High School Football

Centralia’s gripes against Althoff look long on insults, short on substance

Former Althoff quarterback Jordan Augustine throws a pass against Centralia in a 2015 game.
Former Althoff quarterback Jordan Augustine throws a pass against Centralia in a 2015 game. BND Photo

The Centralia school board last week passed a resolution authorizing its superintendent, Chuck Lane, to make a case to other South Seven Conference schools that Althoff should be kicked out of their league.

The resolution is loaded with accusatory language that may or may not have merit.

“Unsportsmanlike.” “Abusive.” “Misconduct.”

And, of the school’s administration: “unprofessional.”

All of this amounts to — so states the resolution — a situation that is “causing District students harm and causing them fear for their safety.”

There are no words minced here. Centralia is serious enough that it has taken its beef with Althoff into the public domain.

But while the resolution is long on incendiary language, it is really short on specifics.

We reached out to Lane to ask some basic questions. Namely, what incidents will he cite while making his case to the other South Seven Conference officials?

He told the News-Democrat that all we needed to know is already written in the resolution, which is hogwash.

2020 Todd Eschmann
Todd Eschman - BND Sports Editor

If the district is going to take the extraordinary step of seeking Althoff’s expulsion from the conference, and do so with fiery accusations in a public meeting, shouldn’t it also be transparent with the specifics? Otherwise, it’s just name-calling.

Lane told WJBD radio in Centralia: “This is nothing new we haven’t already discussed with Althoff and with other conference schools.”

So why does everybody seem to be in the dark?

“Out of respect for members of the South Seven Conference, I cannot speak to something that has not officially been told to anyone in the conference,” said Althoff Principal Dave Harris.

The only incident we know of specifically occurred last season when the school’s football teams met Sept. 23. The Crusaders were flagged for 25 penalties for 213 yards during their 40-21 win, including a roughing the kicker call late in the game.

Althoff coach Ken Turner, on his own, benched the offending player for the remainder of the game. Centralia players and coaches walked off the field without shaking hands.

Later that week, the kicker’s parents contacted KMOV-TV in St. Louis, telling the station they found the hit to be “disturbing,” and that they feared future Althoff opponents could suffer serious injuries.

That ill-advised blow was egregious and unsportsmanlike, but this is football we’re talking about, not footsies. And the issue was addressed by the coaching staff. Certainly, this can’t be the sole reason Centralia wants Althoff out?

Indeed, Lane says this district’s grievances reflects a three-year pattern of verbal and physical abuse from both coaches and players, specifically on the Althoff football team.

“We had another incident this year with it,” Lane told WJBD.

Again, no specifics.

Althoff faithful will dismiss Centralia’s complaints as its excuse for being dominated on the field of play over the recent years. That wouldn’t be entirely accurate, though.

The Crusaders have won 16 of their past 17 South Seven football games, but that only loss was against Centralia on Sept. 22, the first game in Althoff’s new stadium. The Althoff basketball team is 30-3 in conference play the past three years, but two of those losses came at the hands of the Orphans as well.

Lane will take take the floor at the Nov. 14 meeting of South Seven Conference officials, presumably with something more concrete than the veiled accusations he’s given us so far.

Otherwise, this exercise has served no point but to defame and degrade an entire institution and the kids that represent it.

And won’t that make this rivalry interesting?

Sports Editor Todd Eschman: 618-239-2540, @tceschman