When asked to compare Class 6A powers Normal Community and Normal West High Schools, Belleville East football coach Tim Funk didn't hesitate.
Although located in the same city and members of the same conference -- the Big Twelve -- the two schools are quite different on the football field.
"I don't know if one is better than the other. I think different is a better word. When I watch Normal play, they are like Edwardsville to me and Normal West is like East St. Louis,'' Funk said. "Normal West has guys who can run and hit all over the field. They're really good.
"Getting the right angles is important because if they get loose it's not just a big play, it's a touchdown. They've got that kind of speed.''
Fresh off a 28-21 win over Normal a week ago, the Lancers will host the Normal West Wildcats in a battle of unbeatens beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.
Led by a solid effort from quarterback Drew Millas, the Lancers' offense moved the football and the defense made enough big plays in the end as East held off the Ironmen for the nonconference win.
"Any time you can go on the road and beat a good football team, it's a big win," Funk said. "But by the same token, you hope the kids don't think this is it. We're 1-0 and we're glad to be 1-0, but we've still got a whole lot of work to do,'' Funk said. "We've got to improve up front on both sides of the football and we've got to cut down on our mistakes.''
Friday's game: Normal West (1-0) at Belleville East (1-0), 7 p.m.
Last week: Normal West defeated Belleville West 30-23; Belleville East defeated Normal Community 28-21.
Normal West players to watch: QB Mitch Fairfield (5-of-7 for 81 yards); QB Arion Worthman (9 of 19 for 125 yards); OT Karson Lueck; C Caleb Mohrs
Belleville East players to watch: QB Drew Millas (16 of 27 for 217 yards and 3TDs); RB-DB DeMarius Ward (96 yards rushing); WR Os Moore; TE Brady Schanuel, OT-DT: Nathan Sylvester; C Key-Shone Wright; LB DewayNE Hill; LB Cody Patterson
Looking for a good start: A win tonight would lift Belleville East to its first 2-0 start since the 2010 season. The Lancers won their first five games that year, finished 10-3 and reached the Class 7A state semifinals.
Air Funk? Probably not. East quarterback Drew Millas gave opposing defenses something to think about with his 217-yard 3 touchdown pass performance last week against Normal. The 27 pass attempts were the most for an East quarterback in several years.
"We probably call 15-20 passes a game. But that doesn't mean they all get thrown'' Funk said, smiling. "It was a good job by Drew, but we've got some talented receivers and the offensive line did a great job of pass blocking.''