After clinching a Class 7A playoff berth a week ago, the Belleville West Maroons look to keep their slim Southwestern Conference championship hopes alive on Friday when they take on the Edwardsville Tigers at the Edwardsville High School Sports Complex.
Led by junior quarterback Jack McCloskey (28 TD passes, 1,588 yards) and highly touted sophomore wide receiver Dominic Lovett (33 receptions, 720 yards, 17 TTD’s), the Maroons high powered offense was in gear a week ago in rolling past Collinsville. 64-14. Ranked ninth in the Class 7A state poll, the Maroons (6-1, 3-1) have scored over 40 points five times in seven weeks.
Edwardsville (4-3), is also 3-1 in league play and like the Maroons trail East St. Louis (5-2, 4-0) by a game in the SWC standings with two weeks to go. The Flyers have O’Fallon (1-6) and Alton (4-3) remaining on their schedule..
Led by Notre Dame recruit Kendall Abdur-Rahman (11 TD’s, 620 yards), Edwardsville began the season ranked in the top 5 in the Class 8A poll. But injuries to key personnel and three game losing streak earlier in the season have the Tigers needing to win one of their final two games to earn a playoff berth.
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Edwardsville, which has not lost to Belleville West since 2010, closes its regular season next week at Collinsville.
A look ahead to the playoffs
Undefeated and ranked fifth in the Class 5A state football poll, the Highland Bulldogs (7-0) lead a list of seven metro east teams which have the required six wins needed to qualify for the IHSA playoffs.
South Seven Conference leading Cahokia, along with Madison, Columbia, Belleville West, Mater Dei and Nashville are all 6-1 and playoff bound. Southwestern Conference leading and Class 7A state ranked East St. Louis along with Freeburg, Central and Mascoutah are all 5-2 and a win away from the playoffs.
Three teams, Edwardsville, Alton and Granite City, are 4-3 and need a win to become playoff eligible. Teams with five wins and enough playoff points also earn playoff spots. The Illinois High School Association will release its playoff field and first round pairings in all eight classes on Oct. 20.
Mascoutah to battle Highland
A win away from a postseason berth, the Mascoutah Indians will attempt to gain a share of the Mississippi Valley Conference championship on Friday when they travel to take on undefeated Highland.
The Indians (5-2, 3-1), whose only MVC loss came against Triad, feature one of the top running backs in the metro east in junior Devin Wills (1,192 yards, 12 TD’s) and an improving quarterback in Jeff Getchell (1,060 yards passing, 11 TD’s). They will take on a Highland team which enters the contest with a 15 game MVC winning streak and hoping to clinch a third straight undefeated league championship.
Ranked fifth in the Class 5A state poll, The Bulldogs have not lost an MVC game since the 2015 season. Senior quarterback Jack Etter (25 TD passes, 1,590 yards) has directed an offense which features all-state wide receiver Sam LaPorta (42 catches, 825 yards, 12 TD;s) and talented running back Brad Feldmann (625 yards rushing, 10 TDs).
Highland’s overlooked defense has allowed only 70 points in the first seven weeks of the season.
A scramble for the Cahokia Conference title
Heading into the final week of the Cahokia Conference season and the title is still up for grabs with Columbia, Central and Freeburg all sporting 4-1 records in league play
Ranked eighth in the Class 4A state poll, Columbia, looks to rebound after a loss to Central, when it hosts Red Bud (3-4, 2-3), while Central will host Wesclin (1-6, 0-5). Freeburg faces the toughest challenge of the three co-leaders when it hosts the Salem Wildcats (5-2, 3-2)
Althoff looks to play spoilers role
The Althoff Crusaders will renew a longtime rivalry while attempting to end a three game losing streak when they host the Cahokia Comanches in a South Seven Conference game.
Ranked sixth in the Class 4A state poll, the Comanches (6-1, 4-0) are led by quarterback Malikl Shaw and running back Vincent Perry Shaw has thrown for 1,067 yards and six touchdowns while Perry has 837 yards on the ground while scoring four touchdowns. The Comanches defense has also been solid, allowing just over nine points per game.
Althoff (1-6, 1-3) has suffered through a disappointing season. Senior running back Cameron Rodgers has been one of the bright spots for coach Ken Turner’s team.
Rodgers, a transfer from East St. Louis, has rushed for over 100 yards for times and has 781 yards for the season. Rogers has scored eight touchdowns.