Nov 08, 2023

HS Football Week 1: Southwestern ambushes Gillespie; Carlinville runs past Litchfield

In the midst of a heavy downpour, Jack Rouse scored four touchdowns and ran for 206 yards to help Carlinville defeat Litchfield, 35-14, Aug. 26. Enquirer Democrat photo by Jackson Wilson.

By JACKSON WILSON Enquirer Democrat Reporter

In the midst of extreme weather conditions, whether it was intense summer heat or a torrential downpour, the Southwestern and Carlinville high school football teams handled business on the road to start the 2023 season undefeated.

Southwestern 22, Gillespie 7

Southwestern, having dealt with the adversity of an intense heat wave, numerous penalties and two red zone turnovers, went into the fourth quarter trailing Gillespie, 7-6.

The Birds then hit their stride in the final 12 minutes and silenced the ‘Big Orange’ faithful with 16 unanswered points to win, 22-7, Aug. 25.

“I’m proud of our guys for how we were able to finish up,” said Southwestern head coach Pat Keith. “We made a lot of big plays and started getting everything cleaned up. Gillespie is a great team. This had the feel of an ‘old school’ hard-hitting football game.”

After making a key defensive stand, the offense marched down the field and quarterback Blake Rimbey hit Hunter Newell for his second touchdown of the night on a Hail Mary in the back right corner of the end zone. Rimbey previously found Ian Brantley on a deep route that resulted in the game’s first six tallies. Southwestern failed to make it seven as the first extra point attempt of the season sailed wide right.

The Birds forced a quick ‘three and out’ on the Miners’ ensuing drive and took complete control on a blocked punt that was recovered at the Gillespie one-yard line. Logan Keith, replacing an injured Grayson Brewer at running back, pushed his way into the end zone on the next play to seal the Southwestern victory. Keith racked up 56 yards on 10 carries and Newell added 61 yards on four carries after Brewer was forced to leave the game early.

“We honestly don’t have a lot of depth, but the guys that came in did the job,” Keith said. “Whether you’re in for three plays or 30 plays, you have to make sure you make them.”

Gillespie’s lone touchdown was contributed by Logan Griffith, who broke free for an 88-yard touchdown rush. Jack Kaylor kicked the extra point through the uprights to put the Miners ahead, 7-6, midway through the first quarter. Gillespie was able to maintain that advantage for nearly 30 minutes.

Although he admitted he wasn’t a fan of moral victories, Gillespie head coach Dalton Barnes left the field relatively optimistic.

“I feel like the Miners are finally fighting,” said Barnes, who went 1-8 in his debut campaign after taking over for Jake Bilbruck last season. “We obviously have improvements to make but we also learned a lot about ourselves because, I promise you, we would’ve folded last year. This would’ve been a 40-6 football game.”

Southwestern hosts Litchfield (0-1) this Friday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. Gillespie travels to Virden to face North Mac (0-1).

Carlinville 35, Litchfield 14

After having to wait an extra 24 hours to play football and then sit through a 45-minute lightning delay on gameday, Carlinville handled business on the road and left Litchfield with a 35-14 win Aug. 26.

Carlinville had two costly turnovers within a minute of each other that allowed a much-improved pride of Purple Panthers to erase a 14-point deficit in the second quarter, but the Cavaliers stayed the course.

Although the Purple Panthers made it much more difficult for the Cavaliers in comparison to past years, Carlinville ultimately owned the stat sheet. The Cavaliers finished the game with 365 yards, including 293 on the ground. Defensively, CHS limited Litchfield to 197 yards.

Jack Rouse led the charge for CHS with 202 yards and four touchdowns on 36 carries.

Carlinville meets defending South Central Conference champion Pana (1-0) on home athletic turf Fri., Sept. 1.

Other action

In other action, North Mac lost 31-6 at Hillsboro and Staunton suffered a 40-0 defeat against Greenville.

WEEK 1 SCOREBOARD Southwestern 22, Gillespie 7 Carlinville 35, Litchfield 14 Hillsboro 31, North Mac 6 Greenville 40, Staunton 0 Pana 49, Vandalia 36 WEEK 2 MATCHUPS Pana @ Carlinville Staunton @ Vandalia Litchfield @ Southwestern Gillespie @ North Mac Hillsboro @ Greenville

By JACKSON WILSONSouthwestern 22, Gillespie 7Carlinville 35, Litchfield 14Other actionWEEK 1 SCOREBOARDWEEK 2 MATCHUPS