Collinsville looks for more scoring punch
August 22, 2012By Chris Kusnerick of Collinsville High School
When Collinsville football coach Mike Liljegren looks back on the 2011 season, he can’t help but think about missed opportunities.
The Kahoks were 3-6 overall, including a 6-5 loss to Althoff in the season opener and a 24-21 loss to SWC rival Granite City. Victories in those two games would have put the Kahoks at 5-4 and may have gotten them into the playoffs.
“I was disappointed with the way things turned out last year,” Liljegren said. “One thing is clear - we’ve got to be hitting on all cylinders when we start our season. We jump right into the fire with Althoff and Triad, which are perennial playoff teams and very good programs. We struggled on the offensive side of the ball in those first two games last year and we can’t afford to do that again.”
When it does have the ball, Collinsville may have a new look this season.
“We went to the spread offense about seven years ago and our offense really took off,” Liljegren said. “The numbers of kids in our program has been continually rising, but about four years ago we lost a game to O’Fallon by a score of 54-45. We decided after that season that our offense had gotten a lot better and we were moving the football, but we need to stop people. (Assistant) coach (John) Blaylock went to a different scheme and we made a concerted effort to make sure we were better on defense.
“Good defense is still going to be our focus, but we’ve got to make sure we do a better job of putting the ball in the end zone. Even in our first two wins last year against Alton and Belleville West, we kind of sputtered. We need to be able to get out of the chute, so we’re going to do some things a little differently.”
Senior captain Drew Pikey (6-foot-5, 275 pounds) moves to right guard after starting at center the past two years. The other three captains are senior linebackers - Henry Weinreich on the outside and Nick Reichert and Quieron King in the middle.
With senior Kennedy Mayweather and senior Lionel Burks at running back, the Kahoks hope to utilize their speed. Senior Falando Wilkinson, who was the second-leading receiver last year, could move to quarterback, where he is competing with junior Connor Zabala.
Senior Damien Birkla and junior Chuck Lamm return at wide receiver. Junior Isiah Gray, a starter on the offensive line last year, has moved to defense. Senior Trayveon Hawkins, a two-year starter, returns on the defensive line and will be joined by junior Harry Uyehara, who saw considerable playing time.
The secondary, which was a question mark, has been boosted by the arrival of Cornelius Walker, a transfer from Carlyle.
“He was one of the leading receivers in the area last season and he transferred here at the end of the school year,” Liljegren said. “He’ll be playing free safety for us as well as receiver.”
Wilkinson is a candidate at punter along with soccer players Josh Calvin and Andy Van Klaveren, who are also competing at kicker.
Collinsville plays host to Althoff in the season opener at 7 p.m. Friday and will play Aug. 31 at Triad. The Kahoks open conference action Sept. 7 at Alton.