The opening night of high school football in the St. Louis area got off to a rousing start as area powers East St. Louis and CBC staged an instant classic on Friday night.
In a game filled with one big play after another, visiting East St. Louis outlasted the Cadets 48-44 in front of a sold-out crowd at Ross Stadium on the campus of CBC. The atmosphere was electric from the opening kickoff on this hot and steamy night and the players responded by putting on a tremendous show for the fans. The lead changed hands several times and it came down to the Flyers’ defense, which stopped CBC on downs in the final minute of play to seal the victory.
The early-season showdown featured a host of great athletes and great individual performers on both sides, but the showstopper of the evening was standout senior wide receiver Luther Burden III of East St. Louis. A five-star prospect, “Touchdown Luther”, provided the two bookend scoring plays in this entertaining offensive showcase.
Burden opened the scoring in the first quarter with an electrifying 85-yard punt return for a touchdown. After catching the punt, Burden made the first defender miss and then he was off to the races. He also concluded the scoring by taking a 55-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Robert Battle for what proved to be the winning score with just over seven minutes left in the game.
“I just saw an opening, and for me, all I need is the ball to make an impact on the game,” said Burden of his punt return. “We just all pulled together and it was our kind of environment. We just all stayed together, we just kept pushing and we got it done.”
Packaged in between Burden’s exploits were a myriad of tremendous plays and individual performers on this evening. The two opposing quarterbacks enjoyed stellar evenings as senior Patrick Heitert of CBC passed for 410 yards and two touchdowns while Battle threw for 323 yards and a touchdown while running for another TD.
Senior Ali Wells of East St. Louis rushed for 149 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown while teammate Jaden Hale had four receptions for 117 yards. For CBC, Ayden Robinson-Wayne caught two passes for 99 yards, including an 86 yard touchdown while junior running back Jeremiyah Love scored on an electrifying 80 yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Junior defensive tackle Tyler Gant had a big interception that set up a touchdown in the third quarter and a fourth-quarter tackle for a loss on fourth down to give the Cadets the ball back with a chance to win the game in the finals minutes.
Both teams will have outstanding matchups coming up next weekend as well. East St. Louis will host DeSmet and CBC will visit O’Fallon in two more big showdowns featuring the Metro Catholic Conference in St. Louis against the Southwestern Conference on the Illinois side.
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