While it says on the schedule that this is the season opener for the Althoff Crusaders, coach Ken Turner has kept telling his players not to think of it that way.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how they attack this first game since most of the guys are back,” said Turner, whose team (7-4 in 2014) opened at No. 4 in the Associated Press Class 4A state rankings. “We talked about not being in a first-game mode and not having first-game mistakes, so they’re excited.”
There is plenty of excitement for the Collinsville Kahoks as well. There’s a new head coach in Rick Reinhart, the former Civic Memorial and Tuscola coach that brought a state title to Tuscola in 2009.
“It’s been great,” Reinhart said. “It’s going to take a while. It’s a big task, but we’re just going to take one step at a time. Everything’s new — new players, new coaches, a new environment.”
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Friday’s game: Collinsville (0-0) vs. Althoff (0-0) at Lindenwood Stadium in Belleville, 7 p.m.
Last meeting: Althoff defeated Collinsville 34-14 in 2014.
Scouting Collinsville: The Kahoks return experience at quarterback with senior Jordan Reichert, who led the Kahoks in rushing (526 yards, five touchdowns) and passing (565 yards, five TDs) last season.
The top running back threats are Zach Hammel-Brown and Sean Bonham.
Collinsville will operate out of a spread attack on offense, but the Kahoks still want to be balanced.
“That’s a big question mark,” Reinhart said. “We’d like to be able to do both and hopefully we can do that.”
“He’s a spread guy and a counter-power guy,” Turner said. “You kind of go in blind, you don’t know too much. They could throw a whole lot of wrinkles at us.”
Kahoks senior Max Lyons is a four-year starter at linebacker, while Trevore Sanders is the top receiving threat and also anchors the defensive backfield at safety.
Scouting Althoff: The Crusaders returned virtually everyone at the skill positions and most everywhere else, with 15 of 22 positions filled with returning starters.
It’s Althoff’s speed and skill that Reinhart fears the most.
“It’s real simple, you miss a tackle and they score,” Reinhart said. “We’ve got to stay in position and use great fundamentals, make the open-field tackle and be sure our coverage is solid. When you’ve got receivers that tall and that fast, they don’t have to do much.”
Althoff’s numerous offensive weapons include four-year starting receiver Keenen Young, receivers C.J. Coldon, Jordan Goodwin and Tarkus Ferguson and senior quarterback Jordan Augustine.
“I thought they were last year, but it was small spurts for some of them,” Turner said. “I think that you’re going to see a lot of good things from those guys.”
Althoff’s defense is led by junior linebacker Bryson Strong, who piled up 169 tackles a year ago.
Two-way C.J.: Coldon is Althoff’s lone two-way starter.
“He’s a pretty good football player and we can’t take him off the field,” Turner said. “We knew what we had in him from freshman year on, he’s a playmaker.”
Witness for the defense: “We want to be better on defense and offense than we were last year,” Turner said. “Stopping the run is our No. 1 thing defensively. We’re a faster defense, so we want to rally up and get to the football and make plays.”