Dale Brown is 21 years removed from putting on shoulder pads and strapping on a helmet as a member of the Collinsville High School football program.
But Brown remembers the thrill of wearing the Kahoks’ purple and white while taking on the best in the Southwestern Conference each week. Unfortunately, future Kahoks may not have the same opportunity, if a request from Collinsville to leave the SWC for football is granted and becomes a reality in 2019.
Brown, a 1996 Collinsville graduate, doesn’t think leaving would be a bad thing.
“It’s not hard for me to see the program leave the conference at all,” Brown said. “Sometimes you have to step away for a little while in order to make the progress. We’ve been beating our heads against the wall for the last 10 years. Why not try something different.
“All you have to do is make the playoffs a couple of years in a row, and you will get more kids out for football.”
Getting players out for the first Granite City-Collinsville alumni football game Saturday night at Kahoks Stadium was no problem. Nearly 100 former Kahoks and Warriors players, ranging in age from 19-54, were on hand to compete on a hot, humid night to relive the past — even for just a few plays.
“I wouldn’t have missed this,” Brown said. “I just love the game. We all do. This will be the first time I will be on the field with my 20-year-old son, and my brother (Brian) is coaching for Collinsville. I’ve been looking forward to this.”
Current head coaches Rick Reinhart, of Collinsville, and Carl Luehmann, of Granite City, served as coaches in the alumni game as well. Luehmann, a 1982 graduate of Granite City North, pulled double duty as a player-coach.
“I’m 53, and yes I’m going to play,” Luehmann said. “I’m the only Granite City North graduate who is playing here tonight. It’s been a good time getting together with these guys once a week.”
Granite City, which is leaving the Southwestern Conference following the 2017-18 school year, was represented in the game by about 40 players. The oldest — 54-year-old Craig Knight — is a 1980 graduate of Granite City South, where he was a teammate of NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Kevin Greene.
Now a Granite City police officer, Knight said it’s been more than 35 years since he last wore a football jersey.
“I’m not a numbers guy. But it’s been 37 years. I’m here representing the class of 1980, some of (whom) are no longer with us,” Knight said.
“Why am I doing this? It was a bucket list item. Chances like this don’t come around often, and when they do, you either jump at them or you let them go by. I’m here with my 15-year-old son, and I’m trying to show him that age doesn’t matter.”