Boys Varsity Football
Game Summaries & Headlines.
Redbirds find survival mode to be a good fit
Alton beats O’Fallon to stay in playoff hunt
Louie Korac For The Telegraph
Greg Shashack / The Telegraph
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Alton wide receiver Ahmad Sanders shakes the tackle attempt by Collinsville’s Jake Holten (4) at the 5-yard line and goes in for a TD in a Redbirds’ SWC victory Sept. 8 in Collinsville. The Redbirds picked
O’FALLON — What will begin for those that have gained entry into the Illinois High School Association football playoffs in three weeks started for the Alton Redbirds last week.
It’s called playoff survival mode, and the Redbirds have been in full swing since their 21-9 win over Belleville East a week ago, and it carried over to a more convincing 49-17 win at O’Fallon to put Alton (4-3 overall, 3-2 in the Southwestern Conference) on the cusp of back-to-back playoff seasons for the first time since Joe Hook guided the Redbirds to six straight trips to the playoffs from 2001-06.
Alton won two straight games in Weeks 2-3 over Quincy (41-37) and Collinsville (35-6) that got them to 2-1 before losses to Belleville West (52-21) and Edwardsville (35-12) to leave them at 2-3 on the season. Two wins in a row again puts them within one win of becoming playoff-eligible.
Alton, which finished 3-1 on the road this season, closes with home games against Granite City and East St. Louis, which will be a daunting task.
“We just try to take one week at a time,” said Alton senior wideout/linebacker Terrance Walker, who caught seven passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns. “We know we’ve got to win every game going up until Week 10, so we’re just trying to get it done every week, focus on one game at a time.”
Alton coach Eric Dickerson got a balanced performance from his offense (288 yards through the air, 191 on the ground running the football) and a defense that gave up a couple chunks of yardage but one that intercepted O’Fallon quarterback Christian Curtis three times, sacked him another four times, stopped the Panthers (1-6, 0-5) on downs in the red zone and held O’Fallon to 262 yards of total offense, including just 105 on the ground (three yards per rush).
Part of the tone-setting performance included a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage from senior linebacker Charles Miller.
And then when the offense gets clicking, with no turnovers, chances are the Redbirds are going to be on the winning side of things.
“When we execute, we’re really dangerous,” said Walker, who caught touchdown passes of 55 and 67 yards from Andrew Jones.
Both the Redbirds and Warriors will head into their matchup on Friday at Public School Stadium needing just one win to be playoff-eligible after Granite City knocked off previously unbeaten Breese Mater Dei 39-27.
Knowing it will face the tough Flyers in Week 9, it’s a win-and-they’re-in mindset for the Redbirds this week, who don’t want to face the notion of having to beat East St. Louis.
“You’re sitting there and you know what you’ve got to get,” Dickerson said. “We can’t look too far ahead. We have to take it one week at a time. I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position and we’ll get ready and go battle Friday.
“I hope we can get it done. These kids are believing and they’re getting excited.”