Mat Mikesell

What to watch for in Week 2: Illini West coming off shutout; Lapsley's status uncertain; Saukees have chance at 2-0; South Shelby focused on conditioning

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 30, 2018 12:01 am Updated: Aug. 31, 2018 1:50 am

The Illini West football team climbed up the Class 2A polls into No. 6 in the state after a 24-0 victory over Annawan-Wethersfield, the first shutout in four years for the Chargers.

"Obviously we are always happy to have a shutout," Illini West coach Lyle Klein said. "Shutouts are usually things done well with a combination of the other team's woes."

Klein said putting the Titans in unfavorable situations was key. Illini West held Annawan-Wethersfield to minus-51 yards rushing.

"We had some big sacks that kept them out of scoring range, and we created some timely turnovers," Klein said. "Our tackling was sound and prevented yards after catch."

Illini West hasn't posted consecutive shutouts since 2009 when it shut out Rushville-Industry and West Hancock on back-to-back weeks. The Chargers posted four shutouts that season.

The Chargers play Havana on Friday, and they crushed the Ducks 48-7. Nick Vorhies ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns in that victory. Havana was 1-8 last season, and it opened the 2018 season with a 24-0 loss to South Fulton.

Another shutout would certainly stamp the Chargers as one of the favorites to win the Prairieland Black Conference.

Lapsley's status uncertain

Clark County running back and linebacker Caleb Lapsley left the Week 1 victory over Highland midway through the second quarter with concussion-like symptoms and didn't return.

Indians coach Ethan Allen said Wednesday night he's still unsure if the team's leading rusher and tackler from a year ago will play Friday against Centralia.

Should Lapsley miss time, quarterback London Brunk likely will shoulder the load again. He rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries against Highland, while throwing for 102 yards and a score.

The Indians, however, have other options in the backfield with Spencer Gregory and Kegan Davis. They combined for 15 carries and 75 yards against Highland, while Gregory scored a touchdown. Those two, along with Levi Sommers and Logan Claiborne, will be asked to fill the void at linebacker.

Could Saukees go 2-0?

Pittsfield hopes to win its first two games since 2009. Nearly everything went right for Saukees in last week's blowout victory over Riverton, but next up is Auburn, one of the five Sangamo Conference schools to make the playoffs last season.

Pittsfield won just two games the last two seasons, giving up 47 or more points 12 times in 18 games. However, Pittsfield's 51-7 to open the season was a message to the rest of the Sangamo Conference that it is much improved.

Week 2 will be telling. Auburn trounced Pittsfield 55-28 last fall, and a competitive result would show a vast improvement. Auburn beat New Berlin 26-20 in its opener after taking the lead for good by scoring on the first play of the fourth quarter. Trojan quarterback Destin Chance threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.

South Shelby focused on conditioning

Veteran coach Rob Wilt knew having just 26 players on roster would be a challenge this season.

The lack of depth showed in Week 1's 43-24 loss to Bowling Green, where the Cardinals allowed 29 unanswered points and 21 points in the fourth quarter. Most players are going both ways for South Shelby, which meant fatigue started setting in late in the game.

Wilt has been pushing more conditioning in practice this week to avoid another repeat of Week 1 when the Cardinals visit Putnam County on Friday. South Shelby led Bowling Green 24-22 heading into the fourth quarter.

Wilt also tries to give some of his skill players a breather during special teams, but he likes having his best athletes on the field.

South Shelby will get a boost next week when four players return from an academic suspension that started in the spring.

"We basically have one guy these first two weeks to plug in," Wilt said. "That will give us more depth."