It was a cold day in November in 2013. That was the last time the East St. Louis Flyers saw Oak Lawn Richards on the football field in the IHSA state semifinals.
It is a day that most Flyers' fans want to forget. With temperatures in the single digits Richards’ players came out onto the field prior to pre-game warm ups with shirts cut off with no sleeves attached, as though they were totally unbothered the wind chill factor nor the temperatures.
The Flyers had touchdowns called back due to penalties and although Richards accumulated -25 yards of total offense, the Bulldogs beat the Flyers 7-6 in what many believe as one of the most devastating loses in Flyers history.
However, all can be forgotten on Saturday afternoon as East St. Louis will host the Oak Lawn Richards this time in the IHSA Class 6-A quarterfinals. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at Clyde C. Jordan Stadium. Richards is coming off a 42-34 win against Peoria High while East St. Louis demolished Rock Island 79-28.
Richards is one of the Cadillac programs in the state as they played in four state championship games, winning back to back state titles 1989 and 1990 with second place finishes in 2001 and 2013. Oak Lawn Richards' last lost was in Week No. 3, a 34-17 whipping by Country Club Hills Hillcrest. Richards is led by running-back Leshon Williams, a University of Iowa recruit, who rushed for 308 yards and three touchdowns last week against Peoria High. However, Richards will have to rely on much more if they have a shot at the No. 1 overall seed in the state in East St. Louis.
With their tough schedule this season, the Flyers haven’t lost since November 17, 2018, which was against Chicago Mt. Carmel in last year’s quarterfinals. The eight-time state champions last week had another stellar performance in their victory over Rock Island last weekend. Quarterback Tyler Macon passed for 223 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 96 yards on eight carries. Running back DeMonta Witherspoon had 19 carries for 206 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensively, the Flyers were led by linebackers Kendrick Scarbough and Illinois State recruit Darius Walker, who had 10 tackles each. Scarbough also tallied three quarterback sacks. Defensive end Kevon Billingsley, a Mizzou recruit, had nine tackles and two sacks for East St. Louis.
The Flyers won’t need much motivation when the Bulldogs arrive at the "House of Pain" in historic Clyde C. Jordan Memorial Stadium on Saturday afternoon. A win will propel coach Darren Sunkett's team back to the state semifinals against the winner of the Chatham Glenwood vs Providence Catholic contest next weekend in East St. Louis.
Scott’s Pick: East St. Louis 48 Oak Lawn Richards 20
Former East St. Louis Flyers basketball Star Terrence Hargrove Jr., now playing for St. Louis University, is getting his feet wet for the Billikens. It will be an interesting call to see if the Billikens elect to redshirt Hargrove, who led the Flyers to the Illinois Class 3-A State Championship last year. In my opinion, it might not be a bad idea. Hargrove is an excellent student and the extra year might just be what the doctor ordered for the talented freshman.
One of the East St. Louis Flyers football players who is playing football at the high school for the first time is senior is No. 12 Jamariante Burgess. The 5’10" safety has five interceptions this season and is garnering attention at safety and as one of the top return men in the state. In addition, Burgess is one of the top hurdlers in the state and was a member of the Flyers' state championship track and field team. He’s a special talent who’s worth checking out on Saturday afternoon.