The Belleville West football team is headed to the state playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.
All it took was a handful of big offensive plays and perhaps the Maroons’ best defensive performance of the season.
Kriston Davis rushed for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and the senior also had one of three West interceptions as the Maroons grinded out a 21-7 victory over Belleville East on Friday night at Lancer Stadium.
The Maroons (6-3, 5-2 Southwestern Conference) limited East to just seven points, the Lancers’ lowest total of the season. The Lancers scored 13 and 18 in earlier season losses to Chaminade and East St. Louis, respectively.
East still racked up yardage, rushing for 114 yards and throwing for 208, but the Lancers were held to a single third-quarter touchdown. Davis, Joshua Rosebud and LaMondre’ Carter all had interceptions for West, with Carter’s ending East’s final offensive drive.
“I feel like have one of the best defenses in the conference and maybe even in the state,” Davis said. “We really work hard, and we fly around. We have that chemistry. We’ve played together all four years, and a lot of us played varsity freshman year. We’re clicking right now.”
West is locked into the playoffs, likely in Class 7A, and will find out who and where they play during Saturday’s playoff selection show.
“It’s great for our program,” West coach Cameron Pettus said. “And to go in strong with six wins, hopefully we’ll get a good seed, but our guys are going to be excited and ready to play. It says a lot about our kids, our coaching staff and our school.”
For a while in the second half, it looked like the Maroons might spend most of Saturday wondering if they’d be in the playoff field at all.
East quarterback Kienen Waller scored on a 13-yard quarterback keeper late in the third to cut West’s lead to 14-7, and the Lancers (2-7, 2-5) were driving again late in the final period. They got as far as the West 31-yard line before Waller’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
West took over at its own 31 and needed just three plays to score, as Davis capped the drive with a 39-yard score.
Davis carried the ball 25 times but was only able to break through with a few. He scored from 33 yards out in the second quarter and broke a first-quarter run for 24 yards. Quarterback Jackson McCloskey connected with Will Lanxon for a 37-yard TD in the first quarter and a 28-yard strike late, but most of the rest of West’s offense was short gains.
“Their defense knows us really well, and they love playing in this game,” Pettus said. “They have a bunch of great athletes, and they brought it. We kept plugging away and popped some big plays when we had to.”