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September 4, 2014

Belleville West returning to former home looking for first win

Before moving to its new home on Frank Scott Parkway, Belleville West won a lot of football games at Township Stadium on West Main Street.

After dropping their season opener on the road, the Maroons return to their original home Friday night on the distinct maroon-and-gray artificial turf and a field now known as Lindenwood Stadium.

"We're excited as coaches and the kids are excited," said West coach Cameron Pettus, whose team will be playing its home games at Lindenwood University this season while work continues on a new turf playing surface at their home field. "There's a lot of tradition there, a lot of history. We're opening up with two games against playoff teams, so it's a playoff atmosphere.

"You find out exactly where you're at."

Friday's Game: Belleville West (0-1) vs. Normal (0-1) at Lindenwood Stadium in Belleville, 7 p.m.

Last week: In the first stage of the Belleville vs. Normal north-south doubleheader, Belleville West dropped its opener 30-23 to Normal West. Normal lost 28-21 to Belleville East, which is playing host to Normal West on Friday.

Bright spots for West were the combined 225 yards rushing by Antoine Davis (145 yards) and quarterback Sherand Boyd (90 yards). Boyd also threw for 113 yards, but did not have a touchdown pass and completed 7-of-16 attempts with an interception.

"Getting that game under his belt was good for his confidence, getting into his rhythm and doing what he does well," Pettus said.

Scouting the Ironmen: Pettus is extremely wary of Normal's top offensive weapon, junior running back Alec Bozarth, who was limited to 27 yards on 11 carries last week by Belleville East. Bozarth, who ran for 1,065 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore, broke a bone in his foot at a University of Illinois summer football camp but is still considered dangerous.

"They're just tough across the board," Pettus said. "We've got to keep an eye no him and also their quarterback (senior Josh Kirshenbaum), who can hurt you with his feet."

Kirshenbaum was picked off three times last week, but also threw for 206 yards and two TDs while running 16 times for 45 yards.

Led by senior linebacker Mason Wright, Normal's defense is inexperienced with just two starters returning. Junior offensive lineman Garrett Hirsch (6-foot-3, 275 pounds) is a Division I prospect.

Nuclear leg: In what could be the start of a monster season, Belleville West senior and University of Oklahoma kicking recruit Austin Seibert nailed a 50-yarder last week among his three field goals.

Making adjustments: Pettus said the Maroons made their share of mistakes last week, compounded by inexperience and the excitement of the season opener.

"We did some good things and we did some bad things," he said.

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