Game of the Week
The Mater Dei Knights have rebounded nicely from a subpar 2-7 season a year ago and enter week seven of the regular season with an perfect record and state playoff berth in their hip pocket.
Coach Jim Stiebel’s team has moved to sixth in the Class 4A state football poll and behind a balanced attack have outscored their opponents 254-82.
On Friday, the Knights defense may have its toughest task to date when it attempts to slow down the Granite City Warriors junior quarterback Freddy Edwards. Fully recovered from a shoulder injury which forced him to miss the final six games a year ago, Edwards was unstoppable a week ago as he rushed for 256 yards and three touchdowns and threw three touchdown passes in a 59-29 win at Collinsville.
Edwards is considered one of the top juniors in the state and is drawing college interest from the likes of Ohio State and Notre Dame, among others.
Edwards, who accounted for 449 yards of total offense against the Kahoks, will try to keep the Warriors (3-3) in the playoff hunt against a Mater Dei team which has plenty of offensive weapons.
Quarterback Travis Jasper has thrown for 1,159 yards with 14 touchdown passes. Jasper has also run for 517 yards and four touchdowns while combining with running back Logan Ratermann (629 yards, 9 touchdowns) to lead the Knights ground attack.
Flyers take on Ohio powerhouse
Fresh off a dominating win a week ago over previously undefeated Belleville West, the East St. Louis Flyers (5-1) will journey out of the state for the second time this season when they travel to Massillon, Ohio to take on the undefeated Massillon Washington High School Tigers on Friday.
A perennial Ohio power, Massillon (6-0) is ranked as the No. 8 team in Ohio according to MaxPreps and is one of the most successful programs in the nation with over 870 wins dating back to 1894. NFL legend Paul Brown coached at Massillon and compiled a mark of 80-8-2 while coaching the Tigers from 1932-40. Massillon plays its home games in Paul Brown Stadium.
Former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce was 20-0 in his two years at Massillon from 1964-65.
The Flyers, who opened with the season with a 52-38 loss at Detroit, Mich. King High School, are on a five game winning streak. East St. Louis is ranked third in the latest Class 7A state poll.
Edwards, Little chase milestones
Granite City junior quartebrack Freddy Edwards and Freeburg senior running back Tanner Little continue their pursuit of 1,000 rushing yards in week seven of the regular season.
One of the top college prospects in the St. Louis area, Edwards enters the Warriors game at home against undefeated Mater Dei (6-0) with 899 yards and 13 touchdowns. Edwards, who missed the final seven games of the 2017 season with a shoulder injury, could also go over the 1,000 mark in passing yards Friday. The 6-foot, 185-pound Edwards has thrown for 876 yards and eight scores this season.
Little has 897 yards as Freeburg (4-2) travels to take on Wesclin in a Cahokia Conference game on Friday. Both players are chasing Devin Wills of Mascoutah who leads the metro east and is second in the St. Louis area with 1,091 yards.
Highland quarterback Jack Etter leads the area in passing yards (1,337), while Belleville West junior Jack McCloskey leads in touchdown passes with 23. Highland senior all-state wide receiver Sam LaPorta has the most receptions (38) and receiving yards with 719.
Columbia can clinch
Fresh off a last minute 38-34 win over Freeburg last week, Columbia can clinch a tie for the Cahokia Conference championship with a win over the dangerous Cougars.
Ranked fifth in the Class 4A state poll, the Eagles (6-0) got big plays down the stretch last week from junior quarterback Nic Horner and running back Ronnie Hunsaker to rally past the Midgets. The win assured coach Scott Horner’s team a berth in the Class 4A playoffs
Central (4-2) needs to win two of its final three games to clinch a playoff spot. The Cougars rebounded from a loss to state-ranked Mater Dei to post an impressive 36-7 win at Red Bud last week. Central will host Wesclin on Oct. 12 before ending its regular season Oct. 19 at state power Herrin.
On the playoff bubble
Undefeated and state-ranked Highland (6-0), Columbia (6-0) and Mater Dei (6-0) locked up trips to the post season last week while East St. Louis, Madison, Belleville West, Cahokia and Nashville are all 5-1 and need to win one of their remaining three regular season games to clinch playoff spots.
But seven other local teams enter week 7 of the regular season with 4-2 or 3-3 records. While six win teams earn automatic playoff spots, 5-4 teams with enough playoff points will also join the IHSA’s postseason party when first round playoff pairings in all eight classes are released on Oct. 20.
Local teams with 4-2 records include Freeburg, Central and Mascoutah, while Dupo, Edwardsville, Granite City and Alton are all 3-3 and need to win at least two of their final three games to have a chance.