High School Football

Unstoppable East St.Louis clinches SWC title with win over Belleville East

The East St. Louis Flyers accomplished their first goal of the season Saturday without breaking a sweat.

Senior running back DaMonta Witherspoon and junior quarterback Tyler Macon scored on touchdown runs in the opening two minutes and the Flyers never looked back as they clinched the Southwestern Conference championship with a 68-3 win over Belleville East.

Ranked first in he Class 5A state poll, the Flyers (8-0) showed no mercy in the first half against a Belleville East team which had won its last two games.

Starting its first two drives inside the Lancers 15-yard line, East St. Louis got a 4-yard scoring run from Witherspoon and a 12-yard run from Macon to take a 12-0 lead. Less than 30 seconds later, senior free safety Jamarriante Burgess scooped up a fumble and sprinted 14 yards for a touchdown.

Burgess’ score, which came with 9:43 remaining in the first quarter, put the Flyers up 20-0. It was only the beginning, as East St. Louis, scoring on four of its first nine offensive plays led the Lancers (2-6) 46-0 after one quarter.

“We came out and played well on offense. We made some plays early and then it kind of rolled up from there,’’ said Flyers wide receiver Lawaun Powell. “I was happy on how we played. It was a good team effort.’’

Macon, who finished 9of 12 for 193 yards and three touchdowns despite playing just two quarters, hooked upon scoring pass of 69 and 8 yards to Texas A & M recruit Antonio Johnson and 47 yards to Powell, all in the first quarter.

Witherspoon, who started his high school career at Belleville East before transferring to East St. Louis, added an 8-yard scoring run in the second quarter, before Alex Maxim booted a 27-yard field goal late in the second quarter to get Belleville East on the scoreboard.

East St. Louis led 54-3 at halftime and was well on its way toward running its conference winning streak to 25 straight games.

“It was a good game for us,’’ Witherspoon said. “We moved the football well and the defense came up with some big plays. It’s great to win the conference championship. We want to win the state title of course, but each year our first goal is to win the conference.

“We did that today.’’

While East St. Louis can perhaps start looking ahead to the post season which begins in two weeks, Belleville East was never in the game on Saturday.

From missed assignments, to committing five turnovers, to being unable to stop the Flyers offense, the Lancers were overwhelmed from the outset on Saturday afternoon in their final home game of the season.

“Take nothing away from East St. Louis. Obviously they are a very good football team and they showed that again today, but we just were not ready to play today,’’ Lancers coach Michael Harrison said. “You aren’t going to beat anybody when you don’t execute and you don’t beat an East St. Louis team when you turn the football over like we did. Our goal everyday is go get a little bit bit better. We didn’t do that today.

“We hope East St. Louis goes on to win the state title because if it happens, it means we lost to the state champions. We just have to be concerned with ourselves. We need to learn from or mistakes and come out and be a better football team the next time we take the field.’’

Dean Criddle has worked at the Belleville News-Democrat for 32 years as a sports writer. Dean graduated from SIUE with a double major in journalism and English, is married and lives in Belleville.