It all began 100 years ago on the football field in East St. Louis. The East St. Louis Flyers triumphed, 35-0, and a tradition was born.
On Friday at Clyde Jordan Stadium in East St. Louis, the rivalry between East St. Louis and Belleville West continues.
One of the most cherished possessions in all of metro east high school sports — the Alton Southern Bell — will be up for grabs when the Flyers and the Maroons meet. “The Bell,” as it’s most commonly known, has greeted students at the main entrance of Belleville West for the last two years.
Friday’s game marks the 100th anniversary of a rivalry that began in 1916.
“When you think about the fact the first time this game was played was 100 years ago. That’s pretty special. It’s great to be part of something like this,” West coach Cameron Pettus said. “Both schools have great traditions and for the players who get to compete in this game, it’s something they’ll always remember. We’ve been able to win the last two games against East St. Louis. But this will be a real test for our football team, going up against the top-ranked (Class 7A) team in the state. They are well-coached and have great athletes all over the field.”
Also at stake is a share of the lead in the Southwestern Conference.
Fresh off a 49-20 win over Collinsville last week, the Maroons (2-2) will enter Clyde Jordan Stadium riding a two-game winning streak on the season and a rare two-game winning streak against the Flyers. Belleville West defeated East St. Louis 35-26 a year ago after a heart-stopping 29-28 victory over the Flyers two years ago.
The win in 2014 was the first in the regular season for the Maroons since 2002, who are 6-15 against East St. Louis since 1996.
East St. Louis (4-0, 2-0) has been unstoppable on both sides of the football in the past two weeks. The Flyers offense has put up 102 in wins over Alton and Granite City while the defense has allowed only six points in its last six quarters. They Granite City to minus yardage for much of the game last week, which ended in a 44-0 route.
East St. Louis opened its season with wins over perennial Midwest powers (New Lenox) Providence Catholic and Christian Brothers College (Mo.). West, which enters the game tied with East St. Louis and Class 8A power Edwardsville for the SWC lead, has rebounded nicely after dropping games to state-ranked Batavia and Lincoln-Way East to start the season.
“We played two very good football programs in our non-conference games,” Pettus said. “But to the kids credit, they didn’t get down and they kept working hard. We feel like we’ve been able to improve on both sides of the football the last two weeks.
“One of our goals is to make the playoffs. This is a big football game for us.”
East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Friday’s game: Belleville West (2-2, 2-0) at East St. Louis (4-0, 2-0) at Clyde Jordan Stadium, 7 p.m.
Rankings: Belleville West is unranked; East St. Louis is ranked first in the Associated Press Class 7A state football poll.
Last meeting: Belleville West defeated East St. Louis 35-26 in 2015
Last week: Belleville West defeated Collinsville 49-20; East St. Louis defeated Granite City 44-0.
Scouting Belleville West: A tough non-conference schedule got the Maroons off to a rough 0-2 start, but coach Cameron Pettus has had his football team back on track the last two weeks. Quarterback Logan Betz has completed 31 of 63 attempts for 429 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 211 yards and three scores. The Maroons also have plenty of depth in the backfield with Kriston Davis (399 yards, 5 TD’s) leading the way. Sherond Boyd (169 yards, 1TD) and versatile Paris Johnson (128 yards, 2TD’s) is dangerous as a running back or catching the football. Jacob McCloskey ( 9 receptions, 102 yards, 1TD) and Jamar Edwards (6 receptions (129 yards, 2TD’s) are the Maroons top receivers. On defense, Jack Lanxon leads in tackles with 32, while Tristin Caswell has 31 including 19 solos.
Scouting East St. Louis: Running behind a big, athletic offensive line, junior running backs Jarrell Anderson and Kevin Brown have been sensational during the first four weeks of the season, combining for over 700 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. Anderson, the Belleville News-Democrat PLayer of Week after helping to lead the Flyers past CBC in week two, has gained over 500 yards, averaged over 6 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns to lead the way. Quarterback and Missouri recruit Reyondous Estes had thrown for over 560 yards and six touchdowns with All-American Jeff Thomas (11 catches, 226 yards, 3TD’s) and Charlando Robinson (11 receptions, 198 yards, 3TD’s), being his primary targets. The Flyers defense, heavy with potential NCAA Division I recruits, is led by James Knight (41 tackles, 29 solos) and Terrion Williams Jr. (34 tackles, 22 solos and 3 quarterback sacks).
Story of The Bell: Henry Thomas Hudson who was the superintendint of the Alton and Southern Railroad, had the bell removed from a steam engine, had it installed on a trailer, and donated it to East Side High School.
Series at a glance
East St. Louis leads the Alton Southern Bell series since 1996 15-6; two of Belleville West’s six wins were by forfeit. From 1916 through 1984, East St. Louis led the all-time series against Belleville West 53-13-3 with 35 shutouts.
- 2015: Belleville West 35, East St. Louis 26
- 2014: Belleville West 29, East St. Louis 28
- 2013: East St. Louis 62, Belleville West 17
- 2012: East St. Louis 26, Belleville West 7; East St. Louis 27, Belleville West 13 (playoffs)
- 2011: East St. Louis 35, Belleville West 7
- 2010: East St. Louis 51, Belleville West 2; Belleville West 1, East St. Louis 0, forfeit (playoffs)
- 2009: East St. Louis 44, Belleville West 24
- 2008: East St. Louis 61, Belleville West 7
- 2007: East St. Louis 39, Belleville West 12
- 2006: East St. Louis 61, Belleville West 7
- 2005: East St. Louis 74, Belleville West 0
- 2004: East St. Louis 41, Belleville West 20
- 2003: East St. Louis 56, Belleville West 7
- 2002: Belleville West 21, East St. Louis 6
- 2001: East St. Louis 26, Belleville West 7
- 2000: East St. Louis 41, Belleville West 13
- 1999: Belleville West 20, East St. Louis 18
- 1998: East St. Louis 26, Belleville West 18
- 1997: Belleville West 1, East St. Louis 0, forfeit
- 1996: East St. Louis 26, Belleville West 19