Readers comments about the rivalry

August 31, 2013 

Here are some of the responses from readers who were asked to recall some of their top games and best memories from the Belleville West-Althoff football series:

"I can remember the Althoff vs. Belleville West game in 1978. We (Althoff) were heavy underdogs in this game. West had Austin Kattenbraker, Brent Lehr, Jeff Marifian, Greg Sonnenberg and Brad Barton. We (Althoff) had Dave Bone, Tom Lehman, Mike Halvachs, Teddy Banker and Kevin "Tank" Dolansky. All week at practice and in the newspaper all we heard from people outside the team that we did not have a prayer in this game.

"When we went out for warmup prior to the game. we were very quiet. When we came into the locker room, I remember Coach Schott standing in front of our team and telling us, "No one in this entire town believed we had and chance except for the players and coaches in this room. Gentlemen lets go play the game and leave it on the field.

"The place exploded with Coach Harriman and Coach Fahrner leading the chants! It was by far the hardest-hitting game I was ever involved in. Final Score: Althoff 7, Belleville West 6."

Tim Meehan, 1979 Althoff graduate and former player

"I enjoyed telling West players we owned that stadium. Told them to take care of it for us, somebody had to win in there and it was us! It was Althoff-West! Coach never let us think or act like it was a bigger game, but trust me, we all knew each other in town and we knew who was expected to win the game."

Vic Faust, former Althoff tight end and linebacker; now a television news anchor in Detroit

"I really remember my senior year vs. Althoff because it was our first game of the year. I remember two things about it. How physical the game was and that we won 7-0. (1976). Our defense was exceptional and got the shutout that night. We went 11-1 that year but that was probably our toughest game until the playoffs. It was a defensive battle with lots of flags and turnovers.

"Coach Arnold was not happy with our offensive line but we punched in a late TD by Craig Whittiker with less than 2 minutes left to get the win. That TD was set up by a West interception. I played center and remember Althoff blitzing from that 4-4 defense all night. I remember playing against Terry Mackin (News-Democrat columnist) in that game. He was a tough linebacker and I think he had a pick (interception) in the game for Althoff.

"Anyway, the good guys won. It was also a contest that pitted former rivals from the Little Devils and Little Knights junior programs so it had gone way back into grade school. Most of the west kids went to grade school with the Althoff kids.

"The only prank I remember was driving through the Althoff parking lot at lunch on game day. We had an open campus so we would head to McDonalds and then drive through their lots honking the horns, spreading all sorts of good will to our opponents. It was a friendly rival off the field. We usually ended up at the same parties on the weekend. But on the field we got after it and it was intense."

Steve Lanxon, former Belleville West player and current Highland athletic director and assistant principal

"The one thing I distinctly remember was the offense Althoff ran. Sometimes they shifted, sometimes they didn't, but it was very hard to prepare for in one week. Coach Schott did a wonderful job and they played so fundamentally sound. There were so many great players and friends I played against and have so many memories."

Former Belleville West and University of Illinois lineman Jeff Hasenstab

"2004 has to be the best game I have ever seen. Two tipped passes go for go-ahead touchdowns in the 4th quarter. One puts West ahead 30-26. The other puts Althoff ahead for good 34-30.

Casey Sonnenberg, former Althoff wide receiver and defensive back and 2006 graduate

"I played in the first citywide championship -- East beat both West and Althoff to win the first one. West went 10-1 and East, coached by Dean Renn, 10-0. I remember the stands being packed long before the opening kickoff and fans piling into the stands while the teams were preparing their pre-game warmups. Althoff beat West in the '68 game but West got the better of Althoff in the 1969 game. Althoff was beat handily by West 43-12 and then Head Coach Max Hamilton never let us watch the game film -- I saw it later as a member of Assumption's coaching staff with Jim Monken.

"The crowd witnessing the '69 game saw the entire Althoff punt return team try to stop the forward progress of Rich Caravia; I do not think we ever did bring him to the ground. Althoff was led by running backs Bill Dobbs and Bill Weis. Kevin Burns was our quarterback -- other notables were lineman Bob Sieben, Mike Johnson, Mike Kolakowski and Mike Johnson.

"Belleville West had the late John Bunch (Best high school quarterback I ever played against. I think he ran over me seven straight times in the '69 city championship.), lineman Paul Adamson (deceased, a very fast end with great hands), Ed Mertens, and offensive leaders Tom Stock (former Olympic weight lifter), John Murphy, and Bucky Ballard.

Joe English, played for Althoff in 1968 and 1969

"I started at tight end in the '72 and '73 games. I can remember playing in front of a packed house or near packed house at old West Stadium. The turf in those days was so bad. Nearly every game those two years were mud baths. With all three city schools playing on the field, it took a beating. There was little or no crown to the field, thus no drainage. It seemed to never dry out and these two games were no exception.

"My senior year we were primarily a power running team with a huge OL and (Joe) Holtgrewe at FB, while throwing in a few belly options with Lisch, Range, and Dinga. We could certainly throw the ball with Lisch at QB, but that was something we did not have to rely on much. I think we only threw 110 times in 11 games.

"Anyway, our game plan for the Althoff game was quite contrary to our normal plan of attack. We knew Althoff was going to stack the box to try to stop Holtgrewe. Althoff had one of the better defenses in the area that year. We came out throwing on almost every down, catching Althoff completely by surprise. We marched right down the field scoring to take a quick lead. The rest of the game, we resorted to our usual pound-it offense. I can't figure why we did not put the ball up much after that opening drive."

Tim Katzmark, Belleville West tight end in 1972 and 1973

"My best memory of the rivalry between Belleville West and Althoff was on game day in 2000. It was right before school started that day, a couple of Belleville West students pulled into our parking lot in a truck. One of the students was dressed in a rabbit suit and started running around the parking lot yelling. He jumped back in the truck after a minute or so of doing this and they took off. I just remember thinking, wow, is this how it always is before these games?

Keith Detmer, Althoff student from 2000-04

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