Roxana players slam against Southwestern players at the line of scrimmage against the Piasa Birds in a game last Friday night at Roxana. Roxana slipped past Southwestern 45-32 to advance to the first round of the Class 3A playoffs this weekend.

There were many life lessons learned for players and assistant coaches during Charlie Raich’s tenure as head football coach at Roxana High School.

One of the assistant coaches who served under Raich was Roxana head coach Pat Keith. He said he learned more from Raich than anyone else in his career. Roxana’s football field is named after the coach.

“I learned a ton from being an assistant coach under coach Raich,” Keith said. “It was not just Xs and Os but how to not only do things right in football but all aspects of my life. He is definitely a legend. He and Coach Bill Smith are the two reasons why I wanted to come back and coach here.”

Roxana’s football program is going full steam ahead into the playoffs with a 7-2 mark.

Friday night, the Shells defeated Southwestern 45-32 in the final regular season contest. Raich had a 191-95-2 record during his years as a head high school football coach.

In the Illinois High School Association Class 3A football playoffs, Roxana plays Freeburg (8-1) at 7 p.m. on Saturday. It will be the first football playoff appearance for the Shells in 11 years.

“I am enjoying it and proud of the kids and their efforts,” Keith said.

Keith grew up in the Alton area, attending Marquette High School. He was a tight end/defensive end in high school. Keith coached at Marquette for two years, Greenfield High School for six years, and also coached in Alton, then at Roxana High School. He has 17 years high school football coaching experience.

The Roxana coach said another outstanding influence on his coaching style was former Greenfield coach Dan Bowman, also a legend in that community for his coaching the Tigers. Bowman had 234 wins in his coaching career. Keith also mentioned Joe Hook, the former Alton coach, as another strong influence on him as a coach.

Roxana jumped out to an 18-0 margin ahead early in the game on Friday night, but Southwestern kept fighting back. In the end, the Shells had too much for the Piasa Birds. This season has been one Keith will not forget.

“I am enjoying it and proud of the kids and their efforts,” Keith said. “I think our senior leadership has been one of the keys to our success. Everyone has focused on the same goal and been selfless and worried about the team.”

Keith was not one to take a ton of credit for the Shells success this but attributed a lot of it to his coaching staff.

“We have good guys all on the same page with a common goal of being successful,” Keith said of his assistant coaches. We also get good support from the community and the kids. Everybody is on board.”

The Roxana coach is excited about the upcoming playoffs and said he believes the community is as well. It was evident the support the football team is getting with the large crowd from Roxana on hand Friday night against Southwestern.

Keith was impressed by Southwestern, which ended up 3-6, much improved from a winless season a year ago under coach Aaron Fricke.

“They are a good team,” Keith said. “Their coach has done a good job. They were close to the playoffs this year.”

“We are looking forward to an opportunity to keep things going,” he said. “We ran the ball so well the other night. This year we have been able to score points.”

Keith said he knows coach Raich would be proud of Roxana’s football success this season.

“Coach Raich was the face of the Roxana football program before and built it,” Keith said. “I am proud and happy to be a part of it.”

 

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