Heading into a Southwestern Conference game at O’Fallon on Friday, Granite City coach Carl Luehmann prepared the Warriors this week for a game against a 1-4 Panthers squad which is better than its record indicates.
Of O’Fallon’s four losses, two came on the road at perennial suburban Chicago powers Hinsdale Central and Benet Academy and the other two came against Belleville West and Edwardsville, which are tied atop of the Southwestern Conference standings with 3-0 marks.
“O’Fallon is the best 1-4 team around," Luehmann said. “They’ve got a running back in (Kentrail) Moran who has been around a few years now. They’re big and quick up front and they’ve always got an outstanding group of linebackers.
“It’s a very good football team we’ll be playing on Friday night."
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A week after recording its first win of the season at Alton, the Panthers will be out for their first win at home when they host the Warriors in a battle of teams looking to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
FRIDAY’S GAME: Granite City (2-3) at O’Fallon (1-4), 7 p.m.
LAST WEEK: Collinsville defeated Granite City 33-7; O’Fallon defeated Alton 42-7
RANKINGS: Granite City is ranked ninth in the News-Democrat Large School poll; O’Fallon is ranked seventh.
LAST MEETING: O’Fallon defeated Granite City 48-21 last year.
SCOUTING GRANITE CITY: The Warriors have fallen on hard times the past three weeks and been outscored by a combined 155-14 in losses to Belleville East, East St. Louis and Collinsville.
Senior quarterback Gabe Jarman remains the Warriors’ top offensive player. The versatile Jarman has thrown for nearly 500 yards and rushed for another 300 while having a hand in seven touchdowns (4 passing, 3 rushing). Running backs Ronald Allen (282 yards, 1 TD) and Brendan Bettag (166 yards, 3 TDs) have had their moments, but like the rest of the Warriors they have struggled against perennial league powers East St. Louis and Belleville East in two of the past three weeks.
In last week’s 33-7 loss to Collinsville, Granite City allowed the Kahoks nearly 250 yards on the ground and turned the ball over twice.
“Against Belleville East and East St. Louis we just got beat by better football teams and then last week we just didn’t play well at all against Collinsville," Luehmann said. “At this stage of the game when you are out of playoff contention, you’ve just got to keep working hard and try and make it fun for the kids. This is a good group of kids and they’re fun to be around."
SCOUTING O’FALLON: Healthier than they’ve been all season, the Panthers put together their finest four quarters of football last week when they won at Alton.
Regarded as one of the top senior running backs in the state, speedy Kentrail Moran broke loose for 280 yards rushing and four touchdowns against the Redbirds, while quarterback Christian Perez added a touchdown pass as the Panthers won for the first time.
Win No. 2, won’t come easy for Joggerst’s crew, which will face a Warriors defense that will have something to prove after three tough weeks.