Carbondale Terriers, Murphy Red Devils open football season in cross-county matchup

Will this year's Carbondale Terriers have football playoff mojo - or even intra-county mojo?

Both questions may be answered Friday night at Bleyer Field when the Terriers face off against their powerhouse rivals, the Murphysboro Red Devils. If they could beat the Devils - or even give them the game they did last season in Murphy, when the Devils took an overtime thriller - the Terriers' future would look bright.

Unfortunately, this year, Murphy is again loaded. They return a powerhouse backfield in Ethan Finke and speedster Devon Clemmons. Murphy has Kamelo Abernathy and Drew Caldwell vying for the quarterback position - though you may not see much throwing from either. Running is the Devils' game. Murphy coach Gary Carter's 2021 team lost in the 4A Illinois High School finals, and he basically has the same Split-T running attack this season.

Carbondale, on the other hand, may travel through the air. Look for junior quarterback Brock Bowlby to try to exceed his 2,000-plus passing yards from last year. Bowlby is ready to play after several weeks practicing in the broiling sun. Also, college-level kicker Ian Davis, who can hit field goals from plus 40 yards out consistently, will be a key offensive cog. Davis will play football and golf at the college level next year.

CCHS' team core is mainly returnees like Davis, Bowlby, running back Austin Dedecker, and linemen Owen Lee, Harper Brown and Javion Kizer.

The Terriers will try to avenge last season's triple-overtime thriller in which Murphy eventually won 46-43.