High School Sports

Marion opposes Centralia bid to expel Althoff from South Seven

Althoff football players prepare to take the field against Centralia on Sept. 22.
Althoff football players prepare to take the field against Centralia on Sept. 22. dholtmann@bnd.com

If the Centralia Board of Education has it’s way, the Althoff Crusaders will be expelled from the South Seven Conference.

But members of the Marion District 2 board weighed in on the issue Tuesday and, according to the Marion Daily Republican, think Althoff remains a good fit for the league.

The athletic directors and principals of South Seven Conference schools, Marion included, will meet Jan. 16 to vote on Centralia’s demand.

While the Marion board took no official action, members spoke against expelling Althoff. Joseph Bleyer called Centralia’s demands “selfish,” according to the Daily Republican.

“If anybody doesn’t have anything contrary to that, I think you know where we stand,” the newspaper quoted board president Michael Absher as saying.

The rivalry between Althoff and Centralia became heated last year when a Crusaders’ player put a late hit on the Orphans’ kicker.

Following the Orphans defeat of the Crusaders Sept. 22, the Centralia board passed a resolution authorizing superintendent Chuck Lane to petition for Althoff’s removal from the conference. The resolution cited a three-year pattern of “unsportsmanlike” conduct, verbal and physical “abuse,” and “unprofessional” handling of on-going complaints by the Althoff administration.

Althoff Principal Dave Harris said last week he doesn’t know all the specific incidents that triggered Centralia’s action. Nothing new came to light at a meeting of conference members last week, he said.

Lane has refused repeated requests from the Belleville News-Democrat to comment on what specific incidents prompted his board’s action.

“This isn’t anything new we haven’t already discussed with Althoff and with the other conference schools....” Lane told WJBD radio in Centralia. “It mainly has to do with player safety. We have had some issues the last three years, in our football games specifically, with some safety concerns. We asked that they be addressed. We had another incident this year with it, so we are at the point now we think we need to go in a different direction.”

Marion High School Principal Joey Ohnersorge is the current president of the South Seven Conference. He said via email it was not appropriate for him to comment before the membership votes.

South Seven Conference members also will vote in January on a new membership application from Granite City, which elected to leave the Southwestern Conference.