It was certainly no ordinary football game when East St. Louis played host to St. Louis powerhouse CBC on Saturday night at Clyde C. Jordan Stadium.
Not only were more than 8,000 fans treated to an exhilarating back-and-forth game, they got to see some of the top football talent in the St. Louis region on display throughout the three-game Gateway Scholars Football Classic.
On Saturday in the “City of Champions,” they saved the best for last.
East St. Louis running back Jarrell Anderson scored on a 10-yard run with 28 seconds remaining in the Flyers’ 32-28 victory over the CBC Cadets. Anderson erupted for 235 yards and three TDs on 40 carries to help his team, ranked first in the BND Large-School Poll and second in Class 7A, improve to 2-0.
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The Flyers handed CBC, which had won 29 of its previous 30 games, its first regular-season defeat since October, 2013.
“My ankle got rolled pretty good four plays earlier,” Anderson said after scoring the game-winning TD. “But on fourth-and-1 with under a minute left, I wanted to be in the game. My teammates needed me. There was a lot of contact on the play; it was an extremely physical game anyway.
“I got hit and just trying to keep my legs moving. It was close, but I knew made it.”
Flyers coach Darren Sunkett had an idea CBC would design its defense to hold All-American receiver Jeff Thomas and Missouri quarterback recruit Reyondous Estes in check.
Thomas did catch a TD pass, but all that attention on him and his considerable talent helped open things up for Anderson.
“We knew CBC would focus a lot of attention on stopping Jeff and Rey,” Sunkett said, “and we also knew they would double down and sometimes triple-team Jeff to make sure he didn’t get the football.”
Fans were treated to one of the best recent games in the metro-east as the teams traded big plays and stellar individual performances. CBC star receiver Kamryn Babb caught seven passes for 124 yards, including a pair of TD receptions.
Missouri Tigers coach Barry Odom arrived in a helicopter at halftime and took in a portion of the second half.
“It was two good football teams, with a lot of pride and tradition going at it,” Sunkett said. “We knew they weren’t going to back down and we weren’t either. Both teams left it on the field for 48 minutes. We’re going to celebrate this one and then we’ll get right back at it .
“It was a great football game that neither team deserved to lose. I’m just proud of these kids. They showed a lot of heart and character out there.”
East Side’s next seven games are in the Southwestern Conference, beginning with a home game against Alton at 7 p.m. Friday.
Another crazy game for Carlyle
A week after losing a 45-42 heartbreaker to Nashville in their season opener, the Carlyle Indians found themselves in another thriller in Week 2.
Freeburg took over on its own 1-yard line and marched down to the Carlyle 1-yard line until the Indians’ defense held on fourth down to preserve a 44-40 victory.
There was plenty of contention about the Midgets’ final play and whether Tyler White had caught a game-winning TD pass or whether the ball was incomplete with Carlyle’s Tyler Siever defending. The officials ruled it incomplete and Carlyle finished off the win.
“I was just looking at the play (on video),” Carlyle coach Chris Birkner said. “I know that when I saw it, I could have swore I saw a shadow fall out, I saw daylight between the player and the ball. The back judge signaled no good, so that was all I looked at.
“On film, the official on my sideline did not signal anything. The back judge was within five yards with no obstructions whatsoever.”
Freeburg coaches argued to the contrary, but the call stood.
“I guess we’re going to be a in lot of shootouts this year,” Birkner said. “We felt like last year we didn’t score enough points, so I really worked hard trying to figure out what we could do. I think this system is fitting what we have right now.
“We knew that defensively we were going to struggle a little bit and would have to outscore some people. It’s tough.”
The Indians got big defensive plays on the final drive. Safety Dru Johnson made a stop at the 1-yard line and on third down it was Eli Cox hauling down a running back short of the goal line.
“We’re wanting to try to get everybody doing the right thing on every play, but sometimes with high school kids that can be hard,” Birkner said. “We let one slip away last week, I know that for sure.”
Red Bud off to solid start
One team having no problem scoring points this season has been the Red Bud Musketeers.
Now 2-0 after wins over Pinckneyville (40-16) and Wesclin (52-27), Red Bud is relying on some highly effective offensive weapons.
Senior running back Ryan Hess had 238 yards and three TDs on just 13 carries Friday against and added a 79-yard kickoff return for another touchdown. It was the second straight game with a kickoff return for the elusive Hess, who took a 97-yarder to the house in Week 1 against Pinckneyville.
Through two games he has 393 yards and three TDs on 29 carries.
Red Bud quarterback Griffin Ziebold has also been efficient, completely 10-of-16 passes for 219 yards and six TDs. Five of those TD passes were hauled in by Gavin Rensing, who has seven catches for 179 yards.
Next up for the Musketeers is a Cahokia Conference game at Carlyle.
Last word on Columbia-Waterloo rivalry
While some outsiders may not understand the intensity and importance of the Waterloo-Columbia football rivalry, the players themselves certainly do.
Columbia won the latest battle 27-10 on Friday, but trails the long-running series 16-15 since the teams began playing in 1983.
“It’s hard-hitting, there’s a lot of talking,” said Columbia receiver Jordan Holmes, who caught three TD passes from quarterback Greg Long and set up another with an 80-yard pass of his own to Mitch Daniels. “You could almost compare it to Duke and North Carolina in college basketball. It is insane. I love being out here during this game. It’s unbelievable.”