The Granite City Warriors face a difficult struggle as they shoot for their first appearance in the playoffs since 2011. But sixth-year coach Carl Luehmann isn’t discounting it as a possibility.
“We look at our schedule and say, ‘OK, here’s what we need to do to make the playoffs. Here are the games we can (win), and here are the games we’re going to try to compete in,’” said Luehmann, whose club was 1-8 overall and 0-7 in the Southwestern Conference last year.
The road to improvement must start on defense for the Warriors, who permitted a league-high 329 points in 2014. Offensively, only Collinsville (88 points) scored less than Granite City (99).
Senior quarterback Gabe Jarman returns for his third year as a starter. Jarman will throw often, since the Warriors have no established running backs, but two talented receivers to pass to in seniors Darion Flemons and Ron Allen. Flemons had 33 receptions for 544 yards and four touchdowns last year.
Jarman passed for 915 yards and nine TDs last season, although he was intercepted 18 times.
Luehmann hopes that better play on the offensive line, where senior Caleb Venne and junior TaMajia Johnson return, will take some of the pressure off Jarman.
Luehmann said one junior and three sophomores are vying for time at running back.
Allen and Flemons at defensive back, Venne on the defensive line and junior Kyle Thompson at linebacker are the leaders. Thompson led the Warriors in tackles with 95 while also recording one sack, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
The rest of the Warriors’ defense was still a question mark heading into the season opener. But Luehmann insists the unit will be stronger.
— David Wilhelm
at Riverview Gardens
at East St. Louis
at Belleville West
East St. Louis
at Belleville East