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Metro East put up or shut up

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Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2012 12:05 am

The stage is set in the powerful Southwestern Conference as the high-powered offense of the O’Fallon Panthers take on the surging East St. Louis Flyers on Friday night in O’Fallon.

The winners of three in a row, East St. Louis is facing a “program statement game” by alumni and loyal Flyer football fans on the road at O’Fallon. Kick-off is 7 p.m. with a crowd in the thousands likely. The Flyers have won three consecutive games after starting off the season with losses to powerful opponents Kansas City Rockhurst and Memphis Whitehaven.

After three weeks of the rugged SWC schedule, East St. Louis has signature wins against a tough Edwardsville team, a big win on the road against Belleville East, and overwhelmed Collinsville last week 44 - 7.

This has been done without starting freshman Max Prep All-American running back Natereance Strong, who is out with an injury. On the other hand, O’Fallon is off to an 5-0 start with wins over a good Cahokia team and conference foe Belleville West.

The Panthers in recent years have become one of the Metro East’s Cadillac football programs and now show the swagger of one of the elite programs in the area. So, tomorrow night’s game in the eyes of many is put up or shut up time, with the winner in control of the conference title race. It is especially true for East St. Louis, who has already beaten Edwardsville and Belleville East.

But the Panthers have three of the top offensive weapons in the Metro East in University of Illinois recruit Darius Mosley, Greg Gibson and quarterback Todd Porter Jr.

Porter is the son of former Lincoln High School All-American basketball standout Todd Porter who played his college ball at Arizona. He is a gifted athlete that can be a young Robert Griffin III on some possessions. Porter has completed 72 of 111 passes for 1,137 yards, and eight touchdowns with only two interceptions. He's surrounded by big play weapons in freshman running back Kentail Morgan who has rushed for 283 yards and three touchdowns.

Porter’s favorite targets in the air attack are two-way players Darius Mosley (24 receptions, 496 yards/4TD) and Greg Gibson (17 receptions, 273 yards and three TDs). As you see, the Panthers have some offensive weapons who have posed problems for opposing teams.

But, Week 6 could just be a little different as the Flyers arrive to town. East St. Louis has been nothing short of spectacular during the conference season.

The defense is led by linebacker Kyron Watson, who leads the Southwestern Conference in tackles with 51, including 31 solos. Teammates DE Julius Jackson (44 tackles 25 solos), linebacker Markese Jackson, (23 solos), Gregory Taylor (23 solos) and Kendrick Jones (24 solos) also have laid a lot of licks on opposing players.

And Friday night should be no exception.

Flyers head coach Darren Sunkett has been pleased with his quarterback Demus Jones in the past few weeks. Jones has completed 47 of 127 passes for 704 yards and five TDs. He will be making only his sixth start as the Flyers signal caller. Week by week he has matured as the quarterback and has settled down in one of the most visible programs in the state. In addition, Ball State recruit WR Daniel Williams is starting to click with Jones as a passing combination.

The Flyers are currently ranked No. 15 in all-time wins in the country with 753.

No. 754 would be a huge one to get as the Flyers take on another top-flight opponent in O’Fallon.

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