Photo by Bill Roseberry
Alton football coach Jeff Alderman resigned recently to focus on his position as athletic director for the Redbirds. Here Alderman talks with his players during a timeout at East St. Louis in the 2014 season. He hopes to have a new head coach in place by the end of January.
The search is on for a new head football coach at Alton High School.
After three seasons and an 11-16 record, Jeff Alderman decided to step down from the helm of the football program. Alderman will stay on to continue his duties as athletic director at AHS.
Alderman helped lead the Redbirds to a 5-4 mark in 2014, the first winning record at Alton since 2006. Unfortunately, the Birds didn’t accumulate enough points to earn a Class 7A playoff spot.
At 56, Alderman believes it’s time to inject some youth into the program, someone who can stay in place at the program for a long time.
“It’s just time to head in a different direction and let somebody else run things,” Alderman said.
It’s now Alderman’s job to find that person who can give the Redbirds the consistency they crave so desperately.
When Alderman accepted the position to guide the Alton football program and become the AD prior to the 2012 season, he became the fourth AHS football coach in four seasons. Alton had gone 3-24 in the three previous seasons before Alderman and it went 2-7 in his first year.
It seems eons ago since the Redbirds made the playoffs six consecutive seasons from 2001-06 under Joe Hook, now the assistant AD. That was the best playoff stretch run in Alton’s history, but the program logged no playoff victories over that span.
The Birds only own one postseason victory dating back to 1992, beating Pekin at Public School Stadium in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs under Collis James.
They do boast the 10-0 season of 1970 under Ed Yonkus as their best ever, but the IHSA didn’t offer playoffs then.
Alderman’s goal is to find someone who can build on the steady climb of moderate success of the last three years, look at Alton as a destination job and be young enough to stay for a long time.
“I think that’s the ultimate desire to find that kind of person,” Alderman said. “That person that will be here long term and will have the energy and is relatively young and is able to make it an attractive place and a reason why you don’t want to move on. In terms of enrollment at our school, I think our school can be that kind of position. I think it can be a destination job for a high school coach that’s looking to compete and have success and coach — and I’m biased, but I believe — in one of the better leagues in the state.”
The Southwestern Conference is definitely a competitive league, if not the most competitive south of Chicago. The East St. Louis Flyers have won seven state titles and finished second twice. They last won in 2008 under current head coach Darren Sunkett. East Side made it to the 6A quarterfinals this year and the semis in 2013.
Edwardsville was second in 7A in 2001 and 2002 and the Tigers made the quarters in 2012 and the semis in 2013.
Belleville East, Belleville West and O’Fallon have made the playoffs quite often in recent history, too.
Collinsville of the SWC is also in search of a new head coach after John Blaylock resigned following two years and a 2-16 record.
Alderman yearns for the Redbirds to join those annual playoff contenders on a regular basis and he believes the guy to do it is out there and could come from anywhere.
“I’m confident that wherever you go it doesn’t matter the size of the school, football is football, kids are kids and it’s a great game,” Alderman said. “When you combine a little work ethic with a little desire, kids can achieve great things. Our kids busted their tails and put a lot of commitment into it, along with our coaches, and that’s why we were able to achieve some moderate success.”
As for who exactly the 25th football head coach in the history of AHS will be, Alderman is scouring all his options, both in house and out of house.
“I’m sure we’re going to have some interest in house and we’re considering all candidates,” Alderman said. “I’m certain we will have some interest that way. I’ll be honest, I talk with my assistants and I’m not sure who all will be interested, but I’m sure we’ll have some in-house interest.”
Alderman would like to have a new football coach in place by the end of January.