Longtime friends will match wits on sidelines as Granite City visits Collinsville

News-DemocratSeptember 19, 2013 

— It's another rivalry game for the Collinsville Kahoks when they play host to Granite City at 7 p.m. Friday.

That's par for the course, according to Collinsville coach John Blaylock.

"I think we have a rivalry with just about everybody," Blaylock said. "Geographically, we touch every school district that we play except for Alton. ... (But) this is always a very good football game. We need to get ourselves evened up."

So do the Warriors, who have been outscored 92-35 in their last two games, losses against Jerseyville and Belleville West, since an impressive 25-13 win over Marion in their season opener.

"Hopefully, our kids will execute and play real well against (Collinsville)," Granite City coach Carl Luehmann said. "We feel like we can win. It's always a good matchup."

Today's game: Granite City (1-2 overall, 0-1 in the Southwestern Conference) at Collinsville (1-2, 0-1), 7 p.m.

Last meeting: Collinsville won 27-15 last Sept. 28, erasing a 15-14 halftime deficit by scoring 13 unanswered points in the second half.

In the trenches: Luehmann is concerned about the Kahoks' size advantage in the offensive and defensive lines. Offensively, Collinsville loves to pound the ball on the ground, so the Warriors will have to be up to the task.

"That's the key," Luehmann said. "(Our players) know what to expect. They're physical; they're big up front. I hope our defense is ready to execute."

Blaylock acknowledges his team's superior size on the offensive line, but said it must be more productive.

"It was decided in the pits last Friday night against (Belleville) East, and we didn't come out on the strong side of that," Blaylock said, referring to a 24-8 loss to the Lancers in Belleville. "But we've got some big, strong boys on our O-line and some big, strong boys on our D-line."

Friend or foe? Collinsville and the Warriors have been rivals in various sports for many years, with football being one of them. However, Blaylock and Granite City coach Carl Luehmann are close friends and have been since they served on the same staff at Collinsville in the early 1990s under former coach Bob Hollingshead.

"We're good friends," Luehmann said. "We've coached together and hung out at Italian Fest."

The annual Italian Fest will be going on about two miles from Kahok Stadium, but circumstances will not enable Luehmann and Blaylock to relive old times.

"Probably not," Blaylock said with a laugh. "I wish Carl luck every week but one. I consider Carl to be a very good friend. We go back a long, long way. He's going to work his tail off down there."

Players to watch: Granite City senior Quinton Jackson is off to a strong start with 23 carries for 262 yards and eight catches for 100 yards. Sophomore Willie Beckwith also has played well, leading the Warriors with 300 rushing yards. For the Kahoks, juniors Jordan Miller (284 yards) and Jamal Wellmaker (278 yards) have been forces in the rushing attack.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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