MT. VERNON — Thoughts and notes from this week of are H.S. football action. The matchups for area conferences tomorrow:
Marion (4-0) at Mt. Vernon (0-4) — Of course, the matchup most readers are most keen on. The Wildcats are, so far, the class of the South 7. They're 4-0 and have given up 36 fewer points than anyone in the conference. They're also second in scoring, with an average of almost 33 points per game. The Rams, on the other hand, are far and away at the bottom of the conference. They haven't won a game this season and are coming off their worst loss of the season, a 48-6 thrasing at the hands of Althoff at J.D. Sheilds Memorial Stadium.
The storylines so far this year for Mt. Vernon have been missed opportunies. The Rams have an unfortunate propensity for turnovers at the wrong times — for example, Kevon Fortney's freak fubmle at the five-yard line last week that killed what would have been a touchdown.
But say one thing for the Rams, they don't shy away from tough competition. Mt. Vernon leads the South 7 in playoff points with 23 — meaning they've had far and away the toughest schedule this year. Even if the Rams were 4-0 this season, they'd still lead the conference in strength of schedule.
Marion, on the other hand, doesn't have that pedigree. The Wildcats have yet to play a team with a winning record, and two of their wins came against Harrisburg (enrollment 608) and Cahokia (only one spot above Mt. Venron in the conference standings, with a 1-3 record and only 74 points scored this season). It could be that some of Marion's gaudy numbers are inflated, but wether that matters enough for the Rams to get a win is yet to be determined.
Bottom line: Marion's defense is strong, and the Rams have struggled to score so far this season. If MVTHS can get together a turnover-free game, they might have a chance, but as that hasn't happened yet, expect a fumble or a pick to set Marion up for an early score that puts them in control.
Marion 35, Mt. Vernon 13
Althoff (2-2) at Centralia (2-2) — Althoff looked pretty darn impressive against Mt. Vernon. The two-headed monster they have at tailback combined for 290 yards against the Rams, impressive against a defense that's actually been solid this year. Centralia's offense leads the South 7.
Bottom Line: Expect a shootout, but Althoff can grind out the clock with its stable of running backs.
Althoff 42, Centralia 35
Carbondale (3-1) at Cahokia (1-3) — Cahokia's been pretty bad this year. Its only win came against St. Louis-Carnahan, a winless team from Missouri. They can score occasionally, but don't play much defense. If not for the shutout 28-0 win against St. Louis-Carnahan, these guys would have the worst defense in the South 7. Carbondale, on the other hand, has been solid, especially with a shootout win against Centralia last week. The Terriers can win scoring big, or scoring small (they won 13-8 against Herrin in week 2)
Bottom Line: Carbondale's a solid team, and Cahokia hasn't shown much consistency this year.
Carbondale 35, Cahokia 21
Hamilton County (2-2) at Eldorado (3-1): That's right, we're following the Black Diamond Conference for you as well. Hamilton County's been clear-cut this season: when the Foxes have their offense working, they win. Hamilton County's two wins both came when the Foxes scored 30 or more points — though both of those games were against 0-4 teams. They'll need to step up their game a bit against Eldorado to get a win against a more quality opponent.
Bottom Line: Coming off a big road win, Hamilton County gets another high-flying victory.
Hamilton County 35, Eldorado 28
Sesser-Valier Co-op (3-1) at Christopher-Zeigler Royalton Co-op (0-4): Pretty clear-cut here. Sesser's got talent on both sides of the ball, while Christopher is going to need some help to get back into contention in the Black Diamond. Watch out, this one might get ugly as Sesser has given up multiple scores only twice this season. Solid defense and a productive running game from the Red Devils will carry the game.
Bottom line: Dawson Verhines and the Red Devils roll right on through the start of an easy stretch until the last two weeks of the season.
Sesser 35, Christopher 6