ALTON – Darrell Angleton treasured his first win Saturday night as the Marquette Catholic head football coach.
Liam Maher and Brian Nagy of the Explorers enabled him to thoroughly enjoy it.
They spurred Marquette to a 17-6 win over Kincaid South Fork in a Prairie State Conference game at Public School Stadium. The Explorers improved to 1-2 in winning their league opener. Kincaid dropped to 0-3 and 0-1.
“It’s great and nice to celebrate the first win,” said Angleton, the Explorers’ first-year interim coach. “What makes it good is that it’s a conference game, so that’s an important win.”
Maher, a do-it-all junior, got the Explorers pointed in the right direction. He booted a 48-yard field goal in the first quarter and then scored on a 5-yard run early in the second quarter.
His extra point made it 10-0 just one minute into the quarter. Xavior Jones’ fumble recovery on the second play of the period set up Maher’s TD.
“It felt great,” Maher said of his booming Craig Hentrich-esque field goal. “I’ve made a 57-yarder in practice and I think my range is about 54 yards.”
Angleton added, “Getting a 10-0 lead set the tone for the game and Liam really stepped up.
“He’s a big weapon one we didn’t have before because of his kicking and punting. Liam has been practicing field goals at Garfield Park with special teams coach Rob Stephan and we wanted to give him an opportunity to kick from that distance in a game.”
Nagy, a junior linebacker, ignited Marquette’s bend-but-not break defense. He collected nine tackles, including seven solos. Nagy also contributed a sack and had an interception as the Explorers took advantage of four Kincaid turnovers.
“He really has a nose for the ball and did a good job for us tonight,” Angleton said. “Brady McAfee also stepped in at middle linebacker and did some good things.”
Quarterback Trey Aguirre connected with D’Avion Peebles for a 31-yard touchdown pass four minutes into the third quarter to give Marquette a 17-0 lead. Maher supplied the conversion kick, giving him 11 points on the night. Aguirre, meanwhile, completed 7 of 13 passes for 88 yards.
The Ponies avoided a shutout when quarterback Seth Foster scored on a 6-yard run with 8:12 remaining in the game. Kincaid running back Dawson Williams, a 175-pounder, rushed 22 for 129 yards to lead the visitors. He also snared three passes for 69 yards.
“Dawson’s a horse and he’s only a sophomore,” Kincaid coach Tim Chapman said. “He really played well.
Chapman pointed out, “I was proud of our defense, but we had too many mental mistakes. We need to clean up our sloppy play. And we’re not out of this thing (Prairie play) by any means. Last year, we started 0-3 and finished 4-5, taking third in the conference.”
Maher and Nagy figured the start of league play stirred a sense of urgency for the Explorers. They have six Prairie games to go, including next Friday night at 0-3 Nokomis.
“The whole team wanted to get our first win and we were ready for it,” Maher said. “We wanted to start off well in the conference. Now, we need to keep going and not make mental mistakes.”
Nagy said, “I felt like we played better as a team. We have a lot of talented players and good chemistry. We need to keep up with working hard in practice.”
Angleton will go along with that. “We’ve got to turn it up. There’s a lot of room for improvement,” he said. We made too many turnovers (three) and some of them were unnecessary.”
MARQUETTE CATHOLIC 17, KINAID SOUTH FORK 6
Kincaid 0 0 0 6 – 6
Marquette 3 7 7 0 – 17
M – Ryan Maher 48 FG, 8:21
M – Maher 5 run (Maher kick), 11:01
M – D’Avion Peebles 31 pass from Trey Aguirre (Maher kick), 8:00
K – Seth Foster 6 run (pass failed), 8:12