Boys Varsity Football
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Alton coach says Redbirds will have to make strong finish happen
Dickerson: Redbirds will haveto make a strong finish happen
Pete Hayes, email@example.com
Billy Hurst | For The Telegraph
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Alton’s head coach Eric Dickerson speaks to his team during Friday night’s game against Belleville East at Public School Stadium.
ALTON —The defense never rests against the run for Eric Dickerson’s Alton High Redbirds, it seems.
Friday’s 21-9 victory over Belleville East is the latest example.
“The defense played a great game, I thought,” said Dickerson, the Alton coach. “It took awhile for us to get going on offense and we made some mistakes doing that, but the defense stepped up and did a really good job.”
The Redbirds held East to 51 yards rushing in Friday’s Southwestern conference victory. It was a win Alton needed to keep its playoff hopes alive. Alton is 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the Southwestern Conference.
While Alton did shut down the Lancers’ running game, the East passing game was a different story with Kienen Waller going 18 of 32 for 215 yards and a touchdown.
“East has a good team,” Dickerson said. “In this conference, records aren’t always the only thing you look at. They have played well against some really tough teams.”
The Redbirds finally got their offense untracked late in the second quarter when quarterback Drew Jones hit Lonnie Tate with a 10-yard touchdown pass down the middle on second-and-goal with only 42.2 seconds remaining until halftime.
Alton made it 14-3 in the third quarter. A 22-yard run by Tim Johnson helped set up a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Terrance Walker with 9:11 remaining in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter the Redbirds drove the ball from their own 30-yard line to the end zone in 13 plays on a drive that ate up time and ended when Jones scored after bobbling the snap from center. He picked up the ball and scored from a yard out. The PAT kick made it 21-34 with 5:59 left.
“Drew is really coming along,” Dickerson said of his junior quarterback. “He made strides last year as a sophomore and is doing a good job this year.”
Jones completed 15 of 21 passes for 227 yards Friday.
“We had some really good scoring chances in the first half before we finally scored,” Dickerson said. “We had some snap problems and made some other mistakes.”
“We say we take our games one at a time, Dickerson said “and we do. But if we want to get back to playoffs this was one we pretty much had to have.”
If the Redbirds want to emulate last season’s postseason bid, they’ll need to win at least two of their final three games. Alton plays at O’Fallon next Friday, then plays host to Granite City Oct. 12 before ending the regular season Oct. 19 against East St. Louis.
Last season, Alton sat at 3-3 and 2-2 at this same juncture of the season and went 2-1 its last three games, made the Class 7A playoffs and advanced to the second round and played host to a playoff game at Public School Stadium.
The Redbirds beat O’Fallon 50-20, defeated Granite City 56-14 and fell to East St. Louis 22-19. And while Dickerson acknowledges the similarity of his team’s current position, he said don’t put much stock in the notion that history will automatically repeat itself.
“Last year was last year,” he said. “This is a different team and the other teams are different. I think we definitely have a shot, but it’s something we have to make happen, it just doesn’t happen by itself.