Expected to be one of the top small-school teams in the region with 15 starters returning, the Althoff Crusaders may be able to rely on a luxury that wasn’t available to head coach Ken Turner in recent seasons.
“What excites me is it may be the first time since I’ve been not just the head coach, but an assistant coach here, where I’ve only got one guy going both ways,” said Turner, who returns nine starters on offense and six more on defense.
Senior receiver Keenen Young is a four-year starter who could be poised for a monster season.
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In his first three seasons, the wideout has 153 catches for 2,053 yards and 22 touchdowns. That includes 56 catches for 651 yards and eight TDs as a junior and 991 yards on 70 receptions as a sophomore.
A deep and talented receiving corps includes smooth junior C.J. Coldon, Jordan Goodwin, Tarkus Ferguson and junior Edwyn Brown. Senior quarterback Jordan Augustine returns for his second year as a starter.
An experienced backfield includes senior Malik Easley and junior Jaylon Bester. Both averaged at least seven yards per carry in 2014.
Three offensive line starters return in senior left guard Bryce Evans (5-10, 240), junior right tackle James Townsend (6-1, 285), though Devyn Nash will only be playing defense at noseguard.
Althoff lost lineman Bret Silvestri to graduation, but may have another candidate in junior linebacker Bryson Strong. Strong led the defense with 169 tackles, three sacks, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Junior Christian Wills (81 tackles, three sacks) returns at defensive end and Nash returns at noseguard.
Junior Chris Branson (105 tackles, five sacks) returns with Strong at linebacker, joining junior Trey Mosely and junior Stephon Bell.
— Norm Sanders
at Jeff. City (Mo.) Helias
Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias