It’s hard to comprehend, but it’s time for prep sports to return.
It seems like just yesterday LaJarvia Brown was winning her second Class 3A triple jump state title for the Alton Redbirds in the spring, the Marquette Catholic Explorer girls’ soccer team was playing in a super sectional and Bryan Hudson was a hot commodity for the MLB Amateur Baseball Draft.
All that is old news now. It’s time to kick it back into high gear with fall sports. The Hickory Stick Classic at Belk Park Golf Course in Wood River will kick off the local fall festivities on Monday. The annual boys’ golf invite will include Marquette, Civic Memorial, Roxana and East Alton-Wood River to give fans a good taste of the Greater Alton schools.
Last season Roxana’s Zack Moore nabbed medalist honors, while the Explorers bagged the team title. Moore is now prowling the links for Lewis and Clark Community College, but Marquette has much of its firepower back and Monday could be a great barometer for how its fall might play out.
The Oiler boys went to state for the first time ever last season also and look to show what they are capable of this year at the Hickory Stick.
Tuesday sees the Redbird boys take to the links with the Alton Redbird Tee-Off Classic at Spencer T. Olin. The Explorers will join them there, too. Also on Tuesday will be the Madison County Meet to give the girls their shot on the golf course. That will be played at Belk Park. The boys’ MadCo Meet is at Gateway National Golf Links in Madison on Thursday.
But there is plenty more coming up than golf. Football is ready to star under the Friday night lights once again.
The Roxana Shells took the area by storm last season, making the playoffs and winning a postseason game for the first time since 2003. The Shells have a lot of talent returning to the gridiron this year including quarterback Chance Foss and running back Blake Vandiver. They will look to duplicate that success in 2016. Roxana starts the season with South Central Conference rival Carlinville at 7 p.m. Aug. 28 at Charlie Raich Field.
Other local games that night include: Alton at home against Rock Island at 7 p.m. and EA-WR on the road at 7 p.m. vs. Columbia.
CM and Marquette battle at Public School Stadium at 7 p.m. on Aug. 29 in an anticipated showdown. The Eagles and Explorers have a lot back from a year ago and expectations are high for the two local teams. CM has quarterback Adam Hill back for his senior year, while Marquette gets signal caller Trey Aguirre back. Both should be good this season with playoff aspirations looming.
Three new head coaches will patrol the sidelines this year with Alton’s Eric Dickerson, Marquette’s Darrell Angelton and EA-WR’s Garry Herron. All three hope for success in their inaugural seasons at the helm.
Other key rivalry games to circle on the calendar are: CM at Jersey on Sept. 18, Marquette and the Oilers at Public School Stadium at 1 p.m. Sept. 26, Alton at Edwardsville on Oct. 26 and Roxana finishing up the season on the road at Southwestern on Oct. 23.
On the soccer field, the EA-WR boys’ soccer program will look to bottle the success of last season. The Oilers won their first regional title in 2015 and the AdVantage News Boys’ Soccer Players of the Year — David and Nick Barrett — will be back to anchor the team again this year.
The Explorers, Redbirds, Eagles and Shells all came up short of regional crowns last year and will look to change that in ‘16.
Alton had a stellar volleyball campaign in 2015, setting a school-record in wins with 25. Unfortunately, the Birds still fell short of a regional championship. They will look to change that in ‘16. CM and Marquette each won a playoff contest last year, but fell short of winning regionals. Those squads, along with the Oilers and Shells, look for improved seasons, too.
There is also girls’ tennis and boys’ and girls’ cross country. AdVantage News Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year Alex Singleton of the Eagles is back for her senior campaign. She will look to be at the top of her game once again. She placed 39th at state as a junior.
Marquette freshman Shelby Jones was a state qualifier last season for the Explorers’ netters and should be improved to be a quality tennis player this fall along with the rest of a youthful girls’ tennis program.
New to the docket this season also will be field hockey at Marquette. Explorers’ director of athletics Sara Ulrich will coach the team. She played field hockey during her prep days at Edwardsville High School, the only other Metro East school to have the sport.
It looks to be another interesting fall season, so come out and support the local schools and athletes. I’m sure I’ll see you there.