Metea Valley earns first victory of the season
BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- Two first-year coaches arrived at the football stadium at Belleville East High School on Friday night trying to change the culture within their respective programs.
At evening's end, one of them boarded a bus back upstate to Aurora with six hours of highway to celebrate his first victory.
It was Metea Valley's John Parpet who found a toehold in his effort to bring the Mustangs their first winning season in five years with a 21-17 victory over Belleville East, his first as their head coach.
"We focus on one play at a time, execute your play then move on to the next one, control the environment," he said. "We'll get on the bus for six hours knowing we represented our school, represented our community and represented our conference very well tonight."
For Belleville East's Mike Harris, the Lancers may have been just one big play away from turning a corner.
"You look back at the game and we had six or seven dropped passes, we had seven or eight penalties," he said. "You don't win or lose a football game on one play -- even though tonight we could have won with one play. We may feel like we're a play away here or a play away there, but until we can take care of the little details that add up over a game, we're going to have outcomes like this.
"Obviously, I think the guys understand how close we are, which is what makes it hurt just a little bit more."
Belleville East fell to 0-3 on the season and is looking for their first win since Sept. 21 of last year.
Metea Valley took a 21-17 lead with 20 seconds left in the third quarter on a 6-yard run by senior running back Colin Wilcox.
The Mustangs then threatened to put the game away with a sustained, time-killing drive, but the Lancers' defense stopped Wilcox on fourth down at the goal line. Wilcox says he pushed the ball across the goal line and the Metea Valley coaching staff argued as much to no avail.
"I was in," Wilcox said, "but it doesn't matter now. We pushed through the adversity and got the outcome we wanted."
Junior quarterback Lucas Maue led the Lancers 70 yards into Metea Valley territory, but couldn't connect with his receivers in four shots toward the end zone before time expired.
"That's a good team over there regardless of their record," Parpet said of Belleville East. "Our kids had a six hour bus ride, had to play that physical of a team, then deal with all that at the end. I'm very, very proud of our guys."