In the last two seasons, Althoff and Jefferson City (Mo.) Helias have taken turns beating up each other on their respective home fields.
In 2014, Helias pounded Althoff 35-7 at Lindenwood Stadium in Belleville. In 2015, Althoff turned the table in Missouri’s capital city, piling up 737 yards of offense in a 54-38 victory over Helias.
The teams meet again at 4 p.m. Saturday in a neutral setting, Clyde C. Jordan Stadium in East St. Louis, as part of the Gateway Scholars Classic “Border War.”
Helias (1-1) owns two Missouri state football championships and Althoff (1-0) has three Illinois state football titles.
“They’re a traditionally strong program and they win every year,” said Althoff coach Ken Turner, although Helias suffered through a rare losing season in 2015 at 4-7. “They switched to a flexbone offense from a spread and when we played them you could tell it was new to them and they were trying to figure it out.
“Looking at them now on film, they look fundamentally sound. They understand the offense and look a lot better.”
Turner is a 1988 East St. Louis High graduate who played baseball and football for the Flyers. In those days, the Flyers’ home football games were played at Parsons Field near Jones Park.
“That was one of the greatest atmospheres, still to this day, that I’ve been around,” Turner said. “The community came out to support like no other and it was always fun and exciting. As a kid growing up in East St. Louis, every kid wanted to play football at East Side.”
Scouting Helias: Helias has outscored its opponents 70-25 and runs a ground-hugging flexbone option attack led by senior Jacob Storms (122 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries) and senior quarterback Chandler Luebbert (120 yards rushing, one TD; 23 yards passing).
Senior running back Kaleb Davis adds another 88 yards rushing and two TDs and Helias has averaged 279 yards rushing this season.
Helias lost 19-14 to Hannibal (Mo.) in the season opener, then drilled A.C. Prep from Kansas City 56-6. This is the second season under coach Tim Rulo.
The biggest weapons on the defense are large, imposing defensive ends Caleb Albertson and Nathan Bax and senior linebackers Jake Burnett (22 tackles) and Dylan Gaines.
Scouting Althoff: The Crusaders rolled up 58 points in the first half last week in a 58-13 victory over Collinsville and got impact performances on offense and defense.
On offense, senior quarterback Trey Mosley tossed five TD passes and completed 12-of-19 throws for 191 yards. His top target was senior and St. Louis University basketball recruit Jordan Goodwin (four catches for 92 yards and two TDs), while senior running back and Miami (Ohio) recruit Jaylon Bester lit up the Kahoks for 128 yards and a TD.
Senior Division I prospects Edwyn Brown (TD reception, interception return for another TD) and C.J. Coldon, both receivers and defensive backs, make their presence felt again on both sides of the ball.
“We still need to clean things up a bit but it was a good showing for us all the way around,” Turner said.