East St. Louis (ill) on Friday looks to promote one of the nation’s most dynamic high school football programs as it battles second-ranked IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) At the Madison-Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi. The Flyers include Luther Burden III, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver with 39 FBS offers, and one of the most dynamic offensive players in the country, hoping to repeat his 11-catch, 169-yard, three-touchdown performance at his second national showdown.
For the first time, Burden and the Flyers (7-1) dropped a road game No. 5 at St. John Bosco, 42-26 in California. In that game, Burden brought the Flyers back from a 35-0 third-quarter deficit and a spectacular 70-yard punt return for 30 and 18-yard touchdown catches and scores from sophomore quarterback Robert Battle. With four minutes left, it helped to reach 35-26.
Driven by his performance against Bosco, Burden rose to No. 5 in the 247 Sports 2022 National Recruitment Rankings this week. On Tuesday, Burden chose Missouri as his college choice.
The loss to Bosco (7-1) is the only spot in the East St. Louis record.
Before the season, East St. Louis coach Darren Sanket told Shaw Media that the IMG’s decision to close the regular season was justified.
“We think this is the best tune-up we can get, I can tell you,” Sanket said. “The good thing about it is that it gives our babies a good eight weeks to mature and develop and you hope, as a program, you get better week by week. So we feel like we should roll quite well in the 9th week.”
Are they ever rolling now.
Since the defeat to Bosco, the Flyers have been on a rampage, beating five opponents 298-2, including four shutouts. Scores are bad: 56-0, 48-2, 68-0, 68-0 and 58-0 Load up to 462 catches for 742 yards and 12 touchdowns. Battle was responsible for about 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns. And a run-by-committee attack accumulated more than 1,700 yards and 21 scores.
A swarm of defense led by 6-4, 250-pound defensive lineman Frank Wilson Jr. collected 31 sacks by 13 different players. Senior cornerback Toriano Pride has three interceptions and averages 43 yards per return.
But the Flyers face a completely different beast at IMG Academy, which makes seven of the country’s top 100 senior recruits proud. The ninth-year program, under former NFL linebacker and coach Paper Johnson, is a boarding school that brings in elite players from across the country. The Ascenders do not play for the Florida State Championships but for a national schedule.
They are riding in a 17-game winning streak, recording the closest win of 24-14 on a visit to St. Thomas Moore last week. The closest previous interval was 27 when Texas Power won 41-14 in 2020 against Duncanville.
The key to three TD runs from Stacey Gage was last week’s slow win, as IMG did not play for three weeks, winning 49-0 against Springfield (Ma.) On 25 September. Ascenders also lacked leadership. Rasha’s Caitron Allen, 5-11, headed for the 220-pound senior Penn State.
If the IMG is at full strength, it will have elites like Safety Camry Wilson (No. 20 senior recruit, Unexpected), Cornerback Dalen Everett (No. 36, Clemson Commit), defensive lineman Bear Alexander (No. 39, Georgia). , Offensive tackle Tyler Booker (45, Alabama), Tight and Jalil Skinner (73, Alabama), Jihad Campbell (81, Clemson) and safety Keon Saab (82, Clemson) on the edge.
Before last week’s win, the Ascenders beat their opponents 279-31.