Photo by Theo Tate
The Metro-East Lutheran-Madison Knights football team huddles before its game against South Fork on Sept. 10 at Madison High School.
For the first time in two decades, football returned to Madison High in 2015.
Madison teamed up with Metro East Lutheran in Edwardsville to form a co-op football team that’s called the Metro East Lutheran Knights.
The Knights played a home game against Bunker Hill at Madison in ‘15, making it the first time since 1992 a football game was played at the Madison High football field.
This year, the Knights have played one home game at Madison and will play another on Oct. 8, when they take on the Marquette Catholic Explorers.
Madison football fans hope the game against Marquette won’t be the last one at Madison High.
Madison and MELHS’ two-year co-op agreement comes to an end after the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
“We would like the co-op to continue,” MELHS coach Matt Tschudy said.
Madison, which also co-ops with MELHS in cross country, is a Class 1A school with 139 students. MELHS is a Class 1A school with about 200 students.
“The co-op is going very well,” Tschudy said. “There are two schools that are mixing well and we have a lot of support from both schools.”
Gerard Moore, in his first season as athletics director at Madison High, said there’s no timetable on a decision about the future of the MELHS-Madison football program.
“We don’t know for sure how it’s going to go about,” Moore said. “We would like to pursue another year. But a lot of it has to do with the attendance of the incoming class next year. If Metro East has a higher attendance, then it would bump them up to a different class and we won’t be able to do it. It all depends on that. As of now, we’re planning on trying to renew that contract. But if that happens, then that will change things.”
So far, the co-op football team has yet to get a win. The Knights were 0-9 last year and are off to an 0-4 start this year. MELHS lost 7-0 to Nokomis last week and will travel to East Alton-Wood River on Friday.
The Knights will play a home game against Mount Olive on Sept. 30 at the MELHS campus. They have road games against Pawnee on Oct. 14 and Bunker Hill on Oct. 21.
The Knights played their first two games of the season at MELHS. They lost 30-14 to Bunker Hill and 49-6 to Lighthouse Christian.
On Sept. 10, a large crowd at Madison High got to see the Knights play South Fork in their Prairie State Conference opener. MELHS lost 32-6.
“It was a nice turnout,” Moore said. “It’s a nice environment. It’s a beautiful event to host on a Saturday for our community and our students.”
The Knights are playing in their final year in the Prairie State Conference. Dupo will take MELHS’ place in the 2017-2018 season.
Vince Wilson, Earl Green, Kyle Johnson, Jeremiah Brown, Josh Johnson and Kinden Griggs are the only seniors on the MELHS team.
“We’re a pretty young team,” Tschudy said. “We have some guys with experience from last year and a couple of guys who played football for a couple of years. It’s kind of a good mix right now — experienced and inexperienced. But the more they play, they better they get.”
The numbers are up for the MELHS program. The Knights have 38 players this year after having just 24 in 2015.
“We saw numbers up from both schools, so I was able to talk to a lot of Metro East Lutheran kids and get them out,” Tschudy said. “We had a decent number of freshmen come out. (Assistant) Coach (David) Jackson was able to get some more students from Madison to come out.”
Moore said he hopes the MELHS-Madison football program will be back in 2017.
“My goal is to ensure that we have football at some capacity next year, whether it would be a JV team or continue to co-op with Metro East,” the Madison athletics director said.
Follow #AdVsports on Twitter