Before last week, every team in the Southwestern Conference knew East St. Louis senior Gregory Taylor as one of the state's best defensive backs and a future Missouri Tiger.
Not many, if anyone, knew Taylor as a running back. But they do now.
In his first varsity start in the offensive backfield, Taylor rushed for 311 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-3 demolition of Belleville East last week, as the Flyers broke a three-game losing streak.
"He played a little running back as a freshman. We knew what he could do," East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. "Last week was what we had been waiting for. The running game got going and the offensive line did a great job of blocking for our backs.
"Right now, we're working on the little things. We've worked hard on the running game and if we can get that going on a consistent basis, it will open up things for the passing game. If that happens, we'll be tough to beat."
The Granite City Warriors will get their chance to slow an East St. Louis ground attack, which ran for more than 500 yards last week, when they invade Clyde Jordan Stadium on Saturday.
Today's game: Granite City (2-3, 1-2 in the SWC) at East St. Louis (2-3, 1-2), 1 p.m.
Last meeting: East St. Louis defeated Granite City 43-6 last year. The Flyers built a 27-0 halftime lead behind two touchdowns apiece Marvin Young and Daniel Williams, and breezed past the winless Warriors.
Flyers coach Darren Sunkett on Granite City: "Granite City is always a tough, hard-nosed team and their coaching staff does a great job of getting the kids ready to play. In watching them on film, they are better than they've been in the past couple of seasons."
Granite City coach Carl Luehmann on his Warriors: "We're getting better. We're playing a lot of young kids and they're coming along. Trouble is, sometimes they play like young kids, making incorrect reads and those kinds of things. But this is a good group. They are working hard."
Luehmann on the Flyers: "They're big, quick, fast and well coached. To put up 52 points and rush for more than 500 yards against a program like (Belleville) East is very impressive. We're just going to go over on Saturday, play hard and see what happens."
Granite City players to watch: QB Gabe Jarman (50 of 94 for 531 yard, 3 TDs and 5 Ints.); RB Willie Beckwith (104 attempts for 385 yards and 4 TDs); RB Quinton Jackson (37 attempts for 321 yards and 3 TDs; 18 receptions for 227 yards and 2 TDs); DE Juan Gregory (35 tackles, 30 solos, 1 sack and 1 fumble recovery).
East St. Louis players to watch: QB Dominic Nelson (34 of 61 for 412 yards, 5 TDs, 5 Ints.); RB Natereace Strong (54 attempts for 475 yards, 3 TDs); RB-DB Gregory Taylor (24 attempts for 311 yards, 3 TDs; 8 receptions for 114 yards, 3 TDs; 40 tackles, 25 solos); WR Jeff Thomas (26 receptions for 333 yards, 2 TDs); WR Treevon Prater (14 receptions for 146 yards, 1 TD); LB Kyron Watson (54 tackles, 36 solos, 1 sack, 1 Int.); DT Terry Beckner (45 tackles, 28 solos, 5 sacks).
Notes: Despite a sub-500 record, the Flyers were still ranked 10th in the Associated Press Class 6A poll this week.