By Mark Jurgena, Sportswriter
On October 26, 256 teams from across Illinois will be named to the IHSA football playoffs. Only four times in the 45 year history of the Illinois playoffs has Collinsville been on that list. But there are 125 Kahok football players looking to set a precedent to change that past.
For the 2019 campaign, they will play an Independent schedule in football only.
“Obviously Collinsville has had a ton of success in other sports in this (Southwestern) conference, but football has been another story, said 2nd year head coach Mike Popovich.
“The decision was made to move to see if they can get their feet on the ground. Obviously with district play coming in a couple of years it’s great for us.”
The Kahoks managed only a 3-6 mark in 2018’s final Southwestern Conference season. However, they return eight starters on offense in Popovich’s up tempo, high powered offense.
“This group has more talent than anybody I’ve had before. The speed is insane. It is everywhere,” Popovich said. “Our identity is tempo. With the new IHSA rule in place with the play clocks, it is a huge advantage for us.”
Collinsville brings back its leading rusher in junior captain Jayden Nabors and their receptions leader in senior captain Jake Holten. Three starters also return on the offensive line.
Defensively Collinsville only returns three starters, but the staff made the commitment to getting as much speed to that side of the ball as possible.
“There’s been a huge emphasis put on speed this year especially on the defensive side of the ball. So we expect a significant turnaround. They (the defense) know we may put them in a few bad spots by playing up tempo or we will go for it deep in our own territory,” he said.
During Collinsville’s 2018 season, they gave up 27 points per game in their three wins. But Popovich found positives that could be a foundation for 2019.
“In every game that we won last year they had big time stops during crunch time,” he said. “They made plays. We had close to double digit 4th down stops inside our own five.”
Fans can see a preview of the football Kahoks along with all the fall CHS sports tomorrow night at the 2019 Fall Kahok Kickoff. There is no admission charge, but fans are requested to bring non perishable items for the Collinsville Food Pantry.
2019 Collinsville Football Schedule
• August 30 at Cahokia, 7:00
• Sept. 3 Triad 7:00
• Sept. 13 at Alton, 7:00
• Sept. 2 Taylorville, 7:00
• Sept. 27 at Lincoln, 7:00
• Oct. 4 Granite City, 7:00
• Oct 11 at Mattoon, 7:00
• Oct. 18 Peoria (Notre
Oct. 25 Centralia, 7:00