Belleville West puts exclamation mark on end of 80-year football rivalry with Althoff

News-DemocratSeptember 7, 2013 

Althoff High School vs. Belleville West football.


— With an 80-year city football rivalry coming to an end Friday, the Belleville West Maroons made sure they were the ones doing all the celebrating.

Brian Hill ran for four touchdowns and West rolled up 568 yards of total offense in a 53-20 victory over Althoff, putting an exclamation on a series that began in 1933.

A crowd estimated at 3,500 filled the West stadium to capacity and then some, with fans overflowing the bleachers and circling the field around the track.

"It was crazy, the fans were exciting," said Hill, who had a 75-yard touchdown run on an option to go along with TD runs of 48 yards, 14 yards and 1 yard. "We thought we'd be able to run the ball since Collinsville had such success with it last week (against them), but I wasn't expecting four touchdowns.

"All week we've been stressing tempo, tempo, tempo ... we expected a lot of yards and a lot of offense."

Belleville West (2-0) closed out the series with six straight wins over Althoff (1-1) and won the all-time series 47-28-3 counting games between Belleville Township and Cathedral.

Since Belleville Township split into Belleville West and Belleville East, the series is tied 22-22-1.

Belleville West wasn't fancy Friday, slugging things out behind a strong offensive line and relying on Hill (147 yards and four TDs on just eight carries), Antoine Davis (166 yards on 16 carries) and quarterback Sherand Boyd (60 yards on seven carries).

The West defense contributed five quarterback sacks and an interception, holding Althoff to seven yards rushing on 22 carries.

Maroons coach Cameron Pettus was extremely impressed when he heard the yardage his team had accumulated.

"That is kind of unheard of, absolutely," Pettus said. "That's just these guys doing it, Brian Hill and Sherand and the offensive line and Antoine Davis and our receivers ... we just feel really special with this group of young men.

"It was just nice to finish the rivalry off with a win."

While it never could move the ball on the ground, Althoff's passing attack was clicking. Senior quarterback Eric Mertens completed 34 of 56 passes for 400 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Dennis Jackson.

Althoff sophomore Keenen Young had 11 catches for 111 yards and senior Luke Frazier had nine catches for 112 yards.

"We feel like we've got a pretty good offense with a lot of weapons," Althoff coach Ken Turner said. "We'd move it down the field and get it inside the 20, then it would stall. You've got to give them a lot of credit, too."

West ran for six touchdowns, four by Hill and one each by Boyd and Davis. Althoff hung close at times, trailing 14-6 in the first half and 37-20 early in the second, but the Maroons had too much firepower.

"They've got all those kids back from last year," Turner said. "We knew they were going to be a load. We've got a lot of young guys on defense and we're still trying to feel our way."

West led 30-6 at halftime. Davis scored on an early 9-yard run, but Althoff answered when receiver Keenen Young caught a pass and then flipped the ball to Malik Easley on a hook-and-ladder play for a 25-yard touchdown.

Two big runs by Davis set up a 1-yard TD run by Hill late in the first quarter. Hill broke loose for a 48-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter and Boyd sprinted free for a 16-yarder to put the Maroons on top 27-6.

It was more of the same in the second half as Althoff would move the ball through the air, only to watch Belleville West strike quickly on offense.

Althoff's Jackson and West's Brendan Saak traded TD catches early in the third quarter and Mertens' 40-yard TD pass to Jackson cut the West lead to 37-20.

But Hill was relentless, scoring from 14 yards out and then taking an option pitch to run 75 yards for another score to put things out of reach.

"We were all really excited about the game," Hill said. "It was the last game and some players from last year came back, that just got us more fired up."

Pettus was fired up too, but also a bit nervous given the circumstances of trying to end an 80-year rivalry with a win.

"I think it's the most stressful it's been for me as a head coach," he said. "Just the week building up to it and the tradition and the history that goes between these two schools.

"We had a great fan base tonight and it was nerve wracking, but after the kickoff and these guys got it in their hands, I felt pretty good."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or on Twitter @NormSanders

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