After an entire summer session and weeks of preseason practice, Althoff is ready to try out a new quarterback.
Junior Jordan Augustine inherited the job from record-setting Eric Mertens, who left plenty of talent in the backfield and at receiver for Augustine to utilize.
"We've got a new quarterback this year and with those 25 (summer) days we were able to catch him up to where he needs to be," said Althoff coach Ken Turner, whose team travels to Collinsville for the 7 p.m. season opener Friday. "I think he's got a good grasp of our offense right now. He can run it as well as throw it, so he's a little bit versatile."
Collinsville coach John Blaylock has enjoyed a season-opening series with Althoff that has seen its share of tight games, turnovers and dramatic turnarounds.
"It's been a pretty even matchup and it's a good barometer for us," Blaylock said. "If we can't take care of Althoff and Triad, then the Southwestern Conference is going to be tough for us. The returning starters just did an incredible job of getting themselves bigger, faster and stronger."
Today's game: Althoff at Collinsville, 7 p.m.
Last meeting: Althoff got a 17-yard touchdown pass from Mertens to Keenen Young with 3:36 remaining last season to pull out a 23-21 victory over the Kahoks.
Althoff players to watch: Young is one of the top receivers in the region and the talented junior has been starting his freshman year. Althoff has a deep and talented stable of running backs led by Malik Easley, Bryson Strong and Jaylon Bester. On defense, senior linebacker Bret Silvestri is a three-year starter.
Collinsville players to watch: Senior fullback Jordan Miller is a load and the Kahoks also have speed on the edge in junior Jamal Wellmaker. Junior Jordan Reichert takes over at quarterback while the Kahoks defense boasts a pair of talented linebackers in Max Lyons and Eric Finch.
Miller Time: Blaylock thinks Miller is ready to become an impact player in the SWC. He bench-pressed 315 pounds, squats more than 500 and also has lowered his 40-yard ash time.
"He put on weight and put on a lot of strength, and was able to drop his 40 time, too," Blaylock said.
Getting stops: Turner said Miller is a key to slowing down the Kahoks.
"It starts with the fullback and if you can slow that fullback down and work inside out that helps, but we've still got to be disciplined," Turner said. "We get to see if working harder on our physicality is going to pay off."
Bottom line: This game will be won by the team doing the best job of stopping the run.
Fun facts: Althoff has won three of the last four meetings, including a rare 6-5 victory in 2011...This game marks the varsity football debuts of Althoff Division I basketball prospects, junior receiver Tarkus Ferguson and sophomore split end Jordan Goodwin.