Photo by Theo Tate
Granite City junior quarterback Kendrick Williba (No. 3) listens to coaches’ instructions in the fourth quarter against O’Fallon on Friday.
A year ago, the Granite City Warriors didn’t have any road victories.
This year, they have one. And they’re looking to get another one on Friday, when they travel to Alton to play the Redbirds.
“We want to get in a good week of practice and focus on them just like any other conference team we prepare for,” Granite City coach Carl Luehmann said. “They’re a conference team and we’re going to prepare just like any other conference team and work our butts off.”
Both the Warriors and Redbirds are still searching for their first Southwestern Conference win. The Warriors and the Redbirds are tied for seventh in the league standings at 0-4, and they’re the only winless conference teams.
The Warriors will take a 2-4 record into Friday’s game with the Redbirds. Granite City beat Jersey and Riverview Gardens in its first two nonconference games of the season.
Granite City is playing its fourth and final road game of the year. The Warriors started their road season on Sept. 5 with a 29-28 win over Riverview Gardens in St. Louis. They were 0-5 on the road in 2014.
The win over the Rams snapped an eight-game road losing streak for the Warriors. It was Granite City’s first win away from home since beating Collinsville on Sept. 20, 2013.
The Warriors are looking to snap a 16-game conference losing streak on Friday. They haven’t won a league game since that 2013 contest with Collinsville.
The Warriors also are looking to beat Alton for the first time since 2011. Last year, Granite City lost to the Redbirds 56-0 on the road.
Granite City needs to win its final three games of the season — including Friday’s game against Alton — in order to finish with its first winning regular season since 2011. The Warriors also have home games against Belleville West on Oct. 16 and Edwardsville on Oct. 23.
“We’ve got Belleville West and Edwardsville, two playoff teams at the end of the year,” Luehmann said. “The game against Belleville West is our homecoming, so I’m sure the kids will get up for homecoming. The game against Edwardsville is our senior night, so I’m sure the kids will get up for that. It’s two important games for us. We’re proud of our homecoming and we’re pretty proud of our seniors. They’re two very important things for our kids to be proud of.”
Granite City lost road games to East St. Louis (68-0) and O’Fallon (42-12). Last week against O’Fallon, the Warriors led 12-7 early in the second quarter before the Panthers rallied with 35 unanswered points to pick up the win. A year ago, the Warriors ended their season with a 48-21 loss to O’Fallon on the road.
The Redbirds will take an 0-6 mark into Friday’s game. They lost their conference games to East St. Louis, Belleville East, O’Fallon and Collinsville.
Alton has been outscored 174-30 in its conference games. The Redbirds started their league play on Sept. 11 with a 56-0 loss to East St. Louis. Last week, Alton lost 34-9 to Collinsville on the road.
Last year, the Redbirds finished 5-4 overall and 3-4 in conference play, but didn’t qualify for the state playoffs. The 56 points against Granite City marked a season-high for Alton, which graduated 22 seniors from 2014 and are led by first-year head coach Eric Dickerson.
“We’re going to look forward to Alton next week and get a good week of practice in,” Luehmann said. “I like being around them in practice. I’ll know they’ll come to work hard to get a win next week against Alton.”
Ten Granite City seniors will be playing their final road game of their high school football careers on Friday. They are Ron Allen, Blake Carmack, Darrion Flemons, Gabe Jarman, Jake Loftus, Jordan Martin, DeVonte Nance, Caleb Venne, Matt Wylie and Nick Zambito.
Jarman and Allen turned in strong performances in the Warriors’ first road game of the season against Riverview Gardens. Jarman rushed for 84 yards on 21 carries and was 8 for 16 with 104 yards passing and two touchdowns and Allen rushed for 112 yards on 19 carries.