High School Football

7A playoff preview: Belleville West at Normal Community

Belleville West head coach Cameron Pettus meets on the sideline with quarterback Logan Betz (No. 2) and defensive back Jack Lanxon (No. 8), both seniors. The Maroons will be in Normal Saturday for a first round class 7A playoff game against the Ironmen.
Belleville West head coach Cameron Pettus meets on the sideline with quarterback Logan Betz (No. 2) and defensive back Jack Lanxon (No. 8), both seniors. The Maroons will be in Normal Saturday for a first round class 7A playoff game against the Ironmen.

NO. 27 BELLEVILLE WEST AT NO. 6 NORMAL COMMUNITY

Kickoff: 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Normal

Next Week: The winner will face either No. 11 Benet Academy (7-2) or No. 22 Hoffman Estates (6-3)

BELLEVILLE WEST MAROONS (5-4)

Coach: Cameron Pettus (sixth year, 32-27)

Rank: NA

Playoff History: The Maroons are in the playoffs for the fifth season in a row and eighth time in the last nine years, all in Class 7A. They made a quarterfinal appearance under coach Bruce Arnold in 1976.

Scouting Report: After falling to 3-4 with a loss Edwardsville in week 7, West faced must wins against Granite City and Alton in the final two weeks in order to reach the postseason. They won both convincingly, thanks to ongoing improvement in the line play. Led by senior tackle Israel Griffin (6-foot- 4, 285 pounds), the Maroons actually outgained Edwardsville through the final three quarters and dominated up front the final two weeks. The Maroons are led by junior running back Kriston Davis (156 carries, 1,009 yards, nine TDs), who has five 100-yard rushing games. Paris Johnson is a duel threat, lining up at both wide receiver (14 catches, 272 yards, three TDs) or running back (57 carries, 482 yards, seven TDs). Pettus will lean on whichever one of those two has the hot hand. Senior quarterback Logan Betz (52-of-119, 864 yards, eight TD’s, two interceptions) has been effective. Safety Jack Lanxon’s 57 tackles and two interceptions leads the team. Jonathon Clover has four sacks and La’Mondre Carter has three. The Maroons have outscored their opponents an average of 26 points per game to 23.7. 

NORMAL IRONMEN (8-1)

Coach: Wes Temples (ninth year, 72-23)

Rank: tied for No. 5 in Illinois Class 7A

Playoff history: The Ironmen will be making their 21st straight playoff appearance and its 24th in 26 seasons. They were 6A state runner up in 2005, then won it all in 2006. They reached the state quarterfinals last season.

Scouting Report: Normal’s only loss this season came in week 3 against Peoria Notre Dame (6-3), 21-14. Normal’s offense averages 45.3 points per game, topped 50 points five times and 60 twice. Quarterback Grant Price can control games with his arm (93-of-159, 1,427 yards, 13 TDs, six interceptions) or his legs (100 carries, 620 yards, eight TDs). Running back Vashawn Dixon (139 carries, 1,350 yards) gives the Ironmen the balance to set up play-action. Dakota Creemens (27 catches, 452 yards) leads a deep crew of receivers that includes seven players with at least seven receptions and one touchdown. By allowing just 17 points per game, the Ironmen are as stingy on defense as they are explosive on offense. Senior linebackers Miles Simington, Ryan Rebholz and Landry Mavungu lead that unit.

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