As an all-state offensive linemen on back-to-back state championship teams at Althoff in 1989 and 1990, Mater Dei football coach Jim Stiebel had his share of amazing memories at Township Stadium.
While the field still sits where it once did, it is no longer green grass — nor called Township Stadium. It’s now a maroon-and-gray artificial turf field bearing the colors of the new host, the Lindenwood University Lynx.
Stiebel is bringing his team back to his hometown of Belleville for the first time.
“It’s going to pull back some emotions and a high level of excitement, thinking about what we were able to accomplish as a team back in the late 80s and early 90s,” Stiebel said before recalling one of his favorite stadium memories on a huge hit against a star player from Hazelwood East.
This is the second annual game for the “Holy Grail,” a traveling trophy won by Althoff last season.
“I like the idea, it makes the game a little more special,” Althoff coach Ken Turner said. “It was already a special game, but it adds a little more to the rivalry.”
Friday’s Game: Mater Dei (1-1) vs. Althoff (2-0) at Lindenwood-Belleville, 7 p.m.
Last week: Althoff beat Jefferon City (Mo.) Helias 54-38; Mater Dei fell 35-34 to state-ranked Williamsville.
Rankings: Althoff is first in the BND Small-School Rankings and fourth in the 4A state rankings; Mater Dei is tied for second in the Small-School Rankings and 21st in 4A state rankings.
Last meeting: Althoff scored twice in the final 4 minutes, 19 seconds last year and posted a 22-12 victory over Mater Dei in Breese.
Scouting Mater Dei
The Knights have two effective running backs in Brady Rakers (13 carries, 89 yards, two TDs) and Dawson Ratermann (10 carries, 60 yards, two TDs). The top receivers are Josh Haberer and Brendan Timmermann (four catches, 68 yards, one TD) with quarterback Colin Schuetz (7-of-19, 111 yards, three TDs, one interception) setting the tone on offense.
Haberer is still rehabbing from a serious leg injury, but is showing flashes of his old speed.
“He’s not 100 percent, but you can’t tell,” Stiebel said. “When he’s fresh, he can run.”
Mater Dei’s top defensive players are defensive end Sam Krebs, Rakers at middle linebacker and Evan Albers.
Althoff’s balanced offensive approach has given senior quarterback Jordan Augustine (41-of-60, 618 yards, six TDs, two interceptions) a chance to shred defenses.
If teams try to slow down running backs Malik Easley (258 yards, three TDs) and Jaylon Bester (188 yards, two TDs), Augustine simply turns to a talented group of receivers. They include Keenen Young (16 catches, 261 yards, three TDs), C.J. Coldon (nine catches, 153 yards, two TDs), Tarkus Ferguson (seven catches, 115 yards) and Jordan Goodwin (six catches, 60 yards).
Energetic middle linebacker Bryson Strong already has 35 tackles and three sacks in two games while linebacker Chris Branson has 25 tackles.
“We felt like we wanted to run the ball a lot more and were successful, then that opened up things up in the passing game,” Turner said. “We told (Jordan) as long as he finds the open guy, those guys will make things happen for him.”