EAST ALTON - The word "rivalry" is running rampant through the minds of the coaches and athletes alike from Marquette Catholic and East Alton-Wood River High Schools.
The Oilers and Explorers will hit the gridiron at 7 p.m. Friday in Wood River and while the prospect of a win is on both coaches' minds, Marquette head coachDarrell Angleton is proud to participate in the local rivalry.
"These local rivalry games are fun. It makes for a fun game," he said. "We’ll pack stadiums and there’s a lot of school pride. As long as it’s a good rivalry and doesn’t get silly, it’s a positive thing. I’m glad we’re doing this. We’re lucky that we get to at least play two [local] schools."
"We’ve worked hard all week. They’re excited to stop practicing and get this game on. If you beat a team like Marquette, it really makes a statement to the conference."
In the Prairie State Conference, the two teams are technically tied with South Fork (Kinkaid) and Pawnee for first place with 1-0 in the conference's standings. As far as overall records are concerned, Pawnee leads in first at 3-0 while the Oilers are sitting strong with a 2-1 record. The Explorers' record is currently 1-2after defeating Nokomis 44-15.
As far as strategy on their opponents, Herron said that Marquette's speed has to be contained early on.
"We have to do a good job of containing their speed on the outside. We just have to bring intensity and aggressiveness like we did last week," he said. "As long as we’re aggressive on defense and don’t give up on defense, that’s the big thing."
Angleton believes that his offensive line will persist past the Oiler defense, but they need to move fast and execute those early plays.
"We have to execute from the beginning. We have a couple of different styles of offense that we can put on the field. For them, they’ll have to find an answer to our quarterbacks and our running backs who can put their hands on the ball. It’s difficult to have three guys who can keep the ball on the field."
With over 24 hours until game time, the friendly rivalry continues and should continue for years to come.
"Our first two games were of the magnitude or higher than Taylorville (who defeated EAWR in week 2)," Angleton said. "I think that’s one thing they’ve got to be concerned about."
"They should have something to prove, really," Herron said. "Regardless who you play in the first three weeks. We need to go out there and get win number three."