High School Football

Althoff-Mater Dei II: This time there’s a state title berth on the line

Mater Dei football season has been a work in progress

Mater Dei senior lineman Sam Krebs discusses changes and improvements the Knights have made since their week 3 loss to Althoff. The teams meet again Saturday in the IHSA Class 4A football semifinal.
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Mater Dei senior lineman Sam Krebs discusses changes and improvements the Knights have made since their week 3 loss to Althoff. The teams meet again Saturday in the IHSA Class 4A football semifinal.

After a September meeting with the Althoff Crusaders resulted in a 68-46 defeat, Mater Dei coach Jim Stiebel realizes his Knights will be heavy underdogs Saturday at Lindenwood Stadium.

“Our kids are excited about the opportunity,” said Stiebel, whose 9-3 Knights take on the Crusaders (12-0) at 1 p.m. in a Class 4A semifinal clash that will send the winner to the state finals in DeKalb. “This is David vs. Goliath, this is a Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson type of thing. No one’s giving us a shot whatsoever — and that’s the way we want it.”

Mater Dei hung close with Althoff in the Sept. 11 game, but eventually was swept away in an avalanche of offense. Althoff quarterback Jordan Augustine completed 25-of-30 passes that night for 537 yards and five touchdowns, racking up 418 passing yards by halftime.

Althoff had a season-high 718 yards of offense and the teams combined for 1,151 yards and 114 points overall.

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“I blame it on myself,” Stiebel said of the defensive problems. “That’s how you learn, the hard way. It forced us to improve our defense by putting faster personnel out there becacuse you dont’ get exposed until you play good teams like that.

“It was ugly on our part defensively. It was just a track meet and that’s not what we want this game to be. We want it to be an old-fashioned, grind-it-out playoff game.”

This is David vs. Goliath, this is a Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson type of thing. No one’s giving us a shot whatsoever — and that’s the way we want it.

Mater Dei coach Jim Stiebel

Althoff has been held below 42 points only three times while scoring 54 or more points on five occasions.

Mater Dei simply couldn’t match touchdowns with the Crusaders in the second half of the first game. Althoff junior C.J. Coldon had 10 catches for 272 yards in a game his team led 41-34 at halftime.

“I told our kids the last game doesn’t matter,” Althoff coach Ken Turner said. “With the exception of knowing each other’s personnel better, we’re both doing some different things now.”

Is Turner worried about his players’ overconfidence based on the previous outcome? Is there a chance for a potential letdown following a 46-42 quarterfinal win last week over five-time defending state champ Rochester?

The teams combined for 1,151 yards and 114 points in the previous meeting, a 68-46 Althoff win.

“We talked to our kids all week about that,” Turner said. “I really wasn’t worried about that, it’s a matter of coming off a huge win and getting prepared. A lot of these kids have played championship level ball in other sports, so they understand what it takes to get your mind geared back up the next week for another big game.

“We won’t overlook anyone.”

SATURDAY’S GAME

Mater Dei (9-3) vs. Althoff (12-0), 1 p.m. at Lindenwood Stadium in Belleville.

PLAYOFF HISTORY

Mater Dei: 24th playoff appearances, 26-23 in playoffs, fourth semifinal appearance. Finished second in 4A in 2006.

Althoff: 23rd playoff appearance, 39-18 in playoffs, seventh semifinal appearance. Won state titles in 1980 (4A), 1989 (3A) and 1990 (3A).

SCOUTING MATER DEI

The best roster addition for Stiebel and wife Amber this week was the birth of their second child, Blakelyn.

“She’s a little cutie,” said Stiebel, an all-state offensive lineman at Althoff who helped the Crusaders win back-to-back state titles in 1989 and 1990.

The Knights most dynamic offensive players are junior quarterback Colin Schuetz (2,719 yards passing, 31 TDs, nine interceptions; 486 yards rushing, 14 TDs) and senior receiver Brendan “Butchie” Timmermann (65 catches, 1,010 yards, 11 TDs; 676 yards rushing, eight TDs).

I told our kids the last game doesn’t matter. We won’t overlook anyone.

Althoff coach Ken Turner

Timmermann had 11 catches for 172 yards against Althoff in the earlier game.

“(Timmermann) is their go-to guy and we’ve got to be able to contain him and do a better job on him than we did last time,” Turner said. “They want to hand the ball off to him, throw it to him, any way they can get the ball to him.”

He’s far from the only threat in an offense that includes running back Brady Rakers (618 yards, nine TDs) and receivers Josh Haberer (38 catches, 522 yards, three TDs), Jordan Kampwerth (28 catches, 491 yards, nine TDs) and Blake Langenhorst (21 catches, 496 yards, four TDs).

“We’re hot,” Stiebel said. “We’ve just knocked off two undefeated teams and we’re doing it in playoff-style fashion with running the ball and mixing in things that forces teams to play you even.”

Defensive standout for the Knights include defensive end Sam Krebs (86 tackles, nine sacks, three fumble recoveries), Rakers (64 tackles, four sacks) and linebacker Lucas Theising (62 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, four fumble recoveries).

SCOUTING ALTHOFF

Althoff’s offense draws most of the attention, but the defense came up big in the second half against Rochester. Edwyn Brown’s sixth interception clinched the win and he’s part of a much-improved defensive unit that includes linebackers Bryson Strong (144 tackles, nine sacks) and Chris Branson (113 tackles, three sacks) and lineman Christian Wills (72 tackles, eight sacks).

The offensive numbers still jump off the page for the Crusaders. They have a 3,000-yard passer in Augustine (199-of-275, 3,280 yards, 38 TDs, nine interceptions), two 1,000-yard receivers in Coldon (55 catches, 1,216 yards, 15 TDs) and Keenen Young (67 catches, 1,070 yards, 17 TDs) and two 1,000-yard rushers in Jaylon Bester (1,156 yards, 20 TDs) and Malik Easley (1,051 yards, 13 TDs).

Junior receiver Jordan Goodwin (34 catches, 410 yards, two TDs) is coming off a career day against Rochester that included 11 catches for 111 yards.

“They all want the ball,” Turner said. “They wouldn’t be who they are if they didn’t, but they understand that everybody can’t have it on every play or in every game. For them, winning football games means a lot more than catching 10 passes or running it 25 times.”

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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