Belleville West football prepares for tough Southwestern Conference
Bryan Edgar played high school football and graduated from Belleville East, but for the last eight years he has been a true Belleville West Maroon.
A member of head coach Cameron Pettus’ staff, Edgar played a key role as the Maroons went from also-rans in the Southwestern Conference to a perennial playoff team which, heading into the 2019 season, has qualified for the IHSA postseason seven years in a row.
Chosen to take over the Maroons program last winter when Pettus resigned to become head coach at East Jackson High School in his home state of Georgia, Edgar’s simple aim is to keep a good thing going.
“Being a head coach for the first time, there are more administrative things I have to take care of,” Edgar said. “But as I said before, I have a great staff which has stepped up to help me in any way they can. We have a great thing on here right now.’’
With a veteran coaching staff intact and 10 starters returning from a squad which finished 7-3 and qualified for the Class 7A playoffs, the Edgar era officially kicks off Saturday when the Maroons open the season at Riverview Gardens, Missouri. beginning at 1 p.m.
On offense, the Maroons lost speedy wide receiver Dominic Lovett (45 receptions, 24 touchdowns, 1,025 yards), who transferred to East St. Louis and Will Lanxon (45 catches, 643 yards, 6 TDs), who graduated. But Edgar brings back quarterback Jack McCloskey for his third and final year of leading the West offense.
McCloskey threw for more than 2,100 yards, completing 140-of-255 passes. He had 35 touchdown passes, 30 of which went to either Lovett and Lanxon..
With the loss of Lovett and not much experience returning at running back, McCloskey will be counted on to carry a larger part of the offensive load.
“Being a senior and a three-year starter you kind of expect that anyway. But we’re going to put a little more on Jackson’s shoulders this season,’’ Edgar said. “He has had a great summer and is a real leader on this football team. Jackson takes coaching very well and he’s very self-motivated. He’s always pushing himself to get better.’’
Teaming with McCloskey in the backfield will be Jordan Bruce (225 yards, 2TDs), Tre Johnson and Javeion Wallace.
“It will be a backfield by committee,’’ Edgar said. “We will be young back there but the good thing about our running backs is that they all have different things they do well.’’
Senior Joey Kossina (16 catches, 128 yards) is the top wide receiver returning. Chase Blanquert (5 receptions, 76 yards, TD), Jadin Brazil, Bruce and Wallace also will be targets for McCloskey.
Senior Alvin Gulley returns at left tackle and will anchor the Maroons offensive line along with Marcus Gates.
On the defensive side of the football, senior Ka’Lon Carraway should be among the top defensive linemen in the SWC while sophomore Chris Johnson has also impressed during preseason workouts.
“I like what I see from this football team,’’ Edgar said. “As a coach, you’re always looking for more from your buys. You are never really content. We have a saying around here that we want to get 1 percent better everyday. Today, we had a great practice. Tomorrow, we want to come out and build on that.”
The Maroons also have a weapon in junior punter/kicker Logan Seibert, younger brother of Cleveland Browns kicker Austin Seibert.