High School Football

Edwardsville stays unbeaten, tops Belleville West

Edwardsville’s A.J. Epenesa scores a touchdown during the first half of Friday’s game against the Maroons at Belleville West. See a gallery of photographs from the game at bnd.com.
Edwardsville’s A.J. Epenesa scores a touchdown during the first half of Friday’s game against the Maroons at Belleville West. See a gallery of photographs from the game at bnd.com. News-Democrat

With elite talent missing on both sides Friday because of injury, Edwardsville and Belleville West settled into a defensive and turnover battle that played right into Edwardsville’s hands.

The Tigers got three interceptions and Kendell Davis ran the ball 25 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-6 win over Belleville West that stretched Edwardsville’s Southwestern Conference win streak to 25 games.

“They have a really good defense,” said Davis, who missed two days of practice this week with an ankle injury but was ready to roll. “They’re fast, they’re physical ... I was just reading my keys and pushing my line to keep blocking well.”

Davis had a big night when it counted for the Tigers, now 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the SWC. They were fifth in the latest Class 8A state rankings.

“We needed it,” Edwardsville coach Matt Martin said. “We were trying to run the ball inside, but they’re pretty good and they were defending us that way. It opens up the outside and Kendell did a good job, made some good reads. Any time you run it outside chances are your wide receivers are blocking pretty good.”

INJURIES HUGE ON BOTH SIDES

Edwardsville played without starting quarterback Riley Jones (knee injury) and its top two leading rushers (Jackson Morrissey and Jones) while the Tigers lost left tackle Tyler Schmitt to an injury earlier in the week. Junior Brenden Dickmann made his first varsity start at quarterback and threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to junior A.J. Epenesa.

“I’m not complaining about it because I think Belleville West has been dealing with the same thing,” Martin said. “Sometimes you just get bit by the injury bug. It’s frustrating.”

Belleville West (3-4, 3-2 ) has been crushed by backfield injuries all season. The Maroons also played without starting safety Jack Lanxon (back injury) and star receiver TeAntez Anthony sat out the second half with an undisclosed injury.

“I was proud of the kids,” Martin said. “We had guys at different positions, we had some new starters and Brenden Dickmann did a heck of a job. The thing I was impressed with he managed the offense, didn’t turn the ball over, he executed...I just thought he did a good job.”

West coach Cameron Pettus said “We’ve got about 50 out ourselves. They just played better than us. We’ve got to make plays against good teams if we’re going to beat good teams. We’ve got to.”

KEY MOMENT

Following a massive 54-yard field goal by Edwardsville junior Riley Patterson midway through the second quarter that made it 10-0, the Maroons answered quickly on a 43-yard TD run by senior Nick Foster.

Foster picked his way through the defense after the Tigers were caught on a blitz, using a spin move to beat the final defender at the goal line.

West missed the extra point, but with its aggressive defense playing well was within striking distance. It was, right up until Dickmann completed a pair of long passes that set up his 19-yard strike to Epenesa just before the half ended.

TOP PERFORMERS

Facing a tough defense in his first start, Dickmann was 7-for-17 for 97 yards and a TD. Foster had 57 yards on seven carries for West and Sherond Boyd had 56 yards on 15 carries.

West’s Jarell Anderson caught five passes for 73 yards.

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