Photo by Theo Tate
Granite City senior offensive lineman Blake Carmack (left) talks strategy with tight end Adam Marmion in the second quarter against Jerseyville on Friday.
A year ago, Ron Allen finished with just 19 yards rushing.
In the season opener against Jerseyville on Friday, the Granite City senior almost quadrupled that mark, finishing with 71 yards rushing on four carries, including a key 51-yard run late in the third quarter.
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Allen can thank the offensive linemen for that.
“I give credit to my line,” Allen said. “I thank them for blocking for me.”
The offensive linemen of seniors Caleb Venne, Blake Carmack, Matt Wylie and Nick Zambito and junior TaMajia Johnson helped the Warriors record more than 300 yards of offense in their 49-30 win over Jerseyville. Granite City, which came back from a 14-13 halftime deficit to beat the Panthers, had 308 yards rushing and 54 yards receiving.
“We’ve got a pretty good offensive line and one of the better ones that we’ve had in a couple of years,” Granite City coach Carl Luehmann said. “We’re going to run the ball and we’ve got the capability with (senior quarterback) Gabe (Jarman) throwing the ball. We’re going to be hard to prepare for a little bit.”
The offensive linemen helped the Warriors pick up their second season-opening victory in three seasons. Now, Granite City will look to go to 2-0 on Saturday, when it travels to play Riverview Gardens. Last year, the Warriors beat the Rams 21-0 at Granite City.
Riverview Gardens will take an 0-2 mark and a 19-game losing streak into its game with the Warriors. The Rams scored 38 points in their first two games against Jennings and Fox.
“I think if we execute better in practice and get our discipline better in practice, we’ve got a good chance of winning against Riverview,” Luehmann said. “But Riverview is an athletic team. We watched them play and they’re an athletic team and did some good things last week against Jennings. They’ve got athletes and we’ve got to shut them down better. They got a good quarterback and they got a couple of good receivers, so we have to do some things better this week in practice to be able to shut them down.”
Allen ran all 71 of his yards in the second half. With the Warriors trailing 14-13 and having the ball at their 46-yard line with about four minutes left in the third quarter, Allen ran for 51 yards to Jerseyville’s 3-yard line, setting up Bettag’s touchdown that gave Granite City a 21-14 lead.
The Warriors outscored Jerseyville 22-0 in the third quarter.
“It really helped us,” Allen said.
Bettag rushed for 132 yards with three touchdowns, Jarman finished with 108 yards rushing with a pair of touchdowns and threw for 54 yards and junior Kyle Thompson had 53 yards receiving.
Luehmann said the offensive line will be the key to his team’s success this season.
“We’ve got a couple of new faces in there that haven’t played since their freshman year and they’re animals and they’re hungry,” Luehmann said. “I like to see that out of a lineman and they’re going to help us this year.”
The 6-foot-2, 280 pound Venne is the top returning player for the Warriors’ offensive line. Last year, Venne earned second-team honors at offensive line.