Pair of heavyweights to battle in East St. Louis Providence has won nine state championships BY NORM SANDERS News-Democrat
Two tradition-rich football programs with a combined 15 state championships will tangle tonight at Clyde C. Jordan Stadium in East St. Louis.
New Lenox Providence Catholic (7-4), which has nine state titles, will take on six-time champion East St. Louis (11-0) in a Class 7A quarterfinal at 7 p.m.
Flyers coach Darren Sunkett knows the high expectations that come with coaching in a city whose football and track and field teams are almost always among the best in the state.
"Without a doubt," he said. "This is the city of champions. They want nothing less than that big trophy, and that's what we plan on delivering to them."
The big names of the past --linebackers Bryan Cox and Dana Howard, Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow, running backs Chris Moore and Kerwin Price, receiver Homer Bush and so many others -- are still revered in East St. Louis.
"They don't forget -- and those guys aren't supposed to be forgotten," Sunkett said. "They laid the track for what we're doing today. This football pipeline has been going strong since the '50s and '60s. All we're trying to do is uphold the tradition of East St. Louis."
While that tradition is strong, the Celtics take a back seat to no one. This is their 16th straight playoff appearance, and they own 65 postseason victories.
Their nine state championships are surpassed only by Joliet Catholic (12) and conference rival Chicago Mount Carmel (10).
"We don't always have the greatest D-I type prospects, they're just kids that work hard in the system here," said coach Mark Coglianese, who replaced longtime Celtics coach Matt Senffner this season.
When the Celtics opened 1-4, Coglianese urged the team to view every game the rest of the way as a playoff game.
"That tradition was a big part of it," he said. "Our guys didn't want to be the team that didn't make the playoffs."
The Celtics have won six straight and are in the quarterfinals despite finishing sixth in the powerful seven-team Chicago Catholic Blue Conference.
League rivals Mount Carmel and St. Rita also are still alive.
Providence Catholic posted dominant playoff victories over Addison Trail (41-19) and Lisle Benet Academy (48-38), rolling up five touchdowns and more than 400 yards of offense in the first half against Benet.
Senior quarterback Brian Stroud (6-4, 220) has thrown for 1,929 yards and 17 touchdowns.
"He's gotten a lot of football interest, but he's more of a baseball guy," Coglianese said. "He's one of the best pitchers in our area and he could be drafted this year."
Sunkett was impressed with Stroud on tape.
"He's a big-time player; we definitely have to put a lot of pressure on him," Sunkett said.
Stroud's favorite target is senior receiver Mike Maher (5-10, 175), who has 57 catches for 1,049 yards and 11 TDs. He also is a force at defensive back and kick returner.
"He's definitely our No. 1 threat to score," Coglianese said. "If he gets the ball in his hands, he can break one at any time."
Brandon Phillips (953 yards, 11 TDs) and Drew Abernathy (486 yards, three TDs) are Providence's leading rushers.
The Celtics are concerned with East St. Louis' size advantage.
"They're huge," Coglianese said. "They're offensive and defensive lines have no one under 270 it seems, so right there we're at a big disadvantage."
Sunkett said not to read much into it.
"They're small guys, but they're quick off the ball and they're fighters," he said. "You've got to be fighters in that conference they come from."
Celtics linebackers Mike Barry (5-10, 175) and Neal Dahlman (6-1, 215) each have more than 100 tackles.
Both teams have high-powered offenses with quick-strike capabilities.
"Turnovers and mistakes are always a key when you get into an important game like this," Coglianese said. "If we can limit their big plays and make them drive the ball, that should help."
Sunkett said the Flyers realize the tough task ahead.
"You've got to look at their team and the quality of the opponents they played," Sunkett said. "Their record could easily be 11-0 like ours, so we know we've got our hands full. We've got to come ready to play."
Providence stuns Flyers 'Things just didn't go our way tonight' BY NORM SANDERS News-Democrat
With tears nearly freezing on their cheeks because of the frigid temperature Friday, the East St. Louis Flyers tasted defeat for the first time this year. EAST ST. LOUIS -
Their season ended at 11-1 with a 35-13 Class 7A quarterfinal playoff loss to Providence Catholic as Brandon Phillips did the bulk of the damage with four touchdowns and 200 yards rushing.
He scored on runs of 30 yards, 63 yards, 51 yards and 16 yards, the final three coming in the second half.
"This was a great senior class," Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said. "They set a great example for the young kids coming behind them. They left it all on the field tonight."
The game didn't start until 8 p.m. following a one-hour delay because of lightning that at one point knocked out the stadium lights.
Providence Catholic (8-4) --which finished fifth in the seven-team Chicago Catholic Blue Conference -- turned out the lights on the Flyers by winning its eighth straight game after a slow start.
With the Flyers trailing 14-13 at the half, Phillips and the Celtics quickly put the game out of reach after the break.
He scored on a 63-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter. Following an interception by Celtics linebacker Neal Dahlman, Phillips tacked on a 51-yard TD scamper with 3:52 remaining to make it 28-13.
The Flyers kept battling on a soggy field, but never could solve the Celtics' effective running game.
"They just executed well, they had a great game plan," Sunkett said. "That back was a lot better in person than he looked on film. He did a great job of running the ball, and his guys upfront did a good job blocking for him."
Phillips has 1,153 yards and 15 TDs this season.
"Like we said from the onset, they're a quality football team," Sunkett said. "They pretty much kept us off balance all night."
The Flyers couldn't follow up on a strong first half that left them only one point behind.
Senior Nick King, who had 1,596 yards and 21 TDs before Friday, was held to 45 yards on 15 carries.
Senior quarterback Derrick Johnson completed 6-of-8 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but struggled after that. He was 8-for-19 overall for 172 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Celtics quarterback Brian Stroud was 8-of-16 for 112 yards and one TD.
A 35-yard pass to Mike Maher helped set up a 30-yard touchdown run by Phillips with 1:39 left in the first quarter as the Celtics took a 7-0 lead.
The Flyers responded with an 81-yard drive that included a 39-yard screen pass to fullback Nicholas Beaver. On fourth-and-goal at the 1, Flyers receiver Jerrell McDaniel took a handoff and flew high over the line for the touchdown. Jamil Reed's extra-point tied it.
Providence Catholic answered with a 72-yard scoring drive capped by Stroud's 4-yard TD pass to Maher with 2:51 remaining in the half.
Trailing 14-7, the Flyers struck again on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to sophomore Terry Hawthorne off a double fake. But Reed's extra-point was blocked, leaving the Flyers behind 14-13.
The third quarter included two long TD runs by Phillips and two turnovers by the Flyers.
Sunkett was proud of his team's late goal-line stand.
"I was very impressed with the way they held up on that last drive, they could have easily folded and let these guys put another six points up," he said. "Those guys buckled down and handled their business.
"Things just didn't go our way tonight."
ginny goss johnson
T -- THX for the great consolidated ESL FLYERS football updates -- I should start going to their games instead of wasting time with the RAMS! I still have my letter-sweater.
Maybe we could trade quarterbacks?!
East St. Louis glides into semifinals Only Decatur Eisenhower in Flyers' way BY DAVID WILHELM News-Democrat
East St. Louis proved Friday it's anything but a one-man show. COLLINSVILLE -
The No. 3-seeded Flyers marched into the semifinals of the 23rd annual Collinsville-Schnucks Holiday Classic with a solid performance that produced a 68-51 victory over Springfield Southeast in the quarterfinals.
One day after senior Anthony Mitchell erupted for 21 points and a tournament record-tying 20 rebounds, East St. Louis (11-2) was powered by the play of junior Darian Sain (18 points) and senior mainstay Anthony Watson (17 points).
"It could be anybody's night," Watson said of the scoring balance that he believes separates the Flyers from their super-sectional team of last season. "We have more enthusiasm and we stay intense all the time.
"We feel like we're on a pace (to win the tournament). We're confident. The only thing we have to do is cut down on our mistakes."
It was the 10th consecutive victory for East Side, which will play second-seeded Decatur Eisenhower (8-4) at 1 p.m. today. The Flyers are seeking their first title in seven years.
Mitchell (10 points, eight rebounds), sophomore Kerry White (10 points) and junior Christopher Little (nine rebounds) also made key contributions for East St. Louis. The Flyers shot 50 percent (25-for-50) and dropped the Spartans to 9-2.
"I've been saying all along that we've got four or five guys who can put the ball in the hole," Flyers coach Dennis Brooks said.
All, however, was not rosy for Brooks, whose expectations are soaring with each victory. He rolled his eyes before discussing East Side's latest conquest.
"We got in foul trouble because we were reaching too much," Brooks said. "We need to slide (our feet) a little more and cut down on the reaching. But it's a good win against a good basketball team."
Confidence pays off for Flyers in Collinsville tourney win Junior's 3-pointer clinches championship BY DAVID WILHELM News-Democrat
East St. Louis junior Darian Sain isn't lacking confidence. COLLINSVILLE -
It was that belief in himself that enabled Sain to take --and make --an NBA-range 3-pointer with 18 seconds to play Saturday, giving the Flyers the lead in their 43-40 victory over Lincoln in the title game of the Collinsville-Schnucks Holiday Classic.
"It came down to the last shot. I guess I had to take it. I had to step up," said the 5-foot-9 Sain, who scored 17 points and was named the Most Valuable Player in the tournament.
"It was a big-time shot by a big-time player. It was perfect. I was wide-open. I had confidence and time to set up."
It was the 12th consecutive victory for the third-seeded Flyers (13-2), who also defeated the top-seeded Railsplitters 68-66 on Nov. 28 in Lincoln. East St. Louis won the tournament for the first time since 1999, when Darius Miles was a senior.
"This is huge," East Side coach Dennis Brooks said. "We knew the top bracket was full of land mines. We were able to get through them and a few bullets here and there. I've got a lot of confidence in these guys. They can flat-out play."
Lincoln (11-2) saw its 11-game winning streak end. The Railsplitters were led by senior Brandon Farmer's 20 points.
With the Flyers trailing 40-38 in the waning moments, senior Anthony Mitchell stripped senior Matt Schick of the ball on the baseline before Schick attempted a shot.
Mitchell fed Sain racing down the right side, and Sain calmly sank the winning shot. Brooks said he wasn't as confident as Sain that the shot was good.
"I was concerned," he said. "I thought we might get a better look. At first, it was, 'No, no, no.' Then it was, 'Yes, yes, yes.'"
After a Lincoln turnover, Sain was fouled and made two free throws with 6.5 seconds left to make it 43-40. Farmer's 3-pointer caromed off the front iron as time expired.
Mitchell had nine points and 13 rebounds for the Flyers. Schick added 11 points for the Railsplitters, who led the entire game until Sain's shot. Lincoln was outrebounded 38-17.
Joining Sain on the all-tournament team were Farmer and Schick of Lincoln, Mitchell of East St. Louis, Stefan Carson of Decatur MacArthur, Cornelius Chatt of Madison, Lewis Jackson and Jeremy Robinson of Decatur Eisenhower, Jared Summers of Quincy and Lawrence Thomas of Springfield Southeast.
The Flyers advanced to the title game by ralling for a 75-67 victory over second-seeded Decatur Eisenhower in the afternoon semifinals. They won despite trailing 21-12 late in the first quarter and with the Panthers already in the bonus.
East St. Louis settled down, however, behind Mitchell's 22 points and 14 rebounds. Sain had 23 points and five 3-pointers in just 20 minutes, while senior Anthony Watson had 16 points and five steals.
Brooks said the biggest key might have been switching from a man-to-man defense to a 1-3-1 zone.
"We came out and played man-to-man, but we wanted to play some zone, too," he said. "We wanted to see if Jackson could hit some outside shots."
Jackson, the Panthers' 5-foot-10 junior point guard who is being recruited by dozens of Division I programs, was 1-for-9 from the field and finished with a tournament-low five points. The zone also reduced Jackson's ability to penetrate.
"Our kids are very confident right now," Brooks said. "I'm proud of the way they're playing. Eisenhower is a tough team."
The 14-2 Flyers host O'Fallon this Friday. Not only can the Flyers avenge one of their losses, but they can gain a leg up on the conference championship. The Flyers have no losses in conference play, while O'Fallon and Edwardville each have one loss. Edwardsville lost a one point thriller to the Flyers.
East Side overpowers O'Fallon Flyers remain unbeaten in conference play BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat
Hitting on all cylinders from the outset, the East St. Louis Flyers got 23 points each from Anthony Mitchell and Anthony Watson and easily handled the O'Fallon Panthers 70-53 Friday.
The Flyers remain undefeated in Southwestern Conference play.
With Mitchell and Watson combining for 19 points, East St. Louis took a 30-22 lead at half-time before using a 13-0 scoring spurt in the third quarter to blow the game open and coast to a 15th consecutive win.
"Offensively, defensively, rebounding, we just executed extremely well tonight. It's hard to find anything we didn't do well," Flyers coach Dennis Brooks said. "I thought we came out and jumped on them quick in the first quarter, then we had that great spurt early in the second half.
"We're just played very, very well tonight. The kids were very focused from the outset."
The win lifts the Flyers to 16-2 overall and 6-0 in the SWC. O'Fallon, which has now lost three games in a row -- to Alton, Edwardsville and East St. Louis -- falls to 5-3 in league play and 13-4 for the season.
Getting four early points from Brad Copelin and a basket from Jared Wolfolk, O'Fallon trailed just 9-7 late in the first quarter. But a 15-foot jumper from Watson and two strong inside moves from Mitchell gave the Flyers a six-point lead after one quarter.
With just three points from Kenny Leverette and with sharpshooting Mike Malat connecting on just 1-of-9 from the floor, the Panthers offense was stagnate.
"We started out (the season) playing so well. I don't know what kind of effect that's had on us," a dejected Panthers coach Rick Gibson said. "It seems like we've lost our focus and our confidence is low right now. We need a win."
Copelin started the second half with a free throw as O'Fallon cut the Flyers' lead to seven points, but then Watson and Mitchell took over the game.
With Watson scoring from the perimeter and Mitchell, a 6-3 forward, scoring at will inside, the Flyers went on the 13-0 run and scored 17 of the next 19 points to put the game away.
"They're pretty tough to stop when they get going like they did tonight," Brooks said of Mitchell and Watson. "Honestly, I thought our quickness and the pressure we put on them in the third quarter helped us open the game up."
Mitchell, who added 13 rebounds to go along with his 23 points, combined with the super-quick Watson to score 19 of the Flyers 26 third quarter points.
East St. Louis led 56-29 after three quarters. O'Fallon, which was led by Malat's 15 points, cut the Flyers' lead to 14 points in the final quarter but could get no closer.
MLK shootout relocates this year East St. Louis High will host tourney BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat
The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Shootout will have a new home, but with a familiar flavor today at East St. Louis High School.
East St. Louis and Vashon will renew an old rivalry in the finale of the annual event, which honors the life of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
An estimated crowd of 3,500 is expected for the event, which features many of the top players and teams in the St. Louis area.
Formerly held at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, the event was moved to East St. Louis High School with the help of many people, including East St. Louis Athletic Director Leonard Manley and St. Louis Gateway Classic Sports Foundation Executive Director Earl Wilson Jr.
"It's a great opportunity to celebrate and honor the life of Dr. King, who did so much for the betterment of minorities," Manley said. "When I talked to Mr. Wilson, I indicated a desire to have it at East St. Louis and he went along with it.
"We're hoping to have a great turnout from St. Louis and the metro-east communities. It should be a tremendous event."
The day of basketball begins at 1:30 p.m., when Cardinal Ritter takes on University City, followed by the McCluer North-Gateway Tech battle at 4 p.m.
In the lone girls game of the day, Hazelwood East will play Metro (Mo.) at 4:30 p.m., followed by the East St. Louis-Vashon showdown at 6 p.m.
Tickets are available at the door for $10. In addition to the basketball games, several other activities are planned during halftimes and between games.
But the highlight game of the day will be Vashon taking on Class AA state-ranked East St. Louis. Riding a 15-game winning streak, the Flyers were ranked No. 6 in last week's AP poll.
East St. Louis coach Dennis Brooks said it's an honor to play in the event against a premier program like Vashon.
"First of all, it's a great opportunity for us to be able to play in such an event such as this," Brooks said. "We are honored to have been chosen.
"Vashon is Vashon. We will have to play well."
The Flyers have played well all year. After winning the Collinsville Holiday Tournament, the Flyers have kept it going in Southwestern Conference play, beating O'Fallon on Friday.
"Our players have done what we've asked of them all season and right now we're playing very well," Brooks said. "I know Vashon will be ready to play. They're big and quick, as usual."
Coached by former St. Louis University player Anthony Bonner, the Wolverines enter the game with an 11-3 record.
East St. Louis draws cheers in win over Vashon Flyers leave Wolverines 10 points behind BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat
Junior guard Darian Sain scored a career-high 26 points while three Flyers teammates added 12 points apiece as East St. Louis posted an 80-70 win over Vashon at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Shootout on Monday. EAST ST. LOUIS -
With high-scoring Anthony Mitchell having a rare off-night, Sain picked up the slack.
The lightning-quick 5-foot-9 sharpshooter hit three 3-pointers then helped clinch the Flyers' 16th straight win by making five of six free throws in the final quarter, as East St. Louis thrilled a crowd of over 3,800 fans with the win over the powerful Wolverines.
"He can really shoot the basketball," Flyers coach Dennis Brooks said of Sain. "That's been one of our keys this season is that when one of the kids has an off-night, we've had somebody else come up and pick up the slack.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now."
Mitchell, who added 14 rebounds, along with Anthony Watson and Brandon Harold added 12 points each for East St. Louis (17-2) to offset a combined 51 points from the Wolverines' Leon Powell and Cornelius Parker.
Powell, an athletic 6-8 senior, led all scorers with 28 points. But in the end, the Wolverines (11-6) couldn't handle with the Flyers' quickness.
"I don't think it was that so much but rather that we just didn't play very smart basketball," Vashon coach Anthony Bonner said. "Plus I thought they (East St. Louis) really hurt us on the offensive boards.
"We gave them too many second and third looks at the basket."
The finale of the four-game shootout and marquee matchup of the day, the Flyers-Wolverines showcase didn't take long in living up to its billing.
Powell, an athletic center, scored seven first-quarter points, but the Flyers, getting a combined 10 points from Darian and Durand Sain, led 16-15 after one quarter.
The Wolverines took a brief 22-21 lead on a 3 by Lamondrae Cannon early in the second quarter. East St. Louis, getting a lift off the bench from the 6-6 Harold, then went on a 10-1 run to take a 31-23 lead late in the second period.
"He (Harold) came in and gave us a shot in the arm," Brooks said. "But I thought our quickness hurt them a bit in the second quarter.
"It's not that we got a lot of turnovers from it, but I think we were able to pick up the pace enough and make them (Vashon) do some things that maybe they didn't want to do."
Powell scored eight points late in the period as Vashon cut the Flyers lead to 35-33 at halftime.
Harold then hit three straight jumpers early in the third quarter and Watson scored off a steal and layup and then hit 12-footer as the Flyers' lead grew to 54-46 heading into the fourth period.
Vashon got within six points early in the fourth quarter, but five straight points from Darian Sain and eight points from Mitchell helped the Flyers pull away.
West surprises ESL in last seconds of OT Maroons fans storm court to celebrate BY NORM SANDERS News-Democrat Belleville West had six wins before Friday, while East St. Louis was 20-3 and ranked ninth in the state. BELLEVILLE -
That didn't stop the Maroons from posting perhaps the biggest upset this season, a 62-61 Southwestern Conference shocker in overtime over the Flyers.
West senior Jeremy Felton poured in 27 points, including the game-winning jumper with 4.9 seconds remaining. A long 3-point try by East Side's Brian Harris just ahead of the buzzer glanced off the rim as Maroons fans stormed the court to celebrate with their team.
"He's playing better and better every game, and he showed me that he wanted it tonight," West coach Joe Muniz said of Felton, a 6-foot-6 senior who was academically ineligible the first half of the season. "He showed me that he's a winner. He showed me he's got some character and some toughness."
West (7-12), which trailed by six with just under two minutes left in overtime, improved to 4-7 in league play and has won five of its last eight games. East St. Louis (20-4), ranked second in the News-Democrat Class AA poll and ninth in the state, fell to 8-2 in the league and lost for the second time in three games.
The Maroons also got a season-high 19 points from junior guard Daniel Lisch, who was 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Lisch and Felton combined for 46 of the 62 points.
"It's a huge win for our program and for our kids, more importantly," said Muniz, whose team has won all three of its overtime games this season. "East St. Louis is a heck of a team, they're the best team in the area."
The Flyers trailed 26-13 late in the first half and 30-20 at halftime. They blew through that deficit during a 16-2 run after halftime to gain control.
But despite 13 second-half turnovers, the Maroons battled back and a shot by Felton gave them a four-point lead with 38 seconds remaining in regulation. Anthony Mitchell cut it to two and after Felton slipped down on an inbounds play for a turnover, the Flyers tied it to force overtime on a running jumper by Aveon Jones.
East Side built a six-point lead early in overtime, but Lisch hit a three to keep it close.
The turning point came when Mitchell missed a dunk with 42.5 seconds remaining, then picked up a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
"It was large, it was huge," Flyers coach Dennis Brooks said. "Sixteen-, 17-year-old kids, they make mistakes. You've just got to live with it."
Sain, who scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half, appeared to injure himself on the play after coming down hard.
"He's OK, I just think he caught a cramp in his leg when he came down,' Brooks said.
West's Alex Schobert sank both free throws from the technical, and with the Maroons maintaining possession, Felton hit a shot underneath. Jones answered for the Flyers with 11.8 seconds left, but Lisch found Felton open for a short jumper that he drained with 4.9 seconds to play.
"It's a big, big win for us," Felton said. "To beat the No. 9-ranked team in the state, this is a big confidence boost. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing."
The Flyers got 17 points from Darian Sain and 16 each from Mitchell and Jones.
"We had a couple chances to win the ballgame and we just didn't take care of business," Brooks said. "We didn't do the right things we needed to do. They're a good basketball team; Felton makes them better.
"He makes a huge difference for them, he's a big-time ballplayer."
BOYS BASKETBALL: EAST ST. LOUIS 63, EDWARDSVILLE 60 Flyers work OT for big win
SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
EAST ST. LOUIS — East St. Louis boys basketball coach Dennis Brooks probably has had his fill of overtime contests. The Flyers needed the extra session Friday night to conquer Edwardsville 63-60 in a Southwestern Conference showdown. It marked the second-straight game East St. Louis went the additional four minutes, as the Flyers lost 62-61 in overtime to Belleville West on Feb. 9. Friday's triumph kept East St. Louis atop the conference standings at 9-2. The Flyers, ranked No. 5 in the Post-Dispatch's large-schools rankings, improved to 21-4 overall. "These overtimes are real stressful," said Brooks, whose team defeated Edwardsville 41-40 on Dec. 19. "We were just able to hang on tonight and pull out the victory." Junior Anthony Watson led East St. Louis with 14 points, while senior Anthony Mitchell and junior Darian Sain added 13 points apiece. Edwardsville (17-6, 9-3)got 27 points from junior Tony Campbell. The Tigers, No. 9 in the Post-Dispatch's large-schools rankings, had two clean looks in the closing seconds, but misfired on a lay-up and an open 3-pointer.
"There's no such thing as an easy shot," said Tigers coach Mike Waldo, whose team defeated Collinsville 56-24 on Thursday. "I'm proud of our team. We've had a lot of guys that have practiced hard all year and haven't played a lot. And tonight we ended up needing those guys and they played well."
Edwardsville led 31-28 at halftime. Consecutive baskets from junior Brandon Harold and another from Watson staked East St. Louis to a 38-35 advantage with 2:49 left in the third quarter. Two free throws from Mitchell extended the margin to 43-39, and the Flyers led 43-42 heading into the fourth quarter.
Harold's field goal with 5:17 remaining put East St. Louis in charge 51-46. A three-point play from Tigers' junior Joe Hines trimmed the deficit to 52-51 with 2:16 remaining. Two free throws from Edwardsville's Brian Ess with 14 seconds left forced the extra session.
Campbell's basket and Brandon Hogg's free throw pushed the Tigers in front 59-56 with just 1:24 left in overtime. But Sain's three-point play with 47 seconds left gave East St. Louis the lead for good at 61-60. Aveon Jones then hit two free throws with one second left.
Cahokia stuns East St. Louis Flyers ousted from playoffs BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat
The Cahokia Comanches made a mighty move to gain a little respect Tuesday. BELLEVILLE -
Freshman Jarion Norris scored 23 points and Thomas Winters added 18 as Cahokia stunned top-seeded East St. Louis 67-58 in the semifinals of the Althoff Class AA Regional.
Playing before a capacity crowd at Althoff, the 15th-seeded Comanches set the stage for one of the biggest postseason upsets in years with a sizzling first-half performance.
With Norris, a 6-4 forward, scoring eight first-quarter points and Winters nailing three of Cahokia's seven 3-point first half baskets, the Comanches (13-13) took a 40-27 lead over the Flyers.
East St. Louis, getting a brilliant second-half effort from Anthony Mitchell, cut the lead to three points early in the fourth quarter. But a 3-point basket by Winters and clutch free throw shooting down the stretch secured the win.
"Nobody, except the administration, team, coaching staff and fans thought we could pull this off," a jubilant Comanches coach Darian Nash said. "Nobody has given us any respect, but hopefully we'll get some now. Our record may not have shown it, but we're a good basketball team. Tonight we proved it."
In ending the Flyers' postseason for the second time in three years, Cahokia moves into the regional title game Friday, where it will take on either Belleville West or Althoff.
The West-Althoff game is set for 7:30 tonight at Althoff.
For regular-season Southwestern Conference co-champion East St. Louis, the loss ends its dream season way ahead of schedule.
"They (Cahokia) came out and shot the lights out. They played very well tonight," Flyers coach Dennis Brooks said. "I thought we did a nice job of getting back in the game in the third quarter, but we just came up a little short.
"Cahokia just wanted it more then we did tonight."
But Cahokia will have a hard time duplicating the electric atmosphere generated by the two foes on Tuesday.
The Comanches came out on fire. With Norris hitting his first three shots of the game, Cahokia took a 10-3 lead before settling for a 16-13 cushion after one period.
Mitchell, who led the Flyers (23-5) with 23 points, and Darian Sain scored baskets to start the second quarter as East St. Louis cut the lead to a point.
But the Comanches' Winters warmed up. After Norris scored inside to make the score 21-17, Winters nailed three-long 3-point shots to boost the Comanches' lead into double digits.
Cahokia led 40-27 at halftime.
"I felt it tonight," Winters said. "I was able to get good looks at the basket and my teammates just did a great job of getting me the basketball.
"We knew we could do this. Nobody else thought we could but we did."
Ranked among the top 10 Class AA teams in the state all season, the Flyers stormed back in the third quarter. Holding Cahokia scoreless for the first six minutes of the third quarter, the Flyers closed to within 40-38 on a basket by Brandon Harold.
But Winters nailed his fourth 3-point basket and Norris scored inside at Cahokia tightened its lead after three quarters.
Harold, attacking the boards, scored on an offensive rebound with just over five minutes left to make the score 51-48, but again Winters responded.
His fifth 3-point basket put Cahokia up 54-48. Winters then added a free throw and when Monterrian McKinney scored on a fast break, the Comanches were back up by seven points with just over three minutes remaining.
"We knew East St. Louis would make a run at us," Nash said. "Our kids were able to just stay in there, and we got great nights out of Winters and Norris."
Flyerettes climb back to the top of SWC
East St. Louis' Kourtney Chism gets off a throw in the discus during Thursday's Southwestern Conference Girls Track and Field Meet in Granite City.
East St. Louis dominates field events and sprint relays BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat GRANITE CITY --
The East St. Louis Flyerettes made sure their victory drought at the Southwestern Conference Track Meet would be a short one Thursday at Granite City High School -- very short.
Kourtney Chism and Rochaunda Harris finished first and second in the shot put and discus as the Flyerettes avoided the raindrops long enough to clinch their 18th SWC title in 19 years.
With the pole vault still to be held today in Collinsville, East St. Louis has 182 1/2 points, compared to 128 1/2 for 2006 champion Edwardsville.
Ambrea Brimmage won the triple jump and Brittany Brimmage took the long jump for East St. Louis, which dominated in the field events and the sprint relays to take an insurmountable lead over the Tigers.
But with Chism leading a strong effort by the Flyerettes, East St. Louis was once again in a class by itself.
"I'm just glad we were able to get the meet in, and as of right now we're fine with injuries. We'll know for sure on Monday," East St. Louis coach Nino Fennoy said. "We did very well in the field events, but we'll have to improve our distances in the shot put and discus next week in order to qualify for the state meet.
"Overall though, I'm pleased. This was a nice prelude heading into the sectional and state meets the next two weeks."
O'Fallon placed third with 88 points, while Belleville East (84) and Belleville West (62) rounded out the top five teams.
West was led by a pair of wins by Yolanda Suggs, who upset Ronecia Nash of East St. Louis in the 100 meters and also won the 200.
Also winning titles for East St. Louis were Deana McNeal in the 400 and Amber Haywood in the 300 low hurdles.
Edwardsville, which came in with high hopes, struggled a bit. The Tigers, who were without injured Kaci Smith and Anya Covington, were never really in the hunt.
"I'm pleased with our young ladies' efforts. We didn't have the best night and we had some things go against us, but we didn't back off. We kept battling all night," Tigers coach John Cunningham said. "East St. Louis came out and really looked strong tonight.
"On a normal night, they'll be tough to beat, but without Smith and Covington, it makes it even more difficult."
Lia Saunders won the 800 to lead the way for Edwardsville, while Courtney Smith won the 1,600.
Fourth-place East got wins from Jenny Palovcsik in the high jump and Charay Savage won the 100 hurdles
O'Fallon, East St. Louis to vie in SW opener Freeburg, Central a reunion of sorts BY NORM SANDERS AND ROD KLOECKNER News-Democrat
After only two games with sophomore Detchauz Wray as a starter, it appears East St. Louis High football coach Darren Sunkett has helped create another potential star quarterback.
Wray completed 21-of-48 passes for 496 yards and four TDs in an overtime loss to Lincoln-Way Central and a road win over Columbia (Mo.) Hickman.
He replaced star signal-caller Derrick Johnson and Sunkett's high-powered attack doesn't seem to have slowed one bit. The Flyers (1-1), ranked No. 2 in the News-Democrat's large school poll, travel to No. 6 O'Fallon (1-1) at 7 p.m. today for their Southwestern Conference opener.
East Side held on for a 24-21 victory last season as Jerrell McDaniel caught three touchdown passes. "He's stepping up big and has really handled himself well," Sunkett said of Wray, who may possess more speed and elusiveness than Johnson. "He's making all the right throws and he's running the ball when he has to."
Wray also is aided by a pair of big-time receivers in Terry Hawthorne and Kraig Appleton.
"They both can take the top off the defense or they can catch the ball underneath," Sunkett said.
Appleton (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) already has three touchdown receptions among his 10 catches for 229 yards. Hawthorne (6-1, 185) is averaging more than 30 yards per catch, with eight receptions for 243 yards and two TDs.
"The names change, but it's the same numbers on offense," O'Fallon coach Brandon Joggerst said. "They're very athletic and big and physical up front. Even though (Wray) is only a sophomore, he's still dangerous, and they'v got the big physical runners, too."
Sunkett said being unable to protect a lead and losing the opener in overtime may prove beneficial in the long run.
"We've got a young football team, and we pretty much beat ourselves," he said. "We jumped out on those guys, and we got complacent with a lead, let it get away from us. I think it was a valuable lesson for a young football team to learn from."
O'Fallon must learn to avoid turnovers after making eight of them last week in a 29-7 loss to Hazelwood Central. Quarterback Lee Geyer tossed five interceptions and completing 6 of 13 passes for 68 yards.
In the first half alone, O'Fallon had five turnovers and surrendered a touchdown on a kick return.
"It was kind of a comedy of errors," Joggerst said. "We've addressed them and they're correctable errors."
O'Fallon hopes to rely on a strong running game led by Kendrick Morris (169 yards) and Victor White (136 yards).
"They're big up front and have a big linebacking corps, so we've got our hands full," Sunkett said.
"We're very pleased with where our defense is at," Joggerst said. "Offensively we struggled last week, so hopefully that can be rectified."
O'Fallon lost its second starting offensive lineman to injury this season when starting left guard Mark Crawford suffered a broken foot while jumping rope in a physical education class.
"It was just a fluke," Joggerst said.
Central (1-1) at Freeburg (1-1), 7 p.m.: A pair of old high school buddies will match coaching wits against one another in this Cahokia Conference battle.
Freeburg coach Ronnie Stuart and first-year Central coach Brian Short were former teammates at Carrollton High School. Short, who was a freshman when Stuart was a senior, used to ride to lunch every day with Stuart.
"It's a pretty neat little storyline," Short said. "From what I hear, there's going to be a lot of people from our hometown watching this game."
Central rolled over Dupo 40-14 last week behind sophomore Kevin Grayling, who rushed for 231 yards and four touchdowns in his first varsity start. Graying was starting in place of senior Tommy Bach, who is day-to-day with a knee injury.
Freeburg dropped a 14-13 heartbreaker at Carlyle after bombing Roxana 35-6 in its season opener. Running back Ryan Rainbolt has scored five of Freeburg's seven TDs this season.
"I know a lot about Ronnie Stuart," Short said. "He's going to have those guys prepared. As soon as you start looking by people or playing the guessing game of this is what they did against this team, that's when they are going to jump up and bite you."
East Side pounds O'Fallon
East St. Louis' #8 Vincent Arterbridge breaks through O'Fallon defenders during their game at O'Fallon on Friday.
Flyers hold 33-0 lead when rains halt the game BY NORM SANDERS News-Democrat O'FALLON --
The East St. Louis Flyers opened the Southwestern Conference portion of their schedule with a 39-0 lightning-shortened victory over the O'Fallon Panthers on Friday night.
Leading 33-0 at halftime, the teams sat through a 2-hour and 20 minute storm delay before resuming the contest.
But they would not play for long, as the game was called at the 8:12 mark of the third quarter after more lightning was sighted in the area. During that time, the Flyers added another touchdown, a 1-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Vincent Arterbridge, his second score of the game.
If the East St. Louis offense was not enough of a challenge for O'Fallon, the Flyers defense was even tougher.
The Panthers were held to 2 yards of offense and just one first down in the first half. The first down came courtesy of an East St. Louis penalty.
Running for his life much of the first half, O'Fallon quarterback Lee Geyer was 0-for-8 passing and had an interception returned 40 yards for a touchdown by Terry Hawthorne.
Arterbridge put the Flyers on top just less than two minutes into the game with a 9-yard touchdown run.
A 23-yard pass from sophomore Detchauz Wray to Timothy Holmes set up Wray's 1-yard touchdown run. Three minutes later, O'Fallon had only 10 men on the field for the scoring play.
Hawthorne's interception return for a touchdown made it 19-0, then he hauled in a perfectly thrown 43-yard bomb from Wray to push the lead to 26-0 with 8:04 remaining in the half. The bomb has become a signature play for the Flyers, who usually freeze the defense because there are two fake handoffs before the pass.
O'Fallon's defense stiffened after that, but the Flyers made it 33-0 on Gyon Spraggins' 37-yard punt return for a touchdown with 56 seconds left in the half.
Missed this story, sorry.
East Side lets one slip away Flyers owned 20-0 advantage at half BY NORM SANDERS News-Democrat With a 20-0 halftime lead Saturday, the East St. Louis Flyers shifted into cruise control a little too early. EAST ST. LOUIS --
New Lenox Lincoln-Way Central battled back to tie it with 2 minutes and 26 seconds remaining in regulation and won 30-27 in overtime on a 24-yard field goal by Jake Wieclaw.
"It's a youthful thing; we're young and we've got a lot of first-year starters," said East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett, whose 0-1 team was ranked third in the Class 7A preseason state poll and had beaten the Knights 46-17 in 2006. "We put it in cruise control and thought the game was out of hand."
Sunkett was not pleased with his team's response to the second-half comeback by the Knights (1-0). At halftime, Lincoln-Way Central had not gotten a first down and managed just 6 yards of offense.
"You saw a young team get complacent with the lead," Sunkett said. "They played four quarters and we played one, that's how you got that score."
After Wieclaw put the Knights ahead in the first overtime possession, the Flyers called a running play for sophomore quarterback Detchauz Wray. Wray was chased in the backfield and Lincoln-Way Central's Aric Marquardt sealed the win with an interception.
"Last year it was completely different because we were out of it from the start and we never fought back," Knights coach Rob Glielmi said. "It's just a huge win for us, and this is a great team to play against and beat. The kids really wanted it."
Dan Campbell's 9-yard touchdown run with 3:11 left in the third quarter seemed to wake up the Knights. Wieclaw then escaped one-on-one coverage for a 41-yard TD pass with 10:44 remaining in regulation and after the 2-point conversion pass failed, the Knights still trailed 20-12.
The Flyers had a 71-yard TD run by Terry Hawthorne off a fake punt called back on a penalty, but still took a 27-12 lead with 6:59 to play on a 74-yard pass from Wray to Kraig Appleton.
A 15-yard pass from Robbie Glielmi to Kevin Taylor and Wieclaw's extra-point got the Knights within eight.
Lincoln-Way Central's Ryan Vitolke recovered a Flyers fumble at his own 47 with 3:54 remaining. The Knights capitalized when Mike Ducharme's 1-yard TD run forced overtime.
The Knights gained momentum when they switched to a no-huddle, three-back offense early in the second half. They started pounding out yardage on the ground and gave the Flyers little time to catch their breath between plays.
"I didn't feel like we had the upper hand, but I thought they were a lot more tired than us," Coach Glielmi said. "They were slower up to the line, they were slower pursuing. We had a great week leading up to this, we drove our kids hard."
East St. Louis seemed confused at times defensively once the Knights' shifted gears.
"It was under our control and we gave it away," Sunkett said. "But let's not take anything away from them, they're a quality football team. They're a senior-dominated team, those guys wanted to win and they kept fighting."
Making his first varsity start, Wray completed 13-of-33 passes for 283 yards and three TDs, also scoring on a 23-yard TD run.
Appleton had a huge day with seven receptions for 203 yards, catching TD passes of 57 and 74 yards while Hawthorne caught a 33-yard TD pass. Flyers running back Donovan Sanford had 111 yards on 18 carries.
"It was good in spurts," Sunkett said. "But I think I saw more dropped balls from my receivers than plays made. You can't win ball games like that."
East Side strikes early, beats West BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat EAST ST. LOUIS --
Vincent Arterbridge rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns Friday as East St. Louis romped to an easy 39-12 Southwestern Conference win over Belleville West.
Arterbridge, a 6-1, 205-pound freshman, scored on runs of one and eight yards, but sent the large Flyers' crowd to its feet with a 90-yard scoring run late in the third quarter as East St. Louis put the Maroons away for good by taking a 27-0 lead.
Quarterback Detchauz Wray added an 18-yard scoring run and fired a 38-yard scoring strike to Kraig Appleton for East St. Louis, which has now won three in a row after a season-opening loss to New Lenox Lincoln-Way Central .
The Flyers scored twice in the first 2 minutes, 56 seconds of the game to set the tone, and led 21-0 at halftime.
Arterbridge scored just 51 seconds into the game on a 1-yard run, and after the Maroons went three plays and out in their first series, the Flyers struck again.
Wray, who completed 14-of-22 for 235 yards, found a wide open Appleton on the sideline, and the Flyers' speedy junior did the rest in scoring on the play.
Suddenly the Maroons were down 14-0.
"They have some very talented young men and it's not like they don't have a plan. They are very well coached," West coach Ric Johns said. "But I thought we did a good of staying in the game mentally.
"It's just that to be able to have a chance, we couldn't turn the ball over, and we did that. I think the score would have been much closer if we wouldn't have made those mistakes early."
The Maroons' defense tightened for the remaining of the first half, allowing just a touchdown run by Wray in the final 75 seconds of the first half.
"We went away for a quarter after we got up quick on them in the opening three minutes of the game," East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. "We're a young team, and I think part of our problem is that youth, but we've got to get better at playing four quarters of football."
Arterbridge then rambled 90 yards for a score late in the third quarter, but the Maroons' Jarvis Patterson returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for the Maroons' first score of the night.
Patterson would add a 2-yard run late in the fourth quarter to wind up the Maroons' scoring plays.
ALTON — The East St. Louis football team remained perfect in Southwestern Conference action Friday night, rolling past host Alton 52-0 at Public School Stadium. The Flyers, ranked No. 1 in the Post-Dispatch large-schools rankings, improved to 3-0 in league play and 4-1 overall. East St. Louis, which defeated Belleville West 39-12 on Sept. 14, has outscored its three conference opponents 130-12. "I thought we played really well," said Flyers coach Darren Sunkett, whose team is ranked No. 4 in Illinois Class 7A. "We pulled it together this week. The guys stepped up big and played a good game." Sophomore quarterback Detshauz Wray sparked the Flyers' attack, completing 12 of 17 passes for 337 yards and five touchdowns. Junior Terry Hawthorne collected three touchdown passes, and classmate Kraig Appleton added another two scoring receptions. "I thought our receivers played a pretty good game today," said Dunkett, whose team committed 22 penalties for 170 yards Friday. "And Wray definitely played well. He's been consistent all year, but we definitely need to cut down on penalties." Alton fell to 1-2 in conference action and 2-3 overall. The Redbirds played most of the game with third-string quarterback Devin Williams, a sophomore. Senior signal caller Nick Cline was knocked out early, and junior Josh Kuehn already was injured. "They're an awful good football team," said Alton coach Joe Hook, whose team lost 28-23 at Belleville East on Sept. 14. Wray's 79-yard touchdown pass to Hawthorne, just 48 seconds into the game, put East St. Louis in front 6-0. Freshman Vincent Arterbridge's 8-yard scoring run with 8:11 left in the first quarter gave the Flyers a 12-0 cushion. Wray connected with Hawthorne for a 76-yard scoring strike with 4:43 remaining in the opening quarter for an 18-0 margin.Wray's 40-yard touchdown pass to Appleton early in the second quarter extended the bulge to 25-0. East. St. Louis went ahead 32-0 on Wray's 5-yard scoring pass to Appleton 4:38 before halftime. Sophomore Joshua Burch's 15-yard touchdown run with 1:15 left in the first half increased the lead to 39-0. Wray hit Hawthorne with a 17-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to make the score 46-0. Sophomore Aaron Hampton's 79-yard scoring strike to freshman Keonte Minor capped the scoring with just seconds remaining.
Flyers soar over Warriors; Kahoks win Columbia, Red Bud remain undefeated News-Democrat
Sophomore running back Courtney Molton exploded for four touchdowns and 202 yards rushing Friday to lead East St. Louis past Granite City 42-7 in a Southwestern Conference game.
The Flyers (6-1 overall, 5-0 in league play) piled up all 42 of their points before halftime. Kraig Appleton and Terry Hawthorne each caught TD passes from sophomore quarterback Detchauz Wray.
Granite City (4-3, 3-2) got a 51-yard touchdown pass from Matt Kelly to Troy Fox.
Flyers grind up Lancers, end their unbeaten season
East St. Louis' #3 Terry Hawthorne runs in a touchdown during the opening minutes of the first half of their game against Belleville East on Friday at East St. Louis.
East St. Louis gains 274 yards on the ground BY NORM SANDERS News-Democrat EAST ST. LOUIS --
Finding the No. 1 football team in Illinois south of Chicago is no longer a problem.
East St. Louis silenced any remaining doubters Friday with a 53-14 shellacking of Belleville East that included 274 yards rushing and two touchdowns by sophomore Courtney Molton.
"It was definitely a statement game," said Flyers coach Darren Sunkett, whose 7-1 team is ranked first in the News-Democrat large-school poll and third in the Class 7A state poll. "We just felt like we weren't very respected. Here we're the No. 1 team in the area and No. 3 team in the state and everybody's talking about Belleville East. We just wanted to show everybody that we still are the premier team in Southern Illinois."
Barring a loss next week against Edwardsville, the Flyers (7-1, 6-0) will also have sole possession of the Southwestern Conference championship.
The Flyers ran the ball 31 times for 471 yards, with freshman Vincent Arterbridge contributing 137 yards and three TDs on 11 carries.
The damage was done before a crowd of more than 3,000 against a previously unbeaten and second-ranked Belleville East squad that had allowed only 94 points the past seven weeks.
Flyers junior wideout Terry Hawthorne set the tone for the night on the game's first play. He caught a short pass near the line of scrimmage, cut back against the grain and sprinted into the end zone for a 65-yard touchdown.
"That's a good football team," Belleville East coach Tim Funk said. "It's hard for anybody to believe me when I say we've got a good team after that. We were looking for answers, and we were trying some things, we just couldn't get it going. A lot of it's because of East St. Louis."
Despite not having a carry the first four games, Molton is making up for lost time. The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder has 476 yards the past two weeks and 693 yards overall on only 46 carries. He is averaging 15 yards every time he touches the ball. On Friday, he had six carries for 25 yards or more.
"I think it's that center of gravity, he's tough in one-on-one situations," Sunkett said. "With him and Arterbridge, that' s a heck of a combination."
Belleville East trailed 13-7 late in the first quarter and 21-14 late in the first half, but the Flyers kept applying pressure and never let up.
Jamon Bester's 46-yard TD run late in the first quarter cut the East Side lead to 13-7, but the Flyers scored on a 9-yard TD run by Molton. Hawthorne caught a 5-yard TD pass on fourth-and-goal with 43.7 seconds remaining in the first half that robbed more momentum from the Lancers and made it 27-14. Arterbridge blasted free for TD runs of 40 and 35 yards in the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Quarterback Detchauz Wray threw for 184 yards and two TDs.
"They're pretty good up front," Funk said. "They made some good moves and made some good runs, but there were times we didn't have anybody even around them. It's not a situation or opportunity where we can bash our team or what we've done, because our kids fought their butts off and we still lost 53-14. The credit needs to go to East St. Louis."
Justin Washington had two interceptions for the Lancers, while Bester finished with 98 yards rushing on 21 carries.
East scored its second touchdown following a double-pass from Eric Watkins to Frank Campbell to Keonte Lewis. That got the Lancers to the 1 and Bester ran it in on the next play. The score occurred after the Lancer defense stopped East Side on a fourth-and-1 play at its own 34-yard line.
Flyers breeze to SWC championship; Tigers out of playoff picture Sunkett gets his 100th career win BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat EDWARDSVILLE --
For the second year in a row, the East St. Louis Flyers are champions of the Southwestern Conference.
Freshman Vincent Arterbridge r ushed for 213 yards and two touchdowns ,while Kraig Appleton and Courtney Molton also scored twice as the Flyers ended the regular season Friday by crushing Edwardsville 54-16 at the Edwardsville Sports Complex.
The Flyers (8-1) withstood a pair of first half turnovers and led 21-3 at halftime before scoring on two of their first three plays of the third quarter to put the game away and give coach Darren Sunkett his 100th career coaching win.
"It's not about me or how many wins I have; its about these kids This (SWC title) was one of our goals, but it's just one of them. The one we've talked about is five games away. We're ready for the second season," Sunkett said. "We came out tonight and took care of business."
Molton scored on an eight-yard run, and Arterbridge added a 1-yard run as the Flyers took a 13-0 lead midway in the second quarter.
Edwardsville, which was held deep inside Flyers territory in the first quarter, had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Eli Brummett following a Flyers turnover late in the second quarter, which cut the lead to 14-3.
Three plays later with just 34 seconds remaining in the half, Flyers quarterback Detchauz Wray fired a 70-yard scoring strike to the speedy Appleton to make the score 21-3 at intermission.
It would get much worse in the second half for Edwardsville (4-5) which, with the loss, has missed the IHSA playoffs just three times since 1993.
"We had a couple of chances early. If we score, maybe it changes the flow of the game," a dejected Tigers coach Tim Dougherty said. "We didn't tackle very well, and again, we gave up the big play.
"We've given up more big plays this year then anytime in my coaching tenure. It's just very frustrating. East St. Louis is a very good football team, and he (Arterbridge) is the best freshman I've seen in my 29 years in coaching."
Molton, who finished with 136 yards, scored on a 53-yard run with just 57 seconds gone in the second half, and Arterbridge added a 77-yard scoring run just two minutes later as the Flyers' lead grew to 34-3
The Wrap-to-Appleton connection hooked up again later in the quarter on a 24-yard scoring play to increase the lead to 41-3.
Edwardsville senior Darryl Hendricks scored twice late in the game, one touchdown coming on an 88-yard jaunt.
News-Democrat football polls
News-Democrat Football Polls
Final rankings for metro-east football teams; voting by area coaches and News-Democrat staff writers (first-place votes in parentheses):
Large-School Poll (Class 5A-8A)
Rank Team W-L
1. East St. Louis (5) 8-1
2. Cahokia 6-3
3. Granite City 6-3
4. Belleville East 7-2
5. (tie) Triad (4-4)
5. Edwardsville 4-5
East St. Louis vs. Batavia
Batavia (5-4) at East St. Louis (8-1)
Game time: 3 p.m. today
Location: Clyde C. Jordan Stadium, East St. Louis
Batavia by the numbers
Top rushers: Bai Kabba: 92-822 yds, 9 TDs; Brian Krolikowsk 70-504 yds., 10 TDs.
Quarterback: Jordan Coffey: 89-193, 1,407 yds., 13 TDs, 9 int.
Top receivers: Ian Wallis 28-320 yds., 5 TDs; Ryan Webb 22-407 yds., 2 TDs; Erich Zeddies 18-351 yds., 5TDs
Playoff experience: 12th appearance, fifth in a row; finished second in
East St. Louis by the numbers
Top rushers: Vincent Arterbridge 94-857 yds., 14 TDs; Courtney Molton 55-799 yds., 11 TDs;
Quarterback: Detchauz Wray 82-157, 1,756 yds., 20 TDs, 7 int.
Top receiver: Terry Hawthorne 34-837 yds., 12 TDs; Kraig Appleton 36-763 yds., 10 TDs; Keonte' Minor 7-165 yds.
Playoff experience: area-leading 28th appearance and eighth in a row; Flyers own six state championships and have finished second three times
Fun fact: East St. Louis has two former NFL players on its coaching staff in assistants John Clay (Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers) and James Harris (Oakland Raiders, St. Louis Rams, Minnesota Vikings)
Flyers survive a big scare
East St. Louis quarterback Detchauz Wray tries to fend off Batavia's Sean O'Brein.
Despite four turnovers, East St. Louis advances with victory over Batavia BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat EAST ST. LOUIS --
With their backs against the wall, the self-destructing East St. Louis Flyers found a way to keep their dream from turning into a nightmare Saturday at Clyde Jordan Stadium.
Sophomore quarterback Detchauz Wray scored on a 1-yard plunge midway through the fourth quarter as the Flyers rallied for a 27-21 win over Batavia in a Class 7A first-round playoff game.
The third-seeded Flyers (9-1) committed four turnovers, three of which led to Batavia touchdowns, and made numerous other mistakes to fall behind the Bulldogs (5-5) 21-19 early in the second half.
But after getting the ball inside the Batavia 40-yard line, early in the final quarter, the Flyers began their winning march.
With sophomore Courtney Molton gaining 35 of his 145 rushing yards on the drive, East St. Louis moved the ball inside the 5, where Wray gave his team the lead for good when he scored with 8 minutes, 10 seconds left.
The Bulldogs didn't quit. Twice taking the ball into Flyers' territory, the Bulldogs didn't lose hope until quarterback Jordan Coffey was stopped short on a fourth-and-1 inside the Flyers 25 with under two minutes left.
"You take a win anyway you can get it, but turning the football over four times is unacceptable and our team has to know it," said East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. "What did we have? Three or four fumbles? If went want to make a run in these playoffs, then we can't turn the ball over.
"Yes we're happy with the win. But again there are some things we have to take care of if we want to move on."
East St. Louis will head north next week to take on Moline in a second-round game. Dates and times will be announced Monday.
Batavia, a state runner-up in Class 6A a year ago, gave East St. Louis a battle from the game's first play.
Recovering a pooch kickoff to open the game, the Bulldogs marched in to take a 7-0 lead on a Coffey to Ryan Miller pass play with not even three minutes gone.
Batavia never went away for the rest of the afternoon.
"I thought our kids played hard. I'm very proud of their effort," Bulldogs coach Mike Gaspari said. "We did a good job of controlling the football in the first half, and if we don't have the facemask penalty late in the game, maybe it turns the momentum back to us.
"East St. Louis has the two things you can't coach against -- speed and quickness."
That speed was apparent on the Flyers' first play from scrimmage. Wray, who threw for 139 yards, found a wide-open Terry Hawthorne on the wing and he took it 62 yards to the tie game at 7.
The Wray-Hawthorne combination hooked up again later in the first half, this time on a 12-yard scoring play to give the Flyers a 19-14 lead.
The Bulldogs' Bai Kabba added a 2-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead before Molton scored on a 14-yard run, bringing the Flyers to within 14-13.
Playoff Brackets: Class 1A | Class 2A | Class 3A | Class 4A | Class 5A | Class 6A | Class 7A | Class 8A
The Road to Champaign First Round Second Round Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals Champion (1) Rockford (Boylan) (9-0) (1) Rockford (Boylan) (10-0) 14-7 State Champion (16) Mt. Prospect (Prospect) (5-4) (8) @ Rockton (Hononegah) (7-2) (9) Rockford (Guilford) (8-2) 14-10 (9) Rockford (Guilford) (7-2) (4) Lake Zurich (8-1) (4) Lake Zurich (9-1) 30-15 (13) Wheeling (6-3) (5) Rolling Meadows (8-1) (5) Rolling Meadows (9-1) 37-0 (12) Niles (Notre Dame) (6-3) (2) Northbrook (Glenbrook North) (8-1) (2) Northbrook (Glenbrook North) (9-1) 17-0 (15) Oak Park (Fenwick) (5-4) (7) Mundelein (Carmel) (7-2) (7) Mundelein (Carmel) (8-2) 35-7 (10) Crystal Lake (South) (7-2) (3) Cary (C.-Grove) (8-1) (3) Cary (C.-Grove) (9-1) 30-0 (14) Woodstock (H.S.) (5-4) (6) Chicago (De La Salle) (7-2) (6) Chicago (De La Salle) (8-2) 36-0 (11) McHenry (6-3) (1) Wheaton (W. Warrenville South) (9-0) (1) Wheaton (W. Warrenville South) (10-0) 41-0 (8) Burbank (St. Laurence) (5-4) (4) Chicago (St. Rita) (6-3) (4) Chicago (St. Rita) (7-3) 43-7 (5) Villa Park (Willowbrook) (6-3) (2) Chicago (Morgan Park) (8-1) (2) Chicago (Morgan Park) (9-1) 41-0 (7) Wheaton (North) (5-4) (3) @ Burbank (Reavis) (7-2) (6) Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West) (6-4) 41-8 (6) Glen Ellyn (Glenbard West) (5-4) (1) Geneva (9-0) (1) Geneva (10-0) 35-6 (8) Bradley (B.-Bourbonnais) (5-4) (4) St. Charles (East) (7-2) (4) St. Charles (East) (8-2) 31-6 (5) Granite City (6-3) (2) Moline (H.S.) (8-1) (2) Moline (H.S.) (9-1) 14-7 (7) St. Charles (North) (5-4) (3) East St. Louis (Sr.) (8-1) (3) East St. Louis (Sr.) (9-1) 27-21 (6) Batavia (5-4)
From: Terrance Carter
Would like some history on the Flyers football from 1979 to 1985. By, T.
Terrance, go to the "The House" page. There are several links there. The school, the district, IHSAA. Coach Shannon wrote a book about that era. T.
Flyers want to shut off Moline's power Flyers once again will rely on speed BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat
Moline High coach Joel Ryser has heard all the talk and seen for himself, both on film and in person, the pure speed of the East St. Louis Flyers.
And while Ryser doesn't have a solution to completely stop the Flyers, he thinks he has a way to at least slow them down in a second-round Class 7A playoff game at 1:30 p.m. today at Browning Field in Moline.
"Our game is power football. Take the ball 80 yards, score and take time off the clock," Ryser said. "Our idea is they can't score if they don't have the football.
"We can't match their speed. I don't think many high-school teams or even a few college teams can match their speed."
Champions of the Western Big Six Conference, second-seeded Moline (9-1), like the Flyers, enters the game riding a nine-game winning streak. The Maroons dropped their season opener to Sterling, while East St. Louis lost its season opener to Lincoln-Way Central.
"They don't do anything real fancy," East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. "They just line up and come right at you with pure power on both sides of the football.
"I think it's going to be a game with our speed against their strength and power, although we feel we've got some strength as well."
Both teams survived turnover problems a week ago to win. Moline turned the ball over five times in a 14-7 win over St. Charles North, while the Flyers had four fumbles, three of which led to scores, in a 26-21 win over 2006 Class 6A state runner-up Batavia.
"That was very uncharacteristic of this football team," Sunkett said. "But the credit goes to Batavia. In watching the film, they did a good job of stripping the football. We've addressed that situation this week in practice. I don't see it being a problem this week."
What could be a problem for the Flyers is stopping one of the best running backs in the state: 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior Bennett Welser. Recruited by Illinois, Iowa and Iowa State, Welser has rushed for 1,013 yards and 15 touchdowns. Welser also has been timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Derek Branham (332 yards) and Seth Hood (287) are also quality running backs and Moline boasts a huge offensive line.
"The one thing we can't let happen is let them take the football and drive it down the field on us," Sunkett said. "That's their game. They have good size up front on both sides of the football. Our guys have to be able to offset that with speed and quickness."
If Sunkett is concerned with the size of Moline, Ryser must find a way to offset the Flyers' offensive attack.
Sophomore Courtney Molton (953 yards, 12 TDs) and freshman Vincent Arterbridge (899 yards, 14 TDs) both have great speed, while sophomore quarterback Detchauz Wray has thrown for nearly 1,900 yards and 22 TDs.
Flyers junior wide receivers Terry Hawthorne (931 yards, 14 touchdowns) and Kraig Appleton (808 yards, 10 TDs) are two of the best around.
"We've got our hands full. There isn't any doubt about how good their skill people are," Ryser said. "But our defense hasn't given up much all year. We've bent a lot, but we haven't broken yet."
Eight busloads of fans. A crowd that nearly filled the visitors stands. Heck, even the band made the five-hour, one-way trip from East St. Louis.
East St. Louis polishes off Moline
Courtney Molton rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns, and the East St. Louis defense limited Moline to 86 rushing yards in a 26-7 decision at Browning Field.
Hosts sixth-ranked Geneva next BY STEVE TAPPA For The News-Democrat MOLINE --
Eight busloads of fans. A crowd that nearly filled the visitors stands. Heck, even the band made the five-hour, one-way trip from East St. Louis.
Good thing, too, because the Flyers' faithful had a lot to celebrate Saturday in the second round of the Class 7A football playoffs at Moline.
Courtney Molton rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns, and the East St. Louis defense limited the Western Big 6 Conference champs to 86 rushing yards in a 26-7 decision at Browning Field.
The victory finalized a much-anticipated, quarterfinal matchup between the state's third- (10-1 Flyers) and sixth-rated (11-0 Geneva) teams in The Associated Press' final 7A rankings.
Geneva beat St. Charles East 35-14 on Friday, clearing the way for East St. Louis to host next weekend's game with a win at Moline (9-2).
"It's a long trip up here, but we have some great fans," Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said. "When you have a backing like that, it just makes it like a home game for these guys. That kind of support gives the kids a lot of reasons to play."
A few other motivations confronted Molton and his teammates at halftime with the Southwestern Conference champs holding a precarious 14-0 edge.
Moline had a pair of scoring chances end in missed field goals, one blocked by Jermel Ware. Moline also had a punt blocked by Kendell Nelson, and East St. Louis scored after a pair of first-quarter Moline fumbles.
But the six-time state champs stepped up, outgaining the hosts 253-76 after intermission. Molton accounted for 151 of those yards on 13 second-half rushes, including the back-breaking score, a 51-yard, third-quarter sprint on a third-and-long.
"My line opened up a lot of holes," said Molton, just a sophomore. "Once I saw them, I just hit them. All the credit goes to my line."
The Flyers' defense deserved plenty of kudos, too.
Moline's much-ballyhooed massive front line cleared the way for just 10 first downs, 147 yards total offense and a late scoring drive.
Bennett Welser, an Illinois recruit at safety, accounted for 127 of Moline's gains. The 1,000-yard rusher finished with 17 carries for 69 yards and a TD.
The score came after Welser switched to quarterback, and Moline moved from the run-heavy wishbone to a shot-gun spread attack. Welser also hit 2-of-8 passes for 58 yards.
"Our defense gets overlooked, week in and week out," Sunkett said. "But this is not the first time; these guys have been shutting people down all year. Our coaches get together to scheme a nice game plan, and the kids do a great job of taking opponents down."
Major-college line recruit Brandon Harold led the charge, with 2.5 tackles for loss.
"Brandon's tough, but he's got 10 other guys around him that help him perform," Sunkett said. "They all make each other look good. It's not just one kid."
Indeed, play-making linebackers Kentarius Little and Demond Hunt wracked up the tackles, each adding a stop behind the line of scrimmage.
Little also shared a sack with Jeremy Johnson. Eric Howard and Javaughn Tabbs recovered the fumbles.
Howard's recovery came at the Flyers' 39. Five plays later, freshman Vincent Arterbridge had the first of his two scoring runs, this one from 32 yards out.
On the ensuing kickoff, Moline return man Seth Hood stumbled receiving the ball at this feet. Tabbs fell on the loose ball, and Molton scored two plays later on a 26-yard run.
Moline answered with a 10-play drive that stalled at the Flyers' 4. Ware then blocked a field goal attempt.
"That killed any momentum we had," Moline coach Joel Ryser said. "Then we came out of halftime with the ball and couldn't put anything together. Then they score on the next drive and that just killed us."
Young talent keeps East St. Louis in hunt for state title Columbia heads to Carterville in Class 3A faceoff BY NORM SANDERS News-Democrat
Despite reaching the Class 7A state football quarterfinals for the second year in a row, the East St. Louis Flyers rely heavily on a lot of underclass talent.
The Flyers (10-1), who play host to Geneva (11-0) at 3 p.m. Saturday, have sophomore Detchauz Wray at quarterback, sophomore Courtney Molton and freshman Vincent Arterbridge at running back, and two of the state's top junior receivers, Terry Hawthorne and Kraig Appleton.
Sophomore linebacker Demond Hunt is another rising star.
Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said plugging young players into the starting lineup isn't always easy.
"I attribute that to our winter weightlifting program and our summer conditioning," said Sunkett, who got 224 yards and two touchdowns Saturday from Molton in a 26-7 victory over Moline. "If you're going to put the jersey on for us, you're going to be expected to play. So the summertime is when those younger kids really grow up for us."
Geneva was 11-2 last season, losing to rival Batavia in the 6A semifinals. The Vikings, who feature star running back Michael Ratay, quarterback Michael Mayszak and receiver Joe Augustine, hammered St. Charles East 35-14 last Friday to earn a trip to East St. Louis.
Ratay had 310 yards rushing two weeks ago in a playoff win over Bradley-Bourbonnais.
"It gets tougher from here," Sunkett said. "Every round just gets harder. But if these kids keep improving, we'll be OK."
FOOTBALL Legendary coach calls it quits
SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
CBC football coach Bob Shannon watches his Cadets in 2006 state playoff game. (Photo by Don Adams Jr.)
An era of St. Louis area high school football came to an end Wednesday morning when Bob Shannon, a two-time national coach of the year who was honored by two presidents for his work with high school students, resigned as the coach at CBC High School.
Shannon, 63, coached for 31 seasons. He achieved national recognition at East St. Louis, where his teams won six Illinois state championships in 16 playoff appearances before he resigned in 1995 to protest the district's financial mismanagement. Shannon then coached at Alton for three seasons and at CBC for nine. "I've been around the game a long time," he said. "My wife has been after me about traveling and doing some other things. It got to be a grind. The wins and losses started to seem the same. … At this advanced age, I thought it was time."
Shannon's resignation spawned a controversy in East St. Louis; when he reconsidered at the urging of his supporters, the school board hired another coach and made counter-accusations. He was vindicated two years later when federal prosecutors indicted the school's athletics director, Arthur May, on four counts of embezzlement and three counts of making false statements to the IRS.
In 1998, after May pled guilty and agreed to help with a federal investigation of the district, assistant U.S. attorney Ranley Killian told the Post-Dispatch, "What we need is about 100 more Coach Shannons and we could clean this mess up."
The veteran coach was known for helping students in one of the country's most impoverished school districts. Shannon once told Sports Illustrated, "But football here has never been just about winning. It's been a road out for these kids. Some people protest by wearing Malcolm X T-shirts. I protest by taking undisciplined guys from the streets and turning them into focused, proud men."
That success brought national recognition from President George H.W. Bush and then-President-elect Bill Clinton.
"He was trying to produce good citizens and good kids," said Irl Solomon, 68, who taught for 29 years at East St. Louis High School and was the Flyers' public address announcer. "That's why I liked him so much."
In nine seasons at CBC, Shannon went 56-39, won four Metro Catholic Conference championships and three district titles. In 2006 the Cadets went 11-2 and finished second in Missouri Class 6.
"He is one of the most passionate people I've ever met toward the sport," CBC athletics director Scott Brown said. "Obviously his knowledge is impeccable. He's proven that over the years. Coming at this point really took me by surprise. He has a great passion for football, and he'll be missed. It will be tough to replace him."
Shannon said he doesn't know what the other part of the world looks like from August to November. He's ready to take a look.
He and his wife of 35 years, Jeanette, plan to visit family in Mississippi and throughout the South and may even relocate there. He also wants to attend a football game at his alma mater, Tennessee State University, from which he graduated in 1971.
But it sounds as though Jeanette will be calling some of the plays from here on.
"She never really complained," Shannon said. "She always went on the road by herself when we went on the road. She always goes to the games. … Now it is time for her to do some of the things she wants to do."
Shannon said he could even return to coach again after taking at least one year off. He doubts he would be a head coach again, though he could see himself returning to coach the offensive line.
A year ago, heading into CBC's first state championship game, Shannon talked about how much and why he enjoyed coaching.
"I'm a salesman," he said. "I'm selling discipline and commitment. I'm selling preparation, trying to teach them how important it is to be prepared, hoping that all of this will carry over somewhere in life for them. ... In a way it's teaching kids that life is not always going to be successful, but you have to learn how to deal with the failures, too."
Flyers' foe relies on rushing, defense BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat EAST ST. LOUIS --
The East St. Louis Flyers have seen the Geneva Vikings only on film and know only what they've read and heard about one of the top Class 7A teams in the state.
But the Flyers will be very familiar with the style of the Vikings when they invade Clyde Jordan Stadium for a Class 7A quarterfinal showdown at 3 p.m. today.
Like the Flyers' previous playoff opponents -- Batavia and Moline -- Geneva (11-0) relies heavily on a run-oriented offensive attack and a strong defense that has allowed just 139 points this season.
"I think it's an advantage that we've played two teams in the playoffs that do a lot of same things Geneva does," Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said. "But it comes down to execution and eliminating mistakes.
"At this stage of the season with only eight teams left in each class, every team is a quality squad. The team that does the best job of executing their game plan is the one who comes out on top."
The Flyers (10-1) are in the quarterfinals for the second straight season after an impressive 26-7 win over Moline last week.
After a slow start, the Flyers got rolling and used a strong defensive effort and superior speed and strength to eventually wear down the Maroons.
"Our defense has been strong all year," Sunkett said. "With our offense being as efficient as it is, the defense has been somewhat overlooked. But those guys have done a great job all season.
"We have our hands full this week, though. Geneva is a very good football team."
Champions of the Western Sun Conference, the Vikings advanced to the quarterfinals with a 35-14 win over St. Charles East. Geneva's last loss was to rival Batavia in the 2006 Class 6A semifinals, while East Side's only losses in the last 22 games are to Lincoln-Way Central and Providence Catholic.
Geneva features one of the top running backs in the Chicago area, junior Michael Ratay. A 6-1, 195-pound halfback, Ratay has 1,693 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Quarterback Michael Mayszak has thrown for 1,400 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Vikings' top receiver is Joe Augustine with 36 catches for 759 yards and seven TDs.
But its Ratay that makes the Vikings go.
"We like to run the football and he is a big part of that," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said. "But we rely a lot on our defense. It's been very strong all year.
"We've got good speed. Not East St. Louis speed, but good speed, and we've done a good job all year of not turning the football over much."
The Flyers' speed and size is a major concern to Wicinski. Sophomore Courtney Molton (1,182 yards) and freshman Vincent Arterbridge (975 yards) are a solid tandem in the Flyers' backfield, while junior wide receivers Terry Hawthorne and Kraig Appleton have combined for 77 catches, 16 touchdowns and nearly 1,800 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Detchauz Wray has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards and 22 touchdowns.
"They just have so many weapons," Wicinski said. "Our game plan is to run the football and hopefully keep their offense off the field."
Sunkett has been happy with his team's focus through the first three weeks of the playoffs.
"Actually we've become even more focused in practice this week," he said. "The ultimate goal of getting to the state finals is within reach, but these kids know they can't look ahead.
"Right now we're looking at playing a very good Geneva football team. We can't get ahead of ourselves. We realize that we have to be at our best on Saturday."
Coach Bob Shannon ends a legendary career Led East St. Louis to six state titles BY DEAN CRIDDLE AND NORM SANDERS News-Democrat
After 31 years as a head football coach, the legendary Bob Shannon is hanging up his whistle.
Shannon, a former coach at East St. Louis, Alton and most recently at Christian Brothers College prep school in St. Louis, announced his resignation Wednesday.
"It's just time to go do something else," Shannon said Wednesday after closing out one of the most successful coaching careers in the region's history. "It's been a wonderful 36 years that I've been doing this, but it's just time to go.
"It used to be that I couldn't wait for football practice to start in the summer and I used to be sad when it ended. I don't feel that way any more. It's more of a grind now."
Shannon, 63, did his best work as head coach of the East St. Louis Flyers. His teams were 195-31 from 1976-95.
With a simple motto of "Get it done," he led the Flyers to national prominence and six state championships. East Side made 16 playoff appearances in Shannon's 19 seasons and won national championships in 1985 and 1989.
In one dominant three-year span in the mid-1980s, the Flyers were 40-0 with three straight state championships. It was a run of success matched by few teams in state history.
The win streak reached 44 games before being ended by Granite City on Oct. 4, 1986.
East St. Louis has 726 wins since 1897, the most by any program in state history, according to the Illinois High School Association Web site.
Shannon resigned from East St. Louis in 1995, then spent three years as the head coach at Alton.
In an interview while coaching at East St. Louis, Shannon talked about his close relationships with many of his former players.
During his time with the Flyers, he did laundry, bought meals, drove players home and served as mom, dad, mentor and everything in between.
"You have to plant those seeds," he said. "You might not ever see them grow, but when a kid comes back 10, 12 years later and says 'Coach, I remember when you said ...' -- he remembered something and he took something away from the program.
"That's what it's all about."
Shannon was twice selected national coach of the year and his East St. Louis teams were 195-31. Counting his time over 31 seasons at East Side, Alton and CBC, Shannon's' career coaching record was 259-91
Among the players who starred for the Flyers were Marvin Lampkin, Bryan Cox, Dana Howard, Chris Moore, Homer Bush, Kerwin Price and Julyon Brown.
"I have a lot of fond memories of East St. Louis. We took a very good football program and made it better," Shannon said. "I was very fortunate to have the chance to work with a lot of great coaches and fine young men who then went on to become very good and caring adults."
Shannon also said he's going to get the chance to do some things that he has dreamed of doing -- mainly spending time with his bride of 35 years, Jeanette.
"It's time for her and it's time for us," Shannon said. "I've never had the chance to go watch my old school, Tennessee State University, play a homecoming game. Now I'll be able to do that.
"If I want to take an Alaskan cruise in the summer or fall or if we want to tour the world, we'll be able to do that now. Like I said, it's just time to do something else."
Shannon did not totally rule out a return to the sidelines either.
"If I get the itch in a year or two, I'll go be an offensive line coach for somebody," Shannon said. "I don't want to be a head coach again."
Shannon took over at CBC in 1999 and in nine seasons his teams were 56-39. That includes a second-place finish in Missouri's Class 6 last season.
In Shannon's final game last week, CBC running back Rayon Simmons exploded for a Missouri-record 533 yards in a 55-35 win over Parkway South.
Thought of by some at East St. Louis as an outsider despite his phenomenal run of success, the Mississippi-born Shannon talked about his relationship with the city in a 1999 News-Democrat interview.
"There's some good people there. They love their kids, and they want to see them succeed, but when it comes to standing up for principle and standing up and saying 'Hey, we're not going to accept that,' they find it a little bit hard to do that."
Notable Bob Shannon Achievements
• U.S. Attorney General's Award from Janet Reno in March 1997 for exposing corruption in the East St. Louis school system. • Life story written by Kevin Horrigan in the book "The Right Kind of Heroes," 1992. • Three-time national coach of the year by The Sporting News (1979, 1983, 1985). • Two-time national coach of the year by USA Today (1984, 1985) • -Named one of 53 "Faces of Hope" in the U.S. by President Bill Clinton for "touching the lives of others in a positive way through their work in their communities." (1992) • Featured in October 1990 issue of People magazine; October 1991 issue of Reader's Digest; also featured on television show "60 Minutes."
Not long after being hired at the News-Democrat in 1985, I made my first trip to old Parsons Field to cover the East St. Louis Flyers football team. I grew up playing small-school football and had heard all about the Flyers and their legendary coach, Bob Shannon.
The atmosphere was scary indeed for opponents, with a creaky old grandstand near Jones Park and yard markers hanging on what looked to be wire or clothesline above the playing field. But my first memory was how Shannon's voice carried across the field, extolling players to "comm-u-ni-cate" and to "ex-e-cute," drawing each syllable out in that Mississippi accent of his. Over the years as I got to know Coach Shannon better, I watched in amazement as he dealt with things few other coaches in the country were dealing with. Drug deals were being done on streets near the practice field and as Kevin Horrigan recounted in his biography on Shannon, the occasional dead body would turn up on or by school property. Shannon was a mentor for players whose pride in the Flyers program gave them hope for a college education, a scholarship or a shot at being successful later in life. He couldn't save everyone, never claimed that he could, and banged heads with school board members or local politicos who hoped to influence him in one way or another. Shannon demanded excellence from his players on the field, in the classroom and everywhere they went. He patiently demonstrated how to block, did it once, then helped players learn the skill. If they screwed it up that, he would be all over them. The same held true for quarterbacks, who were coached on everything from executing proper footwork to the way they released the football or carried out their fakes. Shannon suspended star running back Chris Moore and refused to take a future star quarterback, James Harris, because he wore an earring. Harris starred for rival East St. Louis Lincoln and later Temple University before playing in the NFL with the Rams, Vikings and Raiders. Moore was one of the top running backs in metro-east history, but never made an impact at the college level. But Shannon had his rules and since Harris wouldn't abide by them, he found another quarterback. His teams won six state championships and finished twice on two other occasions. They were widely acclaimed as national champions in 1985 and 1989, two of the greatest teams in Illinois prep football history. Shannon left the Flyers to coach at Alton for three years and spent the past nine years at CBC in St. Louis. It was so ironic that Shannon went from coaching at a school that got hand-me-down football shoes from the old St. Louis Cardinals to a rich private school that had everything money could buy and played in one of the top stadiums in the St. Louis region. The Flyers got a shiny new stadium while Shannon was still at East St. Louis, but he could never figure out why there were no standard-size locker rooms or other amenities that might have helped the team. Talking with Dana Howard, Homer Bush and other former Flyers over the years, it was clear the impact that Shannon had on their lives. He was not always the nicest coach and when he got upset, would pull no punches when it came to criticizing a player. "Get it done" was the motto that Shannon coached by, and he fully expected it to be done right. Fans who got to watch Shannon in action on the Flyers sidelines may not have realized they were witnessing a legend. It's a good bet that everybody realizes it now.
Bob Shannon’s Coaching Record
at East St. Louis and Alton
Year School W-L Playoffs
1976 East St. Louis 5-4 --- 1977 East St. Louis 9-2 5A semifinals 1978 East St. Louis 9-2 5A quarterfinals 1979 East St. Louis 12-0 5A state champs 1980 East St. Louis 6-2 --- 1981 East St. Louis 5-3 --- 1982 East St. Louis 8-3 6A quarterfinals 1983 East St. Louis 13-0 6A state champs 1984 East St. Louis 13-0 6A state champs 1985 East St. Louis 14-0 6A state champs 1986 East St. Louis 10-2 6A quarterfinals 1987 East St. Louis 13-1 6A runner-up 1988 East St. Louis 13-1 6A runner-up 1989 East St. Louis 14-0 6A state champs 1990 East St. Louis 12-1 6A semifinals 1991 East St. Louis 13-1 6A state champs 1992 East St. Louis 9-2 6A second round 1993 East St. Louis 9-3 6A quarterfinals 1994 East St. Louis 8-3 6A second round 1995 East St. Louis 0-1 --- 1996 Alton 2-7 --- 1997 Alton 5-4 --- 1998 Alton 1-8 --- Totals 203 wins, 50 losses, 6 state titles Note: Total includes six forfeit losses at East St. Louis
St. Louis 34, Geneva 26
Teams Score by Quarters F Geneva 6 0 13 7 26 E. St. Louis 14 12 0 8 34
First quarter G_Michael Ratay 4 run (kick failed), 10.25 E_Courtney Molton 10 run (kick failed), 7:42 E_Kraig Appleton 73 interception (Kraig Appleton pass from Detchauz Wray), 4:35 Second quarter E_Vincent Arterbridge 1 run (kick failed), 5:53 E_Courtney Molton 14 run (pass failed), :34 Third quarter G_Michael Ratay 51 pass from Steve Demond (Drew Fagot kick), 9:36 G_Michael Ratay 29 run (kick failed), 8:47 Fourth quarter G_Colin McCffrey 14 pass from Michael Ratay (Sean Grady kick), 11:53 E_Terry Hawthorne 24 pass from Detchauz Wray (Terry Hawthorne pass from Detchauz Wray), 8:30
Long march lifts Flyers into semifinals Touchdown pass caps 80-yard drive BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat EAST ST. LOUIS --
It was a drive that will long be remembered by the East St. Louis Flyers and their fans.
Sophomore quarterback Detchauz Wray fired a 25-yard scoring pass to Terry Hawthorne with 8 minutes and 30 seconds left to break a 26-all tie and lift the Flyers to a 34-26 win over Geneva in the quarterfinals of the Class 7A playoffs.
The eight-play, 70-yard march came after Geneva (11-1) had tied the score after trailing the Flyers 26-6 at halftime.
Keyed by a 38-yard run by freshman Vincent Arterbridge, East St. Louis responded with its most important drive of the season.
Wray, who completed just 3-of-5 passes for 39 yards, found Hawthorne wide open in the right-hand corner of the end zone on a fourth-and-8 play as the partisan crowd of more than 6,000 erupted.
"They were stacking the box on us and they were doing a good job of shooting linebackers through our gaps. We thought we would go with a max protection and two-receiver route. Our line held up," East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. "It was a risky call, but in that situation, we knew they were gambling so we had to gamble.
"Detchauz made a great throw on that play, too."
Geneva had two more possessions, but the second interception of the day by Nick Beaver and a quarterback sack by lineman Brandon Harold on the final play of the game sealed a berth in the Class 7A semifinals for the Flyers.
East St. Louis (11-1) will play the winner of the Chicago Morgan Park-Wheaton Warrenville South game for the right to play for the Class 7A state championship on Nov. 24 in Champaign.
The Flyers trailed for much of the first half.
Taking advantage of an early turnover, Geneva struck first as Michael Ratay scored on a 4-yard run with under two minutes gone in the first quarter to give the Vikings a 6-0 lead.
Ratay had a hand in all four Geneva touchdowns, adding a 29-yard run while also catching a touchdown pass and throwing a scoring pass on a halfback option.
But the Flyers responded with 26 unanswered points.
Sophomore back Courtney Molton got the Flyers on the scoreboard with a 10-yard scoring run and minutes later, Kraig Appleton picked off a pass from quarertback Michael Mayszak and returned it 73 yards for a touchdown as the Flyers grabbed a 14-6 lead.
On the play, Mayszak suffered what was believed to be a broken collarbone and did not return.
Arterbridge added a 1-yard run and Molton scored on a 14-yard run just before the half as the Flyers grabbed 26-6 lead.
Arterbridge finished with 177 yards rushing while Molton added 108.
"We knew we couldn't match their speed. We don't see speed back in the cornfields where we live," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said. "But I thought we did a great job of staying in there. We came out and played a great second half.
"The turnovers killed us, though."
Sunkett also knew the Vikings would come back.
"We told our kids at halftime that we were playing a heck of a football team and that they would come out after us in the second half," Sunkett said. "I'm proud of our kids. They could have folded but everytime they scored, we responded."
Geneva used a few tricks to get back in the game in the second half. The Vikings scored twice in less then a minute when Ratay caught a 51-yard pass from Steve Demond and then tallied on a 29-yard run.
Ratay finished with 154 yards on 26 carries and got the Vikings even at 26 when he fired a 14-yard pass to Collin McCaffrey on the first play of the fourth quarter.
But East St. Louis responded with its winning march.
FOOTBALL: ILLINOIS CLASS 7A QUARTERFINALS Fourth-down gamble lifts Flyers
SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
East St. Louis' Javaughn Tabbs (9) brings down Geneva's Michael Ratay for no gain in the first quarter. (Photo by Rod Boren) EAST ST. LOUIS — East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett knew he was taking a chance. His squad had built a 20-point lead by halftime, then watched it disappear as visiting Geneva scored 20 consecutive points in the second half to tie the score of their Class 7A quarterfinal playoff game on Saturday. In the fourth quarter, East St. Louis had fourth-and-8 at Geneva's 23-yard line. Sunkett called for max protection with just two receivers running routes, hoping the offensive line would hold the blitzing linebackers and his wideouts could get one-on-one coverage. It worked. Sophomore quarterback Detchauz Wray lofted a pass into the right side of the end zone, and Terry Hawthorne caught it for a touchdown with 8 minutes, 29 seconds remaining. Wray's 2-point conversion pass to Hawthorne gave the Flyers an eight-point lead and the defense made the difference in a 34-26 victory at Clyde C. Jordan Stadium.
"It was a risky call," Sunkett said, "but in a situation like that we knew they were gambling, so we had to gamble. We put our athletes against theirs, and ours made the play."
It was the 11th consecutive victory for East St. Louis (11-1), which will play either Wheaton Warrenville South or Chicago Morgan Park in the semifinals next weekend.
"If you can step up and make plays like that, you deserve to win," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said.
Geneva (11-1) left upstate Illinois at 8 a.m. and drove more than five hours to get to the game. After East St. Louis fumbled the ball on its first play, Geneva scored four plays later on a 5-yard run from running back Michael Ratay.
But East Side dominated the rest of the first half.
"They've got some freakish speed," Wicinski said. "There's no doubt about it. We don't see speed like that in the cornfields we come from."
The Flyers got a 10-yard touchdown run by freshman Vincent Arterbridge, a 79-yard interception return by Kraig Appleton, a 1-yard touchdown run by Arterbridge and a 26-yard touchdown run by sophomore Courtney Molton to lead 26-6 at halftime.
Arterbridge and Molton led East Side's rushing attack. Arterbridge carried 25 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Molton rushed 18 times for 126 yards and a touchdown.
Geneva, which lost its starting quarterback to a broken collarbone during the 79-yard interception return in the first quarter, used some trickery to mount its comeback.
The Vikings used a double-pass. Steve Diemand threw to Michael Faught, who threw to Ratay down the right sideline for a 49-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter. Ratay scored on a 29-yard run early in the third quarter and then threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Colin McCaffrey to tie the score early in the fourth quarter.
Ratay did it all for Geneva, rushing 28 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns, catching five passes for 69 yards and a touchdown and also throwing a 15-yard touchdown pass.
Unbeaten Wheaton team poses major test for Flyers
Flyers running back Courney Molton tries to break free from the grasp of Geneva's Sean Grady.
Columbia tackles another unbeaten BY DEAN CRIDDLE AND NORM SANDERS News-Democrat
As the last area school to win a state football championship in 1991, East St. Louis knows what it takes to bring home the big trophy.
The Flyers have done it six times.
However, the 11-1 Flyers also know how hard it is to fight through a Class 7A bracket loaded with traditional heavyweights like their semifinal opponent, defending 8A state champion Wheaton Warrenville South (12-0).
The semifinal berth is the Flyers' first since 1995, when they lost 57-27 to Chicago Mount Carmel in Class 5A.
East St. Louis and Warrenville South meet at 1 p.m. Saturday in Wheaton, the town that produced one of the most famous players in college football history -- Red Grange.
Before Grange got his "Galloping Ghost" nickname at the University of Illinois, he was known as the "Wheaton Iceman" from his days of loading and unloading heavy ice on a truck route.
Flyers coach Darren Sunkett has been pleased throughout the playoffs with his team's strong defensive play.
Following a script similar to their first-round win over Batavia, the Flyers' offense put their defense in a hole with turnovers that led to a pair of Geneva touchdowns in Saturday's game.
But the defense responded with superior play from defensive backs Kraig Appleton and Javaughn Tabbs, linebacker Nick Beaver and defensive lineman Brandon Harold.
Appleton returned an interception 73 yards for a touchdown and Beaver had a pair of interceptions. Harold dominated upfront at times, ending the game with a quarterback sack as the Flyers clinched a semifinal berth.
"The defense has been outstanding all year and (this) was no exception," Sunkett said. "It doesn't get the attention that it deserves lot of time because of our offense, but those guys have made big plays time after time."
The overflow crowd of nearly 6,000 fans also played a part in the Flyers' win.
"Our fan support has been just tremendous and it was again today," Sunkett said. "We took six fan buses to Moline. I'm hoping we'll take 20 this week."
No matter how many Flyers fans make the six-hour trek north on Saturday, East St. Louis faces a monumental task.
Warrenville South has won five state championships since 1992, including the Class 8A title a year ago when it beat another Chicago prep football giant in Mount Carmel 44-21.
The Tigers -- 38-1 in the last three years -- advanced to the semifinals by beating Chicago Public League power Morgan Park 34-0.
Junior receiver stepped up for Flyers; TD catch led way to win
East St. Louis' Terry Hawthorne carries the ball against Batavia.
BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat
One of the many offensive weapons on a team loaded with options, East St. Louis junior wide receiver Terry Hawthorne sometimes may be overlooked.
But in perhaps the biggest game at Clyde Jordan Stadium in over a decade -- and with their first semifinal playoff berth since 1995 in the balance -- Hawthorne became the Flyers' first option Saturday in a 7A quarterfinal game against Geneva.
And like he has done for most of his career, Hawthorne responded in a big way.
Running a perfect pattern, Hawthorne beat his defender and caught a 25-yard game-winning touchdown pass from quarterback Detchauz Wray as East St. Louis scored a 34-26 win.
"Terry was our first option on that play," Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said. "We knew we had the opportunity to get him out on their corner. We took a shot and it worked to our favor."
Hawthorne has a history of big-play performances in the playoffs. As a sophomore, he ran 9 yards for a touchdown on a broken play with 3:50 remaining to give the Flyers a 33-27 second-round win over conference rival Edwardsville.
The play against Geneva also showed the great chemistry between Hawthorne and Wray.
"He did a good job of getting open, and Detchauz did a good job of freezing the linebackers with the play action," Sunkett said. "They were gambling, and so we had to gamble. Fortunately for us, our gamble paid off."
The dramatic win earned East St. Louis the right to travel north to face top-ranked Wheaton Warrenville South (12-0) in a 1 p.m. semifinal Saturday.
Warrenville South has a 26-game winning streak and has won 38 of its last 39 games.
Being one of the Flyers' top options is nothing new to Hawthorne. He and junior speedster Kraig Appleton are part of one of the state's top receiving combinations.
Hawthorne has caught 41 passes for 973 yards and 10 touchdowns. Appleton has 48 catches for 850 yards and seven scores.
Add in 1,000-yard rushers Courtney Molton and Vincent Arterbridge and the accurate passing of Wray, and it's easy to see why the Flyers' offense has been dominant.
"Terry and Kraig make a nice combination," Sunkett said. "It's good when defenses can't load up coverages on just one guy. They have to play them honest, and they're tough to contain one-on-one.
"To go along with the other weapons we've got, it's difficult for teams to try and stop us. They can't load up on us and cheat."
The semifinal berth is special for the 42-year-old Sunkett. He has had his share of detractors despite guiding the Flyers to one of the area's top records in his eight years at the helm.
Sunkett, who led Riverview Gardens to a Missouri state championship before taking over the Flyers, has now led East St. Louis to back-to-back Southwestern Conference championships.
His 2006 Flyers reached the Class 7A quarterfinals before losing to Providence Catholic of New Lenox.
In a city that has already seen the Flyers win six state football championships, their recent success has fans excited again. East Side's last state title was in 1991.
Two weeks ago, East St. Louis took six fan buses to Moline for a second-round playoff game and at least six are expected to make the 5 1/2 -hour trek Saturday.
Against Geneva, a crowd of nearly 6,000 fans made themselves known early as East St. Louis held on for the win.
Sunkett is happy with the direction the Flyers are headed.
"I didn't think it would take this long to get us into the semifinals," Sunkett said. "But I'll tell you what, football in the state of Illinois is pretty tough. You just don't know what is waiting for you once you go up north.
"We've had a lot of success down here in Southern Illinois, and we've had some pretty successful records in the past. We've just come up a little short in the playoffs. You don't realize how difficult it is to win a championship and how much you cherish it until you don't get there for a while."
State just one step away for East Side Flyers' opponent has won 26 straight games BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat
As the East St. Louis Flyers prepared for their Class 7A semifinal clash with Wheaton Warrenville South, coach Darren Sunkett said he had no plans of giving a Vince Lombardi-type pregame pep talk.
As the 42-year-old Sunkett sees it, there is no need for one with the Flyers trying to snap Warrenville South's 26-game winning streak.
"The time for that is over," Sunkett said. "These guys know what's at stake, because playing for and winning a state title is what we talked about last summer. Now it's right in front of us and it's within reach.
"These kids know that and I expect that they will give everything they have to help us take that last step. A game like this is what they play for."
The Flyers (11-1) look to take that final step at 1 p.m. today when they play at Warrenville South for a berth in the Class 7A state title game Nov. 24 at the University of Illinois in Champaign.
The semifinal berth is the first since 1995 for the six-time state champions. East Side will take on the team that has dominated prep football in Illinois since 1992 as the Flyers did in the 1980s. The Tigers (12-0) won the Class 8A state championship a year ago and have four other state championships in the past 15 years.
Warrenville South has a 26-game winning streak with a 38-1 record in its last 39 games. The Tigers are also geared up for the future as their four underclass teams were a combined 38-0 this season.
"We're pleased with the direction the football program is headed," Tigers coach Ron Muhlich said. "We're fortunate to have good kids who have bought into our system and way of doing things."
Led by senior quarterback Mike Piatkowski, the Tigers advanced to the semifinals with a 34-0 win over Chicago Morgan Park. This is the third straight semifinal appearance by the Tigers.
"The score is a little misleading because we got a couple of late touchdowns and broke it open a little bit," Muhlich said. "Morgan Park is similar to East St. Louis in that they rely on size and speed. I think East St. Louis may have a little better balance, however."
Piatkowski is the Tigers' leader. The 6-foot-1, 155-pound quarterback has completed 142 of 225 passes for 1,915 yards and 21 touchdowns. Junior Mike Floboda is the top receiver, catching 46 passes for 574 yards and six touchdowns. Francis Adarkwa is the Tigers' best in the backfield, rushing for 866 yards and 13 scores.
"They run a number of formations and give defenses a lot to look at," Sunkett said. "They aren't that big or fast, but they know what it takes and they play well together. They are a team which won't beat themselves with mistakes and turnovers."
East St. Louis has been able to overcome turnover issues in two of the last three weeks to beat Batavia and Geneva on the road to the semifinals.
Of the seven touchdowns given up by the Flyers in playoff home wins over Batavia and Geneva, five have come after East St. Louis turnovers.
"You're going to make them," Sunkett said. "The positive thing is that we've been able to come right back after turnovers and score ourselves."
While the Tigers have had to contend with all kinds of teams this season, East St. Louis may have the most offensive weapons.
The Flyers have a pair of 1,000-yard running backs in freshman Vincent Arterbridge (1,142 yards) and sophomore Courtney Molton (1,288 yards), two of the top receivers in the state in juniors Terry Hawthorne (973 yards, 10 TDs) and Kraig Appleton (850 yards, seven TDs) along with sophomore quarterback Detchauz Wray (1,982 yards, 23 TDs).
With that offense and a strong defense, don't expect the Flyers to be intimidated when they battle one of the top programs in the Midwest.
"They put on their cleats the same way we do," Sunkett said. "We're not going all the way up there to take a back seat to those guys. We know that we've got a good football team and so do they. We're anxious to play the game."
FOOTBALL Supporters step up as the Flyers head out
SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
East St. Louis athletics director Leonard Manley sounds like a travel agent.
"We took eight buses of fans to Moline, and I expect even more will be going this week to Wheaton," Manley said. "One thing about East St. Louis fans, they support their athletic teams. Every fan in East St. Louis will be there." East St. Louis (11-1) will try today to move one step closer to a seventh state title when it travels to Wheaton Warrenville South (12-0) for a Class 7A semifinal game. Warrenville South has won 26 consecutive games and five state championships, including the 2006 Class 8A title. The East St. Louis-Warrenville South winner advances to the Nov. 24 title game in Champaign against either Lake Zurich (11-1) or Mundelein Carmel (10-2).
"There's a feeling in the air right now that this could be a very good year," Manley said.
While East St. Louis is hardly a stranger to postseason success, its advancement this deep might be a surprise to some, at least on the surface. Many of its skilled positions are manned by underclassmen, including quarterback Detchauz Wray, running backs Courtney Molton and Vincent Arterbridge, and receivers Terry Hawthorne and Kraig Appleton.
Wray, a sophomore, has passed for 23 touchdowns and is 18 yards shy of becoming the third Southwestern Conference quarterback to pass for more than 2,000 yards in a season.
Molton (1,288), a sophomore, and Arterbridge (1,152), a freshman, have combined to run for more than 2,400 yards and 32 touchdowns.
Junior receivers Hawthorne and Appleton have combined for 79 catches, more than 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns. No Southwestern Conference school has ever produced two 40-reception receivers in the same season, but Hawthorne (41 receptions) and Appleton (38) could change that this weekend.
"Oh somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light; And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout. But there is no joy in Mudville ..." So said Thayer. I'd bet there were some quiet bus rides back to ESL. I recall the ride home after the loss to Glenbrook North. Winslow almost caught that ball. If only that direct snap had worked. T.
Turnovers wreck Flyers' dream of state title
East St. Louis' #8 Vincent Arterbridge tries to break away from Wheaton Warrenville South's #81 Orlando Ross as #45 Philip Traynor closes in.
Flyers' season ends with semifinal loss BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat WHEATON --
Plagued by turnovers throughout the postseason, the East St. Louis Flyers finally met their match Saturday at Red Grange Stadium.
On a windy, cold afternoon with snow flurries swirling, East St. Louis committed five turnovers and fell to top-ranked Wheaton Warrenville South 26-0 in the semifinals of the Class 7A playoffs.
After limiting the Tigers to 15 yards of total offense in the first half and down just 5-0 at halftime, the Flyers seemed on the verge of taking the lead after they moved the ball deep into Tigers' territory late in the third quarter.
But on third-and-16 from the 21-yard line, Flyers quarterback Detchauz Wray was intercepted by Sam Burke, who returned the ball to the 35.
Eight plays later, running back Peter Jarrett scored on a 12-yard run to making it 12-0 with just under nine minutes left in the game.
Wray was intercepted two more times late in the game, both leading to Tigers' touchdowns as the 2006 Class 8A state champions clinched yet another title game berth.
Warrenville South (13-0) will play either Lake Zurich or Mundelein Carmel in the title game at 4 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
East St. Louis ends its season at 11-2.
"It's been a problem for us throughout the playoffs and today it finally caught up to us," said Flyers coach Darren Sunkett of the turnovers. "But the further you advance the more difficult it is to recover from them.
"Good teams are going to take advantage of mistakes and that's exactly what they did today."
Coming off a 34-0 win over Chicago Morgan Park last week, Warrenville South was without injured starting halfback Francis Adarkwa.
Struggling to get any offense against a fired-up Flyers' defense, the Tigers settled for a 25-yard field goal by Dan Conroy and a safety to take a 5-0 halftime lead.
The Flyers dominated the first half offensively, but fumbled on their first three possessions, losing two of them.
"People don't realize that when you put the very best teams together in a big game, defense is going to prevail. It's the team that makes plays and creates opportunities which is going to win, and we did that today," Tigers coach Ron Muhlich said. "You are talking to someone who was in charge of defenses which helped win four state championships.
"Like Morgan Park did last week, East St. Louis was able to neutralize us for three quarters. We just made the big plays down the stretch."
Freshman Vincent Artebridge (76 rushing yards) and sophomore Courtney Molton (73 rushing yards) were impressive in the first half. But both had crucial fumbles early that ended drives.
"The turnovers early in the game really hurt us," Sunkett said. "They didn't get any points out of them, but I thought we had some things working well and turning the ball over just killed our momentum.
"I was very pleased with the defense. I thought it played very well all day."
The Flyers' best offensive possession of the second half came late in the third quarter.
Sparked by a 25-yard pass from Wray to Terry Hawthorne, the Flyers had the ball inside the Warrenville South 15-yard line.
But after both Artebridge and Molton were caught for losses on running plays, Wray was forced to pass on third down, setting up Burke's interception.
Trailing 12-0 with eight minutes left, the Flyers moved the ball near midfield, where Wray was intercepted by defensive end Jeff Schuman.
Eight plays later, quarterback Michael Piatkowski connected on a shovel pass to Mike Sloboda for a 10-yard scoring pass that pushed Warrenville South's lead to 19-0.
Flyers may need time to solidify Some athletes played football BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat EAST ST. LOUIS --
Loaded in talent once again, the East St. Louis Flyers should be one of the top teams in the St. Louis area during the 2007-08 campaign.
The question in the minds of coach Dennis Brooks and those who follow the Flyers hoopsters is when?
With 6-6, 270-pound senior Brandon Harold and highly touted freshman Keante Minor still rounding into basketball shape after helping the Flyers reach the Class 7A football playoffs, it may take East St. Louis more time then usual to gel as a unit.
"I think its more getting into basketball shape then anything, running up and down the court," Brooks said. "In the case of Brandon (Harold), he's a smart kid, and he knows our system. It's just going to take time.
"I think we have a chance to be a very good basketball team."
Co-champions in the Southwestern Conference along with Alton, East St. Louis finished 23-5 a year ago, losing to Cahokia at the Althoff Class AA Regional.
This year, the Flyers return four players with a lot of experience in Harold, 6-2 Chris Little and the Sain brothers -- Darian and Durand.
Little scored 19 points and Darian Sain added 12 on Monday as the Flyers opened the season with a 53-47 loss to Lincoln at the Lincoln Tournament.
East St. Louis continues play in the event today when it travels to O'Fallon to take on the Southwestern Conference rival Panthers.
While Harold will handle the chores inside, Darian Sain is perhaps the Flyers' top offensive threat, averaging 15 points a game last season.
Sain will team in the Flyers backcourt with his younger brother, Durand. Both 5-9, the Sains have the ability to shoot from the perimeter or go to the hoop.
"Darian is the better offensive player, while Durand handles the basketball a little better," Brooks said. "They are both really quick and play pretty good defense at times as well."
Little is an athletic slasher-type player who goes to the basket well and can shoot the 3-point shot, while Harold is a physical force inside on both ends of the floor.
Harold is one of the top offensive and defensiive linemen in the nation and a major Division I football recruit.
"He's a very intimidating player inside on both ends of the floor," Brooks said of Harold. "His offensive skills have also improved. He can step out and hit the 10-12 foot jumper."
Minor (6-2) is a star of the future for the Flyers, who will also see Ramon Rias, De'Auche Enlow, Courtney Crogier, Marcus Ford and Ronald Lawson, have playing time
Junior guard makes key shots for Flyers ESL edges Alton in SWC opener BY DEAN CRIDDLE News-Democrat EAST ST. LOUIS --
Gerald Ray's practice sessions carried over to game action Friday at East St. Louis High School.
A relatively unknown junior guard, the 6-foot Ray broke loose for 17 points as East St. Louis opened play in the rugged Southwestern Conference with a 57-52 win over Alton.
One of four Flyers in double figures, Ray scored 11 first-half points, then added six points in the fourth quarter. His 15-foot jumper with under a minute left gave the Flyers (3-3) a 56-52 lead.
"It was one of those shots that you don't really want taken but glad when it goes in. But he (Ray) can shoot the basketball," Flyers coach Dennis Brooks said. "He just came out this week and had a great week of practice. I told him earlier that if he practiced like this there was no way I could keep him off the floor."
Darian Sain added 16 points while Chris Little and Brandon Harold chipped in with 10 points each for the Flyers, who also held highly touted Redbirds star Rueben Cotto to 19 points.
Cotto, a transfer from Miami, already has a 47-point effort to his credit and is regarded by many as one of the top prep guards in the nation.
Alton trailed by 11 points in the second half, but rallied behind Cotto. His back-to-back layups cut the lead to 54-52 before Ray gave the Flyers some breathing room.
Alton (4-1), proved to be its own worst enemy. Settling for the perimeter game, the Redbirds did not shoot a free throw all night and had just 12 rebounds for the game.
The Flyers, led by the 6-6 Harold and 6-2 Little, had total of 18 offensive rebounds. The lack of rebounding came as no surprise to first year Alton coach Layne Bennett.
"So what's new. We've gotten beat on the boards almost every night," Bennett said. "It's an issue we address every night in practice. East St. Louis is bigger, more physical and jumps better then we do. They should outrebound us."
Getting 10 first half points each from Sain and Ray, the Flyers led 31-27 at halftime. A 3-pointer by Cotto tied the game at 35 early in the second half, and when the sharp-shooter found Brandon Smith underneath for a layup, Alton took a 37-35 lead.
But it would be six minutes until Alton would score again as the Flyers went on a 12-0 run.
Two free throws by Little, a pair of strong moves and baskets by Harold and baskets by Sain, Little and Ray keyed the spurt which ended with the Flyers holding a 47-37 lead.