Those good times figure to continue for the grid Tigers this fall. There are great expectations, as usual.
Edwardsville, 9-1 last year and champion of the Southwestern Conference for the third consecutive season, is looking for more of the same. The Tigers have won 27 straight league games.
“The Southwestern Conference is tough, week-in and week-out,” cautioned EHS coach Matt Martin said. “I feel our team has great potential, though we aren’t where we need to be yet.”
The Tigers can lean on 6-foot-5, 270-pound A.J. Epenesa to show the way. The senior All-America player, bound for the University of Iowa, figures to excel on both sides of the ball this season. He will play defensive end and fullback.
On defense, Epenesa collected 39 tackles, 7 sacks and 3 fumble recoveries in 2015. The enhanced running back role will be something new. He was cast at tight end a year ago.
“A.J. can run a little bit, and it’s easier to get a guy the ball when he’s running it,” Martin said. “But we will be throwing the ball, too.”
Quarterback Brenden Dickmann will do the throwing and speedster Travis Anderson, a state champion in the 110-meter high hurdles, could join Daval Torres as his favorite targets. Chris McCartney and Deonte Rogers will be in the backfield with Dickmann.
Linebacker Cyress Ahart, offensive linemen Lucas Davis and Cale Warrer, defensive tackle Tate Rujawitz and tight end Nathan Kolesa also will play major roles.
“You need to have a combination of role players and playmakers to be successful,” Martin said.
EHS starts its season 7 p.m. Friday at Quincy and then welcomes Rock Island on Sept. 2.
The Tigers have reloaded and appear poised for another banner season. Head coach Dave Lipe, starting his 23rd season at EHS, has five of the top six Tigers returning from a team that finished seventh in state last fall.
“It’s a very good team and we have some great kids,” Lipe said.
Edwardsville also has strong tradition, thanks to 19 consecutive sectional titles and 7 successive Southwestern Conference championships. And even though the IHSA is branching out to 2-class play, that shouldn’t faze the Tigers. They are looking for their third straight top-10 finish in the state.
Seniors Morgan Colbert, Maria Mezo and Mckenzie Cadagin could lead the way with junior Grace Desse and sophomore Natalie Karibian in the middle of the mix. So are Abby Cimarolli, Noni Updyke, Emily Greer and Grace Trimpe. The Tigers have to replace last year's No. 1 player, the graduated Callaghan Adams. She’s at SIUE.
Following a 25-11 finish last season, the Tigers are looking to match — and possibly surpass — that. They bowed to O’Fallon in the Class 4A Granite City Regional final and are seeking better things as in 2011, when they took third at state.
Longtime coach Jami Parker, daughter of Carlinville legend Fran Struble, has a nice blend of youth experience.
Senior Nicki Meyer and Shelbey Saye team with juniors Kate Martin, Rachel Pranger Mikaela Suess, Rachel Verdun and Megan Woll, plus sophomores Corrine Timmermann and Paige Tulacro.
Pranger, the team leader, recorded 244 kills and 154 service points last season, while Martin registered 160 kills and 160 serves. They combined for 91 blocks. Verdun led the Tigers in assists.
Parker’s teams have logged 378 wins in 14 seasons, including 5 campaigns of 30 or more victories. Edwardsville has never won fewer than 20 matches per season since Parker took the coaching reins in 2002.
Three years ago, the Tigers snagged a Class 3A IHSA state title and they’d like to make another state run this fall. Edwardsville followed that Illinois championship with regional crowns the last two years under head coach Mark Heiderscheid.
He senses another promising season with seven returning players. Senior defender Matt Busse, and junior defenders Zach Timmermann and Daniel Hentz should stoke them. Dan Pichiotti and Michael Hoelting should share goalie duties. Mohammad Hamad, Michael Glisson, Michael Pichiotti, Bayne Noll and Alec Mills key the EHS attack
Mills, Bryce Glisson, Hamad, Noll, Timmermann and Kyle Wright could emerge as pivotal players. The Tigers will need to replace gradated goalie Trey Riley.
New boys' head co-coaches Adam Tyler (East Alton-Wood River) and Doug Wright (Roxana) likely will have the Edwardsville boys among the area’s elite teams again.
The Tigers finished second to Marquette Catholic in the season-opening Alton Redbirds’ Tee-Off Classic. Tyler and Wright take over from Dene Schickedanz.
Senior Luke Babington, plus juniors Ben Tyrrell and Tanner White, are returning. Jon Ratterman and Spencer Patterson add to the mix. Tyrrell shot a 6-under-par 66 to win the season-opening Redbird Tee-Off Classic.
Gone is the graduated Justin Hemings, the Class 3A state champ. He started his college career at Northern Illinois, but recently announced he has transferred to play golf for SIUE. And 2015 contributor Zach Trimpe is concentrating on tennis.
Abby Comerford is the new girls’ golf coach and plans to keep the Tigers on the prowl. She replaces Tresa LaBoube, who directed Edwardsville to a 14-0 record last season. The Tigers also won the SWC title and the Class 2A O’Fallon Regional.
Kayla Weinacht, the team’s Most Valuable Player, leads the list of returnees. Addy Zeller and Paige Hamel should complement her. Meara Schaefer, Sydney Sahuri, Jessica Benson and Carlie Van Pattan are also varsity candidates. Comerford also serves as the EHS girls’ head soccer coach.
The boys, champs of their own Class 3A regional last season at SIUE, are poised for more good times under coach George Patrylak.
They return their top seven runners from that regional, including individual runner-up Franky Romano. Dan Powell, Roland Prenzler, Max Hartman, Sam McCormick, Jacob Schoenthal and Matt Swanson are also back.
The EHS girls, winners of their regional and fifth in the sectional, are eyeing another state berth.
Maddie Miller, Kiara Delgado, Julianna Determan, Melissa Spencer and Victoria Vegher, among others, give the Tigers plenty of hope.
Third-year head coach Julia Tyler wants to extend the Tigers’ winning ways. They finished 13-10 last season, captured the Public School Tournament title and snared their second successive Suburban Division title. Edwardsville went 18-6-2 in Tyler’s first season.
Annie Mulford, Allie Hosto, Victoria Carrow, Natalie Nava and Ansley Dorsey are key returning players. Mulford, a senior, has combined for 39 goals and 38 assists the past two seasons.