While Althoff has enjoyed a fairly successful ride against the rest of its South Seven Conference football neighbors, the road has been full of potholes when it comes to the Marion Wildcats in recent years.
Marion handed Althoff its worst loss last season, 49-7 in Belleville, and has defeated the Crusaders in each of the last eight seasons. Althoff’s Ken Turner has been head coach for seven of those losses and is still looking for his first win over the Wildcats.
“There were certain years where I felt like we should have won the game and we haven’t,” Turner said. “It’s been bad play and bad luck on certain things, but it hasn’t gone right for us. (Coach Kerry Martin) does a good job there and they’ve had our number for a few years.”
It wasn’t always that way. Before the eight-game losing streak, Althoff beat Marion nine times in a row, scoring 41 points or more seven times including a 43-0 playoff victory in 2005.
Althoff’s last win over Marion was 28-6 in 2006.
It’s not a revenge thing, it’s not a ‘we need to get back at them’ type of thing. It’s Week 6 and we need to win a football game.
Althoff coach Ken Turner
This might be a great opportunity for Althoff to stop the streak. The Crusaders (5-0) possess one of the top offenses in Southern Illinois and some of the top weapons in senior receiver Keenen Young, senior quarterback Jordan Augustine, junior receiver C.J. Coldon and running backs Malik Easley and Jaylon Bester.
“There’s a lot of buildup to this game because of what people think of both programs in the conference right now,” Turner said. “It’s not a revenge thing, it’s not a ‘we need to get back at them’ type of thing. It’s Week 6 and we need to win a football game.”
Althoff averages 49.4 points per game while Marion isn’t far behind at 38.4 points per game. Marion’s only loss was 49-21 to Champaign Central (4-1) in the season opener.
530 The amount of offensive yards surrendered by Althoff in a 49-7 home loss to Marion in 2014
FRIDAY’S GAME: Althoff (5-0 overall, 2-0 in South Seven) at Marion (4-1, 2-0), 7 p.m.
RANKINGS: Althoff is fourth in the Class 4A state rankings and first in the BND Small-School Rankings.
LAST MEETING: Marion piled up 530 yards of offense, including 411 yards rushing on 65 carries, and smacked the Crusaders down 49-7 in 2014 at Lindenwood Stadium.
LAST WEEK: Althoff overwhelmed previously unbeaten Centralia 59-26 and Marion overcame a 14-14 halftime tie to crush 1-4 Mount Vernon 55-26.
SCOUTING MARION: The Wildcats are loaded with offensive weapons like senior running back Braden Ziegler (72 carries, 529 yards, 13 TDs; 11 catches, 68 yards), senior quarterback Izak Baker (59-of-100 passing for 722 yards, 6 TDs, 5 int.; 47 carries, 315 yards rushing, 5 TDs) and senior receiver Seth Bayer (15 catches, 213 yards, 2 TDs).
There’s also senior receiver Jaden Lacy (12 catches, 183 yards, four TDs). Exciting junior running back-linebacker Xavier Cambric has been out with an ankle injury.
SCOUTING ALTHOFF: A highly diverse and effective offense includes Augustine (96-of-130 passing for 1,653 yards. 18 TDs, four interceptions; 137 yards rushing, four TDs), Coldon (29 catches, 652 yards, five TDs) and Young (33 catches, 493 yards, 8 TDs).
The running game has been equally strong led by Bester (50 carries, 495 yards, five TDs) and Easley (49 carries, 458 yards, seven TDs).
“They all want the ball, but they want the ball within our offense to help us win football game,” Turner said.