ALTON — Marquette Catholic High football coach Darrell Angleton has an idea. He’d like to see a conference filled with area teams.
The idea evolved from the fact that backyard rivals Marquette Catholic and Civic Memorial renewed their football rivalry to kick off the prep football season.
Marquette’s 21-7 victory over CM Friday was the Explorers’ first over the Eagles in four tries since the rivalry was renewed in 2014 and first since a 21-14 win in 1991 at Bethalto’s Hauser Field.
This one came at Public School Stadium and brought back some old memories for Angleton.
“When you guys come to the (Alton Knights of Columbus) Quarterback Club (preseason banquet), you hear me every year,” Angleton said. “I’m an old Roxana guy, and I would love to have a football conference with Roxana, (East Alton)-Wood River, CM, Marquette and lets find two other guys, and lets get back to playing against each other all the time because every Friday was like this. This was a great night.
“Win or lose, could you feel it in here? It’s better than going and playing at some other place. It’s hard to get up for a good team even like Pawnee. You drive two-and-a-half hours. This is the Riverbend; this was what I grew up on in football. Bill Smith, Charlie Raich, all these guys that were in the Valley and I think it helps. I’m really happy they stood up for it because again, I had guys going both ways more than I wanted to.”
Marquette’s first season-opening victory since 2012 came as a result of a duo at running back (Treven Swingler and Aaron Gregory) pulling the weight left by the void of D’Avion Peebles, who was suspended for the game; a huge defensive stand to begin the third quarter when CM (0-1) seemed to catch momentum and a clutch defensive stand withheld CM from tying it in the third quarter, and limiting CM’s offense to 172 total yards.
But even on the losing end of it, CM coach Mike Parmentier, whose Eagles won three straight matchups prior to Friday by a combined 129-28, likes the area rivalries.
“It’s real exciting,” Parmentier, whose father Bill is an assistant coach and brother Joe coaches in the EA-WR school district. “We had a great atmosphere in Week 1 playing a cross-town rival basically. You’ve got a good crowd and it was just a great night.
“We’re not happy we came out with a loss, but it’s a great Game 1 for the area. It’s just a good thing. We’ve got to figure out some things as a coaching staff and try to plug some guys in the right spots and hopefully we can get better in Week 2.”
CM will get the Oilers next to try and get back to the .500 mark.
“We told the kids Game 1’s not going to make or break our season,” Parmentier said. “We’re going to live with it this weekend just like we would if we’d have won and get back to work on Monday. Hopefully, we get some guys back and get some good reports because we neded up getting a couple guys going down. We get a tough Wood River ballclub in Week 2; nobody’s going to feel sorry for us. Hopefully our kids rebound, come back and have a good second week.”
Marquette was able to nearly break the opening kickoff for a score, but John Blachford, whose 61-yard TD reception in the second quarter made it 14-0, went 49 yards to set up the Explorers (1-0) in good position; they would score on Swingler’s 1-yard run.
And the killer score came in the second when Blachford scored on a third-and-15 play, the second time the Explorers were able to move the chains with big plays.
“John Blachford came in and asked for that pass because he knew he had him,” Angleton said of a receiver that caught three passes for 85 yards. “He came in, he called to our fade. ‘Throw it to be coach.’ I see it and I was kind of like, ‘Eeh, throw it to me.’ When a kid wants that, there it was, touchdown.”
Even after getting stopped near the goal line nearly eight minutes into the third quarter, CM had a fighting chance. But a botched punt attempt in the fourth quarter put the Explorers in good shape, and they scored on the ensuing play on Swingler’s second touchdown of the game, from 19 yards out.
“That was pretty much it,” Parmentier said. “Our punt team didn’t do a very good job of blocking up front. We’ve got a pretty good snapper, the ball was there and the kid punting is a good athlete. It looked like a jailbreak. They went straight through and we didn’t really touch anybody.”