Football and chicken; it’s synonymous in the Greater Alton area.
When the end of August rolls around, the Alton Knights of Columbus Quarterbacks Club Coaches Dinner creates that football fever. Tuesday marked the opening of the annual three-banquet series.
Week 1 kicks off Friday. East Alton-Wood River and Civic Memorial enjoy home games, with the Oilers welcoming Dupo at 7 p.m. and the Eagles battling local rival Marquette Catholic at 7 p.m. at Hauser Field.
Roxana heads to Carlinville at 7 p.m. Friday, while Alton takes a bus ride to Rock Island for a 7:30 p.m. showdown.
Of course, the slates are clean and the spirits high as everyone starts off fresh.
Roxana, CM and the Explorers all enjoyed playoff seasons last season and Alton and EA-WR hope to join in the fun this year.
New Eagles’ head coach Mike Parmentier kicked off the festivities Tuesday. The former head coach at Girard and Staunton is no stranger to running a successful program. He led the Bulldogs to second place in the Class 2A IHSA playoffs in 2013. He takes over for Justin Winslow at CM.
He was quick to point out a philosophy change from the previous regime. The Eagles were 7-3 last year.
“A big culture change at CM,” Parmentier said. “It’s going to be more of a three-point stance and run blocking. We’re going to run the ball.”
Second-year Oilers’ coach Garry Herron is ready to improve on a 1-8 season.
“Last year 90 percent of our team was sophomores; now they’re juniors,” Herron said. “Those juniors are who we will ride and die with.”
Eric Dickerson at Alton and Darrel Angleton at Marquette also are second-year head coaches.
“We had a tough year last year; 1-8, not what we wanted,” Dickerson said. “We had good numbers this summer, a lot of kids out for weights.”
The Birds lost 20 seniors and have a young squad this year. He said it will be “running back by committee” on offense.
Angleton is stoked to have a large senior class to lead his team through the Prairie State Conference.
“We’ve got some guys who know how to play football,” he said.
The Explorers hope to build on a solid 6-4 season from ‘15. They’ve made the playoffs 9 out of the last 10 years.
Roxana head coach Pat Keith is the graybeard of the bunch, entering his eighth season with the Shells. He becomes the third-longest tenured head coach at Roxana behind Charlie Raich (29 years) and Earl McClane (17 years).
Roxana was 7-3 last year and is looking for a third consecutive playoff berth, but losing 14 seniors will make that harder with a little more inexperience.
“We’ve had a lot of competition in practice for positions and that’s good, but different from recent years,” Keith said.
Like always, the chicken was sensational. Now let’s see if the football can match that standard.
Follow #AdVsports on Twitter