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New IHSA rules put limits on full-contact football practice

The IHSA Board of Directors on Monday approved new restrictions on high school football practices.

The changes came from the recommendation of a special sports medicine advisory committee and football advisory committee to limit the hours and days per week that teams can conduct full-contract drills.

Football teams will be limited to 90 minutes of full-contact practice spread out over a maximum of three days each week. The limit takes effect each August on the Monday preceding the first game.

A second change limits full-contact drills to one practice during preseason two-a-days.

The IHSA will host webinars to provide more information and address the policy changes with member schools.

Other changes approved by the board effect post-season formats and player eligibility:

▪  Beginning in 2015-16, team-bracketed sport teams (baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball) in class 1A and 2A, as well as those outside of Chicago in Class 3A and 4A, will now be assigned to two sub-sectionals (as opposed to four Regionals) that feed into a sectional site. Each sub-sectional will be seeded and the top two seeds sent to different regional sites. The competing regional site of the remaining teams in each sub-sectional will be determined by geography.

In Class 3A and Class 4A team-bracketed sports, teams will continue to be placed in the current sectional complex format.

▪  In the IHSA Football Playoffs, Class 1A-6A will be seeded in two geographic brackets 1-16, eliminating the previous mileage component within the Policy that would change the bracket to quadrants if certain travel mileage distances were exceeded. Class 7A and 8A will now be seeded 1-32.

▪  The board approved a recommendation to open the lacrosse entry process to schools in August. If 65 schools enter to participate in the boys lacrosse state series and 40 schools enter to participate in the girls lacrosse state series, the IHSA will begin to formulate a process for hosting an inaugural state tournament.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/sports/high-school/prep-football/article24505927.html#storylink=cpy

Former Flyers Phillips and Pierson are signed as NFL free agents

By Norm Sanders


Ty Phillips knew it would be tough to get noticed at tiny Missouri Valley College, an NAIA college located in Marshall, Mo.

But once the former East St. Louis and Belleville East defensive end went to work, Phillips attracted plenty of attention as one of only two two-time All-Americans in school history and signed as a free-agent with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns this week.

Former East St. Louis star running back Tony Pierson, whose speed dazzled with the Kansas Jayhawks, signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bears.

“With me coming from a small school I was honored to get that opportunity to get to a pro mini-camp,” said Phillips, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive end who had a strong pro day at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and got a phone call from the Browns not long after.

The Browns called him again right after the draft to invite him to their mini-camp, which opens Friday in Cleveland.

“It’s something I’ve been working toward all my life to have an opportunity to have an NFL team call me,” Phillips said. “ I had a pretty good pro day and they ended up calling me late last week letting me know they had a lot of interest in me. I worked hard to get to to it and now it’s here.”

Phillips had 19 1/2 sacks in 2012, his first season at Missouri Valley and finished with 42 1/2 sacks for his college career. He also had an incredible 77 1/2 tackles for loss along with two interceptions, seven forced fumbles and 231 total tackles.

His 9 1/2 sacks this season ranked ninth in the nation.

Previous metro-east NFL signings

Phillips and Pierson will join other former metro-east standouts Travis Manning (Belleville West, Northwest Missouri State), Warren Herring (Belleville East, Wisconsin) and Jimmie Hunt (Cahokia, Missouri) in NFL rookie mini-camps this weekend.

Williams is with the Kansas City Chiefs, Herring signed with the Atlanta Falcons and Hunt signed with the Green Bay Packers.

Phillips originally signed with Missouri following his senior year at East St. Louis. He also attended Georgetown (Ky.) before finally finding a home at Missouri Valley, where he was a two-time AFCA All-American and two-time Heart of America Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

He also was a three-time first-team all-conference selection and got more votes than any other NAIA player nationally for the Cliff Harris Award, which goes to the nation’s top small-college defensive player.

“We are very excited about the opportunity for Ty to represent himself and Missouri Valley football at the professional level,” Missouri Valley head coach Paul Troth said. “Ty has proven to be a dominant player in college and it is nice to see his skills noticed by those at the highest level of football.”

During his first season at Missouri Valley in 2012, Phillips helped lead the team to the NAIA Final Four and a 10-0 regular-season mark.

“I’m most proud of helping take my team to the final four my first year,” Phillips said. “It had been a hump for them making it out of the first round of the playoffs and we were inches away from making it to the big game.”

Phillips said all he could ask for at this point was an opportunity to show his skills to an NFL team.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I want to show how hard work pays off. It would be great for me to make it being from East St. Louis and the ’618’ area, being able to represent that area. I want to show we’ve got really good football talent.”

Pierson (5-10, 173) turned in a 4.41-second 40-yard dash during his pro day at Kansas. Playing both running back and receiver last season, he carried the ball 72 times for 323 yards as a senior, also catching 22 passes for 203 yards and scoring three TDs.

“He definitely has blazing speed,” Phillips said. “He was one of the fastest guys I’ve seen in high school running the ball.”

Pierson’s career college totals with the Jayhawks include 1,684 yards rushing with nine TDs on 284 carries, including one 200-plus yards rushing game and another 100-plus yards day. He also caught 75 passes for 871 yards and another four TDs.

He finished his time as a Jayhawk with 1,684 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 284 carries. He also hauled in 75 receptions for 871 yards and four scores. Pierson has a 200-yard rushing game and a 100-yard receiving game to his credit.

Pierson was an honorable mention All-Big 12 Conference pick as a sophomore in 2012. He started nine games that season and ran for 760 yards and four TDs on 117 carries, adding 21 receptions for 291 yards and two TDs.

Pierson had 5,661 yards rushing and 76 touchdowns in high school, spending his first three seasons at Gateway Tech in St. Louis before closing out his career with the East St. Louis Flyers.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at nsanders@bnd.com or 618-239-2454. Follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/sports/college/article20277756.html#storylink=cpy

IHSA: Concussions lawsuit 'threatens' football, should be dismissed

The nation's first prep sports governing body to face a class-action concussions lawsuit has asked an Illinois judge to dismiss the suit, arguing that if it prevails, it could kill football programs statewide.

In its 16-page motion filed in Cook County Circuit Court, the Illinois High School Association, or IHSA, says it and its 800 member schools have been proactive about improving head-injury management for the 50,000 football players they oversee each year.

The motion calls the suit "a misguided effort that threatens high school football."

The filing is the first full response to the lawsuit — filed in November and slightly amended in January — that seeks court supervision over how high schools manage head injuries. The IHSA filed the response late Friday and provided a copy to The Associated Press.

The filing echoes IHSA Director Marty Hickman's previous comments that court-imposed mandates could make football prohibitively expensive for poorer schools, especially Chicago's public high schools, and lead to "haves and have nots" in the sport.

Plaintiff attorney Joseph Siprut has said improving safety should help football survive, not lead to its demise. He said football is already in jeopardy because parents fearful of concussions are refusing to let their kids play, potentially drying up the talent pool.

  • Gotta win boys and girls. Gotta show how important that Friday night win over the other town is. Just have to win, and so what if it is dangerous to the head, we have plenty of kids to replace those that get injured, or later in life show effects from the banging of the head. It is well worth...
    at 1:45 AM April 18, 2015
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Siprut, a Chicago-based lawyer, texted a brief comment Monday saying he looked forward to answering the IHSA arguments and to one day "working with the IHSA to craft a solution to the challenges posed by concussions."

College and professional football have faced a barrage of class-action lawsuits in recent years. But the one that names the IHSA as defendant is the first of its kind against a high school football governing body. Each of the 50 states has its own governing body.

The IHSA's new filing says it can't be compared to the cash-rich NCAA and NFL. The IHSA has $10 million in yearly revenue to pay for more than 40 sports and activities statewide, and court-imposed mandates could be financially crippling, it argues.

The suit doesn't ask for monetary damages. In addition to court oversight, however, it seeks requirements that medical personnel be at all games and practices. It also calls for the IHSA to pay for medical testing of former high school players extending back to 2002.

The IHSA filing says having a court-administered high school head-injury policy — rather than leaving it to the IHSA, school boards and state legislators — would be unwieldy. It questions how a judge would act as enforcer if a school fails to have a physician at a practice.

"Sanction the IHSA?" it asks. "The local school board? The principal? The athletic director? The coaches? All of the above?"

The lead plaintiff, named in the amended suit, is Alex Pierscionek, a South Elgin High School lineman from 2010 to 2014. He says he still suffers memory loss from concussions he received at the suburban Chicago school, one of which led to him being airlifted to an area hospital.

But the IHSA included in its filing papers Pierscionek and a parent signed agreeing "to assume the full risk" of injuries. "Based on his expressed assumption of risk," the filing says, "the plaintiff's claims should be dismissed."

A status hearing in the case is set for April 23.

Associated Press

Illinois Preseason Prep Bowl schedule is set for 2015 event

The Preseason Prep Bowl at Soldier Field has set its slate of games for the 2015 event.

A triple-header will feature four teams from Chicago, another from Illinois and one from Pennsylvania. The official date has not been  confirmed as it is dependent on whether the Chicago Bears have a preseason game on Saturday, August 29 or Sunday, August 30.

St. Rita has had double-digit wins in seven of its last nine seasons.

The games will start at Noon with Mt. Carmel taking on Marist, followed by St. Rita facing Malvern Prep (Malvern, PA), and closing with Simeon and East St. Louis (IL).

Mt. Carmel played in the event to open 2014 and lost to St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia, PA) by a single point, 28-27. The Caravan went on to finish the year with an 8-5 record after turning over the majority of its roster.

Marist finished 4-5 in 2014 with three losses coming by a single score.

The two teams last played in 2008 with Mt. Carmel winning, 42-7.

St. Rita opened the 2014 season with four wins but fell in four of its final five contests to end the year with a disappointing record of 7-5.

The Mustangs won the 2013 state championship and have had double-digit wins in seven of the last nine years. The program is expected to rebound next year as well.

Likewise, Malvern Prep will be looking to improve after a 7-4 campaign.

The Friars have struggled to recapture the success it had from 2005 through 2008 when the team was a combined 37-4. Malvern has lost at least four games in four of the last six seasons.

The nightcap figures to be the marquis game of the day with Simeon and East St. Louis battling.

Simeon has proven to be much more than just a basketball school as over the last six seasons the program has averaged 10 wins per year. It has become an expected participant deep in the playoffs and not a shock to be active close to Thanksgiving.

East St. Louis will look to regain its placement within the state after it closed out its worst season in nearly a decade.

The 7-5 record in 2014 was the worst since a 7-win season in 2005. In between the Flyers had not won fewer than nine games and had five years with 10 wins or more.

East St. Louis could bring in the most raw talent and featuring receiver Karon Randolph and offensive lineman Trevour Simms may have the most heavily recruited dup on the day.

Ultimately the event has taken a slight step backwards as none of the six teams will be a factor in the preseason HSFB100 after it had three ranked teams in the 2014 showcase. Simeon, St. Rita, East St. Louis, and Mt. Carmel all should figure into the preseason Top 15 for Illinois when the rankings are released in July.

The Missouri Football program has a lot to look forward to in the up coming seasons, Mizzou have landed four of the East St Louis Flyers most sought after players In the past two years. last year Mizzou singed quarter back Dominic Nelson and all purpose conerback  Gregory Taylor. This year the Mizzou program singed the best running back in the state of Illinois Nate Strong and the number two overall player in the country Terry Beckner Jr  and we as East St Louis Fans we are proud of our young men and what they have acomplished here at East St Louis Sr High School and as they continue on thair jouney we will be rallying behind them all the way.......Flyer Nation

Terry Beckner Jr. to play   for Mizzou

Kenny Knight pick Ball State

East St. Louis High School’s Terry Beckner waives to friends while holding a University of Missouri pennant. Beckner Jr. announced his intent to play football for the University of Missouri. Beckner Jr. made the announcement Wednesday at the East St. Louis School. STEVE NAGY

East St. Louis High School’s Kenny Knight dons a Ball State cap after he announced his intention to play football at the university. STEVE NAGY


Flyers’ Beckner is nation’s top senior football recruit

Just watching Terry Beckner Jr. walk onto a football field was an intimidating experience.

Seeing a 6-foot-4, 298-pound senior defensive tackle with size, speed, strength and skill conveniently wrapped up in one really, really large package tends to have that effect on people.

And Beckner isn’t just big — he’s nationwide.

He is the No. 1 senior football recruit in the country on the ESPN 300 list of 2015 high school graduates and also an Under Armour All-American. Rivals.com has Beckner rated as the No. 1 recruit in Illinois and the fifth-best at his position in the nation.

Area coaches had no trouble voting Beckner the 2014 Belleville News-Democrat Defensive Player of the Year.

“He looks like an NFL football player in high school,” Belleville West coach Cameron Pettus said of Beckner, who finished with 116 tackles, three sacks, a fumble recovery and an interception for a Flyers team that reached the Class 6A quarterfinals. “He’s so big and so athletic and runs so well. He’s just an athletic specimen. He’s the best player that I’ve seen in a long time.”

Edwardsville quarterback and BND Offensive Player of the Year Dan Marinko talked about playing against Beckner, calling him “without a doubt one of the scariest guys to line up across. He was in the back of my mind on every play. It was an honor to play against Terry ever since middle school and he is going to be a star at the next level.”

Beckner had a lot of fun on the football field, much of it coming at the expense of opposing ballcarriers and quarterbacks. He said he can bench 350 pounds and runs a 4.8-second 40-yard dash.

“Just throwing everyone around, getting sacks and tackles for a loss,” he said when asked why football was so fun for him.

And because of his reputation and size and talent, Beckner saw just about everything opposing coaches could think of when it came to finding a way to slow him down.

“Double-teaming me low, two people at the bottom of me, it was always something,” he said, “but I got used to it. It was pretty tough, but I love challenges. I liked that a lot. It was just a lot of hard work and that hard work really paid off.”

Pettus talked about what West did the last few years trying to game plan for Beckner.

“First was trying to avoid him at all cost,” Pettus said. “If we didn’t, then we’d try to get two bodies on him to try to slow him down. You try to run some misdirection if you can. But it didn’t matter who it was, nobody could block him when he really went after the quarterback.”

In the last two years, Beckner has received scholarship offers from some of the nation’s best college football programs. He’s narrowed things down to five schools and has already visited Florida State.

He is also considering Auburn, Ohio State, Oregon and is expected to make his final visit to Missouri.

A four-year starter for the Flyers, Beckner followed in the football tradition of his father and uncles who also played in the city.

“My dad and all my uncles, they’re proud of me,” he said.

Beckner also loved the football tradition at East St. Louis, which includes seven state championships and a national reputation. His teams enjoyed playoff success all four seasons, never failing to reach the second round or further while putting up 33 wins.

“It’s third round of the playoffs or better around here,” he said. “It was really something with the tradition. (The pressure) is kind of tough, but we fought through it.”

This was no easy season for a Flyers team that lost its first three games against stiff competition. Playing teams like Cincinnati St. Xavier, (Lombard) Montini and Edwardsville would be a virtual minefield for most high school football programs, but the Flyers have never backed off from tough opponents.

“You’ve just got to keep your head,” Beckner said. “If you win (the fans) will be with you and when you lose, they’re not. It goes like that.”

East Side won its next four games, suffered a 29-28 loss to Belleville West, then pounded Collinsville in the regular-season finale to reach the 6A playoffs. The Flyers knocked off Peoria Richwoods (40-19) and Normal West (67-28) before ending the season with a 49-27 road defeat in the quarterfinals against Peoria Notre Dame.

Beckner was proud of being a two-way starter at offensive and defensive tackle, as well as knowing teams were showing him respect by trying to run away from him.

“It was kind of frustrating and in the playoffs they were doing that a lot,” he said.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/12/18/3570800_flyers-beckner-left-a-major-impact.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Belleville News-Democrat Large-School Football Players of the Year

2014 - Dan Marinko, Edwardsville (Offense); 

Terry Beckner Jr., East St. Louis (Defense)

2013 - Dan Marinko, Edwardsville

2012 - Darius Mosely, O'Fallon; Pierre Gee-Tucker, Belleville West

2011 - Ejay Johnson, O'Fallon

2010 - Keante Minor, East St. Louis

2009 - Courtney Molton, East St. Louis

2008 - Terry Hawthorne, East St. Louis

2007 - Jason Ford, Althoff

2006 - Jason Ford, Althoff

2005 - E.J. Jones, Edwardsville

2004 - Shane McBride, Triad; Daniel Moore, O'Fallon

2003 - Julius Denzmore, East St. Louis

2002 - Milan Woodard, Edwardsville

2001 - Travanti Hill, Cahokia; Tyler Yates, Triad

2000 - Damien Nash, East St. Louis

1999 - Joe Bevis, Edwardsville

1998 - - Tony Patterson, Belleville East

1997 - Byron Gettis, Cahokia

1996 - Jimmie Dougherty, Edwardsville

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/12/18/3570800_flyers-beckner-left-a-major-impact.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

     We are resilient we are over comers , We are the                               EAST ST LOUIS FLYERS  

The hardest thing to do is say good bye before its time. The season mission didn't end as planned however, there are accomplishments to be proud of. It's unfortunate that no matter the circumstances, you are required to be better than great and expected to overcome ALL obstacles when reality you are just teenage boys fighting for a chance. Although it's unfair, it's reality and to be successful we have to work harder than the year before. We have to be stronger than the year before and we have to develop the burning desire to be CHAMPIONS. We are proud of each and every kid that played this year. Some will never play ball again and others will go on to represent in true ESL fashion. Thank you for a job well done seniors, you will be missed. For the underclassmen hopefully you see nothing will be given. Strive to be better than great and success will come your way. Hold your head high as you have nothing to be ashamed of. Wear the colors with pride and understand you have a reputation to uphold! It's takes a lot to be a Esl Flyers and only the STRONG will survive. We take this time to say thank you to all for 2014 both players and fans. It's been a long and bumpy ride.


Flyers end playoffs with lost to Peoria  Notre Dame 49 to 27

PEORIA HEIGHTS • A pair of controversial calls, some bad clock management and Andy Shadid combined to end East St. Louis' football season 49-27 in a Class 6A quarterfinal Saturday at Richwoods High School.

Shadid, a senior, ran for 193 yards on 20 carries and scored five touchdowns. He scored on runs of 37, 21, 23, 18 and 5 yards.

"We knew we had to be aggressive against this team," Shadid said. "I think we succeeded in doing that."

Shadid scored the game's first touchdown with 2:24 left in the first quarter. East Side's Natereace Strong returned the following kickoff 90 yards to tie the game 7-7. Shadid's second touchdown early in the second quarter made it 14-7 and closed the scoring in the first half.

East Side (7-5) drove deep into Notre Dame territory as time wound down in the first half. The Flyers reached the 5-yard line but ran out of time while trying to set up to run a play.

Marvin Young scored a touchdown when he went in from 4 yards out with 8:43 left in the third quarter for a 14-14 tie.

East Side had momentum and was stifling the Fighting Irish offense on the next series. Still, Notre Dame (12-0) managed a few first downs on its next possession and was awarded new life with a controversial roughing the passer call. The Flyers' Jeff Thomas had intercepted the pass on the play.

The penalty set up another Shadid rushing touchdown to put Notre Dame ahead 21-14. The following kickoff was an onside attempt by the Irish. It failed to go 10 yards, but the officials ruled an East St. Louis player touched the ball, meaning Fighting Irish players could try and recover the ball without it traveling 10 yards.

Notre Dame got possession of the ball at its own 46-yard line.

"It turned the whole game around," East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. "Same with the roughing the passer call. It changed momentum, but that's part of the game. Every game comes down to two or three plays and that's what happened here. It happened so close that it really put us behind the 8 ball."

Four plays after the onside kick, quarterback Demarco Washington connected with Jake Hurst for a touchdown on a shovel-pass to give Notre Dame a 27-14 lead.

East Side came right back when sophomore quarterback Rayondus Estes hit Jeff Thomas on a 34-yard touchdown pass. It made it 27-21 with 11:37 remaining.

But Shadid was at it again, scoring on runs 18 yards with 6:44 left and 5 yards with 3:21 to go, pushing the lead to 42-21 and essentially putting the game out of reach.

Luke Shadid added a touchdown on a double reverse with 1:14 left to extend the lead to 49-21.

Thomas and Estes connected for 2 yards with 24 seconds left to close out the scoring.

"It was great playing against a team like them," Notre Dame coach Joe Walters said. "It definitely makes us a better team."

Strong finished his career at East Side with 155 yards on 24 carries. Senior Marvin Young, who was averaging over 210 a game in the playoffs, finished with 46 yards on 23 carries. Thomas had 50 yards on seven catches, Estes completed 11 of 16 for 83 yards.

"I'm proud of the kids," Sunkett said, "They left it all on the field. We have a young team, so hopefully they learned some things and will take what the seniors taught them and come back stronger."

 One metro east team standing

Maurice Scott, Jr.

Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 7:16 pm

By Maurice Scott, Jr.

I had a big smile on my face. As I was riding down State Street in East Boogie and through the metro east, I noticed that there were no lights on at the football stadiums around the Southwestern Conference.

It was complete darkness at Edwardsville, Belleville West, Belleville East. Only one place was still open for business. That would be Clyde C. Jordan Stadium in East St. Louis. Of all of the teams in the metro east that qualified for the Illinois state playoffs, only one remains standing after two weeks. Yes, that would be your East St. Louis Flyers.

I called my friend O. C. Hughes Jr. and asked him to tell all my friends at church especially my friend Mr. Curry, and the "street patrol" that my guy Darren Sunkett and his boys still have the lights on in mid-November.

The Flyers blasted Normal Community 67-28 in the second round of the IHSA Class 6A playoffs last Saturday.

Running backs Nate Strong and Marvin "Beast Mode" Young combined for 404 of the team’s 466 yards on the ground for the afternoon. Strong had 11 carries for 240 yards and four touchdowns while Young had 24 carries for 164 yards and two TDs. All State wide-out Jeff Thomas had four receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown.  In addition, he had eight tackles on defense.

This weekend, the Flyers return to Richard Pryor’s hometown of Peoria to take on the 11-0 Irish of Peoria Notre Dame in the state quarterfinals. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m.

It marks the Flyers’ second trip to Peoria in the postseason. Two weeks ago, East Side  put a thumping on Peoria Richwoods 40-19 in the opening round of the playoffs. Next up is a quarter-final date with the other big shot independent school in town in Peoria Notre Dame.

The Irish are 18-3 in there last two seasons. They are fresh off a 41-0 win over Chatham Glenwood last Saturday. The Irish are led by Luke Andy, and David Shadid.

Andy has rushed for 1,013 yards in only seven games. He missed five games due to an injured finger. Against Glenwood, he rushed for 263 yards and three TDs. Wide-out David Shadid had a 54-yard touchdown reception from quarterback. Demarco Washington.

An independent powerhouse, Notre Dame will join the new Western Big 12 conference along with Peoria Richwoods, Peoria High, along with members of the Western Big 6, among others.

Notre Dame scored more than 60 points on three occasions, with the low point coming last week against Glenwood.  In addition, the Irish blew out Class 5A state quarterfinalist Peoria High 60-26 back in week four.

But have the Knights seen anything like what they are about to face on Saturday? The Flyers and the #1 ranked player in Terry Beckner Jr. have come back to town with their swagger back. After an 0-3 start, the Flyers have won seven of their last eight. They are healthy and battle-tested. The running game has produced more than 800 yards in the past two weeks.

East St. Louis looks awful scary headed into the stretch run. The Flyers already know they can throw the ball with sophomore quarterback Reyondus Estes, and receivers Jeff Thomas and 6"4 Karon Randolph.

This game will be won in the trenches, and again running the football up north. The All American Terry Beckner Jr. and his dogs keep blocking the way they have controlled things the last few weeks.

Peoria fans haven’t seen nothing yet.

My pick: Flyers advance 47-20.


                                          coach  Darren Sunkett

Was ... I worried about this team? No’: Flyers continue to soar

EAST ST. LOUIS — When the East St. Louis Flyers step on to the playing field at Peoria Richwoods High School on Saturday for a Class 6A quarterfinal game against Peoria Notre Dame, they will be three wins away from an eighth football state championship.In the quarterfinals for the eighth time under coach Darren Sunkett, the Flyers ride deep into the playoffs has been a bumpy one at times to say the least. Young, battered and bruised with their confidence a bit shaken after an 0-3 start, the team that represents the City of Champions, has shown the heart of a champion in recent weeks.“Was there ever a time I was worried about this team? No. I knew that once we got over that injury bug that we were going to be fine,’’ Sunkett said. “Plus, we were young and we played a very difficult schedule. We had some injuries during two-a-days during preseason and the first two weeks to some key componets on both sides of the football and it set us back. It was just a case of waiting for our young guys to learn what was expected of them and for them to mature mentally. We knew that was going to happen.’’It has happened for the Flyers in the first two weeks of the postseason. Seeded sixth, East St. Louis hasn’t been pushed in wins over third-seeded Peoria Richwoods (40-19) and second-seed Normal West (67-28). On Saturday against top-seeded and undefeated Notre Dame (11-0), the Flyers will face their biggest challenge to date. But as Sunkett is quick to point out, the Flyers (7-4) have responded well to challenges.
“The adversity we faced with the injuries and the tough start made us a much closer football team. Adversity always brings you closer,’’ Sunkett said. “And it always brings out the character in your ballclub.’’
“Instead of regressing when we were struggling, the kids worked even harder, and I’ve seen us just continue to get better week to week. After we lost to Bellleville West in week eight to fall to 4-4, the media and a lot of fans thought that meant it was the end of our season. But it wasn’t. It was another case where we had to regroup as a unit and keep working to improve. The last three weeks we’ve improved and played some pretty good football.
The 2008 Class 7A state champion Flyers are making their eighth quarterfinal round appearance under coach Sunkett. East St. Louis is 4-3 in those seven games. By contrast, the Flyers opponent on Saturday — Peoria Notre Dame — is making its fourth quarterfinal round appearance. The Irish, making their debut in Class 6A appearance after competing in Class 4A and Class 5A, have never played in a semifinal contest.
Notre Dame coach Joe Walters knows all about the Flyers postseason.
When you are talking about East St. Louis football you are talking about one of the most successful programs in state history and one that has gotten to the state quarterfinals it seems like almost every year. They play in big games all the time. We’re a school which has been around for 27 years and never made it to the state semifinals,’’ Waters said. “We feel like we’ve got a tremendous opportunity in front of us.’’

         Flyers rolls into third round

The East St. Louis High football team is saving its best for last.

The Flyers, who struggled at times during the regular season, blasted Normal West 67-28 in a Class 6A second-round contest on Saturday afternoon.

East St.Louis (7-4) will take on Peoria Notre Dame next weekend.

East St. Louis lost its first three games and won just four of its first eight.

Now, the Flyers are clicking on all cylinders.

Nate Strong rushed for 240 yards and Marvin Young added 164 on the ground in Saturday's one-sided win. East St. Louis amassed 466 yards on the ground in just 24 carries.

Strong got the ball rolling with an 11-yard TD run just over two minutes into the contest. After Normal West tied the game, Young put his club in front to stay with a 7-yard run late in the opening period.

The Flyers scored four times in the second quarter to take a 40-14 lead into the break. Strong scored three times on runs of 64, 1 and 1. Young added a short run as well.

Quarterback Reyondus Estes hit Jeff Thomas on a 46-yard scoring strike in the third quarter to put the game away. Estes connected on four of five passes for 108 yards.


Flyers was all but counted out early this season but rolling in class 6A playoffs

Overlooked by some nine weeks ago after an 0-3 start, the East St. Louis Flyers remain very much alive after their 67-28 second-round playoff trouncing of Normal West on Saturday.The Flyers will carry the flag of metro-east football as the only remaining state playoff team when they travel to Peoria on Saturday to battle top-seed Peoria Notre Dame (11-0) in the Class 6A quarterfinals.

Game time is 1 p.m. at Peoria Richwoods.The trip to Peoria is the second in three weeks for the sixth-seeded Flyers (7-4) who opened their postseason run with a 41-19 win over Richwoods.
This is what its all about. This is why we schedule the opponents we do early in the season, to get us ready for the playoffs,’’ Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said following the win on Saturday.“A lot of people counted us out when we were 0-3. But we were playing a lot of young kids and we are playing a lot of young kids. We faced a lot of adversity this year but to the kids’ credit, they kept working hard and believing what the coached were telling them. Here we are in the Class 6A quarterfinals. I am extremely proud of this football team.”The Flyers’ offense appears to be clicking on all cylinders after outscoring its first two playoff opponents 107-47. Running backs Nate Strong and Marvin Young have combined for an even 900 yards and 11 touchdowns in the first two playoff contests.Young has 49 carries for 425 yards and five TDs, including a 261-yard explosion against Richwoods. Strong has 23 carries for 404 yards and six TDs, including a 240-yard, four-TD effort against Normal West.
Impressive sophomore wide receiver Jeff Thomas has also been a factor and last week caught four passes for 104 yards and a touchdown while also sprinting 56 yards on a fake punt for a score.
“Marvin and Nate have run very well for us, but the key has been the guys up front,” Sunkett said. “You win in the playoffs by running the football and we’ve done a great job of that.”
Here come the Irish Sunkett knows things may not be as easy against top-seeded Peoria Notre Dame. Notre Dame has hammered out a 42-7 win over Galesburg and 41-0 win over Chatham Glenwood in the second round.
The Irish have not been held below 41 points in 11 games this season and have outscored their opponents 553-145. Running back Andy SHadid went off for 263 yards and three TDs on 20 carries Saturday in the 41-0 win over Glenwood. “They’re the no. 1 seed and they are undefeated. That tells me they’re a good football team,” Sunkett said. “We don’t know much about them and they don’t know much about us. We’ve both got a week to prepare the best we can. I’m expecting a great high school football game on Saturday.’’



ESL phenom shows potential at next level

                                            tony pierson

Kansas football coaches marvel at former ESL Flyer Tony Pierson’s 
journey, transformation

Posted: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 

By Maurice Scott Jr.

East St. Louis Senior High running back Nate Strong is finishing his high school football career for the Flyers like the running back he was heralded to be.

He was one of the most heralded athletes ever in the state of Illinois coming out of middle school, and fighting injuries has hampered him throughout high school. Finally healthy, Strong is providing all of us glimpses  of his true potential at the next level.

The University of Missouri recruit provided big runs during the Flyers thrashing of No. 3 seed Peoria Richwoods in the opening round of the Illinois class 6-A state football series Saturday in Peoria, Illinois.

Strong, along with Marvin "Beast Mode" Young, combined for 425 yards on the ground. Young had 25 carries for 261 yards and 1 touchdown. Strong had 12 totes for 164 yards 2 touchdowns.

With the game in the balance in a very hostile environment, tied 7-7 with 2:11 left in the 3rd quarter, Flyers coach Darren Sunkett called on his 5’11” 203-pound speedster to go to work.

Strong took a handoff from Flyers quarterback Reyondus Estes, turned up field and galloped 70 yards to give the Flyers a 14-7 lead.

But on the ensuing kick-off, Richwoods’ Steve Covington took it to the house with a 85 yard return that pulled the Knights within reach, 14-13 (PAT was no good ) with 1:56 to go in the third.

Switching ends of the field going into the wind, Sunkett dialed Strong’s number quickly on the first series in the 4th quarter.

The MIZZOU recruit romped from 14 yards out to quickly to give East St. Louis some breathing room 21-13 with 11:54 to play.

The Flyers outscored the Knights 26-6 in the final quarter to advance to the 2nd round Saturday at "The House of Pain" Clyde C. Jordan Stadium. Kick-off is at 2 p.m.

Having amassed over 3,000 total yards during his high school career. Strong has rushed for 1,247 yards and 14 touchdowns this year for East St. Louis.

Strong has also had plenty to overcome as a kid. His mom passed away due to cancer at an early age. Strong quickly got involved in sports and has dedicated his hard work and faith to her.

Strong was treated like a rock star throughout the state. He had a man’s body when he was in middle school. He never lost a football game in middle school for head coach Mike Hill, averaging over 250 yards per game. Hill is now the running back coach at East St. Louis, and a father figure to Strong for years.

Hill is the brother of the only man whose Flyers jersey was retired, former Flyers head coach Terry Hill. Terry and NFL Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow were teammates at East Side and Missouri.

In addition, Mike Hill was Strong's middle school coach when strong ran a blazing 10.92 100 meter and a blazing 22.03 200 meter as a 7th and 8th grader.

Topping that off, Strong led his middle school basketball team to a 22-7 record and the class 8-3A state championship over Teutopolis Wooden Shoes in front of 5,000 people.

Fans wanted autographs. Strong posed for pictures and held babies. He has always had stardom all over him.

He has been the first to admit to many who have earned his trust that he is not perfect and has to mature in many ways. As a young man who has been through a lot, losing his mother at such a young age, he has not trusted many.

But the Mike Hills, Don Spencers, and a few others really know this young man. We are so proud of him, and not only for his accomplishments as an athlete.  But it couldn't happen too a better kid who will have a chance to go to college for his mom.

And for you adult haters, I ask: What were you doing during your high school days?

On a living room floor in Cahokia, Ill., just blocks from where his best friend was murdered, Tony Pierson was prepared for a fight. His older brother, Erin, had wrestled him to the ground, pushing Pierson into the calloused floor.

The brothers would exchange an awkward flurry of shoves and punches, a tussle that suddenly felt serious. As the boys rolled across the room, their grandmother, a kind soul named Dorothy Granberry, picked up the phone to call for help.

“Erin’s fighting Tony!” Dorothy yelled into the phone, speaking to the boys’ mother. “He’s trying to make him go back to school!”

“You’re going back to Kansas!” Erin yelled, his voice rising over the commotion. “You cannot pass this up!”

It was the late summer of 2011, and Pierson was a freshman running back at Kansas. In the months after arriving in Lawrence, he had seen enough. The massive and manicured campus was intimidating. The academic requirements were daunting. Pierson, a spindly athlete who grew up around the streets of East St. Louis, Ill., wasn’t sure he could survive.

“I got homesick,” he says.

On a whim, Pierson hitched a ride back home with a friend. Maybe he would go to junior college, he thought. Maybe he’d just stay around the old neighborhoods, in the shadow of downtown St. Louis. But then Erin, his older brother and mentor, heard that Little Tony was back home, walking away from a college scholarship. So he pulled Pierson onto the family’s living room floor.

He was going to fight his younger brother until he returned to Kansas.

“I just stood up,” Pierson says now, “became a man, and came back.”

More than three years later, Pierson is a senior running back at Kansas, preparing to play his final home game on Saturday afternoon. The Jayhawks will face TCU at 2 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. Pierson’s family will be on the sidelines before the game, and yes, there might be a few tears.

On the surface, it’s easy to say that Pierson’s college career could have gone better. A former four-star recruit with track-star speed, Pierson has toiled under three different coaches. He has switched positions twice — first moving to receiver under Charlie Weis, then back to running back under interim coach Clint Bowen.

Pierson has battled injury, nearly losing his career after suffering multiple concussions during his junior season. And in four seasons on campus, the Jayhawks have won just nine games.

“He really is such a talented guy,” Bowen says, “he could have had an off-the-charts career.”

Pierson understands this, of course, and in some ways, he agrees with it. He wanted more rushing yards, more receptions, more victories during his days in Lawrence. But four years can provide perspective. You want to see a Kansas football victory? Wait until you see what Pierson can accomplish in the next 20 years.

“I think I’ve come far,” Pierson says. “As a student, just becoming comfortable with people and this environment.”

For years, Pierson has told friends and family that he is not supposed to be here, finishing his college football career, bracing to earn his college degree in May.

He grew up in Section 8 housing while his mother, Evalena Granberry, raised three boys and worked long shifts as a hotel maid to make ends meet. He was caught in a contentious custody battle during his high school years, moving in with his father on the Missouri side of the state line. He moved back to East St. Louis for his senior year of high school and saw his childhood best friend, Damas Moore, killed outside a convenience store just seven weeks before their graduation.

“I looked at him like a brother,” Pierson says now. “I don’t even call him my best friend — only 18 years old.”

So much of his time at Kansas, Pierson says, has been an unofficial tribute to Moore, who went by the name Mas. When the boys were growing up, Granberry says, Pierson acted as Mas’ loyal shadow — and vice versa. They played sports together. They looked after each other. They often found themselves camped out in Pierson’s room, avoiding the cold world that waited outside.

“Everyone in Kansas would know Damas because he’d be there so much,” Evalena Granberry says. “He’d probably be trying to sleep on Tony’s couch. They’d be kicking him off campus.”

Pierson was always a quiet soul. He rarely expressed his feelings to his mother. His grandmother, Dorothy, used to prod him about his slow ways — he moved slow, he talked slow, he operated at his own speed. Except, of course, when he stepped on a football field. Granberry isn’t sure why her youngest son was so reserved, but it always caused a little bit of worry.

“Tony holds in a lot of stuff,” she says. “And I tell him all the time, Tony, it’s not good to hold stuff in.”

So much of his time at Kansas, Pierson says now, has been about learning to come out of his shell. He trusts easier now; he’s become more comfortable in social settings; he found a champion in Shanda Hayden, the head academic counselor for the football program. As he settled in at Kansas, Pierson became the student who asked for a tutor in every class. He spent so much time around Hayden, that Weis used to refer to Pierson as Hayden’s “son.”

“How’s your son doing?” Weis would ask during meetings.

“He’s really surprised himself more than anything,” Hayden said in an interview last year. “When he stepped foot on this campus, he told me ‘I’ll just end up at the juco anyway, so why does it all matter?’ I said: ‘You’ll prove yourself wrong.’

“And that’s what he’s done.”

Last year, Pierson landed on the 3.0 honor roll, earning KU’s “Crimson Climb” award, designated for athletes who show major improvement in the classroom. Inside the Kansas locker room, coaches and staff still marvel at Pierson’s transformation.

A few weeks ago, receivers coach Eric Kiesau pulled Pierson aside for a quick chat. Kiesau, who doubles as Kansas’ co-offensive coordinator, is in his first year in the program, and it can take a while to connect with players on a deeper level. But Kiesau wanted Pierson to know something.

“In all my years of coaching,” Kiesau told Pierson, “you’ve probably had more impact on me in a short period of time than any other player in 15 years of coaching.”

Now Pierson’s days at Kansas are coming to a close. The Jayhawks have three more games remaining, and Pierson can imagine the end. With a strong finish, he could finish his career with nearly 2,000 yards rushing while averaging more than 6 yards per carry — that despite losing nearly half his career to injury and a foray at receiver. But for Pierson, that’s just part of the story.

“My baby has matured so much,” Granberry says.

Pierson still harbors NFL dreams, and his elite speed could provide an opportunity. But when it’s all over, Pierson would like to be a coach. One day, he says, he could return home to East St. Louis again, and this time he’ll be the one looking for the forgotten prospect.

“I’ve opened up a lot more in the last four years,” Pierson says. “(It’s) just about giving me and my family a better life.”

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/11/14/3510887/kansas-football-coaches-marvel.html?sp=/99/205/220/#storylink=cpy

FLYERS Take Care Of A Pesky Peoria Team 40 - 19

PEORIA — Peoria Richwoods and East St. Louis combined for six different ways to score touchdowns Saturday during the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs.

“It was interesting, to say the least,” Richwoods coach Roland Brown said after his team was drilled 40-19 by the Flyers, who ran the ball 40 times for 434 yards led by Marvin Young’s 261 yards on 25 carries.

In the end, the size and speed of East St. Louis was too much for the Knights, who stayed close until the last few minutes of a 40-19 loss.

Missouri recruit Nate Strong added 164 yards rushing on just 12 carries, including a 77-yard touchdown run. Strong had a 24-yard TD run and Flyers sophomore Jeff Thomas added a 90-yard interception return.

East St. Louis (6-4) will take on Normal West (8-2) in the second round. The Flyers had to overcome 16 penalties, which cost them three touchdowns.

“We just kept playing, even though we had three touchdowns called back,” East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. “Our kids played through a lot of mistakes.”

Richwoods runs some option and bootlegs on offense.

“It’s not an offense you see much of anymore,” Sunkett said. “It was different for the kids. They had a hard week of work to get prepared for it.”

As late as five minutes left in the game, Richwoods (7-3) still had a great chance after a botched punt set up the Knights, down by two, at the Flyers 27. But Richwoods had to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt, which was blocked and returned 65 yards for a touchdown with 4:45 left. East St. Louis (6-4) added a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown by Thomas.

Richwoods was dominated in the first half, outgained in total yards 219-73. But the Knights were only down 7-0 at halftime thanks to two key takeaways, an interception by Damion Gillespie — one of two — and fumble recovery by Kioentre O’Neal. Both turnovers came after the Flyers drove inside the Knights 15.

Then Richwoods found a different way to get back in the game. The Knights recovered an onside kick to start the second half and tied the game four plays later. That was the start of Richwoods staying alive in strange ways.

After Richwoods gave up a tie-breaking 77-yard TD run to Strong, Steve Covington returned the kickoff 83 yards for a TD. Down by eight, Covington caught a 61-yard TD pass from Tre Hendon on a fake punt. But Richwoods couldn’t convert a two-point conversion run.

“Not a lot of people gave us a chance, but we were right there,” Brown said. “But their size and speed wore us down. Our kids played hard, Richwoods football. But they were the better team and the better team won today.”

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/11/01/3487300/flyers-roll-through-peoria-on.html?sp=/99/205/220/#storylink=cpy


Flyers heads to Peoria

Maurice Scott, Jr.

Maurice Scott, Jr.

Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 10:29 pm

By Maurice Scott Jr.

The East St. Louis Flyers 2014 regular season didn't quite go as planned. Coach Darren Sunkett’s football team finished 5-4, with surprising results.

There was another loss to Edwardsville, and the recent loss to Belleville West and the loss of the bell that annually goes to the winner of that game.

With those losses the group of  Sunkett-haters and the members in the "street patrol" were burning the midnight oil plotting on a scheme to get him fired at season’s end. The truth is, most of the talk about Coach Sunkett comes from people that attended school(s) that have never had success in the football playoffs.

Now, it’s playoff time, where the Flyers, led by the No. 1 player in the country in defensive end Terry Beckner, Jr., will attempt to shut the haters up.

The Flyers will travel to Peoria this Saturday to take on Richwoods High in the first round of the  Illinois Class 6A playoffs. Kick-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Richwoods, which finished the season at 7-2, is longtime independent Catholic high school. They have a total of 29 State playoff appearances, including the last 12 years, with an overall record of 40-26 with two state titles and two runner-up trophies.

However, the Flyers are making their 35th playoff appearance, including the past 15 years in succession. Overall, East St. Louis posted an 80-27 record with seven state Championships and three runner-up trophies.

Last season, the Flyers felt like they let one slip away in a semifinal lost to Oak Lawn Richards. The Flyers dropped a 7-6 heartbreaker which left them one game short of playing for a possible eighth state championship. Even though they had some tough losses this year, I'm going down with Coach Sunkett and his boys to the end.

The Flyers are led of course by the 6'5 All American Terry Beckner Jr. The 298-pound senior defensive star was recently named the No. 1 ranked player in the country in the ESPN high school football rankings. He has all of the major college programs recruiting him. But right now, Beckner, Jr. is looking forward to the task at hand.

"We have lost some games that a mistake here or there hurt us," said the soft-spoken Beckner. "We as a team will rally around our coaches and start our journey. We are 0-0 as of now, so our goal of a state championship is still within reach."

Beckner enters the post season with 97 tackles. He will pose a serious matchup problem on Saturday against Richwoods with his size and athleticism. But he and his teammates will take nothing for granted this Saturday.

"They are big and strong upfront,” he said. “Looking at them on film, they have size and are well coached. We feel Coach Sunkett put in a great game plan for us. If we go out and execute what our coach has planned for us on Saturday, we will be fine.”

When asked about getting all the attention of being the overall No. 1 recruit in the country, Beckner deflected the individual honor and concentrated on team goals.

"It’s not about me being the No. 1 recruit in the country,” he said. “It’s about us winning a state championship like we set out to do. We want to keep the tradition going. Sure, I think about the recruiting. But my family and I will decide when that time comes. For now, I'm just staying focused on winning a state championship with my teammates."

The Flyers also have super sophomores in All-American wide receiver Jeff Thomas and smooth quarterback Reyondus Estes who has thrown for over 1,400 yards in his first year at the varsity level. Tre'vour Simms, the son of former Lincoln Tigerette girls basketball star  Toni "Big Bird" Wallace, is another top player in the class of 2016 along with Beckner.  Kenny Knight will anchor the offensive line for Estes and running back Nate Strong.

The Knights will attempt to play ball control football, and keep the high stepping Flyers’ offense of the field. Defensively, the Flyers must tackle well against a powerful Richwoods running attack that had more than 300 yards rushing last week.

Good luck to Coach Sunkett and our boys on Saturday.


Flyers closed seasons out with win over  Collinsville                                                57 to 17

Terry Beckner Jr. is the new No. 1 in the #ESPN300.

                                                                   click on picture  for video 


Flyers beat Alton on home coming night 27 to 7

1979 Flyers state championship team honored


Jeff Thomas have big  home coming night for the flyer two TDs one receiving and one interception for a TD  

Maurice Scott, Jr.

Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 6:46 pm

By Maurice Scott, Jr.

The history started in 1925, and 89 years later, most, if not all are trying to keep the tradition going.  

On a damp, soggy homecoming night last Friday at historic Clyde C. Jordan Memorial Stadium, I couldn't help but reflect on that history. That is especially true for those years since 1975 when the East St. Louis High football program became really special.

Sure, most people over the age of 65 like to brag about the Fred Cameron days from 1951-1971 when the Flyers posted an impressive record of 107-28-8. Those were indeed some great teams with some great players, but they would have been beaten soundly – like a pair of Sylvester "Sunshine " Lee  drums – by the Cornelius Perry teams and the Bob Shannon teams that followed them.

Last Friday night, the 1979 Illinois Class 5A State championship team was honored prior to Flyers’ game against Alton. The great Bob Shannon was in attendance, albeit keeping a low profile as usual when he returns home.

Plenty people often ask, "Does Coach Shannon ever come around?" I always reply, “Sure, he does. He still helps out often when asked too."

The 1979 team defeated Burbank St. Lawrence 20-14 for the state title at Hancock Stadium on the campus of Illinois State University in Normal. At that time, 5A was the largest classification in the state of Illinois. It was truly a great team. They had 16 players who went on to play college football. Some even made it all the way to the National Football League. They included:

Victor Scott (Colorado/Dallas Cowboys), Kerry Glenn (Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, N. Y. Jets/Minnesota Vikings), Daryl Dixon (Michigan State), Avin Jones (Tennessee), Jarvis Hall (Arkansas), Dennis Edwards (Indiana), Vincent Allen (Wisconsin/ Illinois State), Walter “Too Tall” Jackson (Southern Illinois), William "BT" Thomas (Southern Illinois), Condolla Jackson (Illinois State).

Other great players on that team included team caption Roosevelt Golliday, who recently retired as a colonel in the United States Air Force, and Avery Bryd, who was once featured on the cover of Black Enterprise magazine.

Former players Garry Joshway, Louis Lockett, Dennis Doublin, Dennis Johnson, Everett Fields, Everett Holemon, Alphonso Baity, Dwight Holley all were in attendance.

This sort of head-knocking tradition started in my opinion in 1971 under Cornelius Perry, who posted a record of 37-13-3 during his six seasons at the helm. During the 1974-75 season, Perry's Flyers finished 12-1, with its only loss coming in a dramatic 19-13 OT loss to Harold Samorian Northbrook (Glenbrook North) in the state championship game.

Perry’s team consisted of some of the greatest Flyers ever. Among the best were quarterback Maurice Tolson, Stanley Braggs, Cleveland Crosby (Cleveland Browns), Eugene Bryd (Michigan State/Atlanta Falcons), and a guy that coach Perry and his staff  recruited from the "CHESS TEAM" to play only one year of high school football. His name was Kellen Winslow, who became a future Hall of Famer.

It was after the 1975-76 season that the great Bob Shannon took the keys to the Cadillac. His first season he started 5-4, but after that Shannon’s teams won six State titles and had two runner-up finishes. His 1979 crew was his first state championship team.

Shannon’s teams finished with a record of 193-32 in 20 seasons. During that span, the Flyers won three consecutive state titles from 1983-85 and enjoyed a 44-game winning streak. In addition, East St. Louis also won the mythical National Championship in ‘85 and ‘89.

My friend Terry Hill took the helm for five years, guiding the Flyers to three playoff appearances. Now, Darren Sunkett is at the helm of the Cadillac. In his 13 seasons, he has compiled a record of 113-34 with one state championship in 2008-09.

With an overall record of 742-184-36, East St. Louis is still among the top programs in the country.

I just hope will don't let our tradition go down the drain like Lincoln High School, Parsons Field and others gifts forgotten.

But hats off to the organization that made me and others celebrate the tradition – a tradition some just don't understand.

         Flyers take on Alton 

Tonight the East St Louis Flyers take on the Alton Red Birds at Clyde Jordan Stadium @ 7:00 pm

it is the flyers home coming game.


      Former ESL duo flying high at Jackson State

                             Daniel Williams

                          LaMontiez Ivy

By Maurice Scott, Jr.

Former East St. Louis Flyers standouts Daniel Williams and LaMontiez Ivy are both doing quite well at Jackson State University.

In his second season at Jackson State, Daniel Williams is doing his thing both on and off the field. Williams’ efforts in the classroom at Jackson State has earned him honors on the Dean’s List.

On the field, Williams played 10 games last season for the Tigers as a true freshman. So far this season, Williams has receptions for 377 yards and four touchdowns. The 6'3 200 sophomore is a key weapon in the Tigers’ offense.

Throwing Williams the ball has been Ivy, who is quarterback of the Tigers, who are currently 3-3 this season. The 6’3 230-pound redshirt sophomore is starting to make opposing coaches pay close attention to the athletic Ivy. He is currently one of the best quarterbacks in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

There have been some whispers, comparing Ivy to the late former Alcorn State and NFL star Steve "Air" McNair with his strong arm and athletic ability to run the football when needed. Through six games, LaMontiez currently has 1,407 yards passing and 11 touchdowns.

Ivy had a coming out party a few weeks ago when he threw for 407 yards and four touchdowns  against Grambling State University. In that same game, Williams had eight receptions for 171 yards The duo also hooked up for a 61-yard touchdown last week in a loss to Prairie View.

This week, the Tigers face a familiar foe on a couple of fronts. This week’s opponent for homecoming is Mississippi Valley State. The Delta Devils’ quarterback is Patrick Ivy, who is LaMontiez’ brother. Patrick, a 6'4 senior, was a multi-sport star at Cahokia High School. Patrick Ivy and current Mizzou wide receiver Jimmy Hunt are former teammates at Cahokia.

Another story line in this game will be the coaches. Jackson State hired former NFL player Harold Jackson, which started a controversy among some alumni. And across the side line will be the head coach at Mississippi Valley State in Rick Comegy, who was the former Jackson State coach.

Comegy was 50-35 in eight seasons for the Tigers. He was fired in December despite finishing 8-1 in the SWAC.

It will be a bittersweet return for Comegy, who recruited most if not all of the players on Jackson State roster, including Ivy and Williams.


           The Flyers defeated Granite City  61 to 6



                                                     The FLYERS at Granite City tonight Fri Oct 3

 East St Louis Jeff Thomas is one of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch  Journals Athletes Of The Week

OCT 2, 2014 

in a 55-21 win over Belleville East, Thomas, a 5-foot-10, 167-pound sophomore wide receiver, caught nine passes for 206 yards and touchdowns of 25, 27 and 80 yards. It was the third consecutive big game for Thomas, who had eight catches for 144 yards and two TDs against O'Fallon and seven receptions for 146 yards and a TD against Edwardsville. Last season, Thomas was a first-team all-Southwestern Conference selection after catching 56 balls for 988 yards and 10 TDs. He already has offers from 20 Division I schools, including Ohio State, Florida State and Oregon.

After 0-3 start, ESL looks ready for another playoff run

Maurice Scott,Jr

By Maurice Scott, Jr.

Things were not going well for East St. Louis football coach Darren Sunkett when his Flyers opened the season with three consecutive losses.

The talk around Flyers Nation, especially the "street patrol fans,” was that people were going to be putting the dogs on Coach Sunkett like a scene from the movie “Django Unchained.”

Early-season injuries, combined with a tough schedule, played a major role in those losses. And yes, you can argue that being manhandled by conference rival Edwardsville 57-32 at home was a bit surprising.

But with impressive victories against other conference rivals O'Fallon and Belleville East in the past two weeks, the Flyers seem to be taking off at the right time as they get ready for another playoff run. If you remember last season, the Flyers were 1-3 to start the season, but then got hot and advanced all the way to the IHSA Class 6A state semifinals. The Flyers are starting to look like that team again.

Leading the way for East St. Louis has been sophomore wide receiver Jeff Thomas. The top rated receiver in the class of 2017 is healthy now, and he is playing like the top performer that he was predicted to be before the season.

 A healthy Thomas means that much to this team on both sides of the ball when he's healthy PERIOD! The offense has always scored points this season. But now it seems to be soaring with an almost healthy Thomas.

Thomas is tied for the lead in the Metro East receptions (29) with Danny Hotz of Alton Marquette, and Christian Kimble of Jerseyville. His 29 receptions for 601 yards is currently second in the Metro East. He is averaging a solid 20.7 yards per reception.

But also leading this offense alongside Thomas with his decision-making and throwing ability is the smooth sophomore quarterback Reyondus Estes. Estes’ progression at the quarterback position has enabled massive lineman Tre'vour Simms and Ball State recruit Kenny Knight to protect him better. It also helps to have the 1-2 running back punch of Mizzou recruit Nate Strong and tough Marvin Young in the backfield.

Estes has put up some impressive numbers in his first five games as a high school player. He currently is rated fourth in the Metro East, completing 59 of 111 for 1,008 yards with 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions for the super sophomore.

Reyondus is a winner. He has played on all four levels at some point in the Flyers basketball program as well, logging minutes on the varsity level as well at point guard.

Having a healthy Nate Strong at running back is also big for the Flyers. He trails only Roxana running back Logan Reardon on this side of the river in rushing. Strong has 703 yards rushing this season.

The Flyers’ offense has been quite impressive, but at the end of the day the Flyers defense must continue to get better if they want to reach their ultimate goal of winning a state championship. And that seems to be coming into form as well. Some people didn't realize that they were playing a lot of young guys early.

You have All-American defensive lineman Terry Beckner Jr. leading the way, but he is surrounded by young players, including junior Markieth McGary, who missed last season due to injuries, along with sophomores Justin Knight and Lamontre' "State Street" Harvey, one of the best downhill young linebackers in the area.

Coach Sunkett stated last week that Jeff Thomas reminds him of former Flyers great Terry "Black -Kat" Hawthorne! Well, you know what happened the last time the Flyers coach spoke about Hawthorne as a member of one of his teams …

Get your popcorn and get ready for the next eight weeks.

The FLYERS second Conference win 55 - 21 over Belleville East

Flyers Rebounded Big Over O fallon

EAST ST. LOUIS — A team seemingly on life support just two weeks ago, the East St. Louis Flyers were soaring once again on Saturday at Clyde Jordan Stadium.

Sophomore quarterback Reyondous Estes threw three scoring passes to wide receiver Jeff Thomas while Natereace Strong added three touchdown runs to lead a resurgent East St. Louis offense as the Flyers romped to a 55-21 win over Belleville East in a Southwestern Conference game.

One week after a 55-10 win over O'Fallon, the Flyers (2-3, 2-1) amassed 41 points and 520 yards of total offense -- in the first half -- against a Lancers defense which had allowed only 76 points in its first four games.

But its safe to say the Lancers (3-2, 2-1) hadn't gone up against a team with the weapons the Flyers displayed on a hot fall afternoon.

Estes completed 18 of 27 passes for 353 yards. Thomas caught nine passes for 204 yards while Strong (127 yards) and Marvin Young (168 yards) combined for five rushing touchdowns.

"We did a lot of good things on offense today and I thought our defense played very well. The only drawback was our special teams which basically gave up their three touchdowns. We know that's an area that we need to improve on and we will," East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. "We didn't punt the football but once all day and when that happens, you know the offense is doing a pretty good job."

The Estes-to-Thomas combination wasted little time in making itself known. A 25-yard scoring pass put East St. Louis up 7-0 with still over nine minutes left in the first quarter.

The lead didn't last long. A 66-yard kickoff return by senior DeMarius Ward set up an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Millas to Os Moore as the Lancers tied the game at 7.

Moore struck again later in the opening quarter with a 77-yard kickoff return which would give East its only lead of the game at 14-13.

Moore's score would be the last highlight of the day for coach Tim Funk and the Lancers.

"We concentrate on doing well on the three parts of the game -- offense, defense and special teams. Today, we did well in only one of those," Funk said. "We moved the football well at times but we couldn't sustain it.

"Defensively, we couldn't stop them. I said it before the game and I'll say it again, East St. Louis is a good football team."

Strong then gave East St. Louis the lead for good with a 9-yard run early in the second quarter then broke loose on a 66-yard run to increase the margin to 27-14.

The Lancers didn't quit. Millas marched his team inside the Flyers 10-yard line but was intercepted by Raekwon Griffin in the end zone.

On the next play, Estes found Thomas alone on a fly pattern and an 80-yard scoring play to make the score 34-14.

"He's a special talent. Kids like Jeff (Thomas) come along once every 10 years if you're lucky," Sunkett said. "The last one like him was Terry (Hawthorne) seven years ago."

Young then ran 78 yards with 2:20 left in the first half to give East St. Louis a 41-14 lead.

Strong and Young then added a pair of short touchdown runs early in the third quarter to conclude the Flyers' scoring.

"We're just trying to continue to get better every week," Sunkett said. "But I'm very proud of these kids and the character they have shown this season.

"When we were 0-3 and battling injuries, it would have been easy for them to give up. But they came to practice every day and continued to work hard. We've still got a long way to go. But we've made strides the last two weeks.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/09/27/3425442/flyers-prove-too-much-for-east.html?sp=/99/205/220/#storylink=cpy

O'FALLON — The battered, bruised and somewhat maligned East St. Louis defense took out their frustrations on Saturday at O'Fallon High School. And so did sophomore quarterback Rayondus Estes.

Led by senior All-state defensive end Terry Beckner Jr., a swarming East St. Louis defense allowed only three points while Estes threw four touchdown passes and the Flyers broke into the win column with a convincing 55-10 triumph over the Panthers in a Southwestern Conference game.

Shredded for 138 points by three top programs to start the season, East St. Louis bent, but didn't break on a hot late summer afternoon while forcing six turnovers --five of which came in the second half.

The Flyers (1-3, 1-1) led only 14-7 at halftime before erupting for 41 second half points to pull away from O'Fallon (2-2, 1-1).

The victory and more specifically, the defensive performance of the Flyers was exactly what coach Darren Sunkett wanted to se.

"We're playing a lot of young kids on the defensive side of the football and while I thought we gave up some yardage early we made the adjustments we needed too,'' Sunkett said. "This was exactly what we needed today. It's a long season but we really needed to put one in the win column for the morale of this football team.

"Winning, like losing, can be contagious. We're hoping this is just the beginning and we continue to play well from here on out."

Estes, making just the fourth start of his varsity career, finished the day 11 of 17 passing for 186 yards. Estes fired a pair of scoring passes to Jeff Thomas and Raekwon Griffin while running backs Marvin Young and Natereace Strong combined to rush for 206 yard and four scores.

O'Fallon, playing without starting quarterback Camden Bauer (shoulder injury) and with star running back Kentrail Moran less than full strength, got the first break of the game. K'Vonte Spearman picked up a fumble and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown just 2 minutes, 14 seconds into the game to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead.

O'Fallon would not score again until the fourth quarter when Tucker McCann booted a 55-yard field goal to cut the Flyers lead to 35-10.

The story of the game for O'Fallon was turnovers. Quarterback Klayton Gettis could never get going as Beckner (9 tackles, 1 sack and a fumble recovery) led the way for the East St. Louis defense.

"Klayton (Gettis) does a good job for us. It's just that today when we made mistakes we put our defense in tough situations. We gave them (East St. Louis) a lot of short fields and they took advantage,'' O'Fallon coach Brandon Joggerst said. "I thought we moved the ball well early, but put ourselves in a hole.

"Then, when we got behind we got away from our game plan and we could never put any sustained drives together because of the turnovers.''

Estes got the Flyers on the scoreboard with a 25-yard strike to Griffin late first quarter then put his team ahead to stay at 14-7 when he connected with Thomas on a 24-yard touchdown pass with 1:25 left in the half.

The talented Thomas, who caught eight passes for 138 yards, then caught a 44-yard strike with 9:09 left in the third quarter to make the score 21-7.

"He (Estes) has done a pretty good job for us all year,'' Sunkett said. "It's just that in the first three games we've either struggled with the running game or we've fallen behind and he's had to throw the football. "Today we had a nice mix of run and pass and you saw how we played.''

Young added scoring runs of one and 9 yards four minutes apart late in the third quarter to give East St. Louis a 35-7 lead.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/09/20/3413027/east-st-louis-storms-by-ofallon.html?sp=/99/205/220/#storylink=cpy

Wounded Flyers get cruched by conference rival Edwardsville

EAST ST. LOUIS • Terry Beckner Jr. received his All-American jersey at halftime, but Dan Marinko was the most electrifying player on the field.

Edwardsville's senior quarterback threw for 441 yards and seven touchdowns Saturday as the Tigers dismantled Beckner and Southwestern Conference rival East St. Louis 57-32.

“The stats go in my category but without the receiving corps and the O-line none of that happens,” Marinko said. “That's a complete team effort right there.”

The No. 2 large school in the STLhighschoolsports.com rankings, Edwardsville (2-1 overall, 1-0 league) never punted and scored on eight of its first nine possessions. Markino connected with wide receiver Fontez Davis for a 52-yard touchdown pass three minutes into the game. It was a sign of things to come.

Davis finished with seven receptions for 247 yards and three touchdowns, one of which went 92 yards on a third-down play.

“When we see man coverage we have to take advantage of it,” Davis said.

No. 6 East St. Louis (0-3, 0-1) answered that first touchdown when quarterback Rayondus Estes hit wide receiver Jeff Thomas down the middle for a 67-yard strike on the third play of the Flyers' first drive.

But the Flyers couldn't keep up with the Edwardsville offensive machine. The Tigers scored 21 consecutive points as Marinko rushed for a short score and Jackson Morrissey and Davis both caught touchdown passes.

East St. Louis would cut the lead to 27-18 with more than four minutes to play in the first half as running backs Natereace Strong and Marvin Young both rushed for touchdowns. Edwarsdville's only turnover gave the Flyers a short field that Young converted, but that was as close as the Flyers would get.

Edwardsville wide receiver Isaiah Michl caught a 66-yard touchdown pass before halftime as the Tigers took a 34-18 lead into the locker room.

During the intermission, Under Armour presented Beckner, East St. Louis' nationally ranked defensive lineman, with a jersey to celebrate his selection as an All-American. If the Flyers had hopes of more highlights in the second half, they evaporated quickly.

Morrissey went 41 yards on a quick pass from Marinko for his second score of the game. On its next two possessions, Edwardsville poured it on as Davis scampered 92 yards and Tommy Maxwell caught a 35-yard touchdown pass for a 54-18 lead. The Tigers would have hung 60 on the Flyers but settled for a field goal early in the fourth quarter after getting stuffed inside the 10-yard line on three tries.

“It would have been nice to put up 60, but we got the win,” Marinko said.

East St. Louis scored twice more as Strong and Young each picked up touchdowns. Strong finished with 130 yards rushing and Young had 96.

Thomas, a sophomore and one of the area's elite receivers, was playing with an obvious limp and with his left ankle heavily wrapped. He had 164 yards receiving including a spectacular one-handed grab on a pass thrown behind him.

“Jeff Thomas, is he not amazing? He's better on one leg than most guys are on two,” Edwardsville coach Matt Martin said.

After a heartbreaking loss last week at Illinois Class 8A No. 1-ranked Loyola, Edwardsville turned right back around and crushed the program with the most victories in Illinois history and gave itself the inside track to defend its Southwestern Conference crown.

“I think we improved some of the things we do (this week),” Martin said. “We were able to take some of those mistakes and have a good day.”

East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett was not available for comment

Wounded Flyers get pumped up for conference opener against Edwardsville

EAST ST. LOUIS — The East St. Louis Flyers head into their Southwestern Conference opener on Saturday a wounded football team.

Consecutive losses to perennial national powers (Cincinnati) St. Xavier and (Lombard) Montini have taken their toll physically on the Flyers who have a number of players banged up and bruised as they prepare to host Class 7A state power Edwardsville at 1 p.m. at Clyde Jordan Stadium.

But attitude wise, the Flyers are still upbeat, according to coach Darren Sunkett.

"This is a good group of kids. They are all still up and positive. The big thing right now is that we've got to get healthy," Sunkett said. "We lost our defensive back Adrian Smith for the season with a broke ankle last week against Montini and that's a big loss, but we expect to have else back.

"But the kids aren't down at all. We lost to extremely good football teams the last two weeks. We've been here before. In 2009 we lost our first two games and ran off 10 straight wins to get to the state semifinals. That's what it all about. Preparing for the postseason."

Among the players battling injuries are sophomore wide receiver Jeff Thomas and sophomore quarterback Rayondus Estes. Thomas tweaked his tender right ankle for the second straight week against Montini but still caught three passes for 72 yards and a touchdown.

Estes took a hard hit in the second half a week ago, leaving him groggy. Both are expected to play against Edwardsville.

Sunkett said he was very pleased with the progress of Estes who in just his second varsity start completed 11 of 17 passes for 21 yards an two touchdowns.

"For a sophomore quarterback playing in his second varsity game and against one of the top programs in the state to have the kind of day that Estes had. I thought he played very well," Sunkett said. "He made some great reads and did a good job of making smart decisions with the football."

The Flyers got a monster game from senior running back Natereace Strong. The Missouri recruit rushed for 290 yards and two touchdowns as he enjoyed his finest day in an injury-prone four-year varsity career.

"Nate was Nate. We always knew he had great ability and speed but has been unlucky with the injuries for much of his career," Sunkett said. "We were hoping he would have that break out game and on Saturday he did.

"If he continues to play like that, it will allow us to open up our offense even more."

Sunkett know the Flyers will face another major challenge this week in Edwardsville. The Tigers are 1-1 after losing to (Lincolnshire) Stevenson last week's opponent

"It's another tough opponent for us. But we've had tough opponents the last two weeks. We just need to be ready to play good, hard football for 48 minutes or longer if need be," Sunkett said. "I'm not big on moral victories. A loss is a loss and as a competitor, that's not acceptable.

"But in terms of the effort and our performance from week one to week two, I was pleased at how we played against Montini. We had 500 yards of offense. We just need to get healthy

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/09/10/3394785_wounded-flyers-get-pumped-up-for.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

 East St. Louis ,Edwardsville to meet this week after strong showings in Chicago

Having top-ranked Loyola Academy on the ropes Saturday proved far easier than putting the Ramblers away on their home field.

Third-ranked Edwardsville led Loyola 21-0 and despite accounting for seven interceptions, one of which was returned 55 yards for a touchdown by sophomore A.J. Epenesa, the Tigers lost a 29-28 heartbreaker in overtime.

"Hopefully it shows them that we're good enough to compete with anybody," Edwardsville coach Matt Martin said. "They're preseason No. 1 ranked, we'll see what it all comes out to be. They are a good team with a great tradition and they're one of the best teams in the state year-in and year out.

"There's a lot of positives on our part."

Most of those came in the first half as the opportunistic Tiger defense hounded Loyola quarterback D.J. Melsheimer into five interceptions and cashed in several of those for points.

"We played pretty smart football and did all the little things right in the first half," Martin said. "That changed in the second half, we were turning the ball over and losing field position. We missed some assignments on defense that gave them big plays."

Loyola's fortunes changed after backup Emmett Clifford replaced Melsheimer early in the third quarter.

He led the Ramblers to touchdowns on two of his first three drives, also scoring on a 5-yard run to tie it 21-21 with 2:35 remaining. He completed 8-of-14 passes for 118 yards.

Edwardsville still seemed poised for a win when quarterback Dan Marinko hit Isaiah Michl on a 5-yard TD pass on the first possession in overtime. The extra-point by Trentan Daley left the Tigers with a 28-21 lead.

Loyola took over and was facing fourth-and-goal at the 5 when Clifford threw a TD pass to Owen Buscaglia.

Instead of going for the tie while lined up to kick the extra point, Loyola ran a fake and holder Aidan Walsh, the third-string quarterback, was able to get the ball off in time to find an open Brian O'Brien in the end zone for the game-winning 2-point conversion.

The Tigers anticipated a possible fake.

"We talked about it on the sidelines," Martin said. "It takes time to get off your knee, turn around and find who's open. I was hoping we could get pressure to them before they could get the throw off.

"He was getting tackled (by Edwardsville's Kyler Davis) as he was throwing the ball."

Marinko was 17-for-29 for 238 yards and one TD, also running for a pair of touchdowns. He was intercepted twice in the second half.

Jourdy Jones had two of Edwardsville's seven interceptions.

Two nailbiters in Chicago for the SWC

While Edwardsville nearly pulled off the win, Southwestern Conference rival East St. Louis also had top-ranked Montini on the ropes Saturday before dropping a 46-32 decision in Lombard.

East Side (0-2) and Edwardsville (1-1), both state-ranked teams, face each other at 1 p.m. Saturday at Clyde C. Jordan Stadium in East St. Louis in what figures to be one of the top games this season.

The Flyers (0-2) got 290 yards rushing and two TDs from Missouri recruit Nate Strong and pushed the home team hard, leading 20-10 before fading in the second half.

"Their offensive line is big and physical and they have a good fullback," Martin said of the Flyers. "Strong's a big, strong, fast kid with a lot of experience. If you don't try to contain their running game, bad things are going to happen."

Injuries also were a big factor in the loss as Flyers' star sophomore receiver Jeff Thomas was dealing with an ankle injury suffered in the opener.

The Flyers also had 495 yards of total offense but were severely limited by injuries, including a late one to quarterback Rayondus Estes

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/09/08/3391085_edwardville-east-st-louis-to-meet.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

           Montini's Thornton, Norgle have big days in win over Flyers

Montini took a knockout blow and delivered one of its own during the first two weeks of the season

After allowing 21 points in the last three minutes in a one-point loss to Maine South in Week 1, No. 15 Montini rebounded from a rough start Saturday with four straight touchdown drives in a 46-32 victory against East St. Louis.

The Broncos (1-1) fell behind 13-0 four minutes in when Natereace Strong scored on an 80-yard touchdown run and Raekwon Griffin added a 81-yard score on a punt return.

Montini avoided an 0-2 start by wearing down the Flyers (0-2) and receiving big games from receiver Leon Thornton III and quarterback Chuck Norgle.

The Indiana-bound Thornton caught 12 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns and had several long returns on punts and kickoffs. Norgle struggled early against a fierce pass rush, but managed to throw for 300 yards and two touchdowns and scored on a pair of 1-yard runs.

"It was a huge win, especially after the collapse we had last week," Montini coach Chris Andriano said. "I knew that it was going to be a test. Our kids passed, especially after falling behind early and after we had to come back the way we did."

The Broncos had trouble stopping the Missouri-bound Strong, who rushed for 270 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns, and allowed six first-half sacks.

East St. Louis senior defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr., the No. 3 overall recruit in the country according to 247Sports.com, overpowered Montini's offensive line early as the Flyers took a 20-10 lead.

Montini linebacker Samuel Asta started the rally with a pair of first-quarter fumble recoveries, including a game-turning 9-yard touchdown on a scoop-and-score.

"They came out and really punched us in the mouth pretty good, but I'm so proud of our team that we were able to come back and hold them in the second half," Asta said.

The Broncos didn't allow a sack and made a critical goal-line stand in the second half. Thornton caught two third-quarter touchdown passes and Norgle added an insurance touchdown with 6 minutes, 42 seconds left in regulat

"Our quarterback took a beating today, and our defense came back after allowing those two early scores," Thornton said. "This win was very important. We needed to start our run this season."

Player of the game: Leon Thornton III, Montini, 12 catches, 181 yards, 3 TDs.

Key performers: East St. Louis — Natereace Strong, 28 carries, 270 yards, 2 TDs; Antuan Quinlin, 3 sacks. Montini — Chuck Norgle, 24-for-35, 300 yards, 2 TDs; 2 TDs rushing; Samuel Asta, 2 fumble recoveries, including 9-yard TD return.

Simms anchors East St. Louis's line

East St. Louis lineman Tre'Vour Simms takes part in a drill at practice on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 

East St. Louis High School. Paul Kopsky, STLhighschoolsports.com 

Tre'vour Simms toted the rock once or twice.

That was plenty.

“I ran the ball a couple of times. It's very tiresome,” Simms said. “I don't know if I can sprint on a breakaway for 100 yards.”

A junior offensive linemen for the East St. Louis football team, the 6-foot-5 and 300-pound Simms prefers pancaking opponents over running past them. One of two returning starters to the Flyers offensive line, Simms will be leaned on heavily to provide leadership and experience.

The Flyers have a tough early-season schedule. They host Southwestern Conference rival Edwardsville in their home opener on Sept. 13. Edwardsville had a ferocious defense last season and will do its best to test the Flyers line.

Not that any of this is news to Simms. A lineman since he started playing as a kid, the 16-year-old understands that the biggest players on the field are often the most overlooked. There are only rare occasions spectators notice the offensive line and it's usually when something goes bad.

“You're the heart of the team,” Simms said. “You can pretty much tell how the game is going by the offensive line. If the offensive line dominates the game we'll win.”

When not playing football you can find Simms playing – football, online. Simms spends his free time playing video games, mostly NBA 2K14, Madden and College Football. He said his favorite college team to play with is Ohio State.

“I'm a game-head,” he said. “I've been playing all my life.”

The No. 3 recruit in his class in Illinois by 247sports.com, Simms should have plenty of options when it comes to picking a college to call home after his senior year.

But, for the moment, he remains focused on this season.

“I still have a lot to prove this season, I'm just trying to stay hungry,” Simms said. “I'm not worried about (recruiting). I'm worried about attacking my junior season and helping my seniors get a state championship before they leave.”

Hello City of Champions Foundation fans. The past four years have been great and we were able to bring some of the best football talent in the country to East St. Louis. Due to the inability of scheduling the teams and games that we are use to providing, we are canceling the classic this year. We will bring  the classic back in 2015 for our 5th season. Stay tuned for more details as they become available. Once again thank you for your support.

                   Flyers grounded by St. Xavier

CINCINNATI — The East St. Louis football team found itself behind the eight ball Saturday afternoon and could never recover.

Playing in Ohio for the first time since 2009, the Flyers lost to host Cincinnati St. Xavier 35-20 on Saturday.

Flyers coach Darren Sunkett said first-game jitters and a 21-0 deficit at the 9:21 mark of the second quarter did East St. Louis no favors on Saturday.

The game was part of the 17th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown in Ohio. Sunkett said it was the fourth time the Flyers have played an Ohio team.

Punting woes and miscues on offense didn"t help the Flyers, who didn"t score until the 3:58 mark of the second quarter.

The Flyers also played most the game without top wide receiver Jeff Thomas, who injured his ankle at the 2:53 mark of the first quarter after a 16-yard reception.

"We had a lot of things that went wrong early in the first quarter," Sunkett said.

Despite five fumbles, the Bombers took advantage of early good field position and punting woes by the Flyers (0-1) in the first half.

"That's a real good football team we played," Sunkett said. "We need to execute and we just didn't do that today."

East St. Louis (0-1) reached the Illinois 6A state semifinals a year ago. East St. Louis is ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Illinois State High School Preseason Football 6A poll.

Senior running back Natereace Strong, who had verbally committed to Missouri, had 56 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

The Flyers closed the gap to 28-20 when sophomore wide receiver Jermaine Grissom caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Rayondus Estes with 6:52 left in the fourth quarter.

However, the Bombers added a rushing touchdown on a drive more than a minute later to seal the game.

The Bombers fumbled their opening drive of the second half. East St. Louis junior linebacker Jerod Robinson forced the fumble and recovered it on the run play.

Three plays later, the Flyers scored when Strong scored on a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle at the 10:20 mark of the third. That made it St. X 21-14.

St. X then fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return and East St. Louis took over but couldn"t convert on fourth down.

St. X (1-0), ranked No. 3 in the Cincinnati Enquirer large school area coaches" poll, had 267 yards of total offense to the Flyers" 175 yards.

St. X senior running back Ben Glines (Boston College commit) rushed for 126 yards and three touchdowns for the Bombers.

East St. Louis offensive lineman/defensive lineman Terry Beckner - the state's top recruit in the 2015 class - was named the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown team MVP for the Flyers.

Senior defensive back Kendall Poe (seven tackles), junior defensive back Markeith McGary (six tackles) and Robinson (5.5 tackles) were among other standouts for the Flyers.

East St. Louis plays at Montini Catholic at 3 p.m. Sept. 6.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/08/30/3375835/flyers-grounded-by-st-xavier.html?sp=/99/205/220/#storylink=cpy

Winning tradition makes East St. Louis a special program

MaxPreps 2014 Illinois preseason football Fab 5


Any path to a potential Southwestern Conference football championship typically runs through East St. Louis.

The Edwardsville Tigers ran through an unbeaten regular-season last season on the way to a spot in the Class 7A semifinals and 12-1 record, but only beat the Flyers 29-28.

In fact, East St. Louis went through a rare two-game conference losing streak when it dropped another game the following week to O'Fallon.

However, the Flyers won their next eight games before a 7-6 loss to Oak Lawn Richards in the Class 6A semifinals ended their dream of an eighth state football title.

"Darren Sunkett's done a great job," O'Fallon coach Brandon Joggerst said of the Flyers' coach. "They're perennially deeper in the playoffs than most (area teams) and you know they're going to put a formidable product on the field every year. They don't have down years, so you know when you play them you've got to bring it."

Entering the 2014 season, which begins Friday, East St. Louis has more wins than any Illinois high school football program. Research released over the summer showed the Flyers with a record of 737-188-36 since 1925 for an incredible winning percentage of .786.

The Flyers' seven state titles are easily the most of any metro-east team. Althoff is second with three.

"In non-conference, traditionally they're playing the best teams they can find and it's no different this year," Joggerst said of the Flyers. "They find out right away what they need to work on and they improve. You know when you play them it's going to be a very physical, fast-paced game and you're up against a good team."

The Flyers' first four games this season are brutal.

They are on the road against St. Xavier from Cincinnati, Ohio, then travel to Chicago to face Montini. Montini's run of four straight 5A state titles ended last season with a second-place finish.

After that, it's back-to-back SWC games against Edwardsville and O'Fallon.

"It's a dogfight each and every week in our conference," Joggerst said. "Everybody's improved, even the teams that haven't fared well. Everybody's asking this time of the year how you're going to be. I feel very good with where we're at, but the problem is the league is a step better than it's been the last few years."

Football doubleheader

Usually when two teams play each other twice in one season, the second meeting is in the state playoffs.

That's not the case for Cahokia Conference rivals Carlyle and Wesclin, which will meet once in am Oct. 3 conference game and then play each other again Oct. 24 in a nonconference game.

"I've heard of other schools doing it, but this is the first time we've done it," Carlyle Athletic Director Darin Smith said. "We both had issues getting someone our size and without traveling four or five hours. We just ust decided to try it and see how it goes.

"From a travel standpoint you can't beat it, a 20-mile round trip."

Kicker central

While Belleville West senior kicker Austin Seibert has already made a verbal commitment to Oklahoma, don't overlook O'Fallon junior kicker Tucker McCann.

"Seibert's very special and hopefully (McCann) can be in a somewhat similar fashion in the junior class," Joggerst said.

During O'Fallon's scrimmage Friday, McCann booted a 60-yard field goal and may have the leg to go a little further.

"It was a controlled field goal in a scrimmage, but he's been kicking the ball really well," Joggerst said. "He started at about the 40 and worked his way back. It was nice, we had a really good-sized crowd there and he had the spotlight there for a few minutes."

McCann had eight field goals and 28 extra-points last season as a sophomore.

Looking for a conference

Mater Dei coach Jim Stiebel said in an ideal world, the Knights would compete in the Mississippi Valley Conference or even the South Seven.

Instead, they remain one of seven football independents in Illinois and have a rugged 2014 schedule because of it.

"That's not on purpose," said Stiebel, whose team has faced Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin and Jacksonville in recent years and will take on Althoff and Quincy Notre Dame this season. "We tried with all our might to get into the Mississippi Valley Conference; they met and had a vote and we didn't get in there, but maybe they'll consider it for next year."

Why is it so tough for independents in football? Stiebel thinks qualifying for the state playoffs is the main issue.

"Teams want to make sure they get to six (wins to qualify) and I don't blame them," he said. "We need to get in a conference that would be competitive, but one where we don't have to face every team we play being a playoff team."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/08/23/3364025/winning-tradition-makes-east-st.html?sp=/99/205/220/#storylink=cpy

1. Bolingbrook
Head coach: John Ivlow
2013 Finish: 10-1
Team preview

A bevy of returning starters fill Bolingbrook's 2014 roster, making it the easy call for preseason No. 1 in Illinois. The defense allowed a mere 88 points in 11 games last year, and could improve on that mark.

See the Top 20 most dominant Illinois football teams in the MaxPreps era

2. East St. Louis
Head coach: Darren Sunkett
2013 Finish: 9-4
Team preview

Most larger schools in Illinois are located in the Chicago area, so East St. Louis often flies under the radar until playoff time. Natereace Strong and Jeff Thomas provide plenty of offensive weaponry. Terry Beckner is back off a nine-sack season.

See the MaxPreps Illinois football photo galleries

3. Mount Carmel (Chicago)
Head coach: Frank Lenti
2013 Finish: 13-1; Class 7A state champion
Team preview

If not for an October loss to Loyola Academy, Mt. Carmel would have finished undefeated last year. Matt Domer, Enoch Smith, and the rest of last year's senior class is gone. Those losses will hurt, but no Frank Lenti-coached squad will slip too far.

See the MaxPreps Illinois football playoff brackets

4. Loyola Academy (Wilmette)
Head coach: John Holecek
2013 Finish: 12-2
Team preview

D.J. Melsheimer should have a big year behind center for the suburban Chicago power. However, the defense should carry the Ramblers early on, as it projects to be more experienced than the offense to begin the season.

See the MaxPreps Illinois football computer rankings

5. Sacred Heart-Griffin (Springfield)
Head coach: Ken Leonard
2013 Finish: 14-0; Class 5A state champion
Team preview

Esl Flyers

Strong interest from teams wanting to play in 2015 classic. Cincy St. X, Lincoln out of Tall, Fl and St. Pete out of Jersey

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