BELLEVILLE — The Althoff Crusaders football team that finished second in Class 2A last season has been named Illinois High School Team of the Year by the St. Louis Rams and Illinois National Guard.
"That's a great thing to have," Althoff coach Ken Turner said. "It's another thing that shows how hard these kids worked all year. You're happy for them because it's another way of recognizing all the effort they put in for us."
Althoff finished 10-4 and has two Division I recruits. Senior defensive lineman Merrick Jackson will sign with Illinois next Wednesday, while senior linebacker Erik Furmanek will sign with Missouri State.
Both players also received all-state and News-Democrat All-Area honors, with Furmanek named the News-Democrat Small-School Player of the Year.
The Crusaders will be honored during halftime of the boys varsity basketball home game Tuesday night against Belleville East.
The award is based on evaluation of skills, overall academic performance, sportsmanship, strengths and perseverance, according to a news release from the Rams.
Turner said it was hard for the Crusaders to get past the sting of losing in the state title game. Althoff lost 14-7 to Mercer County.
"It took them a couple weeks to get over that because we had a goal of winning that state championship," Turner said. "This award is something that will help show them that they went further than all the other teams in the area."