High School Football

Granite City faces tough task against top-ranked East St. Louis

Quarterback Red Estes leads an explosive East St. Louis offense into a week 4 conference game with Granite City.
Quarterback Red Estes leads an explosive East St. Louis offense into a week 4 conference game with Granite City. Tim Vizer/BND

The Granite City Warriors’ high-powered offense has rolled up 131 points — 96 of which have come the last two weeks in wins over Carbondale and Belleville East.

But how good are the Warriors? Veteran coach Carl Luehmann and the rest of the Southwestern Conference are about to find out.

Granite City, minus its top offensive player in senior quarterback Kendrick Williba, will face its biggest challenge of the season on Friday when it hosts undefeated East St. Louis (3-0) in a SWC contest beginning at 7 p.m.

Ranked No. 1 in the Class 7A state poll, the Flyers ran past Alton 58-13 a week ago after posting impressive wins over Providence Catholic and Christian Brothers Catholic (CBC) High School in the first two weeks of the season.

While the loss of Williba — who suffered a dislocated hip against Belleville East —lessens the Warriors chances, Luehmann is looking forward to seeing his team against one of the elite programs in the state.

“East St. Louis is a senior-dominated well-coached football team. They have a couple of All-Americans and tremendous athletes all over the field. It’s a major challenge for this football team,’’ Luehmann said. “I truly believe you get better by playing good football teams. We’ll line up against them and give it our best effort.’’

Despite playing what East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett called a “somewhat lackadaisical” game against Alton, the Flyers still rolled to the win.

“We were able to win the football game,’’ Sunkett said. “I thought we were a little lackadaisical, but considering who we had played the first two weeks of the season, you had to expect a little bit of a letdown. These are high school kids we’re talking about.

“We’re looking forward to coming out and playing the kind of game we’re capable of playing.’’

Friday’s Game: East St. Louis (3-0, 1-0 in SWC) at Granite City (2-1, 1-0), 7 p.m.

Rankings: East St. Louis is ranked first in the Associated Press Class 7A state football poll; Granite City is not ranked.

Last Week: East St. Louis defeated Alton 58-13; Granite City defeated Belleville East 63-49.

Last Meeting: East St. Louis defeated Granite City 68-0 last season

Scouting East St. Louis: East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett rested a few of his top players a week ago but the Flyers veteran coach said this week that he expects to have his full arsenal of weapons — both on offense and defense available when his takes the field against the Warriors. The Flyers got big games out of running back Kevin Brown and wide receiver Charlando Robinson in the win over Alton. Robinson caught six passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns against the Redbirds.

“We thought it was a good week to rest a few players. We were able to get a good look and evaluate some of the younger kids and for the most part those players did a pretty good job. This week we’ll have our starters back and hopefully we’ll come out and put four good quarters of football together.’’

Among those starters back will be all-American wide receiver Jeff Thomas, who Sunkett said is “100 percent” heading into week four of the regular season. Brown and junior Jarrell Anderson (385 yards, 6TDs) will team together in the backfield along with senior quarterback Reyondous Estes who has thrown for 487 yards and has five touchdown passes in the Flyers first three games.

Scouting Granite City

With Williba, who had accounted for nearly 700 yards and 11 touchdowns injured, the pressure of running the Warriors high powered offense falls to freshman Freddy Edwards. Edwards, who had rushed for 199 yards and caught four of Williba’s six touchdown passes in the first three weeks.

The Warriors, who haven’t been in the playoffs in four years, have averaged over 40 points in their first three games.

“Freddie is a talented football player. There is no doubt about that,’’ Luehmann said. “But he is still only a freshman and still has a alot to learn about the game. With Kendrick out we’re going to have some other kids step up and make plays.’’

Running back Raheem Beckwith (153 yards, 4.1) is one player who may be counted on while the Warriors defense is led by Torrey Deal (21 tackles, 18 solos) and Brandon Bettag (17 tackles, 16 solos)..