With 100 points in their last two games, the O’Fallon Panthers are rolling on offense.
But coach Brandon Joggerst is seeking improvement on the defensive side of the ball after victories over Alton (56-28) and Granite City (44-34).
That’s the mission when the Panthers (3-3 overall, 2-2 Southwestern Conference) play at Collinsville at 7 p.m. Friday. The Kahoks (1-5, 1-3) defeated host Alton 33-30 last Friday.
“We’re on the road and they’re coming off a win. They’re going to have some momentum,” Joggerst said of the Kahoks. “We have to continue to take care of ourselves. We’ve had a good week of practice and this is the most important game on the schedule.
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“Offensively, we’ve been pretty efficient. We’ve been able to mix in the run with the pass. We’ve not been as sound as we need to be defensively. We’ve got to shore up our tackling and be in the right positions, or else they’ve got kids that can definitely hurt us.”
Second-year Collinsville coach Rick Reinhart has been emphasizing one play at a time this season as the Kahoks try to build a winning culture. Friday was a step in the right direction.
“It was really big,” said Reinhart, whose team trailed 30-27 until senior Jarron Williams’ late touchdown secured the win. “The kids kept fighting back. We really, for the first time, overcame, stayed focused and played a good second half. We hadn’t done that all year. Hopefully, our kids will try to build on that this week. We’ll see how it goes.”
Friday’s game: O’Fallon at Collinsville, 7 p.m.
Last meeting: O’Fallon defeated the Kahoks 22-6 last season in O’Fallon.
Scouting the Panthers: Senior running back Mason Hewitt rushed for 248 yards against Granite City, boosting his season total to 1,065 with still three regular-season games remaining.
Junior quarterback Christian Perez is 67-for-143 (47 percent) for 1,127 yards and 11 touchdowns against just six interceptions.
“He’s run the ball really well and we’ve had stability in our offensive line, which has helped a little bit with continuity,” Joggerst said of Hewitt. “And Christian has thrown the ball very well, obviously, and that’s opened up some holes for Mason.”
Perez’s favorite targets have been junior Ronald Anthony (21 catches, 414 yards) and senior Darryl Cobb Jr. (11 catches, 189 yards).
“Offensively, they’ve got all the weapons. They’re good,” Reinhart said. “Their quarterback’s outstanding. He can throw, he can run. They’ve got two great wide receivers and they’ve got the running back. Offensively, they’re an outstanding football team. We’ll try to play a little ball control, although they’re big up front.”
Senior linebacker Zaine Roe leads the Panthers with 58 tackles.
Scouting the Kahoks: Reinhart said senior Tyler Callahan is giving the Kahoks good leadership at quarterback. Callahan is 41-for-91 (45 percent) for five touchdowns.
“He has improved so much,” Reinhart said. “He’s a super-smart guy. We’ve had some injuries and some people going in there and he’s been a good field general for us to make sure everybody runs the play and knows what they’re doing. He’s waited four years for his turn and it’s his football team.”
Seniors Trevore Sanders (12 catches, 93 yards, two touchdowns), Andrew Borror (11 catches, 176 yards, two touchdowns) and Rhett Romanik (eight catches, 169 yards, two touchdowns) are Collinsville’s leading receivers.
Senior Sean Bonham leads the Kahoks’ rushing attack with 260 yards and five touchdowns. Sanders has 206 yards and four touchdowns, while Williams has 170 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, senior linebacker LaRon Johnson has 56 tackles.
More from Joggerst: Defensively, Joggerst said the Panthers are getting in position to make plays. It’s the second part of the equation that is causing difficulties.
“We’re not finishing,” Joggerst said. “We’re not as athletic as we’ve been in the past, so we’ve got to be good tacklers and good position players in order to finish plays.”
More from Reinhart: Reinhart said using more players has kept the Kahoks fresher in games.
“We got off to a bad start,” he said. “We did not play well our first two, really, three games. Then we made a lot of changes and tried to go more two-platoon, tried to get more kids in the game. Since then, our turnovers have been cut way down, we’ve been able to run the ball and our kids have been able to swarm better on defense.”