ALTON - The Marquette Catholic football team showed much improvement and progress in their game Thursday night, and although the Explorers lost to St. Louis Priory Catholic 32-0 at Public School Stadium, there's a lot of optimism about the team going into the final two weeks of the season.

The game, originally scheduled for Friday, was moved to Thursday due to the nation-wide shortage of qualified game officials that has plagued both youth and high school sports the last few years. Because IHSA football regulations require a five-man crew, Thursday was the only time available to hire a full crew for the game.

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Despite that, the Explorers played one of their best games of the year and showed much progress.

"We've shown some growth today," said Marquette head coach Leon McElrath III. "Although the scored didn't turn out the way we wanted it to, we felt that the kids played really hard and took a step forward."

McElrath was very happy with the play of the offensive line and defensive backs against the Ravens, who held an 18-0 lead at halftime.

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"The O-line played well," McElrath said, "and our DBs had a good game too. Priory has a good offense and we were able to hold our own against them."

Although the Explorers are now 0-7 on the season with two weeks to go, optimism abounds on the team and the effort continues to be there.

"I'm really proud of the kids' effort," McElrath said, "and we're going to keep moving forward these last two weeks."

Those last two games will be on the road, as Marquette plays at Bloomington Central Catholic next Friday, then concludes the regular season with a game against Roxana at Charlie Raich Field Oct. 21, with both games starting at 7 p.m. McElrath is very hopeful and optimistic about the final two weeks of the season.

"We'll see how the kids play the last two weeks of the season," McElrath said, "and hopefully, we'll get rewarded with a win."

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