The 1974 Althoff Crusaders city championship football team will be honored during a 40th anniversary reunion Saturday night on the field at Lindenwood Stadium before the Althoff game against Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias.
Game time is 7:30 p.m. Along with the 1974 Althoff football team, Althoff classmates and teammates from 1974 to 1976 will also be honored along with rival players from Belleville East, Belleville West and Assumption High Schools.
The group will also convene for an informal "tailgate" party at 7 p.m. Friday at Shenanigan's in Belleville.
Althoff was 7-2-1 that season, including a 6-0-1 mark against Illinois teams. The only losses came against St. Louis University High and DeSmet, with the DeSmet loss coming on the turf at Busch Stadium.
The season marked the first Belleville city championship won by Althoff's Hall of Fame coach Glenn Schott.
"There were some really good football players on that team," Schott said, mentioning running backs Al Alberter, Tommy Taggart, Bobby Hemmer and Barry Frazier and quarterback Jeff Bibee along with numerous small, but aggressive linemen on both sides of the ball. "We played a hell of a schedule in that old Bi-State Conference. Those kids represented themselves very well."
It was a small team by today's standards -- the largest player tipped the scales at 205 pounds -- but one that got results with an aggressive defense and ground-control offense.
Bibee (Brown), Mark Eichenseer (Illinois State), Alberter (Southeast Missouri State, later North Central for baseball) and Taggart (Southeast Missouri State) all played college football along with Frazier, who played football and baseball at North Central. Bobby Hemmer, a junior on that team, played at Millikin.
The Illinois High School Association began the state playoff system in 1974, but the Crusaders did not receive a playoff bid.
"At that time you either had to be a conference champion or go 9-0 or 8-1," Schott said. "If you were 7-2 there was a good chance you weren't getting in the playoffs."
Schott felt bad the team didn't get a shot at the playoffs, wondering how far the Crusaders might have gone.
"That was a team that very easily could have been involved in the playoffs that year, but they had that doggone playoff rule at that time and not many schools made it," he said.