COLLINSVILLE — It was a frustrating night for the Alton Redbirds in Collinsville on Friday.
Alton dipped to 0-6 overall and 0-4 in the Southwestern Conference on Friday, losing to the host Kahoks 34-9. Collinsville won its second straight, improving to 2-4 and 2-2 on the season.
It seemed like anything that could go wrong for the Redbirds on Friday did. They attempted a field goal, the Kahoks blocked it and ran it back for a score. Collinsville attempted a field goal, Alton blocked it, but the Kahoks picked up the loose ball and took it in for a score.
“They block a field goal and return it for a touchdown and we block a field goal and they pick it up and score a touchdown,” AHS first-year head coach Eric Dickerson said. “I've never seen that happen in all my years. Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way, but we've got to pick up the pieces and pull it together and we had a hard time doing that tonight.”
First-year Collinsville head coach Rick Reinhart was excited to see the Kahoks win consecutive contests. It was the first time Collinsville had won consecutive games since 2011.
“I'm happy for these kids,” Reinhart said. “They work hard, they're good kids and it's been awhile since they've had a nice Homecoming victory and I hope they enjoy it.”
Reinhart, who coached at Civic Memorial for 17 years and one year at Marquette Catholic, returns to the area after a seven year stint at Tuscola where he won a 1A state title in 2009. Tuscola was runner up in '10 and '11. He led the Eagles to the playoffs eight times and the Explorers went to the postseason during his one year there.
So success is no stranger to Reinhart and he's trying to bring those fortunes to Collinsville. Two tight losses to open the season could have gone the other way for the Kahoks.
“They could have folded and let's face it we could very well by 4-2,” Reinhart said. “We probably should be. We were just two plays away and that kind of goes back to that culture of learning how to win and they're getting better.”
It was Collinsville striking first on Friday. Quarterback Jordan Reichert plunged in for a 3-yard score with 3:18 to go in the first quarter. The extra point made it 7-0. It was Reichert's first of three touchdowns on the night for the Kahoks.
Alton was able to cut into the Kahoks' lead at the 10:32 mark of the second quarter when a high snap caromed off Reichert's fingers and squirted out the back of the end zone, awarding the Birds a safety. It sliced Collinsville's lead to 7-2.
Alton attempted to dwindle the deficit even more three minutes later. Nick Hatfield lined up to attempt a 38-yard field goal, but as the Kahoks blocked it, Trevore Sanders scooped it up and raced 75 yards for the score. The point after upped the lead to 14-2.
AHS got the ball right back and finally converted on offense. An 11-play, 73-yard drive ended with quarterback Keenan Stegall finding Simeon Brown for a four-yard score to slice the Collinsville lead to 14-9 after Hatfield's extra point.
Despite the woes for Alton Friday, Stegall was pretty poised under center. He finished the game going 11 for 22 through the air for 161 yards a TD and an interception. He also had 13 carries for a team-high 82 yards on the ground.
“He made some good reads,” Dickerson said. “He finally stood in the pocket and made some reads and found some open receivers, but then again we dropped a couple. Second quarter we had a seam wide open and we dropped it and that's a touchdown. It's a maturation process for us.”
But the biggest blow for the Redbirds came with three seconds remaining in the first half.
Collinsville went for a 34-yard field goal attempt on a fourth-and-7, but Alton blocked it. This time Reichert was there to pick it up and run it in from 15 yards out. It sent the bad luck Birds into the break trailing 21-9.
“We had our heads down, but it's still 21-9 and we were getting the ball back to start the second half,” Dickerson said. “You score a touchdown it's 21-16, but hats off to Collinsville the defense really came out and stepped up second half.”
Two fourth quarter scores extended the Kahoks' lead and a pair of second-half turnovers plagued AHS.
A fumble recovery by Alton's Kevin Caldwell on Collinsville's first possession of the second half looked to be a spark, but the Redbirds could never get the offense churning.
Reichert punched in his third score with 7:27 to play in the game, breaking a couple tackles and sprawling for the left pylon for the score. The extra point was no good, leaving the Kahoks up 27-9.
Collinsville's final score came after Alton had a nice run on a fourth down play in Kahok territory. A 9-yard run was blemished by a fumble, recovered by Collinsville's Derron Miller.
On the next play, Max Lyons of the Kahoks scampered in for a 71-yard score. The PAT extended it to 34-9.
“That's kind of been a microcosm of our season,” Dickerson said. “We put a lot of effort in it and sometimes we try too hard to make that extra play and we fumble or throw an interception and the opponent turns around and capitalizes on it. That's what happens.”
The Redbirds will now try and right the ship as 2-4 Granite City comes to Alton in Week 7. After winning their first two games the Warriors have dropped four straight and it gives a winnable game to AHS.
Dickerson had hoped for a better showing Friday to build confidence and momentum heading into the Granite City game.
“We didn't want to be stuck at nine,” he said. “We marched the ball down the field and scored and we thought we could do it again, but credit to Collinsville coming out and playing great defense.”