COLLINSVILLE -- The Granite City Warriors enjoyed another happy bus ride back home on Friday.
The Warriors won their third consecutive road game after beating the Collinsville Kahoks 34-18 in a Southwestern Conference game at Collinsville. Granite City improved to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in league play with four games remaining.
Just four weeks ago, the Warriors blew a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead in their 39-35 loss to Jersey in their season opener on the road.
After getting road wins over Carbondale, Belleville East and Collinsville, Granite City is still in contention for a spot in the state playoffs.
“The kids are starting to believe in themselves,” Granite City coach Carl Luehmann said. “They’re starting to become more coachable. They’re buying to what we’re doing. It’s working and they’re having a good time. I’m proud of what they’re doing.”
Now, the Warriors are looking to pull off a win over O’Fallon at home next Friday. The Panthers are 2-3 after beating Alton 56-28 on Friday.
“We haven’t had good luck against O’Fallon,” Luehmann said. “We’re going to look at the film, coach the kids up and they’re coming to our place. We’re going to be pumped up because we only got three home games and we’ve got two left. We had the best week in practice this week and that kind of showed somewhat (against Collinsville). Hopefully, we’ll have another good week of practice, too.”
The Warriors never trailed against the Kahoks on Friday. They led 20-12 at halftime and 27-18 after the third quarter.
“My hat’s off to Granite City,” Collinsville coach Rick Rinehart said. “They came in here and they ran their game plan and they did a nice job and they played better than us tonight.”
Granite City had a total of 390 yards rushing against the Kahoks. Freshman Freddie Edwards rushed for 203 yards on 19 carries with three touchdowns, Raheem Beckwith rushed for 83 yards with a touchdown and Brandon Bettag and Richard Graham each had 52 yards rushing.
“The offensive line killed it tonight,” Granite City senior offensive lineman Ryan Earney said. “I give it to the offensive line. Our offensive line put it up.”
Edwards gave the Warriors a 7-0 on a 63-yard touchdown run with 10:29 left in the first quarter. He extended the lead to 14-6 after scoring a three-yard TD run with just five seconds into the second quarter. Edwards scored a 38-yard TD run with 4:14 to go in the game to give Granite City a 34-18 lead.
“He’s a freshman prodigy,” Earney said. “The kid can run. I have never seen a kid run this fast.”
Edwards is taking over quarterback duties for senior Kendrick Williba, who injured his hip against Belleville East two weeks ago.
“Freddie has stepped in the last couple of games,” Luehmann said. “He had a tough game against East Side last week. He’s a very coachable kid and that’s what we like.”
Edwards said he’s enjoying his time with the varsity after five weeks. He scored two touchdowns in the Warriors’ season opener against Jersey on Aug. 26.
“It’s completely different from eighth grade,” said Edwards, who went to Coolidge Junior High last year. “In eighth grade, there wasn’t a lot of competition and they weren’t a lot of hard hits. Playing varsity football, you have to learn how to be a man. You have to take hard hits and get back up and not go down when you’re down by a lot.”
Eugene Williba scored a 29-yard touchdown catch with 2:14 left in the second half to give the Warriors a 20-12 halftime lead.
After Collinsville cut the lead to 20-18 on a seven-yard TD catch by Trevore Sanders with 8:09 left in the third quarter, Beckwith scored a 31-yard TD run two minutes later to boost the Warriors’ lead to 27-18.
Also for Granite City, Graham had eight tackles and senior Kyle Thompson finished with seven tackles and one sack.
Luehmann said he was pleased with Graham’s effort.
“Richard played both ways in this game,” the Granite City coach said. “It’s tough to play both ways, but he’s a good athlete. He’s one of our better athletes that we can do that with. He did a good job running the ball and he did a good job playing safety. Richard is getting better every game.”
Sean Bonham had a pair of touchdowns for the Kahoks, who dropped to 0-5 overall and 0-3 in conference play.
Collinsville played with heavy hearts on Friday. One of the students, freshman Tray Turner, died on Thursday from injuries from a school accident earlier this week.
“That’s hard to play under those kind of conditions,” Luehmann said. “We feel for those guys. It’s a tough situation. Nobody doesn’t want to play under those kinds of situations.”
Before the game, the Granite City High School staff gave a check of $1,300 to Turner’s family.
“What a great thing that says about our kids and our school to give money like that just in one day,” Luehmann said.