Here's my Metro East breakdown on Illinois schools in the title state championship mix.
East St. Louis is one of the most exciting teams to watch in the St. Louis area. They saved the best for last. Their final home game against St. Rita was an instant classic. Down 28-7 in the third quarter, the Flyers roared back, almost single-handily by Terry Hawthorne, and topped the #3 Mustangs 35-28. Eastside also has WR Kraig Appleton, QB Detchauz Wray and DL Ty Phillips; all will be playing big time D-I football next year.
Only Glenbard West, from suburban Chicago, stands in their way from a trip to Champaign. To be quite honest, this is essentially the state championship game in 7A. West is one of the top teams from the windy city and plays solid defense; posting three shutouts this season. ESL has blanked four of their opponents. This game may come down to how West's secondary matches up with East's receivers. That's a tall order for any school. Even on the road, East St. Louis has too many ways they can beat a team. Flyers escape the trip up north to earn a ticket to Champaign.
If ESL gets through, they'll most likely face Geneva. The Flyers beat them in the state quarterfinals one year ago. East St. Louis will finish them off, and take the top prize.
The Cahokia Comanches only loss this year came to Class 6A power Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin. SSHG could well be on its way to a state title.
And credit Cahokia for rebounding from losing their quarterback Darien Donald to injury. Junior Patrick Ivy has stepped in, and put up some impressive numbers as the replacement (2,400 passing yards/ 31 TDs.)
However, Antwyne Golliday's squad will take on upstate Metamora who's ranked #1 in the state and the Class 5A defending state champs. The Redbirds haven't lost a game since 2006, and it won't happen this week. Metamora will take care of Cahokia easily and move closer to a second consecutive title.
Mater Dei has not lost a game this year. They have a three-headed monster on offense with QB Justin Vonder Haar, WR Aaron Fuehne and RB Lucas Hemann. Combined that trio has accounted for 95 touchdowns. Vonder Haar has thrown for over 3,100 yards, 40 scores and just 11 interceptions. It's no surprise he's the top passing quarterback in the area.
All that said, they have the unenviable task of taking on top ranked Bloomington Central Catholic, who was the Class 4A runner-up one year ago. The Saints are still hungry to avenge their championship game loss, and return a lot of seniors. If you like passing, this is your game. BCC also has a potent passing attack. I think Central Catholic will be too much for a very solid Mater Dei team. This is the last stop for the Knights.
The Columbia Eagles still have a sour taste in their mouth from falling in the championship game last year. They are the #1 team in Class 3A and have dominated opponents this season, and been held to less than 35 points only twice.
Just like Mizzou, the Eagles run the spread offense, and are led by senior quarterback Brian Winters. He's thrown for 35 touchdowns and 2,400 yards by air. Last week Columbia beat a very strong Greenville team (even without Winters at his best) by 26 points on a neutral field.
This week they take on an underdog, DuQuoin, that is red hot. They upset the #3 ranked Decatur St. Teresa last week.
I think with the Eagles playing on their home turf, that will give them the emotional edge to beat the Indians and head to Champaign for another shot at a state title. There they'll probably face the 2nd ranked team in the state, Carthage- Illini West. CIW used to be a dominant small school, before moving up. They won Class 1A state championships in 1995, 1998, 1999 and 2000. I'll go out on a limb and predict Columbia to keep there mojo working, and bring back a first place trophy to St. Louis.
Check in next week as I talk about the state finals.