21 students on the 1st football team in 29 years

Madison High School near St Louis will field a football team of just 21 students this fall, the Belleville News-Democrat reports. Although more than 570 other high schools in Illinois also have football teams, what’s special about Madison is that we have to go all the way back to 1988, before ubiquitous internet access, to find the last time this small high school had a football team.


Edwardsville lines up against East St. Louis, 2007 season (Matthew Flores / Flickr CC)

With 21 students on the varsity football team and only 169 in the school, that means one out of every eight students, or one out of about every four boys, is on the squad for the Trojans.

“It’s different here—very different and in a lot of ways,” the paper quoted quarterback Rhyheem Samuels as saying after a recent practice. “From the environment, to the attitudes, the talent level, Madison is way different from East St Louis [the senior’s former school]. It’s a tough adjustment, but I think I can get through it.”

The Illinois High School Association school directory, last updated this afternoon, doesn’t even list a football coach at the school, but the News-Democrat reported that the coach will be Mike Hill, who also used to work at East St Louis under coach Darren Sunkett, before he went to Cahokia just last year. His new home is Madison.

“It’s been blessful here—blessful,” he was quoted as saying. “I think God has put myself, my brothers, and [assistant coach and former NFL player] Johnnie [Poe] here for a reason: to get Madison back, to get the community back. I was hired about a month ago, and as soon as I got the work to go forward with what I do, we’ve been out here trying to get ready.”

Of the 21 players, only about half have ever played any kind of organized football, the paper noted. The Trojans will compete in Class 1A, the IHSA’s smallest enrollment classification.

Re-inaugural schedule for the Trojans (2017)

  1. August 26, 11 AM, at Rockford (Our Lady of the Sacred Heart)
  2. September 2, 11 AM, Edwardsville (Metro-East Lutheran)
  3. September 8, 7 PM, at Wood River (East Alton-Wood River)
  4. September 16, 7 PM, Bunker Hill [Coop]
  5. September 22, 7 PM, at Nokomis
  6. September 30, 1 PM, Pecatonica [Coop]
  7. October 6, 7 PM, at Pawnee [Coop]
  8. October 14, 11 AM, Kincaid (South Fork) [Coop]
  9. October 20, 7 PM, at Dupo

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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