In­di­ans soar to play­off berth

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Sports - BY DEAN CRIDDLE dcrid­dle@bnd.com

MASCOUTAH

Three years after tak­ing over a Mascoutah foot­ball pro­gram with play­ers he says were not phys­i­cally strong enough to com­pete at a high level, coach Josh Lee has led the In­di­ans into the play­offs.

Ju­nior run­ning back Devin Wills set the tone with a pair of touch­downs in the open­ing eight min­utes and the In­di­ans never looked back as they clinched their first IHSA play­off berth since 2009 on Fri­day with a

59-2 win over Centralia.

Ranked fifth in the St. Louis area with 1,244 yards en­ter­ing play Fri­day, Wills ram­bled 44 yards for a touch­down in the open­ing minute then added a two-yard run for a score six min­utes later as the In­di­ans took con­trol of the game early.

De­fen­sive end Isaac Beck and de­fen­sive back Chris­tian Trot­ter added in­ter­cep­tion re­turns for touch­downs and Ma­lik Green re­turned a blocked punt 17 yards for a score within a six-minute span in the sec­ond quar­ter. The In­di­ans led 45-0 by half­time and, for all in­tents and pur­poses, had clinched that long-awaited play­off berth.

“I’m go­ing to get a lit­tle emo­tional here,’’ Lee said after the game. “When we got here three years ago we told these kids, some of them who were here and have gone through some tough times, that if they be­lieved in us and what we wanted them to do, and if they bought into the pro­gram that this could hap­pen.

“I’m just very happy for these kids and this foot­ball pro­gram.’’

With the win, Mascoutah im­proves to 6-3 and will await the an­nounce­ment of its first round Class 5A play­off oppo-

nent which was to come on Satur­day when the Illi­nois High School As­so­ci­a­tion an­nounced its play­off field and firstround pair­ings in all eight classes.

In­di­ans quar­ter­back Jeff Getchell added a 13-yard touch­down run in the sec­ond quar­ter and the de­fense, led by Green and se­nior line­man Bobby Moore kept the Or­phans of­fense silent for much of the night.

Centralia, which ends its sea­son at 1-8, man­aged only three first downs all night, two of which came on Mascoutah penal­ties.

“Of­fense, de­fense, spe­cial teams, we all came to play tonight. It’s been a long time since Mascoutah had made the play­offs and we were not go­ing to be de­nied tonight,’’ Getchell said. “The of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive lines were both tremen­dous tonight.

“The dif­fer­ence be­tween this year and the last cou­ple is that this team stayed to­gether, no mat­ter what hap­pened or if things went good or bad. We played as a team. I’m just very proud of all these guys. Now we get a chance to be in the play­offs and we’re go­ing to con­tinue to give it ev­ery­thing we have.’’

If Mascoutah is to ad­vance it will be with Wills as the main of­fen­sive weapon. With the sea­son on the line Fri­day, Lee made sure his top run­ning back got touches early.

Wills car­ried the foot­ball on eight of the In­di­ans’ first 10 plays.

“The last weeks we had maybe got­ten away from that a lit­tle bit,” Lee said. “Tonight we wanted to have the ball in (Wills’) hands as much as pos­si­ble. The de­fense came up with plays and our spe­cial teams, which is some­thing we’ve re­ally worked to im­prove, stepped up as well.’’

CHRIS JOHNS

Mascoutah’s Bobby Moore rushes the passer dur­ing Fri­day night’s game against Centralia.

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