The Helias Crusaders will take on the defending Illinois State Finalist Althoff Catholic Crusaders on Saturday at East St. Louis High School at 4 p.m. It will be the second of three games played in the East St. Louis Classic, also known as the Border War. Helias players have been filling out scouting reports since Tuesday, gaining greater knowledge of their opponent.
“This is one of the toughest games we have all year,” said senior wide receiver and cornerback Zach Stiles.
Helias has had Althoff circled ever since they saw the schedule. Last year, Helias lost a high-scoring game to Althoff, who ran away with the win in the second half, beating Helias, 54-38. The game was tied at 28 at half time. The year before Helias beat Althoff 35-7.
“We know that this is a highly respected team with a ton of college talent,” said starting quarterback Chandler Luebbert. “We must come out ready to do our job and only worry about ourselves. This is a game that we know if we win, will send a message to the rest of the state that Helias is a great team and is ready to do damage.”
Helias is coming off a 56-6 win over AC Southeast Prep last week.
“It was nice to put some points on the board!” said senior linebacker and fullback Jake Burnett. Burnett had 2 rushing touchdowns and 5 tackles by the beginning of the second half. Burnett had a career high 19 tackles in week 1 against Hannibal. Burnett was elected captain and is starting at linebacker for the third year.
“Althoff brings big time athleticism to the table, they spread the field out and throw it effectively,” said Burnett. “They have confidence and are going to show up ready to play.”
Althoff is coming off a 58-15 win in the rain against Collinsville, Illinois.
“It’s going to be challenging, but football is just a big chess match,” said Luebbert. “Once we figure out how they’re aligning and what they’re doing to stop us, we can figure out what we should do to counter that. Offense is all about taking what the defense is giving you.”
The Border War features 3 games on Labor Day weekend. At 1 p.m. Cahokia, IL will take on Sumner, MO. At 4 p.m. the Helias Crusaders will take on Althoff Catholic, IL, Crusaders. At 7 p.m. CBC, MO will play the event’s host East St. Louis, IL. The nightcap is all over regional news reporter’s radars and is hoped to be one of the most intriguing high school games in all of the Midwest this year.
“There are always nerves before a game. But after the first or second snap, I seem to calm down and dial in,” said Luebbert. “So I wouldn’t say I’m nervous, I would say I’m anxious.”