High School Football

West, O’Fallon set for potentially wild Southwestern Conference opener

The Belleville West-O’Fallon football game settled down last year.

West escaped with a 13-12 victory after winning shootouts in the previous two seasons, 69-31 in 2014 and 55-38 in 2013. O’Fallon won 10-7 in 2012.

The Panthers (1-1) will play host to West (0-2) at 7 p.m. Friday as the teams kick off the Southwestern Conference portion of their schedules. With both teams blessed with offensive talent, a return to the craziness might ensue.

“They have big-play capability,” O’Fallon coach Brandon Joggerst said of the Maroons. “We can’t give up the big plays on defense. We’ve got to make them work for what they get. I don’t know what to predict, high-scoring or low-scoring. All I know is it’s going to be a hard-fought, physical game.”

West coach Cameron Pettus said it’s a must-win for his team.

“You start out 0-2 and you roll into the conference, and if you want to make the playoffs, you’ve got to start winning,” Pettus said. “We know this conference is a really good one. We’ve got to get ready to go.”

Scouting O’Fallon

The Panthers last week rebounded from a season-opening 21-7 defeat at Hazelwood Central with a 48-36 victory over visiting Normal West. Senior running back Mason Hewitt led O’Fallon with 275 yards rushing and two touchdowns and also added 225 yards on kick returns.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Hewitt is certain to plenty of attention from West’s defense.

They have big-play capability. We can’t give up the big plays on defense. We’ve got to make them work for what they get. I don’t know what to predict, high-scoring or low-scoring. All I know is it’s going to be a hard-fought, physical game.

O’Fallon football coach Brandon Joggerst on facing the Belleville West Maroons

“He’s pretty physical,” Joggerst said. “He’s one of those guys that’s pretty tough to bring down one-on-one. He’s one of those backs that always falls forward and gains the extra yards, which we talk about a lot. He’s a physical-type runner with deceptive speed.”

Pettus said Hewitt is only one of the challenges for the Maroons.

“We’ve got to get multiple hats on the ball because he is so big and strong,” Pettus said. “He can break a tackle, so we’ve got to have good pursuit and play solid, fundamental defense.”

Junior quarterback Christian Perez is 29-for-59 for 337 yards and two touchdowns for the Panthers, while junior wideout Ronald Anthony has nine receptions for 107 yards. On defense, senior linebacker Patrick Berry has 16 tackles and one sack.

Scouting West

The Maroons, who have opened the season with losses against state-ranked Batavia and Lincoln-Way West, have a talented back of their own in junior Kriston Davis (204 yards, three touchdowns).

Senior Logan Betz (15-for-36, 183 yards, one touchdown) brings poise and production to the Maroons at quarterback, and junior Sherond Boyd (18 carries, 97 yards) is another threat out of the backfield. Senior Jack Lanxon has four catches for 51 yards.

You start out 0-2 and you roll into the conference, and if you want to make the playoffs, you’ve got to start winning. We know this conference is a really good one. We’ve got to get ready to go.

Belleville West football coach Cameron Pettus on facing the O’Fallon Panthers

Junior linebacker Tristin Caswell and senior strong safety Jack Lanxon lead the Maroons with 16 tackles.

“We could have played better these first two weeks,” Pettus said. “It’s tough starting out with two very talented teams like this, but you see exactly where you’re at and what you need to do to compete at that level. That’s a good thing to learn from.”

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

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