The Belleville East Lancers head into week seven of the high school football season with one win, no chance of making the IHSA playoffs and facing the task of taking on the top-ranked Class 7A team in the state in the undefeated East St. Louis Flyers on Saturday.
And you think you have troubles.
The frontrunner in the race for the Southwestern Conference championship after a 20-10 win at Edwardsville a week ago, East St. Louis (6-0) will take on a Lancers squad which struggled out of the gate against a pair of tough non-conference foes and because of injuries and inexperience, has never been able to get on track.
And on Saturday, coach Kris Stephens team takes on one of the premier high school teams in the state.
“They are big and strong on defense, their skilled position players on offense are among the best in the nation and they have a number of (NCAA) Division I recruits. They don’t have a kicker this year but they’ve been able to overcome that pretty quickly,’’ Stephens said.
“It’s been a tough year. We were young to start the season and then with the injuries, it’s really been one thing after another. A lot of the injuries have been to seniors which has an effect on your leadership, But we’re still coaching the kids hard and just trying to get better each week.’’
East St. Louis, which used a stellar defensive effort and the athleticism of senior quarterback Reyondous Estes to help get past Edwardsville 20-10 last week, is hitting on all cylinders heading into the home stretch of the ‘16 regular season.
The Flyers, who have outscored their four SWC opponents 174-23, have league games with East, Collinsville and O’Fallon remaining. Those three teams have won a combined five games this season.
East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said his team is right on target of where is should be at this point of the season
“I thought we did a pretty good job on both sides of the football last week against Edwardsville. Our defense was outstanding. Overall, I’m pleased at where we are and the way we’re playing at this stage of the season.’’ Sunkett said. “We just want to stay healthy and continue to improve each week these three games of the regular season and get ready for the playoffs,’’
Saturday’s game: East St. Louis at Belleville East, 1 p.m.
Last meeting: Belleville East defeated East St. Louis 2-0 last year by forfeit do to the East St. Louis Teachers Strike. East St. Louis defeated Belleville East 55-21 in 2014.
Scouting East St. Louis
The Flyers are loaded with playmakers on both sides of the football. Quarterback Reyondous Estes has thrown for over 1,000 yards and has 10 touchdown passes. But as Estes, as he was last week against Edwardsville, can also make plays running the football/ Running backs Jarrell and Kevin Brown have accounted for nearly 900 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground. while All-American wide receiver Jeff Thomas has caught 21 passes for 470 yards and five touchdowns while Charlando Robinson has added 20 receptions for 380 yards and four scores.
The Flyers hard-hitting defense is led by LaMontre Harvey (47 tackles, 7 sacks), James Knight (61 tackles) Terrez Lagrone (41 tackles, 3 sacks) and Tahler Cook (42 tackles, 2 sacks)
Scouting Belleville East
Outscored 91-13 in its last two games after beating Alton in the fourth week of the season, the Lancers offense is led by quarterback Kienen Waller. Waller completed 13 of 20 attempts for 125 yards in the Lancers 42-0 loss last week against Belleville West. Running back Roderick Morgan (248 yards) has averaged nearly six yards per attempt and scored two touchdowns. The Lancers aggressive defense is led by three top linebackers in EJ Aldridge (47 tackles, 1 sack); Dondi Fuller (48 tackles, 4 sacks) and LB:Nolan Wellinghoff (34 tackles).