17 – at Triad, 7 Sept. 24 – at Waterloo, 7 Oct. 1 – Highland, 7 Oct. 8 – Mascoutah, 7 Oct. 15 – at Jersey, 7


Oct. 1 – at Columbia, 7 Oct. 8 – Freeburg, 7 Oct. 15 – at Roxana, 7 Oct. 22 – Red Bud, 7 —-

JERSEY PANTHERS Aug. 27 – at Granite City, 7 Sept. 3 – at Marion, 7 Sept. 10 – Lincoln, 7 Sept. 17 – at Highland, 7 Sept. 24 – Mascoutah, 7 Oct. 1 – Waterloo, 7 Oct. 8 – at Triad, 7 Oct. 15 – CM, 7 Oct. 22 – Columbia, 7 —-

MARQUETTE EXPLORERS Aug. 27 – CM, 7 Sept. 3 – at Salem, 7 Sept. 10 – at Columbia, 7 Sept. 17 – at Breese Mater Dei, 7 Sept. 24 – Nashville, 7 Oct. 1 – at Nokomis, 7 Oct. 8 – at Lutheran North, 7 Oct. 16 – Collinsville, 1 Oct. 22 – Quincy Notre Dame, 7 —-


Aug. 27 – Eureka, 7 Sept. 3 – Red Bud, 7 Sept. 10 – at CM, 7 Sept. 17 – Columbia, 7 Sept. 24 – at Salem, 7 Oct. 1 – at Freeburg, 7 Oct. 8 – Breese Central, 7 Oct. 15 – EA-WR, 7 Oct. 22 – at Sparta, 7 —-

SOUTHWESTERN PIASA BIRDS Aug. 27 – Staunton, 7 Sept. 3 – at Wesclin, 7 Sept. 10 – at Litchfield, 7 Sept. 17 – Greenville, 7 Sept. 24 – at Pana, 7 Oct. 1 – Carlinville, 7 Oct. 8 – at Vandalia, 7 Oct. 15 – Hillsboro, 7 Oct. 22 – at Gillespie, 7 —-


Aug. 27 – Madison, 7 Sept. 3 – CM, 7 Sept. 10 – at Nokomis, 7 Sept. 17 – at Salem, 7 Sept. 24 – Breese Central, 7

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football schedules CARLINVILLE CAVALIERS Aug. 28 – at Gibson City, 2 Sept. 3 – at Vandalia, 7 Sept. 10 – Hillsboro, 7 Sept. 17 – at Gillespie, 7 Sept. 24 – Staunton, 7 Oct. 1 – at Southwestern, 7 Oct. 8 – Litchfield, 7 Oct. 15 – at Greenville, 7 Oct. 22 – Pana, 7 —-

GILLESPIE MINERS Aug. 27 – at Litchfield, 7 Sept. 3 – Greenville, 7 Sept. 10 – at Pana, 7 Sept. 17 – Carlinville, 7 Sept. 24 – at Vandalia, 7 Oct. 1 – Hillsboro, 7 Oct. 8 – Nokomis, 7 Oct. 15 – at Staunton, 7 Oct. 22 – Southwestern, 7 —-

Oct. 22 – Carlyle, 7 —-


Aug. 30 – Brown County, 7 Sept. 3 – at Mendon Unity, 7 Sept. 10 – at Winchester, 7 Sept. 17 – Greenfield, 7 Sept. 24 – Carrollton, 7 Oct. 1 – at Pleasant Hill, 7 Oct. 8 – North Greene, 7 Oct. 15 – at Beardstown, 7 Oct. 22 – Camp Point Central, 7:30 —-


STAUNTON BULLDOGS Aug. 27 – at Southwestern, 7 Sept. 3 – Litchfield, 7 Sept. 10 – at Greenville, 7 Sept. 17 – Pana, 7 Sept. 24 – at Carlinville, 7 Oct. 1 – Vandalia, 7 Oct. 8 – at Hillsboro, 7 Oct. 15 – Gillespie, 7

Aug. 27 – at Camp Point Central, 7 Sept. 3 – Jacksonville Routt, 7 Sept. 10 – at Pleasant Hill, 7 Sept. 17 – at North Greene, 7 Sept. 24 – at Calhoun, 7 Oct. 1 – Greenfield, 7 Oct. 8 – Winchester, 7 Oct. 15 – Mendon Unity, 7 Oct. 22 – at Brown County, 7 —-


Aug. 27 – at Beardstown, 7 Sept. 3 – Concord Triopia, 7 Sept. 10 – North Greene, 7:30 Sept. 17 – at Calhoun, 7 Sept. 24 – Winchester, 7

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By Matt Kamp

Edwardsville set to reload

EDWARDSVILLE – Matt Martin is all too familiar with the process. Entering his 12th season as head coach of the Tigers, Martin and the Tigers will look to reload from last season’s team that finished 4-2 and second place in the Southwestern Conference in a COVID-shortened season that was played in the spring as opposed to the fall. “You graduate kids like Mason Ahlers, Grant Matarelli, Justin Johnson and Ryan Hampton and you think who can possibly take their place, but you have to remember they took someone’s place. This is an opportunity for kids to fill those shoes,” said Martin, who is 88-30 with EHS and 99-65 overall. The biggest shoes to fill will be those of running back Justin Johnson Jr., who is now in his freshman season at West Virginia. The All-State running back Johnson Jr. rushed for a program-record 4,175 yards and 62 touchdowns in three-plus seasons as a starter. In a shortened senior season, Johnson Jr. rushed for 1,084 yards and 20 touchdowns with six 100-yard rushing performances. Junior Jordan Bush will get the first crack at following Johnson Jr, while junior De’Shawn Larson will see carries, as well. Regardless of how they fare, Martin said it’s going to be a different-looking offense compared to the one that averaged 38.8 points last season. “I think offensively we’re going to have to be good enough to be more balanced,” Martin said. “I think (Jordan) Bush will be a very good running back in this conference. Justin could break tackles and get you yards after contact, so we’ll see how Jordan can do. “We’re going to have to be balanced and attack the perimeter with the run and the pass. We have kids that can do it. We just have to go out and execute.” Hampton will also be a major loss of the offensive side of the ball.

Matt Kamp, Hearst Illinois | For The Telegraph

Edwardsville coach Matt Martin (right) walks the sideline during the Tigers’ Southwestern Conference championship game April 23 at East St. Louis

In his two seasons as a starter, Hampton threw for 1,286 yards and nine touchdowns with 12 interceptions. He also ran for 803 yards and seven touchdowns, including 467 yards and four touchdowns in five games during his senior season. The Tigers went 12-5 with Hampton under center. Replacing Hampton at quarterback will either be junior James Distaso-Hutchens or sophomore Jake Curry. Distaso-Hutchins, a 6-5 right-handed thrower, was 12 of 23 passing for 177 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He played in three games, including earning the start in a 42-21 win at Belleville West in Week 4 on April 10. Curry, meanwhile, attempted just eight passes, completing one for an 11-yard touchdown reception to Grant Matarelli in a 50-47 loss to East St. Louis in the Southwestern Conference championship game. Appearing in two games, he also carried the ball 11 times for 47 yards. “Right now, they are competing. They have

both gotten better,” Martin said. “Coach Winslow has done great things with those guys. Sometimes there are frustrations, but I have to remind the guys they’re playing the most difficult position in all of sports.” Lining up on the outside will be wide receivers seniors Jordan Brooks and David Deuanephenh and sophomore Kellen Brnfre. Martin said Brnfre “can make people miss” if he gets the ball in space. At tight end, Edwardsville is looking at freshman Iose Epenesa and junior Evan Holderer. Iose is the youngest of the Epenesas, which includes AJ, now in his second year as a defensive end for the Buffalo Bills, and Eric, who is in his second year at Iowa. The two are attempting to replace Ahlers, who was second on the team with 10 receptions for 97 yards. He also did much more beyond the stats, according to Martin. “I think tight end is the second-most difficult position to play with all the things they’re asked to do,” Martin said. “You’re

asking them to put their hand on the ground and be a run blocker, run routes, catch the balls, split-out and block. That’s a tough position.” The offensive line includes senior Austin Wolfe (6-1, 225 pounds) at center, senior Cliff Seaman (6-1, 215 pounds) at left tackle, senior Lane Kaburick (6-0, 250 pounds) at left guard, senior Ty Ragland (5-9, 225 pounds) at right guard and Nathan Chapman (6-4, 270 pounds) at right tackle. Junior tackle Dawson Rull (6-3, 280 pounds) and junior tackle Ali Haroun (5-9, 285 pounds) are also fighting for time. “We have good kids getting better every day that are going to compete,” Martin said. Defensively, Edwardsville returns to seniors Nasim Cairo (6-2, 260 pounds) and Colton Carstens (6-5, 215 pounds) to the defensive line with sophomore Wyatt Kolnsberg (511, 190 pounds). Epenesa (6-4, 230 pounds), senior Carson Forsting (6-3, 205 pounds) and senior Markieland Gardiner will add depth to the line. Returning linebackers include senior Chase Parker and sophomore Dalton Brown. Holderer and senior Kareem Haroun look to round out the linebacking corps. “The scrimmage will be a big evaluation for us,” Martin said of the defense. The secondary will include Deuanephenh and junior Johnnie Robinson on the corners with junior Makonnen Simmons and senior Carter Knoyle at safety. The kicking duties will once again belong to senior Gavin Walls. While several starting positions are filled with players with returning experience, Martin said every job is open for those that want to step up. “There’s nothing more exciting to me than to see those kids step up,” Martin said. “I’ve told the kids that there is always that guy, especially a senior, that tends to blossom. He goes from obscurity – hiding on special teams that doesn’t want to get in as a junior – to becoming a senior starter and a very good player for us. That’s fun. It’s fun to see kids grow like.”

Telegraph • Friday, August 27, 2021 • 11


Panthers have ‘embraced the grind’ By Pete Hayes

JERSEYVILLE — Jersey coach Ric Johns has a philosophy about coaching high school football players that has served him sell through the years. And as he and his coaching staff prepared the Panthers for what has become a traditional season opener against Granite City, Johns was sticking to it. “Play to our potential, improve as we go, compete at a level that our kids can reflect fondly upon when they are old men,” Johns said. “We’ve got enough experience, talent and fortitude to do this. ”The wins will take care of themselves.” The season opener is set for 7 p.m. Aug. 27 at Granite City. The Panthers will be looking to replicate their previous season opener against the Warriors back on March 19 when they defeated Granite City 16-0 in Jerseyville. While Johns likes his team’s balance and experience, even the experience gained during a 1-5 spring season brought about by the IHSA’s and Illinois Department of Public Health’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was a quick turnaround for sure,” Johns said. “I’ve witnessed no ill effects to date. We’re all trying to put a difficult spring behind us. “Personally, I needed to get the spring season behind me,” he said. “We’re hoping for a semblance of normalcy and some positive outcomes.” Johns said his team’s players

Pete Hayes | The Telegraph

Jersey football coach Ric Johns speaks with his players during a practice session.

have accepted the challenge. “As a staff we have pushed this group hard, they have responded well,” he said. “They’ve embraced the grind.” The Panthers will do their

part, despite fewer numbers than Johns and his coaching staff would like to see. “Like many programs, not just football, we’re thin in terms of depth,” Johns said. “A couple of

injuries or COVID diagnosis would initiate a serious domino effect.” The Illinois High School Association cancelled, then reinstated football during

the pandemic. The sport was classified as high risk, meaning that combined with the high rate of COVID-19 cases, there could be no games. But when the numbers starting declining, the sport was reinstated, with no crowds and no postseason playoffs. Johns said the Panthers’ balance has impressed him. “We appear to have a nice balance on both sides of the ball,” he said. “We have good size up front on offense and we’re certainly battle tested and return a good measure of experience.” The Panthers’ second game is also on the road, Sept. 3 at Marion. On Sept. 10, Jersey will play its home opener against non-conference Lincoln, Illinois. The Mississippi Valley Conference opener for Jersey will be Sept. 17 at Highland. Four consecutive MVC games against Mascoutah (home), Waterloo (home), at Triad and home against Civic Memorial will follow. The regular-season finale will be Oct. 22 at home against Columbia. “The Mississippi Valley has become a strong conference,” Johns said. “Every game offers a real challenge and a diversity of philosophies. “Obviously, the conference is a bit top-heavy with the consistency of Highland and Triad, along with emergence of Mascoutah. There is no reason to believe that will change.”

12 • Friday, August 27, 2021 • Telegraph


Explorers have many holes to fill

By Greg Shashsack

ALTON – With fall football in 2020 postponed to spring, the Marquette Catholic Explorers missed out on their annual Blue-Gray Scrimmage. It was back in 2021. And it was a welcome return for both players and coach. “One of my seniors, who was a junior last year, was like, coach, I really missed this,” Marquette coach Leon McElrath recounted. “Just the fans cheering, and the people and support that you get. It’s good to have that back.” It was McElrath’s first season as coach and the six-game schedule played in the spring finished with a 2-4 record. And with challenges throughout this fall’s ninegame schedule, with Marquette back to competing as an independent, McElrath has many holes to fill. The Explorers graduated their quarterback, their top two rushers and their four leading receivers on offense and three of their top four tackles leaders on defense. But McElrath likes the replacements. Michael Allen got snaps at


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Marquette Catholic’s Michael Allen (1) extends for extra ground while being tackled by Breese Mater Dei defenders in a game last spring at Public School Stadium in Alton. Allen returns for his sophomore season with the Explorers.

quarterback as a freshman and moves intothe starter’s role as a 6-foot-1, 200-pound sophomore. “He stepped in and played a huge role for us as a freshman,” McElrath said of Allen. “Mike has a cannon for an arm. Now, when he runs it, he’s a bulldozer, a Jerome Bettis . But he has a rocket for an arm and he’ll do a lot of good things for us.” The running game gets an

unexpected boost with the transfer of senior Sage White from Calhoun. The 5-8, 185-pound White rushed for 621 yards in six games for the Warriors last spring, averaging 5.6 yards a carry and scoring seven touchdowns. A varsity performer since he was a freshman at Calhoun, White comes to Marquette with 1,771 career rushing yards. “He brings a lot of intensity,

he brings a lot of speed, to our backfield,” McElrath said. “Sage is weight-room strong. He has that physical toughness about him that, hopefully, rubs off on the other kids.” Another senior transfer will also get carries with Derrick Thomas (5-9, 190) joining the Explorers after playing for St. Louis Trinity as a junior. “He’s another kid that’s a load,” McElrath said.

Sophomore Evan Norwood (6-0, 185) and junior Nathan Hamberg (5-11, 170) will be the primary wide receivers. But it is the offensive line that is expected to make the Explorers offense go. “Our line play should be our bread and butter, our strong point,” McElrath said of an all-senior unit up front. Matthew Dixon (6-1, 265) and Colton Roswell (5-10, 295) were standouts on the

O-line last season and both are back to lead as seniors. Dixon is at left tackle, with Roswell at right guard. The center is Sam Harshbarger (6-0, 195), with Sam Ward (6-2, 280) at right tackle and Caleb Gardner (5-11, 220) at left guard to complete the front five Roswell, Harshbarger and Dixon will start both ways and form the three-man front on the defensive line in front of linebackers Jack Robinson (5-9. 170, soph.), Logan Sternickle (6-1, 190, sr.), Jacob Begnel (5-8, 160, sr.) and Thomas. Robinson was Marquette’s leading tackler out of his linebacker slot as a freshman. McElrath calls the secondary “young, but athletic” with three sophomores that will follow the lead of senior Emerson Wylie (5-10, 165), a returning starter at cornerback. Dorian Sykes (5-8, 160, soph.) mans the other corner with Norwood and Johnny Everage (5-9, 160, soph.) the safeties. Marquette is among the increasing number of programs facing a problem with declining numbers. The roster of 29 includes 12 seniors, but just two juniors with eight sophomores and seven freshmen. That is a concern for the second-year coach. “It definitely is,” McElrath said. “We all know there is a fatigue factor. So, how do you manage minutes? You have 29, all 29 will have to play. That is definitely a concern.”

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The offensive line that will be faced with the task of protecting that spread formation includes junior Travis Evans (5-10, 250), junior Ethan Harrelson 6-0, 175), From page 6 junior Willie Gilmour, sophomore Matt Beiermann and junior Matthew Camden that would keep us from making a deep, (6-1, 230). deep run, and that’s going to be injuries or “We’re going to be spread again. We’ll have running into somebody that’s just better a unique situation,” Flowers said. “… We’ve than us.” got a whole slew of guys that can run Carrollton, which opens with a tough routes and catch a football for us. I think opener at Camp Point Central on Friday, this is really going to be a team of really has made the playoffs in 12 of Flowers’ 16 spreading the ball around a lot because of years since he took over in 2004, and 2021 as ny company A full service gas company the athletes we’ve got.” is expected to be no different. In fact, takty sey area. County serving area. the entire Jersey County area. ing it one step further than 2014 squad that Defensively, Carrollton will face what finished second in state is a reasonable feat. Flowers calls “traditional type offenses” “We’re as good as we’ve been,” Flowers said. in the WIVC. The Hawks will see a lot of Wing-T, wishbone, double-wing types of “We don’t haveFREE a lot of depth, but 1A footL Call TOLL FREE styles. They might see some spread with ball teams don’t, so we’re as good as we’ve 70-4974 4 1(800) 770-4974 a couple opponents, but the Hawks will been and I really think the sky’s the limit have to, what Flowers said is “stop the runo m foro this group. ”m c n g asc o . c consistently. ” He doesn’t want to simply It all starts with a senior group led by outscore people. Games will come down to quarterback Grant Pohlman (6-foot, 165 defense when it comes to winning champounds), who played wide receiver and pionships. caught 29 balls for 457 yards and seven “We’re going to do what a lot 80608796 of people 80608 80608796 touchdowns as a sophomore but was held don’t like doing, and that is we’re going to out last season due to an elbow injury sushave to load the box on people because tained playing baseball. Flowers said Pohlwe’re a little bit undersized in some posiman, “looks explosive in camp thus far.” tions, but we’re going to have to load the Last year’s quarterback, senior Gus Coonbox on people and say, ‘You’re not going to rod, who caught six balls for 67 yards as run the ball down our throats this whole a sophomore, was 69 of 128 for 910 yards game. You’re going to have to throw the and 11 TD with five interceptions as a ball a little bit of you’re going to beat us,’” junior; he also rushed for 190 yards and Flowers said. “The good thing about that is three TDs last season. He could get a few we’re going to give them trouble running reps at QB in some special formations but is expected to run the ball, play the receiver the ball, but the bad thing is you’re going to put a couple DB’s on even more of an isposition. land than what they’re already on. You can Senior wideout Kyle Leonard (6-1, 165), set yourself up for some play-action passes who had 35 catches for 492 yards and nine TDs as sophomore and 23 for 442 and four that’s not always in our favor. “But we’re going to be an attack style and TDs as junior; senior tight end Hayden unfortunately we’re probably going to Flowers, who had 10 catches for 104 yards give up a big score once in a while due and two TDs as a junior, will anchor the to maybe being a little overconfident by defense as a defensive end. overloading the box so much. But it drives Senior running back Harley Angel rushed me crazy to sit in a base defense and watch 29 times for 267 yards and four TDs as a a traditional offense that wants to just run junior; he ran it for 584 yards and six TDs the football and maybe throw once in a as a sophomore while catching 21 balls for while run it up and down the field and run 235 yards and one TD. the ball down your throat. Other receivers that will help anchor Flowers’ spread offense include senior Max “We’re going to bring a lot of pressure and Arnett, who had seven catches for 69 yards we’re going to load the box and say, ‘You better be a pretty balanced offensive team and three TDs as a junior; junior Tyler or we’re going to give you trouble.’” Singleton and junior Boden Flowers.

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Piasa Birds build on spring success Keith said. “We do have two good skills guys in the backfield and we have some guys on the line who are hungry.” PIASA – Southwestern’s South Central ConSenior Aaron Frost (6-2, 220) shifts in from ference championship will be recorded as a tight end to guard for an O-line that can 2020 accomplishment despite being secured also turn to Trevor White (6-1, 175, jr.), in April 2021. Gage Smith (6-1, 210, jr.), Bo Richey (5-8, The Piasa Birds shared the league title with 230, sr.), Sam Jones (6-2, 280, soph.), Austin Carlinville and Pana in a shortened season Stanton (5-10, 200, jr.) and Ben Thompson that will be remembered more for the pan(5-11, 215, jr.). demic than the standings. The Birds want to Junior Quinten Strohbeck (6-0, 150) gets turn the page and focus on the return to fall first call at quarterback, with sophomore football in ’21, but still retain momentum Logan Keith (6-1, 200) ready in reserve. built in a 5-1 spring. “He’s taken most of the snaps,” Keith said “We’re just trying to go out and compete of Strohbeck. “He’ll do a good job for us. every Friday night,” Southwestern coach Maybe a little different type of quarterback Pat Keith said. “But that’s still fresh in our for, likes to throw the ball a little bit. We’ll minds, it was just this spring.” see how it goes. So far, so good.” Now, the Birds – coming off their first SCC The Birds will feed carries to Day and Funk, crown since 2008 brought a West Division but when Strohbeck does throw, he will have title – are hoping to continue the ascension a string of receiver possibilities including launched with their first winning season seniors Charlie Darr (6-0 130), Caleb Mary since 2005. (5-10, 190) and Devin Yost (6-2, 185), junior Southwestern starts 1-0 with a forfeit win Collin Robinson (5-11, 140) and sophoover a Staunton team in quarantine with its more Hunter Newell (6-0, 150). Tight end is school district halting athletics until further manned by Masen Day (5-11, 200, jr.) and review Aug. 29. Options to replace Staunton Jaron Whipps (5-10, 175, jr.), with Keith as a Week 1 opponent were available – also in the mix. including Red Bud and Williamsville – but On defense, Frost is back on a line that can the Birds will wait until Week 2 to play a use Smith, Yost, Austin Stanton (5-10, 200, nonconference date vs. Wesclin at Trenton, jr.) and Keith in front of a linebacker corps with five wins in the SCC no longer guarled by Watkins and Jacob Fisher (5-9, 175, anteeing a playoff berth until North Mac jr.). Watkins led the team in tackles last replaces Roxana to restore the league to 10 season. Masen Day, Gavin Day, Funk, Gage teams in 2022. and Mary also are available for snaps at “Obviously, we’d like to play,” Keith said. linebacker. “And we’ve had some opportunities now Senior Sam Robinson (5-7, 145) is back in a since we found out about Staunton, with secondary that has Charlie Darr, Rocky Darr some other schools coming open.” (5-8, 140, soph.), Collin Robinson, StrohThe Birds’ rushing game is certainly ready beck and Hunter Newell (6-0, 150, soph.) with seniors Gavin Day (5-10, 170) and “One positive thing, I feel like we have pretBlake Funk (5-9, 200) back after big junior ty good depth,” Keith said. seasons. Day rushed for 650 yards and eight The Birds came back with defending TDs, averaging 5.8 yards a carry, and averJOHN STANDEFER champions status from 2020, but are not a aged 23.5 yards on his 10 receptions. Funk 618-466-4403 popular pick to go back-to-back in 2021. put up 498 rushing yards, gaining 6.2 yards “Pana, Vandalia, Carlinville, Greenville” GODFREY per attempt, with seven TDs. Keith said of the SCC’s usual suspects. “It’s But from the bigs on the offensive line always tough, top to bottom. And then that made those holes, only junior David North Mac coming in next year just adds to Insurance and coverages subject to terms, qualifications and availability. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co., Allstate Indemnity Watkins (6-2, 230) returns with five seniors it.Allstate We’ll just Indemnity try to put our best foot forward Insurance Co. Northbrook, Illinois © 2010and Allstatecoverages Insurance Co. subject to terms, qualifications and availability. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co., graduated in May. 80704483 on Friday nights.” Co. Northbrook, Illinois © 2010 Allstate Insurance Co. “We lost a lot of linemen to graduation,” By Greg Shashack

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Telegraph • Friday, August 27, 2021 • 15


Changes in store at Roxana

By Pete Hayes

ROXANA — While some things have remained the same for Roxana football since the Shells’ last game in late April, there will definitely be some changes in store in 2021. There will be a new playing surface at Charles Raich Field as well as a new conference for the Shells. Both will likely figure in how things turn out for the Shells, but a third change could bear even more on the Shells’ success: Finding a new quarterback. “The biggest challenge is probably identifying the successor at quarterback,” DeVries said. “We have pretty much had that position set for the previous three years and we currently have three kids that are doing a really good job, but we have to choose one.” Former Shells quarterback Gavin Huffman is gone via graduation, leaving the Shells in the hunt for a replacement signal caller. The new quarterback will lead the Shells in their season opener against Eureka, Illinois, a new opponent for Roxana. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday (Aug. 27) on the new AstroTurf playing surface at Charles Raich Field. The recent spring season came about when the Illinois High School Association postponed football from its traditional fall schedule. It was a six-game schedule and there were no postseason playoffs. But teams were glad to be able to at least play. With the off-season summer contact hours beginning sooner than normal after the end of the season, players have put in considerable practice time between seasons. Included on that roster are 10 sophomores. “With so many sophomores playing at the varsity level,” DeVries said, “having a spring football season gave them some valuable experience leading into this year.” The Shells will feature an experienced defensive line, as well as an experienced group of running backs. “I think one of our strengths will definitely be our defensive line and probably our running backs,” DeVries said. “We return the majority of kids that played those positions in the spring.” With playoffs restored to football by the

IHSA, reaching them is everyone’s goal, of course. But DeVries said there are short-term goals that need to be met first. “The team goals are the same they are every year,” he said. “We need to limit mistakes. If we are able to do that we have enough talent that we can be hard to beat. The goal every week is to give yourself an opportunity to win.” The Shells went 2-4 in the spring, with wins over south central conference foes Hillsboro (17-14) and Staunton (28-6). The SCC is in the Roxana rear-view mirror now. The Shells are preparing for a new life in the Cahokia Conference’s Mississippi Division, along with fellow newcomer East Alton-Wood River, as well as Breese Central, Columbia, Freeburg and Salem. “The conference outlook is interesting this year because we are in a new conference,” DeVries said. “Obviously, I know the names of the teams, but I’ve only coached against Columbia one time. We don’t have any experience against anyone else in the conference.” The Shells’ Week Two opponent, Red Bud, is a member of the Cahokia Conference Illinois Division, as is Sparta, the regular-season finale opponent. Besides Eureka in Week One, the Shells’ other non-conference opponent will be backyard rival Civic memorial Sept 10 in Bethalto. “I do know the Cahokia Conference a very competitive league,” DeVries said, “and we’re going to have to be at our best every week in order to have a chance to win.” Attitude is good, DeVries said, especially considering the way schedules for seasons, practices and contact hours have been adjusted and readjusted the past 18 months. “We have a really good group of kids and they’re working really hard,” he said. “There are a number of kids that are stepping up. Our junior and senior classes are relatively small so we have a number of sophomores and even a couple freshmen who have really stepped up and will give us good minutes. “This is probably the hardest working team that I have coached. We have pushed them really hard over the last week and a half. They‘ve answered the call and we‘re hopeful that will lead to success.“

Telegraph photo

Roxana coach Wade DeVries (right) discusses a call with an official during a 2019 Shells’ game against Gillespie at Charles Raich Field in Roxana.

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