If there is one thing Cameron Pettus has learned in his coaching career at Belleville West, it's that no celebration lasts very long in the Southwestern Conference.
One week after clinching a Class 7A playoff berth, the Maroons face another major challenge when they travel to East St. Louis on Saturday to take on the Flyers.
Meanwhile, East St. Louis needs one more win -- perhaps two -- to qualify for the Class 6A playoffs.
"We're excited about being in the playoffs. This football team has worked hard and we're having a very good year," Pettus said. "But now we're looking ahead, continuing to improve and build on what we've already accomplished.
"East St. Louis is a very good football team. Coach (Darren) Sunkett and his staff do a great job of getting their kids ready to play. It should be a heck of a football game."
Today's game: Belleville West (6-1, 4-1) at East St. Louis (4-3, 3-2), 1 p.m.
Last meeting: East St. Louis defeated West 27-13 in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs a year ago. West led 10-7 at halftime before Flyers quarterback Demmus Jones threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Williams to give his team the lead. Williams added a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown later in the second half.
Maroons quarterback questions: With West junior quarterback Sherand Boyd still nursing an injured knee suffered against Edwardsville two weeks ago, senior Brian Hill probably will be the Maroons starter. Normally a running back, Hill completed 5-of-7 passes for 95 yards and ran for 109 more in a win over Collinsville last week.
Sunkett knows that whoever plays quarterback will be a key man for his team to stop.
"Anytime you play a triple-option team, it's a concern. Defensively, our guys have to be in the right position in order to make plays," Sunkett said. "Offensively, we know that their defense is very quick and very aggressive. We just need to come out and be very physical with them, establish our running game and take it from there."
West players to watch: RB-LB-QB Brian Hill (63 carries for 550 yards and 13 TDs; 5-of-8 for 95 yards; 46 tackles, 32 solos; 2 Ints.); LB Tori Millender (68 tackles, 46 solos, 1 Int.); RB: Antoine Davis (92 carries, 645 yards and 8 TDs) and WR Brendan Saak (23 receptions for 366 yards and 2 TDs).
East St. Louis players to watch: QB Dominic Nelson (45-of-81 for 704 yards, 9 TDs, 5 Ints.); RB Nate Strong (63 carries for 576 yards and 5 TDs); RB Gregory Taylor (56 carries for 572 yards and 7 TDs); WR Jeff Thomas (30 receptions for 468 yards and 5 TDs); LB Kyron Watson (89 tackles, 55 solos; 2 sacks and 2 Ints.) and DE Terry Beckner (68 tackles, 45 solos, 4 sacks).