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No. 2 Large school: East St. Louis set up to fly high

EAST ST. LOUIS • Darren Sunkett walked on to the field Tuesday at Clyde C. Jordan Memorial Stadium, looked at his team in the midst of a stretching drill and told the players to do it again.

“Everyone put your helmets on and start over,” said Sunkett, the East St. Louis football coach.

The pre-practice chatter ceased. Helmets were pulled on and buttoned. The players went through the drill again, this time with a precision that only comes with eyes watching.

Sunkett knows his Flyers won't be perfect, but it doesn't mean they can't try.

The No. 2 large school in the STLhighschoolsports.com preseason rankings, East St. Louis is and will continue to be measured against its glorious athletic past. The Flyers are the pride and joy of East St. Louis, and East Side High has sky-high expectations. A year after the Flyers went 9-4 overall, 5-2 in the Southwestern Conference and were eliminated in the Class 6A semifinals 7-6 by Oak Lawn, they are searching for some redemption.

Yes, Sunkett wants his team to put its past behind it, but he wants that season-ending defeat to be the motivation that can put the players over the top. Whether it's in the fourth quarter of the season opener Aug. 30 at St. Xavier in Cincinnati, or a stretching drill at the start of practice in sweltering heat.

“You want to put it away, but you also want to use it as motivation. You look back at the film and you see the ton of mistakes we made and just a lack of execution,” Sunkett said. “We don't think some of our guys went all out. We definitely use that as motivation for our guys.”

With five returning starters on both sides of the ball, there will be plenty of experience on the field at any given moment. The returning seniors are highlighted by highly sought defensive end Terry Beckner Jr. (6-foot-4, 290 pounds). Last season he had 126 tackles and eight sacks.

Ranked the No. 1 prospect in Illinois, No. 31 nationally by Rivals.com and a five-star recruit and ranked No. 19 in the nation by 247sports.com, Beckner will have his choice of top-level schools. He is being chased by Missouri, Ohio State, Florida State, Oregon and LSU among others.

Three of the Flyers' five returners were linebackers last season. Kenny Knight (6-2, 250), Demario May (5-11, 190) and Jerod Robinson (5-9, 205) again should see heavy minutes in the heart of the defense. Knight had 90 tackles and three sacks last season.

“Four of those guys are seniors, so they're going to bring great senior leadership to our defense,” Sunkett said. “Our thing now is to get the back end of our defense up to par. So far, during the summer, they've been doing a great job.”

Senior running back Natereace Strong (6-1, 210) is expected to be a workhorse for the Flyers after rushing for 595 yards and five touchdowns last season.

The No. 3-ranked prospect in Illinois, Strong has verbally committed to Mizzou. He has been offered scholarships by Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois and Kansas.

“We're going to lean on him heavily,” Sunkett said.

Also returning to the backfield is senior Marvin Young (6-0, 190), who rushed for 555 yards and two touchdowns.

Sophomore wide receiver Jeff Thomas (5-10, 167) was a revelation as the Flyers' top pass catcher. He finished his freshman season with a team-high 56 receptions for 988 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's joined by senior Raquan Griffin (5-11, 170), who caught 14 passes for 185 yards and one score last year.

Anchoring the offensive line is junior behemoth Tre'Vour Simms (6-5, 300), the No. 3-ranked prospect in his class in Illinois by 247sports.com.

Sophomore quarterback Rayondus Estes (6-0, 165) has been handed the keys to the offense.

“All we're asking him to do is manage the offense and distribute the ball,” Sunkett said. “He's done a pretty good job of doing that this summer.”


The Next 25:
  • 26. De La Salle, Concord, Calif. (14-1)
  • 27. Oscar C. Smith, Chesapeake, Va. (14-1)
  • 28. Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey, N.J. (7-4)
  • 29. Eden Prairie, Minn. (12-0)
  • 30. Bellevue, Wash. (14-0)
  • 31. John Curtis, River Ridge, La. (10-2)
  • 32. Bentonville, Ark. (11-2)
  • 33. Warren Central, Indianapolis (11-3)
  • 34. Maryville, Tenn. (15-0)
  • 35. Oak Grove, Hattiesburg, Miss. (14-1)
  • 36. Hamilton, Chandler, Ariz. (11-3)
  • 37. Brother Rice, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (14-0)
  • 38. DeSoto, Texas (14-1)
  • 39. St. Josephs Prep, Philadelphia (13-3)
  • 40. Loyola Academy, Wilmette, Ill. (12-2)
  • 41. West, Lees Summit, Mo. (13-1)
  • 42. East St. Louis, Ill. (9-4)
  • 43. Mount Carmel, Chicago (13-1)
  • 44. Central, Naperville, Ill. (11-3)
  • 45. Moeller, Cincinnati (14-1)
  • 46. Salpointe Catholic, Tucson, Ariz. (14-0)
  • 47. Cass Tech, Detroit (12-1)
  • 48. Central Catholic, Portland, Ore. (14-0)
  • 49. Aquinas Institute, Rochester, N.Y. (13-0)
  • 50. St. Xavier, Cincinnati (5-6)

East St. Louis football team kicks off season with a string of tough opponents


News-DemocratAugust 11, 2014 

EAST ST. LOUIS — East St. Louis football coach Darren Sunkett takes great pride in the fact that the Flyers have never backed down from a challenge either at home or on the road.

But in 2014, the challenge of getting off to a fast start will be even more difficult than usual for the Flyers.

The Flyers will open their season Aug. 30 when they travel to Cincinnati to take on perennial power St. Xavier High School.

The Bombers finished 5-6 a year ago, but have won a pair of state titles in the talent-rich football state of Ohio.

The Bombers-Flyers matchup is just the start of a brutally tough opening four weeks of the season for East St. Louis, which travels to take on perennial state champion Lombard Montini in week two before opening the Southwestern Conference season with Class 7A powers Edwardsville and O'Fallon in weeks three and four.

"It's a tough schedule for sure. But we believe that playing good competition makes you better and helps get you ready for the postseason,'' Sunkett said. "We also enjoy taking the team on trips like Cincinnati and Chicago (Lombard) to let them experience some different things and meet new people and opponents.

"We've had a great summer and the kids have done a good job in the weight room to get ready for the season. We like to challenge our kids. Hopefully, we're all ready for those challenges when the season starts in a couple of weeks.

East St. Louis was just one school that went through its first day of practice on Monday. Sunkett said about 55 players are currently in the Flyers program, including 30 freshmen.

East St. Louis finished 9-4 in 2013. Back to lead the Flyers this season are defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr., running back Natereace Strong and sophomore Jeff Thomas

Beckner is ranked as one of the top defensive tackles in the nation, while Strong is a University of Missouri recruit.

Thomas is one of the top ranked sophomore wide receivers in the country.

Beckner to wait: Another of the big questions heading into the season centers around where East St. Louis senior defensive lineman Terry Beckner Jr. will go to college next year.

And when he will make the decision.

According to Rivals.com, the 6-foot-4 290-pound Beckner is the top-ranked recruit in the state among the Class of 2015.

Beckner is also the No. 32 ranked senior overall and No. 5 ranked defensive tackle in the nation.

Sunkett said every NCAA Division I perennial power in the nation -- with the exception of Alabama -- has shown interest in his All-American.

But according to Sunkett, coaches and scouts will have to wait for a while longer before learning of Beckner's decision.

'I would say that almost all of the top 25 teams in the nation are recruiting Terry,'' Sunkett said. "But Terry has told me he's going to wait. He's more concerned about doing what he can to help this team win football games this Fall.''

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/08/11/3345362/east-st-louis-football-team-kicks.html?sp=/99/205/220/#storylink=cpy

Boring Old White Guy What's the only school..with two four-star recruits on Scout.com (that I know of)? East St. Louis.

Friday, July 18, 2014  Terry Beckner  is a defensive end who has interest from Auburn, Ohio State, USC and, well, just about everybody else. And Natereace Strong is a running back committed to Missouri Shoot!, you're probably thinking, I live in the Chicago area. Do I have to wait until the playoffs to see these two guys?

And the answer is no. The Flyers will be at Montini in Week Two on Saturday, September 6. Last year the Broncos won, 34-6, on the road. This year the game will be sandwiched between two road trips for Montini, to Maine South in Week One and St. Rita in Week Three.

Unless you're a Loyola fan and plan on seeing the Ramblers host Edwardsville that day, you'd better put that game on your calendar and start searching for Lombard on a map.

Mike Tracy

                 Mike Tracy.   

                   my link.


                              ESL summer session drawing attention

   THE 2014 FLYERS claimed the trophy as the champs IN 7 0N 7 COMPETITION AT   Francis Howell North  sat June 21

                    Video's has no Audio

East St Louis vs McCluer North

     East st Louis vs Chaminade

O'Fallon's Moran, East St. Louis' Simms make prospect list

Scout.com released its list of the top 300 football players nationally in the Class of 2016 (juniors this fall) on Wednesday with a couple of familiar names among the ranked players.

Kentrail Moran of O'Fallon High was rated No. 42. He is the seventh-best player in the Midwest and No. 2 in Illinois. Last season, Moran rushed for 1,130 yards on 225 carries with eight touchdowns. He also caught 29 passes for 172 yards.

Moran, a stocky 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, is being recruited by numerous big-time schools including Cincinnati, Syracuse, Illinois, Iowa, Miami, Mississippi State, Ohio State and Vanderbilt.

East St. Louis offensive lineman Tre'Vour Simms, 6-foot-4, 267, is rated No. 185. He doesn't have a list of schools yet, but expect that to change soon.

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 9:04 pm

By Maurice Scott, Jr.

When you talk football with East St. Louis head coach Darren Sunkett these days, you can tell he has a sour taste left in his mouth after last season’s IHSA Class 6A semi-finals.

On that November blustery day, Oak Lawn Richards knocked the Flyers out of another state championship bid in a 7-6 heartbreaker. All of us in Flyers Nation were disappointed, as football is king here in East St. Louis.

Coach Sunkett and his boys have worked hard during the off-season, and other student -athletes are starting to take notice. Determination and focus by his coaches and players have attracted other talent at the high school to participate.

Several Flyers were highlighted in a recent on-line article on the football website edgytim.rivals.com. Of course leading the way was Terry Beckner Jr. The All-American lineman has offers from Pac-12 powers USC and  Oregon; Big Ten powers Ohio State, Nebraska  and Michigan; SEC schools Auburn, LSU and Florida; plus Florida State and Syracuse.

University of Missouri verbal commit Natereance Strong, along with lineman Kenny Knight and Trevor Simms, are also getting plenty of attention from major universities.

Sophomore Jeff Thomas is already one of the most skilled players in the history of the Flyers’ program. Thomas is considered the No. 1 wide-out in the class of 2017 by some publications. Thomas may be compared to former Flyers’  greats Homer Bush, Eugene Bryd or Terry Hawthorne before he's done.

Also drawing a lot of Division 1 interest are talented athletes such as Raekwon Griffin, Markeith McGary and Karon Randolph. All three are multi-talented athletes who are above-average basketball players as well, but have now leaned more toward football.

McGary is slated to lead the secondary, according to the article. Griffin had over 500 yards in receptions last season in only five games, due to injuries. He, along with Thomas and rising star Randolph (6'3”, 180 lbs.) form potentially one of the finest group of receivers in some time.

Randolph started thinking about having more options regarding college, especially after the Flyers’ loss to Belleville East in the Class 4A regional basketball tournament. Being a good student, Randolph’s mom decided to let her son play football again, for Sunkett.

Now, devoting himself to football under Coach Sunkett, Randolph has already caught the eyes of recruiters in the 7-on 7-camps and some other skills camps, to the point where he has been offered scholarships from several schools, including Kansas. Randolph started on the basketball team several games, but decided to give football a try again, which is something he hadn't done since middle school.

Hip, hip, hurrah!

It's good to see more kids, and parents like Karon’s mom, take control of their kid’s activities with some coaches and not limit their ability to play other sports.

In our program’s long athletic history, I can't remember an athletic director, who happens to be the head basketball coach, allow one of the nation’s top freshman prospects to be academically ineligible. And you had him with you all summer.

It wouldn’t happen under Bennie "Boss" Lewis, or the great Bob Shannon! Someone tell me when we started accepting this kind of athletic leadership?

More parents, alumni and coaches want to say what I’m saying, but are scared of retaliation. Parents fear, with only one high school in town, some coaches and administrators might not give their kids a fair shake


                      Spring Tour: East St. Louis

Throughout the month of May, PowerMizzou.com will be hitting a number of high schools that the Tigers are actively recruiting. On our PowerMizzou.com Spring Tour we will talk to players and coaches at each high school and give our subscribers a look at potential prospects in the Class of 2015 and beyond.

In each article, we will highlight a few high-level Division One players and look at some younger prospects that could see their names pop up on the recruiting radar in future years. Read below for information from the latest stop on our tour.


 Natereace Stong
6-foot, 202-pounds

 Terry Beckner Jr.
6-foot-4, 298-

Jeff Thomas
WR 5-foot-10, 165-pounds

Raekwon Griffin
WR5-foot-10, 183-pounds

Kenny Knight
OL/DL 6-foot, 236-pounds

Karon Randolph
6-foot-3, 180 Lbs.

Markeith McGary
5-foot-10, 170-pounds

Trevour Simms
6-foot-3, 317-pounds

The Flyers competed in the Prestigious Rivals Camp on Sunday may 4th. The Quest begins! Get Focused!

Received a call from a big national network (ESPN) looking to cover either the St X game or one of our home games this year.

                    Esl Flyers




 In Cincinnati Ohio against St Xavier Aug 30th @3pm 2nd game September 6th @ 2pm against Montini in Lombard Il.  D'Wayne Sargent


               Done Deal: Strong To Mizzou


It was more of a matter of when, not if East St. Louis (Ill.) High Top247 running back Natereace Strong would commit to Missouri.

Top247 RB Nate Strong becomes commit No. 4 for Mizzou in the class-of-2015.

The when came on Tuesday, as the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Strong chose the Tigers over offers from Florida State, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan State and Ohio State during a visit to campus.

Strong gave his word to head coach Gary Pinkel in person. He feels close to the staff.

"The bond they have as a family, and the coaches who are honest and look after you as a son, and how the coaches check on you and make sure you are good in school and your personal life," Strong explained.

"Also I'm going to major in communications and they're a good school for that. And it's the SEC, that's the best college conference. And it's close, so my family can come see me play."

Strong becomes commit No. 4 for Missouri in the class-of-2015. He is rated by 247Sports as the nation's No. 14 running back and No. 157 prospect overall.

"They're getting a hell of an athlete," East St. Louis assistant coach Harith Mitchom said. "They’re getting 6-1, I think he’s 212 right now, and a 4.4 tailback.

"He's had a lot of injuries. He's more disappointed than anyone regarding those injuries. He's devoted himself to the offseason harder than he has since he's been here and I think it's going to pan out for him. I believe this will be the year he’ll finally eclipse 2,000 yards."

Strong is the No. 2 rated prospect in the state of Illinois. His teammate in five-star defensive lineman Terry Beckner Jr. holds the top spot, and is also a major Missouri target. The Tigers are battling the likes of USC and LSU for Beckner Jr.'s services. Beckner Jr. was on the Missouri campus as well.

"They do have a desire to go to the same school but it's not a strong desire," Mitchom said. "It will be nice but it's not going to sway Terry’s decision one way or the other. But I'm quite sure he's going to try to talk him into it."

                      Natereace Strong

                    Thomas Excited by Michigan Offer

East St. Louis (Ill.) freshman wide receiver Jeff Thomas is one of the Midwest's best youngsters and received a Michigan offer today, his third of the process.

It does not take long watching Jeff Thomas' film to see the East St. Louis freshman will be a major national prospect and today, the Michigan Wolverines became an early player in his recruitment, adding their name to an offer list that already includes Syracuse and Kansas.

"Jeff's excited," Flyers wide receiver coach Hairt Mitchom said. "Honestly, we kind of shelter him from some of it because he is a freshman, but any time Michigan offers, there is excitement behind that. He has embraced the opportunity and challenge."

By this time his senior year, Thomas is likely to have offers from around the country.

"We talked to him and understands that he will get a few more, but that said, Michigan is Michigan when it comes down to it. It's a big school so that solidifies him in terms of where he's at now. It's a motivator for where he needs to get to."

The Flyers have had some great wide receivers in their program from Kraig Appleton and Terry Hawthorne to Keante Minor, who were all BCS signees and Mitchom says Thomas is as talented as any he has had.

"He is by far, and I've been around the program since 2001, the quickest receiver we've had and that's a strong statement for a freshmen. He gets in and out of breaks faster than anyone I've seen do it. That's what sets him apart from everybody else and how he had 1,000 yards as a freshman, he goes from zero to 100 miles an hour in two steps."

Right now, Mitchom says Thomas is not able to get to many visits on his own, so the schools he sees will be dependent on where heavily recruited junior teammates Terry Beckner and Natereace Strong visit.

"If he goes anywhere to visit it'll be when we take Terry and Nate probably to Missouri, maybe Kansas, somewhere within a four to five hour drive time where the coaches can take him. Michigan did offer Terry but didn't offer Nate so right now he'll be on a circuit with them."

Rivals class of 2015 top prospects in Illinois list. Terry and Nate are No.1and No.2 http://t.co/REqx31umna

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

Congrats to Terry Beckner Jr and  Jeff Thomas for making the Max Preps All American Team

             National Singing day for four of East St Louis top Recruits

East St. Louis High School football players and Head Football Coach Darren Sunkett gather for a photo after a press conference and national letter of intent signing that was held at the school library Thursday morning. They are, from left, with the college they will be attending: Kyron Watson, University of Kansas; Greg Taylor, Mizzou; Coach Sunkett; Trevon Prater, Syracuse; and Luther Wright, SEMO. School officials, family members, friends, and classmates were in attendance for the signing TIM VIZER — tvizer@bnd.com Buy Photo

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/2014/02/06/3043281/flyers-football-players-sign-for.html#storylink=cpy

             Flyers Have Three of The Top      Area Prep Football Recruits

Congrats to Treevon King-tuck Prater Committing to Syracuse over the weekend on his official visit. What's special is Boom and his family made a tough decision not to play Basketball and focus on achieving this moment. Hard work pays off!


Freshman of the year: WR Jeff Thomas, 5-11, 175, East St. Louis

Thomas emerged early in the season as a go-to guy for the Flyers at wide receiver, and he continued to make plays throughout East Side’s 9-4 campaign that ended in the Illinois Class 6A semifinals. He finished with 56 catches for 988 yards, averaging 17.6 per reception, and 10 touchdowns and also had a 90-yard punt return touchdown against O’Fallon.  

DL Terry Beckner, 6-4, 280, jr., East St. Louis

One of the top prospects nationally in the junior class, Beckner excelled as a two-way player for the Flyers this fall at left tackle and defensive end. He was credited with 123 tackles, eight sacks and one interception and also scored a touchdown on a return. He had 77 tackles, five sacks and one fumble recovery as a sophomore

DB Treevon Prater, 6-1, 185, sr., East St. Louis

A Western Michigan recruit, Prater recorded 70 tackles, seven int. and one sack as a DB and added 413 total yards and eight TDs as a WR as the Flyers (9-4) advanced to the Illinois Class 6A semifinals.

LB Kyron Watson, 6-2, 220, sr., East St. Louis

A two-time All-Metro first-team selection, Watson had 165 tackles, four sacks, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries as the Flyers went 9-4 and advanced to the Illinois Class 6A semifinals. As a junior, Watson was credited with a team-high 118 tackles and grabbed three interceptions along with two sacks and one fumble recovery. He has committed to Kansas.

UT Gregory Taylor, 5-11, 176, sr., East St. Louis

Taylor emerged as an outstanding two-way player for the Flyers this fall, as a running back and defensive back, and helped East St. Louis go 9-4 and advance to the Illinois Class 6A semifinals. After starting the season at wide receiver and then moving to running back, he racked up 2,002 total yards (1,782 rushing, 220 receiving) and 23 TDs. On defense, he was credited with 94 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery.



Mr Marc ESLFFFS eye's and ear's

Mr Marc
08:00 PM on November 28, 2013 
First off,to the seniors who played their tails off I'd like to say hats off to you guys thank you for your contribution for all you've done in the program,helping and adding to tradition and legacy we have at East St.Louis.To the entire team we are so very proud of you young men for all the time and all the sacrifices you've made from the off season training to the film study to the long workouts honing in on your craft to achieving greatness....In my opinion there's no other program hands down that in this state that gets behind their team like we do..nothing like being apart of this thing we got called THE FLYERS NATION!!!! To the people on the outside looking in who may not understand how and why we feel and pride ourselves on our boys, how we do the foundation has been set since the 70's picture 7 Illinois State titles,2 National Champs,countless SWC championships,yes our expectations are always high,and our goals are set year in and year out.Thats why we claim the phrase "Unfinished business",so in 2014 no questions asked yes were going all in on the quest for #8..To the TRUE FLYERS fans shout out to you guys for showing up & showing out for those boys,but at times its kinda upsetting,and frankly down right aggravating when you have certain ones down right hatred for what i think is one of the best football coaches around,looking over him with a fine tooth comb on every play decision etc..that he makes.Everybody's entitled to their opinion & i accept that but if your really behind the FLYER NATION then you need to accept everything that comes with that,that includes the Head Coach.Believe it or not he puts these young men who could be out doing who knows what puts them in a potion to succeed.Not just on the football field but in life.Some of our kids never been out of East St Louis,but since he's arrived at East St.Louis Senior he's put them in position to play and go to some of the top programs in the nation,showing them never fear the challenge and rise above any situation against all odds.We have to get better,yes we do have the talent but it takes someone special to coach up and bring that talent out of us.Hats of to Coach Sunkett and the entire coaching staff,we TRUE Flyers Supporters are behind you all the way, to those bleacher critic,misery loves company,to the rest of the state of Illinois you will see the Flyers again in 2014,,The Journey Continues,take State for #8!!!
Even though the season ended in bitter disappointment, the true FLYER fan should take pride in the kids that after a rough start they never gave up and had a 7 game winning streak. Even if you don't like the coach don't be hating on the kids. My XMAS wish is quite simple (1) improved kicking game for 2014 & (2) new communication system that won't entail the QB running to the sidelines after each play. Until next year may every fan and their family have a safe and prosperous 2014. Hope to see you at the crib next year. BE SAFE!!!!!!!!    Clyde Stith Jr.
Dagne Moore-Joy
Tough loss for the Flyers yesterday in the football game against the bulldogs. WOW - Flyers keep your head up! Project Graduation & New Life - still your biggest Fan in the Stands! Basketball up next.

                      FLYERS 2013 PLAYOFFS 

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