After two weeks of prep football, it’s time to start thinking conference play.
The Roxana Shells have already been in conference mode, playing all nine of their games in the massive South Central Conference, while the Civic Memorial Eagles get another week of non-conference action at 7 p.m. Friday in Effingham before delving into the Mississippi Valley Conference.
But for Alton, East Alton-Wood River and Marquette Catholic, Week 3 means the beginning of league action.
Let’s start with the Shells, who after two weeks are sitting at 1-1. Following a 64-40 loss at Carlinville, Roxana prevailed in a dramatic affair at Pana 37-35 in Week 2. Jack-of-all-trade senior Logan Reardon led the charge for the Shells, booting a game-winning field goal with 17 seconds left to be the hero. Reardon also hauled the rock 20 times for 146 yards and a pair of scores.
The road- and conference-weary Shells can now return to the comforts of home in Week 3, battling Hillsboro at 7 p.m. Friday in Roxana. The Hiltoppers come to town at 2-0, only scoring 41 points on the season, but only allowing 32. They’ve beaten Southwestern 20-14 and Staunton 21-18.
CM is 2-0 for the first time since 2005 and the Eagles have done it up big on offense, outscoring opponents 97-23 in two games, beating Marquette 49-7 and Mattoon 48-16.
Now the Eagles fly east to battle the Flaming Hearts. Effingham is 1-1 with a 35-13 win over Mascoutah and a 22-17 loss to Mater Dei.
The Flaming Hearts will have their hands full slowing the CM offense, led by junior signal caller Adam Hill, who is 36 of 51 for 496 passing yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception so far.
The Eagles will start MVC action playing host to Triad in Week 4.
Another 2-0 squad, the Alton Redbirds, are ready to dive head first into their grueling Southwestern Conference schedule. Alton is 2-0 for the first time since 2006 when it raced out to 4-0 on its way to an 8-2 mark and its last playoff berth. AHS is also the only SWC team without a loss so far in 2014.
The Redbirds soared past Pekin 44-12 in Week 1 and got by Cahokia 21-12 in Week 2. Now they welcome O’Fallon (1-1) to Public School Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Panthers beat Cahokia 16-0 in Week 1, but fell to Benet Academy 24-10 in Week 2.
O’Fallon will have to try and slow Alton’s speedy offense led by quarterback Lavonte Hobbs,who has thrown for 262 yards, two TDs and zero picks in two games, and running back Kareem Hamilton, who has rushed for 150 yards on 18 carries with three TDs. Hamilton is averaging 8.3 yards per carry.
The Redbirds really hang their hat on their defense, though, and senior Ricco Gipson leads the charge. Gipson, a senior linebacker, has 19 solo tackles and 27 total tackles with a sack and a fumble recovery.
Friday is a big game for Alton with defending SWC champ Edwardsville lurking on the road in Week 4.
The last two football teams of the River Bend are both entering Prairie State Conference action in Week 3. Marquette and EA-WR both own 0-2 records and are looking for some sanctuary in the PSC.
The Explorers have never lost a PSC game in two seasons and look to keep that streak going. They are also looking for their eighth straight season in the playoffs, so righting the ship is a necessity.
They are coming off a 49-7 loss to CM and a 20-7 setback vs. Quincy Notre Dame. Now Marquette hits the road for the first time at Kincaid South Fork at 7 p.m. Friday.
The Ponies are also 0-2 and are yet to find the end zone this season. South Fork has lost 34-0 to Hamilton and 41-0 to Warrensburg-Latham.
EA-WR is happy to rejoin a conference after two years of being a nomadic independent program. The Oilers head to Mount Olive at 7 p.m. Friday for their first PSC contest.
Hopefully, conference life will be better to EA-WR after a 62-0 loss to Columbia and 28-0 loss to Centralia to start the season. Luckily for the Oilers, the Wildcats are yet to discover the end zone, too.
Mount Olive has lost 26-0 to Wesclin and 54-0 to Sullivan-Okaw Valley.
Just by sheer enrollment size, EA-WR’s chances fare far better in Week 3. With an enrollment of 512, the Oilers faced Columbia (671) and Centralia (911). Now they get Mount Olive with an enrollment of 168.
Let’s hope Alton and CM can keep riding high, Roxana can build momentum from Week 2’s heroics and the Explorers and Oilers can change the tide in Week 3, keeping the buzz on the local gridiron relevant.