Affton Cougars football team will kick off season against Principia
By JEFF STAHLHUT
For the Call
The Affton High School football team has some unfinished business to attend to this season.
Despite an impressive 7-3 mark a year ago, the Cougars missed the Class 4 playoffs thanks to a disappointing 21-6 loss to Clayton in the first round of district play.
In 2003, with eight starters returning on both sides of the ball, Coach Dan Oliver is confident they can improve quite a bit this season. "We were disappointed to not beat Clayton last year. They knocked us out of the playoffs, they were district champions and they won the conference," the Affton coach said. "We'd like to put those feathers in our hat."
The Cougars certainly have plenty of re-turning talent to make that happen, including senior running back Kornell Simmons, who in 2002 ran for more than 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns.
"Bringing back someone that earned second-team all-state last year is great, and he is probably just as good on defense playing linebacker for us," Oliver said. "Kor-nell is always ready to go, he always wants the ball and he wants to take charge."
Even with a headline grabber like Simmons, though, Oliver notes that it is a team effort.
"The linemen that we bring back, our quarterback — they are competitors. They help Kornell get it done when we get close. They help to finish the deal."
On that line playing tackle for Affton will be seniors Ryan Binkley and Josh Pattie, both of whom also play on the defensive line.
Ryan Trojhan will lineup again at left guard, and Mike Woolledge returns as the team's center. Oliver also has the luxury of a lot of depth on the line.
"We could end up moving a lineman to fullback just to make room for some young linemen," he said. "We have some nice young sophomores and a couple of juniors that give us some depth on the team."
Senior Corey Meyer will be back at quarterback for the Cougars, with seniors Elbert Davis and Calmez Atkins lined up at wide receiver.
Junior Dante Harrold — an All-Confer-ence defensive back in 2002 — also will play receiver in 2003.
"We have a good fleet of receivers that can go get the ball," Oliver said. "We have plenty of talent, but we will be hard pressed to replace the few seniors that we did lose."
James Gallagher will join Binkley, Pattie and the others on the defensive line, and his coach likes his style of play.
"He had a great year for us last year. Hejust runs people down and makes great plays,'' Oliver said.
It's clear that the Affton High School Cougars will be very competitive on the gridiron in the upcoming season, but it's also clear their coach refuses to put the horses ahead of the wagon.
"Like they always say, we'll take it one game at a time," Oliver said. "But we would like to put ourselves in a position where hopefully we will still be playing in week 11."
The Cougars will open the season on the road when they face Principia at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, at Principia High School, 13201 Clayton Road.