Final chapter: Belleville West-Althoff rivalry to end after showdown

News-DemocratSeptember 5, 2013 

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No one has to remind the players from Belleville West or Althoff that this is the final game in an intense football rivalry that began in 1933.

"It definitely seems bigger, the stakes are up," Belleville West senior running back Brian Hill said. "Whoever wins gets bragging rights for life, period, unless they bring it back some years down the road."

Friday's game: Althoff (1-0) at Belleville West (1-0), 7 p.m.. One of the largest crowds in the history of the series is expected.

"It doesn't seem real that it's over," Althoff senior quarterback Eric Mertens said. "There's a lot of memories, even from when I was growing up watching all the games. To finally play in it is like a dream come true. Especially now that it's the last one, so many people and so many generations played through it."

Althoff Coach Ken Turner: "Their defense has been extremely fast, it kind of reminds me of the old Cahokia teams. They're fast enough to play man and they're also fast enough to jump in their zone and corrupt things. You've got to find out where they're coming from and where they are, because if you slow things down they'll get there."

West Coach Cameron Pettus: "I'm impressed with their skill players. The (Keenen) Young kid did a nice job catching the ball and Mertens does a nice job throwing it. Their skill players are what jumped out at me from the first game."

West got a solid defensive effort in a 31-10 victory at Evansville (Ind.) Reitz Memorial. Pettus feels the Maroons have the edge on that side of the ball.

"The defense played well and that's what Belleville West has been known for, and for a while now," he said. "We've got to rely on our fundamentals and do what we do best."

What to watch for: West knows Collinsville ran for more than 300 yards against Althoff last week and believes it has an advantage in size, depth and experience on both sides of the line.

By the numbers: A year ago, West racked up five interceptions, four sacks, a fumble recovery and a safety in a 35-0 victory over Althoff.

Althoff key players: QB Eric Mertens (14-of-29, 270 yards, 3 touchdowns); WR-DB Keenen Young (5 catches, 137 yards, 2 TDs); RB Dennis Jackson (13 carries, 84 yards); WR-DB Luke Frazier (3 catches, 74 yards, 1 TD, 8 tackles, 1 int.); LB Aaron Medina (12 tackles); kicker Donovan Gagen (1 field goal, 2 extra points).

West key players: LB Tori Millender (15 tackles); QB Sherand Boyd (9-of-19, 179 yards, 2 TDs; 9 carries, 75 yards rushing, 1 TD); RB-DB Brian Hill (47 yards rushing, 1 TD; 6 tackles); RB Antoine Davis (69 yards); DB La'Vante Smith (4 tackles); punter-kicker Austin Seibert (41.5-yd. punting average; 1 FG, 4 extra points)

Fun facts: Belleville West has won the last five games in the series and holds a 46-28-3 lead dating back to the Belleville Township vs. Cathedral days. ... Since Belleville Township split into Belleville West and Belleville East, Althoff leads the series 22-21-1.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

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