Through three weeks of the regular season, three teams from Clinton County — Central, Carlyle and Wesclin — remain undefeated.
“Central is very good and after seeing how bad Wesclin beat Red Bud last week, it tells you how good of a team they must have as well,” Carlyle coach Chris Birkner said. “Mater Dei is struggling a little bit at 1-2, but they have played a very difficult schedule.”
Central coach Brian Short believes the strong work ethic of athletes in Clinton County helps the overall approach of how they play football.
“The fact that three of the four teams in Clinton Country are undefeated says a lot about the young men in this area. This is a hard-working, blue-collar area and all of these kids are a product of their environment,” Short said. “It’s a blessing that all three schools have kids who come out and go to work everyday.”
Carlyle and Wesclin face major tests this week on the road. Carlyle will play at Central on Friday while Wesclin faces off with Cahokia Conference preseason favorite Columbia.
Birkner isn’t surprised the Indians are 3-0 heading into a Cahokia Conference showdown the unbeaten Central Cougars on Friday.
“We knew coming into the year that if we played up to our potential that we had a chance to be 3-0,” Birkner said. “We beat a very good Red Bud team (36-33) on Friday, but I didn’t feel like we played as well as we could. Defensively, we gave up 33 points and I didn’t think our special teams were really clicking on all cylinders. But we found a way to get the win.
“Central has a very good program and they are bigger than we are. Sometimes you just have to get past the fact that a team is better and they are supposed to win because they are bigger. We’re not going to back down from anybody.”
Carlyle Quarterback Alex Huels was brilliant in the Indians’ win over Red Bud, as he completed 21-of-29 for 326 yards and four touchdowns. Kyle Siever had six catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
“Alex (Huels) had a great football game for us. We had six different guys catch passes and three players caught touchdown passes. I like that kind of balance,’’ Birkner said. “(Red Bud quarterback) Griffin Ziebold is a heck of a player. I would have to think they (Red Bud) are the best 1-2 team around. They are very good.
Ziebold was 21 of 31 for 319 yards and five touchdowns.
Althoff doing it with defense
While its high-powered offense gaining confidence as the season nears the midway point, the Althoff Crusaders posted their second shutout of the season on Friday — a 33-0 win over rival Mater Dei.
Led by linebacker Nolan Schmidt (27 tackles) and lineman Devyn Nash (26 tackles) the Crusaders have allowed just 15 points through the first three games of the season.
“Having big Devyn Nash anchor our defensive line is a huge bonus,” Althoff coach Ken Turner said. “He is a guy that commands double and triple teams and he has allowed our other guys to fit gaps clean because he is tough to block. He has the quickness of a smaller guy and his speed and strength has been great.
“Our guys are being very disciplined and doing their job and making plays and tackles within their assignments. It's not one guy it's all 11 on the same page. We have talked about being discipline all summer and we are doing that right now. The guys are getting turnovers, stops, and not giving up points. That's all we ask of our guys and they are taking that approach and having success and along with that success we were fortunate to shut two teams out.’’
How good are the Triad Knights?
The Triad Knights are 3-0 and have outscored their three opponents 147-34. But veteran coach Paul Bassler still isn’t sure how good a football team he has on his hands.
Triad, which will open Mississippi Valley Conference play on Friday when it hosts Civic Memorial, defeated Mount Vernon 55-7 on Friday. Combined, the Knights three opponents are 1-8.
“Let’s just say I’m cautiously optimistic,” Bassler said. “I’m not sure how good we are because the three teams we’ve played are struggling a little bit.
“Right now we’re just concentrating on working hard in practice and executing the fundamentals the best that we can. We’ll get a test in week five when we play Highland at home.”
Highland is 3-0 and was ranked third in the Class 5A state poll last week.