High School Football

Five things to watch for the first week of high school football

These are some of the top high school football players in the metro-east

As the 2019 high school football season kicks off, these are some of the players to keep an eye on.
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As the 2019 high school football season kicks off, these are some of the players to keep an eye on.

The Mascoutah Indians 2018 football season was one to remember.

Led by running back Devin Wills and a tough defense spearheaded by Mailk Green, the Indians finished 6-4 and earned their first playoff berth since 2009.

But soon after a first round Class 5A playoff loss to Mattoon, coach Josh Lee started worrying about the 2019 season and the Indians’ opening night opponents, the Columbia Eagles.

Nine months later, Lee is still worrying. Expected to contend for the Mississippi Valley Conference championship, Mascoutah will travel to Columbia to take on the state-rankled Eagles in one of the top local games on the opening weekend.

“I’ve been excited and nervous for this game against Columbia since November,’’ Lee said Wednesday. “They are very similar to us, fast as can be, a lot of experience, and we know they will have high expectations and work hard.

“I really think it could be one of the best games of the year in the entire area. We have a ton of respect for them.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Columbia High School.. Columbia, which is ranked seventh in the Class 4A preseason poll, defeated Mascoutah 36-35 on a late touchdown. The Eagles were 8-3 a year ago and reached the second round of the Class 4A playoffs.

A new era in Collinsville

The Collinsville High School football program begins life outside of the Southwestern Conference on Friday when it travels to Cahokia to take on the Comanches beginning at 7 p.m.

The Kahoks, who have struggled to compete on the football field in recent years, were granted permission by league administrators in 2017 to leave the SWC for football only following the 2018 season.

Collinsville, which defeated league rivals O’Fallon and Belleville East a year ago, finished 3-6 overall and 2-4 in the conference. The Kahoks are the second team in two years to leave the SWC. Granite City left following the 2017-18 school year.

Collinsville does have two former SWC rivals on its 2019 schedule. Collinsville will play at Alton on Sept. 13 and play host to Granite City on Oct. 4

New coaches debut

Four football coaches will make debuts with their new football teams this weekend.

On Friday, former McKendree University assistant Michael Harrison will be on the Belleville East sideline when the Lancers host St. Louis Chaminade on Friday, while former Cahokia athletic director, assistant coach and graduate Byron Gettis, will lead his new team, the O’Fallon Panthers, against St. Louis Christian Brothers College Prep (CBC).

Another former Cahokia assistant, Orlando Gooden, now the head coach at Granite City, will lead the Warriors into a new season at home against Jerseyville.

On Saturday, longtime Belleville West assistant Bryan Edgar will begin his tenure as the Maroons’ head coach when he leads his team into St. Louis to take on Riverview Gardens High School.

Former NFL star to be honored at Granite City

National Football League Hall of Fame defensive end and Granite City native Kevin Greene will be honored at the Warriors’ season opener against Jerseyville Friday at Granite City High School.

The game is being played on Kevin Greene Field.

Greene, a 1980 graduate of Granite City South High School, will be honored during a pregame reception from 6-7 p.m. which will be held in the Hall of Fame room, located next to the football field. Greene will then address the crowd at halftime.

Inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2016, Greene played college football at Auburn, then spent his first eight seasons with the Los Angeles Rams from 1985 -92. Greene also played for Pittsburgh, Carolina and San Francisco during his career.

Greene had 10 seasons with at least 10 quarterback sacks. A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s, Greene also was a three-time All-Pro selection and five-time Pro Bowl selection.

8-man football at ME Lutheran

Struggling with numbers and competitiveness in recent years, the Edwardsville Metro East Lutheran Knights will compete in eight-man football for the first time.

One of 16 schools in the state which will field eight-man teams, Metro East Lutheran opens its season on Saturday when its hosts Rockford Christian Life (Coop) beginning at 2 p.m.

Metro East Lutheran, which finished 0-6 a year ago, is coached by Robert Keplar.