Illinois High School Football News

East St. Louis shows off talent, routs Prairie Ridge for Class 6A state title

East St. Louis' Robert "Pops" Battle looks to make a move on Prairie Ridge's Joseph Vanderwiel during their IHSA Class 6A state championship game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois in Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN — East St. Louis’ Miles McVay made a promise after the Flyers lost to Cary-Grove in the 2021 Class 6A state-title game.

The Flyers would get back to the title game in 2022 and win.

McVay and East St. Louis lived up to their promise Saturday, scoring on their first eight possessions to beat Prairie Ridge 57-7 and win the 6A title, earning the program’s 10th title.

“I promised you that,” said McVay, who is committed to Alabama. “I live up to my promises.”

The Flyers (12-2) responded after allowing the Wolves to score on their first possession by scoring 57 unanswered points.

East St. Louis drove 72 yards on its first drive and scored when TaRyan Martin rushed in for 34 yards with 5:10 left in the first quarter. Martin scored twice in the second quarter, on two 8-yard runs, to take a 22-7 lead into the half.

Quarterback Robert Battle found Jesse Watson for a 27-yard touchdown with 8:43 left in the third quarter and then scored again later in the third on a 26-yard run. Christopher Bennets Jr. also had a rushing score and Rico Bond caught a touchdown in the third while Antwon Hayden scored on a run in the fourth.

East St. Louis finished with 569 total yards of offense, just shy of breaking the 6A title-game record of 611 total yards set by Wheaton-Warrenville South in 1998. The Flyers rushed for 362 yards on the ground.

East St. Louis' Jesse Watson gets a lift from Miles McVay after Watson scored a touchdown during their IHSA Class 6A state championship game against Prairie Ridge Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois in Champaign.

The win is the first Flyers state title since 2019 after they lost to Cary-Grove in last year’s title game. East St. Louis finished its season undefeated against Illinois teams and earned the largest margin of victory in state finals history.

“We had great leadership,” East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. “Those guys knew what it took to get back here. I thought once we got back here, we did a great job.”

Despite the offensive performance, Sunkett was proud of how his defense responded. The Flyers heard all offseason about how they couldn’t stop the triple-option after losing to Cary-Grove last year.

Prairie Ridge (12-2) got off to a quick start, marching 67 yards on its first drive and scoring when quarterback Tyler Vasey ran in for 14 yards with 7:13 left in the opening quarter. But the Wolves finished the game with 187 total yards, 152 on the ground.

“These guys stepped up this year,” Sunkett said. “Our defense has done a great job.”

Vasey finished the day with 107 rushing yards and completed two of his six pass attempts for 37 yards.

The Wolves lost to East St. Louis for the second time in four years. The Flyers also defeated Prairie Ridge in the 2019 title game.

Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp was proud of the way his team made it to the championship game and competed against a team filled with college talent.

“When you’ve got Division-I talent up and down your lineup, right now we don’t even have a kid that’s going to play in college,” Schremp said. “To be able to match up, that’s tough for anybody. We got out-athleted today for sure.”

East St. Louis will lose McVay and fellow offensive linemen Paris Patterson, an Arkansas commit, and Brandon Henderson, an Illinois commit. McVay and Patterson played on varsity for all four seasons.

Sunkett knows it will be tough to replace that talent, but he’s excited to try and win the program’s 11th state title.

“We’ve got a rich tradition, that each kid steps in the year after, wants to continue,” Sunkett said. “We’ve got a nice group of kids that are coming up the following year who are going to replace these kids.”