football finally dropped the curtain on its 2011 season Saturday afternoon at Wildcat Stadium.
Unfortunately, by the time it was over, it was visiting Belleville East High School that had lowered the boom on the Wildcats, to the tune of a 35-7 whipping in both teams’ first game of the new season.
“You've got to give credit to those guys,” West head coach Duane Hawthorne said. “Up front, we couldn't handle them. I told our kids all week long the game is going to be won in the trenches. And they did a much better job than we did.”
The Lancers also seemed to do a much better job of handling the nerves, especially in the early going, when they jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead over the varsity Wildcat team.
Belleville East used its superior offensive line play to dominate the line of scrimmage and push the West defense back almost every time it snapped the ball.
By game’s end, East had run nearly 40 rushing plays and almost all of them gained positive yardage.
“They were just more physical than us,” Hawthorne said. “And that’s something we’ve got to work on. We can’t let ourselves get pushed around like that. We’ve got to get tougher in the trenches.”
East senior running back ReShawn Bean was especially tough to deal with for West.
The 6-foot, 188-pounder ran up, down and all around the Wildcat defense for a career-high 186 yards, and four touchdowns that each seemed more spectacular than the one before it.
Bean scored on runs of 2, 13, 1 and 68 yards, the last of which was a highlight reel-caliber play that included the East tailback bursting through the heart of West’s defense. East then broke through three tackles, before finally outrunning the rest of the Wildcats to the endzone for the game-clinching touchdown.
“It was all right, I guess,” Bean said. “We just went out there and did what we had to do.”
The key play in the game though, might have come from the East defense, when it spoiled a prime scoring chance for the West offense after it had managed its first deep venture into Lancer territory.
On second and goal from the East 5, West quarterback Chase Pullaro rolled to his left and looked for a receiver to throw to.
The sophomore found a target, but his pass was tipped and intercepted by East’s Kendrick Lewis, who then raced the entire length of the field, 99 yards officially, for a backbreaking touchdown that gave the Lancers a 28-0 lead.
“That was definitely a killer,” Hawthorne said. “And we gave them a touchdown right before halftime. Those kinds of plays are killers, and that’s what beat us today.”
The one bright spot on the day for West was the play of running back/linebacker Joey McCune.
A Wildcat team captain, and one of the team’s few experienced seniors, McCune led the West defense with 16 tackles (unofficially), and scored his team’s only touchdown, on a 1-yard rumble with just under two minutes left in the game.
“We obviously got some work to do,” Hawthorne said. “But we’re ready for that. We’re a very young team. We have some seniors, but hardly any of them have played in a varsity game before. This was their first rodeo with the big boys. And now they see what it’s like.”
West will get its chance to redeem itself this coming Friday when it will travel across the state to play Harrisonville (MO) at 7 p.m.
The Wildcats’ next home game will be Saturday, Sept. 10, when they’ll host David H. Hickman High School (Columbia, MO) at Wildcat Stadium at 2 p.m.
BE: ReShawn Bean 2 yd run (Brandon Hoguet kick)
BE: ReShawn Bean 13 yd run (Brandon Hoguet kick)
BE: ReShawn Bean 1 yd run (Brandon Hoguet kick)
BE: Kendrick Lewis 99 yd INT return (Brandon Hoguet kick)
BE: ReShawn Bean 68 yd run (Brandon Hoguet kick)
HW: Joey McCune 1 yd run (Matt Leinberger kick)