STERLING – The player who very well could be the best in the Western Big 6 is about to hit the turf at Roscoe Eades Stadium.
On Friday, the Golden Warriors face Alleman in a conference matchup, and will have to contend with the Pioneers’ big man in the trenches, right tackle Charles Jagusah.
Alleman’s offensive line poses a threat that Sterling’s defensive line will prepare for by focusing on the details.
“Mostly this week just get really technical, work on my form,” Sterling senior Anthony Amezola said. “Kind of work on the real technical stuff because the last few weeks we went against good linemen, but not great linemen. I’m going to have to work on getting low, getting my hands on him, and being as good as I can be.”
Amezola said he’s looking forward to the challenge of going against Jagusah. The 6-foot-6, 290-pound junior has gotten offers already from schools stretching from Missouri to West Virginia and every place in between, getting offers from Illinois, Iowa and Iowa State over the summer, and adding offers from Michigan and Notre Dame just before practice opened in August.
Alleman comes in 0-3, having not scored on the season, being shut out by Davenport Assumption, Quincy Notre Dame and Rock Island, all by more than 50 points. The Pioneers have put up 103 rushing yards this year on 74 carries, with quarterback Quentin Fonseca having completed 13 of 42 passes for 89 yards and three interceptions.
“They’re going to try to run the ball,” Sterling coach Jon Schlemmer said. “I think that’s what they’re going to do. Alleman’s always done that. You can see they haven’t played as well as they want to and haven’t done all the things, but it isn’t for lack of effort. We don’t want to be the week it all comes together for them, so we have to make sure all the little things for us come together.”
Sterling itself is coming off of a pair of close games, coming up short in a Week 2 comeback bid against Montini before scoring 18 unanswered points in a Week 3 win over Galesburg, including a Luis Diaz field goal with 1:50 left.
But the Warriors know that, with a win that narrow, a couple of plays going the other way could have given the win to the Silver Streaks, such as on the third Galesburg snap of the game when Streaks wideout Dre Egipciaco got behind the Warriors’ secondary, only to have a long pass bounce off his hands.
All of that adds up to plenty of things the Golden Warriors can clean up in practice.
“We did good things last week,” Schlemmer said. “At times I thought defensively we played really, really well, got a few breaks. The first series the kid got behind us but didn’t convert on that. I think offensively we saw a lot of stuff we need to get better at, and I think that’s kind of what this week’s been about, making sure throughout this week we’re doing all the little things right.”
Sterling’s defense has allowed 294 rushing yards this year, along with 343 passing yards, and has intercepted four passes.
Amezola said what’s been working so far on the Sterling defensive line is “our communication and how good our chemistry is together. We all like each other. We’ve all been working together for a long time.”
Galesburg’s rushing attack was held to 101 yards on 24 carries in total, with Alex Egipciaco accounting for 62 yards on 18 carries. Sterling’s defense, for the most part, had the Galesburg rushing game bottled up when the Silver Streaks ran it out of shotgun, but Galesburg was able to move the ball more in the second half by switching to a wishbone set.
“I thought at times we did really good on double-teams on the interior last week, trying to keep guys off our linebackers,” Schlemmer said. “I thought we did a really good job with that, so our linebackers went untouched and got to make plays. Our guys see it when they went to turn on film, there were some plays made by us in space from the linebacker position.”