High School Football

Belleville city football rivalry pits improving East against resurgent West

Belleville East first-year coach Michael Harrison likes what he sees from the Lancers, despite their record.

The Lancers have shown drastic improvement during the past four weeks after a season opening 50-6 loss to Chaminade and have come within a score of upsetting O’Fallon and Edwardsville in their last two outings.

At some point, East will crest that hump. Harrison is hoping this is the week.

“Our goal coming into the season wasn’t to win ‘x’ amount of games. Our goal was to get better each and every day and, for the most part, our guys have done a good job of doing just that,’’ Harrison said. “We left some things out on the field last week against Edwardsville. But you know what? We’re getting better.

“I think a lot of comes from our kids doing the right things off the field. If we continue to do those things Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday at practice, I’m confident thee wins will take care of themselves.’’

For the sixth straight week, the Lancers will be out to give Harrison his first victory when they travel across town to take on Belleville West. The intercity rivalry kicks off Saturday at noon.

West (2-3) may be coming off its own best performance of the season when it defeated O’Fallon, 40-19.

The city rivalry game will also be the first for Maroons coach Bryan Edgar who took over as West coach after several years as an assistant.

“West versus East — rivalry game, city game — we’re exited about facing them,’’ Edgar said. “I know coach Harrison will have his team ready and I know our kids will be too. It’s a big game. I know there is nothing they would like better than to come over and beat us on our homecoming.”

Edwardsville looks to break Flyers streak

Ranked 10th in the Class 8A state football football poll this week, the Edwardsville Tigers look to extend their winning streak to four and forge into a tie for the lead in the Southwestern Conference Friday when they travel to East St. Louis to take on the undefeated Flyers.

Edwardsville (4-1, 2-0) was pushed to the limit a week ago in a 22-16 victory over Belleville East. The Tigers feature one of the top junior running backs in the state in Justin Johnson (702 yards, 7 TD’s) and have rebounded well following a week two loss to St. Louis power Christian Brothers College Prep (CBC).

East St. Louis, ranked first in the Class 5A state poll, has been unstoppable in racing out to a 5-0 start. The Flyers extended their SWC winning streak to 22 last week with a 54-7 win at Alton behind five touchdown passes and395 passing yards from junior quarterback Tyler Macon.

Columbia faces tough stretch

After running out to five straight wins in which they have outscored their opponents 211-20, the Columbia Eagles face their two toughest challenges of the regular season the next two weeks.

Ranked sixth in the Class 4A state poll, Columbia will travel to Freeburg on Friday to battle the Midgets (3-2) before returning home Oct. 11 to host Central (2-3) in games which should go a long way towards determining the Cahokia Conference champion.

Senior quarterback Nic Horner has completed nearly 68% of his passes for 778 yards and nine touchdowns while senior running back Donavan Bieber has rushed for nearly 350 yards and six scores.

Freeburg, which defeated Red Bud 21-3 a week ago, will be looking for revenge against the Eagles. Columbia defeated Freeburg twice a year ago, including a 33-14 season-ending setback in the Class 4A playoffs.

Triad looks to move closer to MVC title

After missing the IHSA postseason party a year ago, the Triad Knights look to remain in the drivers seat toward the Mississippi Valley Conference championship Friday when they travel to Mascoutah to battle the Indians (3-2).

The Knights (5-0, 2-0) have used a solid running game and stingy defense the past two weeks in wins over Waterloo and Jerseyville, but face a tough schedule the remaining four weeks of the regular season. After Friday, Triad closes its season with MVC battles with home games against Highland and Civic Memorial.

The Knights will then travel to take on undefeated Mount Zion (5-0) in their regular season finale on Oct. 25.

Postseason look

The four remaining undefeated football teams in the metro east — East St. Louis, Nashville, Columbia and Triad — became playoff eligible last week with their fifth wins of the season and need one more victory to clinch a berth in the IHSA postseason.

Edwardsville, Civic Memorial and Mater Dei all 4-1, need to at least split their remaining four games, to earn the six wins needed to clinch automatic bids.

The Illinois High School Association will announced the playoff field in all eight classes and first round games on Saturday Oct. 26.

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