It's West, it's Edwardsville -- and it could be a classic showdown

News-DemocratOctober 3, 2013 

It would be tough to find a seemingly more even matchup than the Belleville West-Edwardsville football clash Friday night in Belleville.

"You don't have to hype it at all," Belleville West coach Cameron Pettus said. "It's really fun that we get a chance to meet like this."

How they are alike: Both teams are 3-0 in the conference and 5-0 overall. Edwardsville opponents have combined for 21 wins, while West opponents have 20.

West averages 45.8 points per game; Edwardsville is at 43.4.

Both teams have strong quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers and defensive backs with playmakers all over the field. West's Tori Millender and Edwardsville's Zac Rujawitz are two of the top linebackers in the St. Louis region.

Friday's game: Edwardsville (5-0) at Belleville West (5-0), 7 p.m.

The 55 points scored by West last week in a 55-38 win over O'Fallon were 15 more than Edwardsville's area-leading defense has allowed all season.

"They're a well-balanced team across the board offensively, defensively and special teams -- and they're very well coached," Pettus said. "They're just so extremely disciplined on defense. They're rarely out of position, they're disciplined with their assignments and do a great job with their technique."

Last meeting: Edwardsville won 13-0 last season on a touchdown pass and two field goals.

What to watch for: Any discussion of Edwardsville must start with junior quarterback Dan Marinko. Marinko has completed 71 percent of his passes (71-of-100), throwing for 1,110 yards and 14 touchdowns.

"That's an outstanding completion rate for an NFL guy, much less a high school guy," Pettus said. "He's making great decisions and he throws a great ball. It's a very difficult offense to defend."

Edwardsville's offense thrives on Marinko's ability to spread the ball around.

"He has a chance to be really good. For a first-year guy he's been doing a tremendous job so far," said Edwardsville coach Matt Martin, who was asked about the high completion rate. "That usually means you've got receivers running the right routes and you've got pretty good protection from your line and backs."

Tigers coach Martin on West's speed and assortment of playmakers: "They're special. I see them capitalizing on turnovers a ton. I see them creating turnovers, scoring on turnovers or giving their offense a short field. That's what you want."

Injury: Edwardsville lost impressive freshman defensive lineman A.J. Epenesa (22 tackles, one sack) last week with a broken fibula.

Edwardsville players to watch: QB Dan Marinko (71-100, 1,110 yards, 14 TDs, 3 Ints.; 175 yards rushing, 5 TDs); LB Zac Rujawitz (34 tackles, 2 sacks); WR Isaiah Michl (19 catches, 444 yards, 5 TDs); WR Darius Crochrell (24 catches, 335 yards, 7 TDs); RB-DB Craig James (24 carries, 151 yards, 1 TD; 1 int.); RB Elijah Crockett (31 carries, 191 yards, 2 TDs).

Belleville West players to watch: RB-DB Brian Hill (64 carries, 406 yards, 10 TDs; 4 catches, 125 yards, 3 TDs; 15 TDs overall; 34 tackles, 2 Ints.); LB Tori Millender (55 tackles, 1 Int.); QB Sherand Boyd (39-76, 621 yards, 8 TDs, 2 Ints.; 303 yards rushing, 5 TDs); RB Antoine Davis (64 carries, 406 yards, 3 TDs); WR Brendan Saak (15 catches, 311 yards, 2 TDs).

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

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