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                       THIS IS FLYER NATION

                                                      THE FLYER'S ALL WAYS SEEK THE BEST COMPETITION IN THE COUNTRY BAR NONE

Former ESL Flyer plays for national championship

Maurice Scott

                           Lester Cotton

Posted: Thursday, January 7, 2016 7:45 am

By Maurice Scott

Freshman offensive tackle Lester Cotton of Alabama began his high school career in 2011 playing football and basketball at East St. Louis Senior  High. As a high school freshman, Cotton played alongside another freshman by the name of Terry Beckner Jr.

At that time, it was a treat for then offensive line coach John Clay to coach two of the most athletic, yet academically sound, linemen ever to play for the Flyers. In addition, both Cotton and Beckner dressed on the varsity basketball team for then head basketball coach Ray Coleman.

"Both Terry Beckner Jr. and Lester Cotton were two of the most gifted kids I've ever had the honor to coach," said Coleman. "Not only did they both give everything they had in practice every day, but you could tell that both were going to do well in the game of life. What I mean by that is getting their schoolwork, and being productive young men."

So far, so good for both of them.

Beckner, who started for the University of Missouri this past season, was recently named a Freshman All-American.

As for Cotton, he will be playing for a national championship next Monday night when the Crimson Tide takes on Clemson. The 6'4” 315-pound true freshman left East St. Louis after his freshman year and moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

He played three years for inner-city Central High. As a senior, he was featured on ESPN as a prep All-American. According to family members, it was a breath of fresh air for him to be treated like he was wanted on the football field while playing at Central.

"Nothing against East St. Louis, but it was a great move for Lester at the time," said a family member. "I work in East St. Louis and also played there. I don't want to give my name because of politics here.  But the head coach at East Side just didn't and still doesn't seem to respect the tradition of past coaches, particularly Bob Shannon, who I played for back in the day. So, for Lester to get a fresh start somewhere else was great for him."

Cotton is currently third on the depth chart at Alabama. He has played in four games for coach Nick Saban against Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee, Georgia, and Charleston  Southern in 2015.

In a recent interview, the gentle, soft-spoken offensive tackle said he has really enjoyed playing for the Crimson Tide.

"I just have to continue to work hard. If I do that, I feel I will compete for a starting job next season,” Cotton said.

In addition, he enjoys going the short distance from campus back to his former high school to speak to students and to thank his former teachers and coaches for helping him along the way.

His former basketball coach at East St. Louis, Ray Coleman, is happy for Lester, even though he didn't get an opportunity to finish his career as a Flyer.

"I'm proud of Lester Cotton and Terry Beckner Jr.,” said Coleman. "They are examples of young men who didn't try to cut corners, they did the school work, and the sky is the limit for them both. When I coached them, I never had any doubts about the two of them academically, nor athletically. They both are off to great starts in their careers."

I'm also very proud of them. But, not enough of our student-athletes in East St. Louis are going off to college like the past. Obviously, these two young men have great support systems. But, unfortunately, many aren’t as lucky.

So, until we hold each other accountable, those who teach and coach our youth who don't have our students’ interests at heart, both educational and socially, we will continue to fail them.

Good luck, Terry and Lester.

             Underdogs East St Louis High School


State football playoff hopefuls begin to take shape; East St. Louis teachers strike could force Flyers out

By Norm Sanders


As cooler temperatures approach and leaves begin to fall, the attention of area high school football fans turns to the state playoffs.

According to the Illinois High School Association eight metro-east teams have already clinched state playoff spots led by conference champs Althoff (7-0, South Seven Conference champ), Edwardsville (7-0, Southwestern Conference champ) and Columbia (7-0, Cahokia Conference champ.

Other teams that have already clinched playoff berths are Triad (7-0), Nashville (6-1), Highland (6-1), Civic Memorial (6-1) and Centralia (6-1).

There are 110 teams that have qualified for the playoffs and 146 spots remaining.

Probably getting in: Mater Dei (5-2), Belleville East (5-2), Central (5-2), Roxana (5-2), Sparta (5-2).

Needs wins and maybe some help, too: Wesclin (4-3), Carlyle (4-3), Marquette (4-3).

On the bubble: East St. Louis (3-4), O’Fallon (3-4), Belleville West (3-4), Cahokia (3-4), Freeburg (3-4).

East St. Louis is in a tough spot since District 189 remains on strike and the Flyers (3-4) have already endured two forfeit losses because of the labor situation. One more loss and they will miss the playoffs.

The Flyers are scheduled to play at Collinsville on Friday and then finish up the regular season at home against O’Fallon on Oct. 23. If the strike is settled early this week, the Flyers still must also satisfy IHSA by-law requirements of three organized practices approved by the East St. Louis school board and administration with approved personnel in charge per IHSA by-laws.

“I am hopeful that something good will come out of the meetings that they have this week,” East St. Louis Athletic Director Leonard Manley said Monday. “Hopefully there’s something before Wednesday so we can prepare for Friday.”

The last time East St. Louis missed the playoffs altogether was 1999, when the Flyers were 3-5.

In 2010, the Flyers qualified for the playoffs initially but were ordered by the IHSA to forfeit a playoff victory over Belleville West — plus five of its eight wins in 2010 and 10 in 2009 — for using an ineligible player.

The Flyers have won more state football championships (seven) than any area school and also own the most playoff victories, going 82-28 in 110 postseason contests.

If Althoff and Columbia both finish 9-0, they would wind up as the top two seeds in the 16-team south bracket of Class 4A, providing five-time defending 4A state champion Rochester loses to fellow Central State 8 Conference powerhouse Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in the regular-season finale Oct. 23.

Griffin has won back-to-back 5A state titles and has five state championships since 2005.

Roxana has won five straight after an 0-2 start and O’Fallon has won three straight after an 0-4 start. The Panthers have Belleville East and East St. Louis remaining.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/sports/high-school/prep-football/article38838048.html#storylink=cpy

Stanley Green Jr Received his official offer from Illinois. 


.Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don't fight them. Just find a different way to stand. God created tomorrows so that we can move on from a bad yesterday.


Flyers’ forfeit is official, as the Teachers began strike

A key Southwestern Conference football game between two state-ranked team has been cancelled due to the East St. Louis School District 189 teachers’ strike.

East St. Louis reported the forfeit to the Illinois High School Association on Friday.

Edwardsville, No. 7 in Illinois Class 8A, was to face off with East St. Louis at Clyde C. Jordan Stadium at 7 p.m. Instead, the Tigers improved to 6-0 and secured their fifth straight state playoffs berth with a forfeit win. The Flyers, No. 7 in Class 7A, fell to 3-3.

East St. Louis would qualify for the postseason by winning its final three games against Belleville East (3-2), Collinsville (1-4), and O’Fallon (1-4). Taking a fourth loss, either on the field or by forfeit, would complicate the Flyers’ playoff prospects.

The tie-breaking cutoff for 5-4 teams that qualify for the playoffs is playoff points, which equal the total number of wins by a team’s opponents. It has traditionally taken between 36 and 40 points to get in.

Through Week 6, the Flyers have 23 points and will continue to benefit by the future wins of quality teams on its schedule. Those include Montini (5-0), Edwardsville (6-0), Chicago Simeon (3-2), Belleville West (3-2) and Belleville East (3-2).

If the strike lingers, the point could be moot.

The forfeited game Friday already has impacted the race for the Southwestern Conference championship.

Belleville West preserved an unblemished conference record with its win over East St. Louis last week. The Maroons have to knock off Belleville East on Saturday, however, to keep pace with the Tigers, who now get the week off. The two teams square off Oct. 9 in Belleville.

“That’s not something we’ve concerned ourselves with; there’s no point in focusing on something we can’t control,” West coach Cameron Pettus said. “Coming out of the preseason, winning the conference is a goal. I mean, that’s No. 1. Our conference is really good and you have to be really good to win it.”

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/sports/high-school/prep-football/article37341438.html#storylink=cpy

FLYERS QB Reyondous Estes and linemen Trevour Simms take charge in protest for striking teachers

ESL students walk out over teachers strike

About 100 East St. Louis students walked out of classes on Wednesday to support teachers asking for a pay raise to avert a strike.

Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 

By Rebecca Rivas

East St. Louis High School students walked out of school and marched to the Board of Education office on Wednesday, September 30 to support teachers, who rejected a tentative agreement with the school district on Tuesday night.

Junior Reyondous Estes, a starting quarterback at the high school, said he organized the protest with senior Trevour Simms because teachers told them that they plan on striking Thursday if an agreement is not reached soon.

“The thing that got our attention was when they said that this thing could last over a month,” Estes said. “That’s Homecoming. That’s football season. That’s volleyball season. If they get their pay raise, we will get to play this game Friday. We have a season planned and an education to get.”

East St. Louis School District 189 and the East St. Louis Federation of Teachers, Local 1220, have been in collective-bargaining negotiations since last school year, according to a September 30 letter that Superintendent Arthur Culver and Board of Education President Lonzo Greenwood addressed to the community. The negotiating committees from the union and district reached a “tentative agreement” on September 30 that was approved by the union president and its executive council, according to the letter.

However, the union membership – or the teachers – voted to reject the agreement Tuesday night and proceed to strike on Thursday, October 1. The agreement includes a one-time stipend of $2,000 in lieu of a salary increase for union members and $1,000 for non-union members. The increase pay scale for salaries would be on average 2.6 percent for union members and 1.5 percent for non-union members.

However, Kenzo Shibata, media director for the Illinois Federation of Teachers, said the Local 1220 members found the terms unacceptable.

“What we are looking for is something that is more comprehensive,” said Shibata, speaking on behalf of the 1220 members. “Because of the pay freezes, there are some teachers who are making less than teachers who are just being hired. The union has made it clear at this point that they are ready to come back to the table and iron out a deal.”

If a deal can’t be reached, then they will begin the strike on Thursday. Shibata said, “People will have their phones on all night” awaiting word from the negotiating committees.

According to the district, for school years 2011 through 2015, the district’s enrollment has declined by more than 1,400 students. Due to the declining enrollment and “prorated general state aid payments,” the district’s claim for state aid declined $16.5 million from 2011 to 2015. Student enrollment is also expected to continue to decline.

The district had to make budget cuts, resulting in closing two schools prior to the 2012 school year and five schools prior to the 2013 school year. About 470 positions have not been hired – or 40 percent of the staff – and union and administration employees have experienced salary freezes since 2012.

Still, despite the budgetary reductions, the district is being “sustained financially” by temporary funding from legislative appropriations, debt restructuring and the sale of working cash bonds, according to the district. A fact sheet on the district’s website states that its starting salary of $43,800 is several thousand dollars higher than surrounding school districts, including Collinsville and Edwardsville.

The district letter stated that the current deal is “mindful of the district’s obligation to its residents and community stakeholders.”

“Simply put, to do otherwise would not be fiscally responsible and would set the district on an unsustainable financial course,” the letter states.

Estes’ mother, Tamara Williams-Cunningham, attended the protest Wednesday morning to support her son and all of the students. She doesn’t want the teachers to strike and keep her son out of school, she said.

“It will tremendously affect their education and [football] season,” she said.

Estes said that he felt they put on a “strong protest” with about 100 students.

“We put something on their minds,” he said. “But, if the strike becomes official, we will be making a plan B tonight.”

Follow this reporter on Twitter @rebeccarivas.



To all who will be attending this one, bring your popcorn because i believe this is a statement game for the Flyers, last year the Flyers loss to the Maroons 29 to 28. But in doing so the Flyers had to deal with quite a few bad calls no calls and a lot of dirty play, so this game has been circled for a year now. So get there early because i believe the place is gonna be packed. In this game i wouldn't be surprised if somebody get laid out.  

                  Flyers set for a run

Maurice Scott, Jr.

posted Thur Sept 25th 8:00 am

The East St. Louis Senior High Flyers are approaching the meat of their football schedule.

They opened the season with a victory over Chicago Simeon, which at that time was ranked in the top five in the Chicago land area. The following week, it was the "throw my team under the bus" loss to Lombard Montini, the No. 2-ranked team in the state of Illinois Class 6A polls.

The past two weeks have served to “throw my team back on the bus" as the Flyers have outscored  the opposition  128-0 in moving to 3-1 on the season. The Flyers defeated Alton 56-0 two weeks ago and followed up with a 69-0 victory over Granite City at Jordan Stadium last weekend.

Now, the season really starts a new for Darren Sunkett’s Flyers. First up on the docket is a road contest against Southwestern Conference foe Belleville West.

The Maroons and the Flyers have one of the most interesting rivalries in the area. The winning team gets to claim possession of the old Union Pacific Bell.

The two teams use to play on Thanksgiving day, just like the long-standing Kirkwood vs. Webster Groves rivalry game. However, politics and other factors put a halt the Southwestern Conference’s Turkey Day Game after the 1977 season.

Former Flyers great Kevin Ramsey, who used to be the defensive coordinator  at the University  of  Georgia and is now working  at Clark Atlanta University, caught  a two-point  conversion in the back of the end zone to seal the victory for the Flyers on that cold Thanksgiving  day back   in 1977.

This year's game is very important for the Flyers for a number of reasons. They are playing their best football right now, with the meat of the conference schedule coming up in the next three weeks.

Quarterback  Reyondus Estes is playing some of the best football at any position in the area right now. Estes had 325 yards of total offense last Friday night against Granite City. He was nine for 23 passing for 247 yards. In addition, Estes had six carries for another 78 yards rushing.

East Side’s ground game was supposed to be a weak link this season, but it has been the exact opposite. Junior tailback Kerrion "Blinky" Chairs had another strong rushing  performance last week with 118 yards on 16 carries. All-American wide receiver Jeff Thomas had a breakout game against Granite City with six receptions for 170 yards.

The defense is also playing great after posting shutouts in consecutive weeks. Leading tackler  James "Bonecrusher" Knight had 11 stops  against  Granite  City. And linebacker LaMontre "State Street" Harvey chipped in with three sacks and nine solo tackles last week.

On the other hand, Belleville West has won two in a row with wins over O’Fallon 13-12 and a 43-7 thumping of Collinsville last week. Both wins have come after opening losses to Normal West and Normal Community High.

Quarterback Logan Betz leads the Maroons offense, passing for 522 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Kristopher Davis is Belleville West’s leading rusher with 398 yards and two touchdowns.

After Belleville West, the Flyers have two more tough conference games. The biggest is the showdown with visiting Edwardsville next Friday night. And the following week, there is a battle against the upstart Belleville East Lancers.

Obviously, this is an important stretch for head football for Coach Sunkett, who last season lost the prestigious Bell to Belleville West.

And I'm sure he's glad Edwardsville’s quarterback Dan Marinko has graduated, since he never beat him while he was at Edwardsville.

This week's game also brings back memories from the 2000 season when the Flyers lost to Belleville West at Old Township Stadium and Sunkett did not shake hands after the game. That  prompted East Side alum and state Senator James Clayborne, who represents the 57th Congressional District that includes both East  St. Louis and Belleville,  to openly criticize  the coach and remind  him that we don't represent Flyer football that way.

According  to members  of the "street  patrol” and around  barbershop  nation, Sunkett had better bring that Union Pacific Bell home this  Saturday and beat Edwardsville.  Or else, it might be a whole lot of talking going on by the "street patrol" before the season ends.

                FLYERS 68    GRANITE CITY 0

         THE FLYERS BEAT ALTON  56 - 0

ESL fumbles in matchup with Chicago power

Maurice Scott, Jr.

Posted: Wednesday, September 9, 2015 3:30 pm

It was announced last week that East St. Louis Senior High football coach Darren Sunkett and Director of Athletics Leonard Manley petitioned the Illinois High School Association to play in this year's Class 7A playoffs. The Flyers competed in the Class 6A field the last two seasons.

Perhaps Coach Sunkett had a vision as Lombard Montini made the five-hour trip to East Boogie to defeat the Flyers 24-14 in the City of Champions Classic.

It was the third consecutive win for Montini over East St. Louis. Montini scored a 34-6 victory in 2013 at East St. Louis. Last year, the Flyers dropped a 46-32 decision at Montini.

With state powers Springfield Sacred Heart Griffin and Lombard Montini ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in last week's Associated Press 6A poll, former alumni and players are wondering if the coach is dodging them by trying to get put in Class 7A.

One thing is for sure: He hasn't beaten Wheaton Warrenville South, one of the top teams in class 7A, either. So pick your poison, Coach Sunkett.

Saturday's game in the "House of Pain" was not short of some great high school hitting  by both teams.

Montini quarterback Justin Blake stole the show offensively for the Broncos. The junior quarterback was 16 for 23 for 136 yards passing. In addition, Blake had 21 carries for 98 yards on the ground. He was selected the Offensive Player of the Game for his efforts.

East St. Louis' defense seemed to miss the presence of former defensive coordinator and coaching legend Marion Stallings this week.

Stallings, a former All American at Washington University, coached under Bob Shannon on six state title teams at East Side. In addition, he was the defensive coordinator in Sunkett's only state championship team in 2008.

He left the team about a month prior to the season after learning that he was listed as a volunteer coach by Darren Sunkett for this season.

New defensive coordinator E.J. Jones' unit didn't do a bad job against Montini, but having an experienced coach like Marion Stallings alongside Jones would have been a huge help against the seasoned Montini staff on Saturday.

The Flyers' offense had 292 yards on Saturday. Running back Perez Hall Jr. had 87 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Junior running back Kerrion "Blinky" Chairs had another strong outing with 68 yards on 14 carries.

Junior wide receiver Jeff Thomas was limited to only four receptions for 25 yards. His 37-yard rushing touchdown midway in the second quarter electrified the large crowd of both sides, and illustrated why everyone in the country is recruiting him.

Wide receivers Jermaine Grissom and Florida State recruit Karon Randolph were held to zero receptions. This had some alums and former players shaking their heads and confused about the lack of targets for the 6'4” Randolph and the number of touches Thomas received on Saturday.

Quarterback Reyondus Estes did not have his usual game as he committed five turnovers on two fumbles and three interceptions. 

"Five turnovers in the game, and every one of them by your quarterback. You're not going to beat a team of Montini's caliber," said Sunkett after the game. "Every time we get some positive things going, we turn the ball over."

The buzz around Flyers nation and the "street patrol" is that Sunkett should've tipped his hat to the other team and their coaches instead of throwing his talented quarterback under the bus. The Montini coaches and players had a lot to do with those turnovers.

Besides, the talk around the "street  patrol" has it that it wasn't a good week for Sunkett either.

Scott's notes 

Former East Side All-American and University of Missouri defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr. had four tackles, including one for a four-yard loss against Southeast Missouri State on Saturday.

Former St Louis Rams linebacker Mike "The Tackle" Jones recorded the first road win for Lincoln University since 2008, a 35-32 victory over Langston.

Coach Jones has four former Flyers who start on defense. Safety Marvin Holley, defensive tackle Eric Howard, outside linebacker Jeremy Rives, and defensive end Julius Jackson, who is a pro prospect.

Former two-sport Flyers' star and Jackson State wide receiver Daniel Williams had seven receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown on Saturday against Middle Tennessee State.

In addition, former Flyers' quarterback LaMontez Ivey was 22 for 39 for 264 yards and two touchdowns for Jackson State. Ivey hooked up with Williams for a 50-yard scoring bomb in the second quarter.

             Montini knocks off the Flyers in heavyweight battle 24 - 14

By Todd Eschman



Even when they were down by three points early in the fourth quarter, the East St. Louis Flyers felt like the game’s outcome was their’s to determine.

It might have been.But penalties and turnovers cost the Flyers whatever opportunities they may have created for themselves and, ultimately, cost them a win over Lombard Montini Catholic.

The Broncos defeated East St. Louis 24-14 in the title bout of the City of Champions Classic on Saturday at Clyde Jordan Stadium.

"Everything that happened tonight was a self-inflicted wound," said East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett. "We'd get something positive going then create a setback on our own. That's unacceptable. You won't win a lot of ball games when you turn the ball over (five) times."

The game matched two of the proudest traditions in Illinois high school football. Montini is ranked No. 2 on the Class 6A state-wide poll; East St. Louis is No. 3 in 7A.

For the game, Montini outgained East Side 323 yards to 294.


Montini opened a 17-7 lead after quarterback Justin Blake broke a 41-yard touchdown run. But the Flyers responded with a drive deep into Broncos' territory.

On second-and-goal at the Montini 5-yard line, East St. Louis quarterback Rayondus Estes was intercepted in the end zone by Mitchell West to kill the drive.

"You keep telling your kids things like that will happen if you just stay the course," said Montini coach Chris Andriano. "That was a huge play and it didn't surprise me that Mitchell made it."

The Flyers again managed to narrow the Montini lead to 17-14 on a 25-yard run by Perez Hall.

East St. Louis had Montini pinned on second-and-22, but a 4-yard run by Blake turned into a 19-yard gain when the Flyers were flagged on a late hit. Montini converted on fourth-and-4 and scored with a touchdown run by Prince Walker.

"All of the sudden we were down 24-14 and that changed the whole complexion of the ball game,” Sunkett said.


For Montini, Blake completed 16 passes for 136 yards. He also led all ball carriers with 95 yards on 20 attempts. Walker picked up 91 yards on 21 carries.

For East St. Louis, Estes was held to just 57 yards passing and was intercepted three times. Hall had 89 yards on 12 carries and Kerrion Chairs rushed 69 yards on 14 attempts. Junior wide receiver Jeff Thomas was held to three catches for 17 yards.


"It's definitely a let down and definitely a set back. We'll see the true character of this team when we see how they respond to this loss. That's what I want to see next week. I want to see how our quarterback responds and how his teammates respond."


East St. Louis (1-1) begins Southwestern Conference play Friday at Alton. Montini (2-0) faces Chicago Catholic League rival Chicago St. Rita.

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/sports/high-school/prep-football/article34227387.html#storylink=cpy

                                VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS  FLYERS  AT CHICAGO  SIMEON

East St. Louis rallies to beat Chicago's Simeon Academy

Box: East St. Louis 28, Chicago Simeon 21

1234FinalChicago Simeon7140021East St. Louis0614828 Read more

CHICAGO • East St. Louis scored three second-half touchdowns to earn a 28-21 victory against Chicago Simeon Academy on Saturday at Gately Stadium in Chicago’s south side. The Flyers tallied 22 unanswered points to claim a hard-fought win “We made some adjustments and came out and played hard,” East St. Louis junior quarterback Reyondous Estes. It looked bleak early, as Ahmad Willis gave East St. Louis an electrifying start to the season when he returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Only it didn’t count. Officials ruled Willis was down at the Flyers’ 33-yard line. It stunned the No. 2 team in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-schools rankings for much of the first half. The Flyers (1-0) also had a fumble return for a touchdown called back late in the game. Simeon (0-1) scored on its first possession when Qwenten Bolton went in from 7 yards out. Three minutes into the second quarter, the Wolverines added to their lead when quarterback Dakota Turner connected with Malik Holcomb on 52-yard touchdown pass. The Flyers blocked the point-after leaving it at 13-0 with approximately nine minutes left in the half. The main scoreboard at Gately field was inoperable forcing time to be kept on the field. East Side scored its initial touchdown of the season, with about four minutes to go in the half, when Estes hit Jeff Thomas on a 12-yard strike. Simeon added to its lead right before the half when the Turner-Holcomb combination produced a 10-yard score. East Side came out with renewed vigor in the second half and scored three consecutive touchdowns to take the lead. Thomas and Estes hooked up for a 26-yard score in the third quarter, while Estes added a 4-yard run. Thomas scored from 8-yards out with about 10 minutes to give the Flyers the lead for good. Simeon drove deep into East Side territory, but Stanley Green intercepted a pass at the Flyers’ 10 to clinch the victory. “We were in man,” Green said. “I saw him look at him and I knew I was going to take it.”

Player of the game: Rayondus Estes, East St. Louis, 123 yards passing, 2 TDs; 34 yards rushing, TD.

Key performers: East St. Louis — Jeff Thomas, rushing TD, receiving TD. Simeon — Dakota Turner, 12-29 passing, 199 yards, 2 TDs.

We landed in Chi town for our 1st big game of the season as we take on Chicago Simeon 



                                     CLICK FOR JEFF THOMAS VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

East St. Louis returns strong, experienced nucleus

EAST ST. LOUIS • Mosquitoes buzzed through Clyde C. Jordan Stadium, home of the East St. Louis High football team.

The blood suckers were so bad the first night of practice the coaching staff wore long sleeves and pants. The players were either covered head to toe or lathered in bug spray. “You've got to be prepared when you come over here,” East St. Louis coach Darren Sunkett said. For the bugs. For the Flyers.  The No. 2 large school in the STLhighschoolsports.com preseason rankings, East St. Louis (7-5 overall, 5-2 Southwestern Conference) returns seven starters on offense, eight on defense and once again has its sights set on a state championship.

“We're trying to win a state championship, as normal,” junior wide receiver Jeff Thomas said.


The program with the most wins in Illinois history has not met that lofty goal since 2008. Last season ended in the Class 6A quarterfinals with a 49-27 loss at Peoria Notre Dame. But the Flyers were on the young side that day. This time around they are senior heavy and seasoned. Particularly at quarterback. Junior Reyondus Estes (6-foot, 165 pounds) returns after throwing for 1,711 yards, 20 touchdowns and three interceptions.

“The key to this year compared to the past two or three years is we have a seasoned quarterback. We've been going with a one-and-done quarterback the last few years,” Sunkett said. “With Reyondus coming back, that in my opinion, puts us in the upper echelon of teams in the state.”

The guys Estes is pitching the ball to aren't too shabby either. Thomas (5-10, 167) is among the most sought-after recruits in his class. He caught 57 passes for 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior Karon Randolph (6-4, 195) has picked up offers from Florida State and Kansas. Last season was his first on the football field, but he caught on quickly. Junior Jermaine Grissom (6-2, 190) was a varsity regular last year, too.

“We feel we have some fleet-footed wide receivers,” Sunkett said. The offensive line returns seniors Tre'vour Simms (6-5, 260) and Demarcus Watson (5-9, 260). Senior tight end Carlos Humphries (5-10, 230) also is back. The rest of the line will be younger, but they are large and can move.

“They're going to learn on the job. They're going to have to get on their bike and start pedaling,” Sunkett said. “They've been doing a great job this summer.”


The Flyers feel they have a stable of running backs to lean on. Sunkett said it would be a position by committee.

The defense has plenty back but the secondary will be a source of strength. Seniors Ahmad Willis (5-9, 165), Stanley Green (6-0, 190) — a transfer from Miller Career — and junior TJ Cook (6-0, 195) are all expected to be difference makers.

“We've got three pretty good safeties that will make a lot of noise for us,” Sunkett said.

Junior James Knight (6-0, 190) returns at linebacker. He made 67 tackles, had two sacks and one interception as a sophomore.

Senior Antuan Quilling (6-2, 220) and junior Terrez LaGrone (6-4, 220) return to the defensive line. Quilling had 39 tackles and three sacks.

The pieces are in place for the Flyers to chase the championship once again. It's something the players understand the day they join the program. The expectation is always the same.

“You want to go out with a state championship, as a state championship team,” Simms said.

You better be prepared when you see East Side High.

Bug spray isn't going to cut it.

                                                                 REYONDOUS  ESTES  #5  QB
                                                CLICK HERE FOR  REY ESTES VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

High school football season preview: EAST ST. LOUIS FLYERS

By Dean Criddle


Led by what coach Darren Sunkett feels will be a more experienced and much-improved defensive unit and top passing combinations in junior quarterback Reyondus Estes and junior-all-state wide receiver Jeff Thomas, East St. Louis could be one of the top Class 6A teams in the state this fall. Thomas caught 57 passes for 1,152 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago while scoring 22 touchdowns in all.Offense The Flyers will be big and strong, but young on the offensive line. Leading the way is 6-5 295-pound University of Illinois recruit in Tre’vour Simms. Senior DeMarcus Watson also returns on the offensive line as well as starting tight end Carlos Humphries. But for the Flyers to fly, they will need a big year from Estes. As a sophomore, the 6-2, 185-pound Estes threw for nearly 1,800 yards and 20 touchdowns a year ago. Thomas will be the main target with a much improved senior Karon Randolph, Raekwon Griffin and Jermain Grissom expected to take the pressure off Thomas.

Sunkett said the running back positions are still up from grabs and that the ground attack will be by committee, at least early in season.Defense A young East St. Louis defensive unit gave up a lot of points a year ago. With three starters returning on the defensive line, a group of strong and quick linebackers and a secondary, which will be led by Thomas, the Flyers should be better this fall.Gone up front is all-American defensive end Terry Beckner Jr . — now at the University of Missouri — but LaMontre’ Harvey, Antuan Quinlin and Terres Lagrome, are quick agile linemen who return.

Junior James Knight, third on the team in tackles with 69, will anchor the Flyers defense at linebacker while Tyler Cook, Stanley Green, Demond Bell, Ahmad Willis and Thomas will anchor the defensive backfield.

— Dean Criddle

Read more here: http://www.bnd.com/sports/high-school/prep-football/article31966806.html#storylink=cpy

               2015 MEET AND GREET

                                       At Clyde Jordan Stadium Saturday August 15 2015

               FAN OF THE WEEK

           Debra Powell





Aug. 29

at Chicago Simeon:              WON 28-21

6 p.m.

Sept. 5

Lombard Montini                  LOSS 24 - 14

6 p.m.

Sept. 11

at Alton                                   WON  56 - 0

7 p.m.

Sept. 18

Granite City                             WON  68  - 0

7 p.m.

Sept. 26

at Belleville West                  LOSS  35 - 26

1 p.m.

Oct. 2

Edwardsville                            Forfeit


7 p.m.

Oct. 9

Belleville East                          Forfeit

7 p.m.

Oct. 16

at Collinsville

7 p.m.

Oct. 23


7 p.m.

   Winning tradition makes East St.   Louis a special program

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                                     THE  STATE OF ILLINOIS 



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                                         SOUTHWESTERN CONFERENCE


                                                      BELLEVILLE EAST

                                                      BELLEVILLE WEST


                                                       EAST ST LOUIS


                                                       GRANITE CITY



                    COACH DARIEN SUNKETT

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