The quick-strike capability of the Normal Ironmen caught up to the Belleville East Lancers last Friday. Now the Belleville West Maroons get their opportunity to try to slow down a prolific attack led by junior quarterback Grant Price.
Price put up fantasy football numbers last week in a 63-31 win over Belleville East, throwing for 256 yards and two touchdowns and running for 196 yards and another TD.
“They’re loaded,” Belleville West coach Cameron Pettus said of a Normal squad seeking its third straight Big 12 Conference title. “They’ve got a lot of weapons, they’ve got kids all over the place that are doing a great job. We like the challenge, but we know it’s going to be a tough one.”
Friday’s game: Belleville West (0-1) at Normal (1-0), 7 p.m.
Rankings: Belleville West is third in the BND Large-School Rankings and 13th in the Class 7A state rankings; Normal is sixth in the 7A state rankings.
Last meeting: Belleville West hung a 52-24 defeat on Normal a year ago in Belleville.
Price is far from the only thing the West defense has to worry about. There’s also receiver Steven Towns, who caught five passes for a whopping 214 yards and two TDs against East, with one of them going 81 yards and the other 59 yards. Running back Alec Bozarth contributed 83 yards and three first-half TDs.
“They are very talented and very scary,” said Pettus, who was able to collaborate with former West assistant and new East head coach Kris Stephens on scouting reports this week since the two teams are playing Normal and Normal West back-to-back for the second straight season. “It looks like a totally different team than the one we saw last year.”
Defensively, safety Jared Pratt is a big hitter and a playmaker for the Ironmen, who also boast an active noseguard in 6-2, 290-pound senior Division I prospect Garrett Hirsch.
Scouting Belleville West
Belleville West is banged up at running back with expected starter Paris Johnson out with a lower-body injury and senior running back-linebacker Nick Foster dealing with a back bruise. Sophomore Sherond Boyd is also hurt, which leaves sophomores Kristopher Davis and Turon Johnson likely to see the bulk of the carries.
“Those young guys have stepped in and had a great week of practice,” Pettus said. “It’s no different than the NFL or college football, when someone gets hurt it’s the next man up.”
Davis had 98 yards on 21 carries against Normal West last week and Johnson had 78 yards on 10 carries.
Quarterback Logan Betz completed 14-of-25 passes in his debut as starter, throwing for 245 yards and a touchdown. His top targets were TeAntez Anthony (five catches, 79 yards) and Jarell Anderson (five catches, 85 yards).
Jordan Wynn and Demarlo Nesbitt topped the Maroons’ defense with 14 tackles each while Ken Dixon added 12 tackles.
Pettus played college football at Millikin University in Decatur, where his coach was Gerald Temples. Temples’ son, Wes Temples, is the head coach of the Normal Ironmen.