MARION -- It has become a tradition that Williamson County high school football players and cheerleaders have come to enjoy, the annual Football Kickoff.
Community of Faith Church invites the coaches, players, and cheerleaders from the four county high schools--Carterville, Herrin, Johnston City, and Marion for a barbecue dinner. The church's renowned barbecue team and more than 70 volunteers put on the feast,
This year's guest speaker was SIU athletic director Jerry Kill.
"Nine years ago, we came together, and we thought let's bring the teams together," said Rev. Dr. Troy Benitone, Directing Pastor at Community of Faith. "Everybody said it couldn't be done. The parents said 'ahhh, they'll kill each other.' It's not been like that. Every year has been incredible--bringing all the Williamson County athletes and cheerleaders and coaches together and kinda have this pep rally for the season."
"What's really cool is when I was at the Salukis for their opening of camp," Benitone said. "All the Williamson County guys stood up and said 'tell our guys hello at the big kickoff.' So even as they go off to college, go off to life, they all remember this. It's an incredible thing. We've got some incredible coaches, incredible teams in Williamson County, and we're looking forward to seeing them have a great season."
The high school football season will kick off next Friday night. Johnston City is the only one of the four Williamson County teams to open with a home game.