Cahokia coach Antwyne Golliday began this week knowing that his football team needs to win its final two games to have any chance of qualifying for the Class 5A playoffs. But a veteran of many must-win situations in his long and successful career at Cahokia, Golliday is also aware that even with two wins, it may not be enough.
“Looking at the playoff points, if we win our last two games, I think we’re in,” the affable Golliday said on Wednesday. “Right now we’re getting ready to play a very good team in Althoff. That’s what we’re focused on.’’
Longtime rivals Althoff and Cahokia will meet again on Friday with a playoff atmosphere at Cahokia High School. The Crusaders wrapped up the South Seven Conference championship last week — the first under coach Ken Turner — with a win over Carbondale.
Now with road games at Cahokia and Triad remaining, Althoff is hoping to wrap up and undefeated season and possible top-seed for the Class 4A playoffs.
“I know we’ve won the conference — which was one of our goals — but I don’t think we’ll have a letdown. One reason being that alot of these kids have bveen successful in other sports and they know what’s at stake,’’ Turner said. “The other reason is that we’re playing Cahokia which is always a big game because of the rivalry between the two schools.
“It’s a very good football team and coach Golliday always does a great job of preparing his kids. When Cahokia and Althoff meet, you can throw the records out because its always close and usually decided in the fourth quarter. I don’t expect anything different on Friday.’’
▪ Friday’s Game: Althoff (7-0) at Cahokia (3-4), 7 p.m.
▪ Last week: Althoff defeated Carbondale 42-6; Cahokia defeated Mount Vernon 44-14.
▪ Rankings: Althoff is ranked fourth in the Associated Press Class 4A state football poll and first in the News-Democrat Small School football poll; Cahokia is unranked
▪ Last meeting: Althoff defeated Cahokia 34-32
Scouting Althoff: After giving up 106 points during the first three weeks of the season, the Crusaders have allowed only 52 in their last four outings — all in South Seven Conferece play — as they wrapped up the league championship.
For Turner, the explanation for the turnaround is a simple one.
“We’ve grown up. We’ve matured on the defensive side of the football’’ Turner said. “Early in the season, we were playing a lot of young kids and while we’re still playuing the same group, they’ve learned what we want and how we expect them to play.
“Two out the last four weeks we’ve had a shutout and gave up only six points to Carbondale last week. The kids are playing well.’’
But it’s the Crusaders high-powered offense which makes them go. Althoff has one of the premier quarterbacks in the St. Louis area in senior Jordan Augustine, who had completed an amazing 72 percent of his passes for over 2,100 yards and 23 touchdowns this season while senior Keenen Young (39 receptions for 605 yards and 10 touchdowns) along with junior CJ Coldon (42 receptions, 855 yards and 6 touchdowns) are a lethal pair of wide receivers.
Running backs Jaylon Bester (609 yards, 6 TD’s) and Malik Easley (609 yards, 10 touchdowns) are are a dynamic duo in the backfield.
“They’re tough to stop on offense,’’ Golliday said of Althoff. “The thing about it is that they’ve got Augustine at quarterback and while they’ve got Young and Coldon, but he’s also got two or three others he can go to. If you concentrate too much on the pass, they’ll come with Bester and Easley out of the backfield. They’re a handful.’’
Scouting Cahokia: Continuing to live with the philosophy of “going with what the defense gives you,” Golliday has gone to an up-tempo passing offense in recent weeks behind the much improved play of quarterback Wayne Grant.
Grant has thrown for over 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns this season while completing over 60 percent of his passes. Comanches wide receivers DeMarion Hinkle (37 catches, 430 yards, three touchdowns) and senior speedster Tyran Lyons (28 catches for 510 yards and 10 touchdowns) have been outstanding. Hinkle is just three receptions away from the school record.
“Both DeMarion and Tyran have been outstanding all year,’’ Golliday said. “And Wayne (Grant) when he has had time, has done and outstanding job of getting the ball to the right people.
“Defensively, we’ve played better. But I was pleased at how wee finished in the second half last week against Mount Vernon. We really tackled well.’’