High School Sports

Lockdown Cahokia defense faces major challenge at Gateway Scholars Football Classic

These are some of the top high school football players in the metro-east

As the 2019 high school football season kicks off, these are some of the players to keep an eye on.
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As the 2019 high school football season kicks off, these are some of the players to keep an eye on.

A former all-American offensive lineman and first-round NFL draft choice, Cahokia coach John Clay chooses to keep it simple on the defensive side of the football field.

No gimmicks, no stunts, just old-school, smash-mouth, get-after-it, style of football.

The Comanches’ way of playing defense has been effective. Heading into their game with Chaminade Saturday at the East St. Louis Gateway Scholars Classic, Cahokia is 11-2 in its last 13 games. In those 11 wins, the Comanches defense has allowed seven or fewer points nine times and has five shutouts.

Enough said.

“We don’t use a lot of different looks. We don’t stunt. We just have a great group of kids who have bought into what we’re doing,’’ Clay said following practice on Wednesday. “We have kids who are aggressive and love to hit hard. They’ve come out, worked very hard and for the last year or so, they are seeing that hard work pay off.’’

Receiving votes in the Associated Press Class 5A state poll, Cahokia (1-0) opened their season last week with a 26-0 win at Collinsville and will take on a Chaminade (1-0) team which opened its season with a 50-6 win at Belleville East.

The Cahokia-Chaminade game is set for 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Clyde C. Jordan Stadium and is the first of four marquee games in the annual event.

The Comanches are led by two of the top linebackers in the St. Louis area in senior Demarveon Johnson and junior Emori Lee. Both Johnson and Lee collected more than 100 tackles last season.

Cahokia’s offense also has one of the best players in the area in senior running back Vincent Perry, who rushed for over 1,200 yards last season.

“We can control the clock with Vincent running the football. He’s a very good running back,’’ Clay said. “Demarveon and Emori set the tone on defense for us.’’

The Comanches, who advanced to the Class 5A quarterfinals a year ago before losing to Hillcrest, dropped their only regular season game of 2018 at the Gateway Scholars Classic, losing to Cardinal Ritter, 20-12.

East St. Louis’ Antonio Johnson hauls in a touchdown pass in a victory over Belleville West at Clyde C. Jordan Saturday. Chris Johns Chris Johns

East St. Louis-Trinity rematch

Top-ranked Illinois Class 5A team, the East St. Louis Flyers will take on the Trinity Catholic Titans in the finale of the Gateway Scholars Classic on Saturday beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The Flyers (1-0), who opened their season with an impressive 31-17 win at Class 7A power Batavia, defeated Trinity 32-26 a year ago. Trinity (0-1) opened its season with a 25-6 loss at Lutheran North last week.

The Titans, a St. Louis small-school power were without Ohio State University wide receiver recruit Teriyon Cooper, who withdrew from Trinity last week. The Flyers win over Batavia was paced by a pair of touchdown passes by junior quarterback Tyler Macon and a 226 yard rushing night from senior DeMonta Witherspoon.

The rest of the slate

Tickets for the Gateway Scholars Classic are $10 and are good for all day. Tickets may be purchased at all participating schools and at the gate.

Following the Cahokia-Chaminade game, former state champion Chicago Phillips will take on St. Mary’s at 2 30 p.m. and will be followed at 5 p.m. when Cardinal Ritter takes on Lutheran North.

First-year Belleville West head coach Bryan Edgar talks to his squad during their game Saturday against Riverview Gardens. The Maroons made a winner of Edgar in his debut, posting a 40-2 win. Photo by Chris Johns

Belleville schools face tough road tests

A week after losing to defending Class 4A Illinois state champion Elmhurst ICC , Althoff takes to the road again this week to face another state champion in what figures to be an energized Vianney team.

The defending Class 5A Missouri state champions, Vianney (0-1) is coming off a 64-0 thrashing at Fayettevile, Arkansas last week.

Another team looking to avenge an opening week loss, Belleville East (0-1) travels to Highland to take on a rebuilding Highland Bulldogs squad. Beaten by eventual state champion Joliet Catholic in the Class 5A quarterfinals a year ago, Highland (0-1) opened its season with a 31-21 loss at Mount Zion.

Belleville East, under first-year coach Michael Harrison, lost to Chaminade 50-6 in Week 1.

Belleville West (1-0), which opened its season with a 40-2 win at Riverview Gardens, will travel north to take on perennial Class 6A state power Washington.

The Tigers (0-1) opened their season with a 24-0 loss at Sycamore.

Columbia’s Donavan Bieber carries the ball during the second round IHSA Class 4A playoff game between Columbia and Taylorville Saturday in Taylorville. Chris Johns Chris Johns

Bragging rights in Monroe County

The Waterloo Bulldogs are out to break a four-game losing streak in the battle for bragging rights in Monroe County when they host state-ranked Columbia on Friday at 7 p.m.

Waterloo (1-0) , which last defeated Columbia (27-24) in 2014, was impressive last week in defeating the Herrin Tigers to break a nine game losing streak.

Columbia, ranked sixth this week in the Class 4A state poll, opened its season with a 28-7 win against Mascoutah.