Here we go.
This is what the football season is all about — the playoffs and the Football Gods have shined on the Greater Alton area for the first time in awhile. Civic Memorial, Marquette Catholic and Roxana are all playoff bound.
The Eagles and Explorers are cast in Class 4A, while the Shells sit in 3A. It marks the first time since 2010 that more than one of the five Greater Alton schools (Alton, Marquette, CM, Roxana and East Alton-Wood River) has qualified for the postseason. The last time there were three qualifiers was 2006 when Alton, Marquette and EA-WR made it together, so it’s a rare occurrence. Enjoy it.
The Eagles are soaring, entering the playoffs at 7-2 and playing host to a postseason game at Hauser Field for the first time since 2005. They welcome Mater Dei at 1 p.m. Saturday, looking for their first postseason victory since ‘05.
CM last made the playoffs in 2010, losing to Mater Dei 59-30 in opening-round action.
Led by running back John Whitworth, the first CM runner to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing since former standout Joe Odom, quarterback Adam Hill and a high-octane offense, the Eagles can put up points. They average 39 points per game and allow 24.56 per contest.
Whitworth (1,117 yards, 15 total TDs), Hill (1,464 yards, 18 TDs, 6 INTs) and sibling receivers David (370 yards, 5 TDs) and Brett Lane (318 yards, 6 TDs) steer the offensive express. The beefy offensive line of Andrew (6-1, 230), Brandon (6-1, 280) and Curtis Deckard (6-4, 300) along with Jordan Stagner (6-2, 220) and Cody Reynolds (6-0, 270) provide the protection.
The defense is opportunistic. David Lane leads with 3 picks to accompany 43 total tackles. Rikki Lafferty paces the Eagles in tackles with 79 total, including 38 solos. He also has a sack, 2 fumble recoveries and a pick.
Zach Williams (63 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 INT) and Dylan Sutton (68 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT) also stir the defense.
Mater Dei (6-3) averages 40.3 points per game and gives up 26.4 per contest, so they are similar statistically to the Eagles.
The Knights throw the ball with signal caller Colin Schuetz throwing for 2,110 yards, 25 TDs and just 7 interceptions. Schuetz has 10 rushing TDs also. Brendan Timmerman will be a load, too. He has 794 yards receiving and 10 TDs to go with 383 yards rushing and 4 scores. Brady Rakers (433 yards, 6 TDs) leads the ground attack.
Defensively, watch for Sam Krebs, who has 73 total tackles and 7 sacks, both team highs.
CM is 8-10 in its history in the postseason, while Mater Dei sports a 23-23 all-time postseason mark.
Roxana is enjoying two straight playoff appearances. The Shells (7-2) head to a familiar foe to open the 3A playoffs at Carlinville (7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.
I guess the IHSA wasn’t paying attention when it pitted the South Central Conference opponents against each other after a grueling 9-game SCC schedule.
The Cavaliers visited Charlie Raich Field in Week 1, defeating Roxana 48-24. A lot has changed since then, most notably the emergence of sophomore fullback Jordan Hawkins for the Shells.
Roxana is 7-0 with Hawkins hauling the rock. He rumbled for 1,030 yards and 13 scores in his seven games at fullback.
Senior backs Blake Vandiver, Jarod Foils and Talon Pile are loads, too.
Vandiver returned from a shoulder injury in Week 9 and looked fine. He rushed for 654 yards and 11 scores, while Foiles (571, 6 TDs) and Pile (329, 3 TDs) run hard, also.
Tight end Trace Gentry (198 yards, 2 TDs) directs the receiving corps.
Junior quarterback Zach Golenor is performing well with the loss of Chance Foss to injury. Golenor has the keys to the offense for the foreseeable future. The offensive line has been blocking well down the stretch, too.
Billy Mathis (97 tackles), Foiles (80 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, 2 INTs) and Hawkins (74 tackles, 1 sack) lead the defense.
The Shells average 34.56 points on offense and allow 19.89 on defense. Carlinville is similar, scoring 36.22 per game on offense and surrendering 18.22 on defense.
The key for Roxana will be containing running back Jacob Dixon. The junior load has 1,747 yards on the ground and a whopping 28 TDs. Brady Egelhoff complements him (548 yards, 7 TDs) on the ground.
Watch for junior Dylan Chism on defense. He has 142 total tackles. Egelhoff has 6 sacks, too.
All-time the Shells are 19-16 in the playoffs, while the Cavs are 22-29.
The Explorers (6-3) have a tough draw in their opening-round matchup. They head to Rochester (8-1) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in a 4A contest. The Rockets are the 5-time 4A state champs, not dropping a playoff game this decade. They are 25-0 in the playoffs dating back to 2010.
Rochester’s lone loss in ‘15 came in Week 9 to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, the 2-time 5A champ.
Marquette has dialed it up on offense lately, scoring 183 points in its final 3 wins of the season. The Explorers average 33 points per game, allowing 24.78 on defense.
The Rockets put up 56.2 points per game and surrender just 22.6.
Trey Aguirre (1,445 yards, 12 TDs, 8 INTs) guides Marquette at quarterback, while wideout Jesse Simmons (51 catches, 701 yards, 8 TDs) is his favorite target.
D’Avion Peebles (562 yards, 8 TDs) and Brady McAfee (335 yards, 7 TDs) pace the run game.
McAfee (63 tackles, 3 sacks), Xavior Jones (65 tackles, 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries) and Brian Nagy (56 tackles, 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 INTs) stir the defense.
Quarterback Danny Zeigler (2,345 yards, 29 TDs, 4 INTs) and receiver Collin Stallworth (38 catches, 736 yards, 13 TDs) will be tough to stop on the Rockets. Running back Kenny Hedges complements them (1,081 yards, 20 TDs).
The Explorers are 12-21 all-time in the playoffs, while Rochester is 33-9 overall with 5 total state titles.
Good luck to everybody. It will be a fun ride.
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The answer to the Oct. 23 AdVantage News sports trivia question is the University of Illinois. Former Alton High running back Elmer Hickman ran the ball for the Fighting Illini from 1996-1999. He later signed as a rookie free agent with the Miami Dolphins, but ultimately was released and never played in an NFL game.
Congratulations to Mike Brey, who answered correctly and wins a $10 voucher from Subway at 712 E. Broadway in Alton, which is good toward a footlong sub, chips and a drink.
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