EDWARDSVILLE - Marquette Catholic's football team shows a more seasoned look in the seven-on-seven passing practices at Edwardsville High School Monday night.

For the Explorers, things went well, head coach Darrell Angleton said.

“It was fun,” said Angleton. “The first couple of games were good, the last, we had a little bit of a breakdown, but we had practice before, so we came from a practice. I think they were getting a little bit gassed. We don’t have quite a big a roster as a school, say like Edwardsville. So these guys go both ways; they get a lot of work in, so they’re pretty tired. They’ll sleep well tonight,” Angleton said with a smile.

And coming off a 5-4 season where the Explorers just barely missed out on the IHSA playoffs, Angleton feels that the juniors will be very competitive coming out of the gate.

“We only lost four seniors,” Angleton said, “so I’ve got a lot of sophomores that played last year. And so, I think they will be really competitive right off the bat. Unfortunately, we had a small junior class, that are now seniors, so our juniors are really going to run the show here. But we also had some freshmen that started last year, including my running back (Cliff Chandler); he took over the job in week four, and that’s going to be a big plus because I’ve got a lot of young guys that have a lot of experience.”

Chandler is a back that Angleton believes is very special, but the Marquette schedule will be much different – and difficult.

“Our schedule’s definitely more difficult,” Angleton said. “Pawnee’s off the schedule; they went to eight-man football, and South Mac folded. So we’re going to be playing Mt. Carmel and we’re going to be playing Quincy Notre Dame at Quincy Notre Dame, so we’ll be traveling a lot. And Madison comes into the conference, so we’ll be playing them as well. It’ll be a little more competitive, I think, but I think we’ll be more competitive, and like I said, a little more veteran. Last year, we were really, really, really young.”

The experience will definitely help the Explorers this coming season.

“Oh, it’s huge,” Angleton said. “I mean, I’ve got some really good receivers. Jake Hewitt, he would have played last year, but he was ineligible as a transfer, so he’s a junior, he’s a run threat, he’s a throwing threat. We’re still a spread offense, so he fits really well into our system.”

And Angleton is looking forward to the season and is happy that Edwardsville hosts the seven-on-seven practices.

“I do, and this is good that Edwardsville puts this on,” Angleton said, “because you get out, you see a couple of different teams, and you work on things. It’s kind of a laboratory; you don’t come here to win, there’s no trophy for seven-on-sevens, but it’s here to work on things, and we did well on that today.”

But there’s one thing Angleton isn’t looking forward to as the season is ready to start.

“I’m looking forward to the season,” Angleton said. “Not looking forward to the travel. I wish we got mileage for it,” he said with a laugh.

Dan Brannan also contributed to this story

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