Beijing soccer team defeats East Peoria to aim for seventh regular-season win
BEIJING – The Beijing football team did more than qualify for the state playoffs on Friday night.
With a 48-8 victory over winless Mid-Illini East Conference opponent Peoria on a wet and muddy field at Memorial Stadium, the Dragons prepared to do something that was not done by a team. Beijing football club for nearly 20 years.
If Beijing (6-2, 4-2) can win at Limestone (1-7, 1-5) next week in a regular season final, it will be the first time the Dragons have won up to seven games. in the regular season since 2002, when they finished 8-1 under former coach Dale Patton on their way to a 9-2 overall record.
All scores:Peoria Area Week 8 Dashboard
Doug Nutter is in his 13th year as a Beijing football coach. He’s heading to the state playoffs for the seventh time. His team went 6-3 in the regular season on five occasions – 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2019. He had a seven-game winning season in 2011, when the Dragons won a playoff game and finished 7-4.
Energy and intensity
It couldn’t have been a better senior Friday night for Beijing, although the Dragons’ chances of winning a Mid-Illini title slipped when favorites Washington (6-2, 5-1) and Morton (6 -2, 5-1) everyone won.
“Everyone got to play, and we played with energy and intensity from the start,” said Nutter. “We have not had to overcome any adversity.”
Defensive lineman Caleb Cope is one of 21 Beijing seniors who were honored on Friday. He almost scored a touchdown in a brief attacking appearance. He was stopped inches from the goal line on a 4-yard run in the second quarter.
“It was close,” he said.
Cope will be leaving the Beijing program later this fall with fond memories.
“What I will remember the most from playing football for Beijing is the family environment,” said Cope. “We all have one goal … to improve every day and make the team better every day.”
Roller coasters for seniors
It’s been quite a journey since 2019 for Cope, a three-year-old starter. The Dragons lost their first three games in 2019, then won six in a row, including their very first victory at Metamora, and won a share of the Mid-Illini title.
There was no fall season in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beijing went 2-3 in the delayed spring season, never playing their second leg because Metamora and then Bloomington had to withdraw from the game due to COVID-19 quarantines.
This fall produced a roller coaster of emotions despite the Dragons winning record.
After winning their first three games, Beijing failed to score in the second half in a 13-6 loss to Morton.
Hero of week 8:Let’s look at the best performances in the Peoria area
Two weeks later, the Dragons were stunned by Washington 22-21 when the Panthers scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 8.2 seconds left, overcoming a 14-0 deficit with less than four minutes left in the third quarter.
Beijing bounced back from Washington’s loss with a 35-28 victory next week at Metamora, starting from 14 points less at the start of the third quarter.
The enormity of that victory seven days earlier still resonated with Cope on Friday.
“It was a difficult loss for Washington. We took it personally,” he said. “We trained really hard to prepare for Metamora. There was no way we were going to have another bitter loss. That’s why we rallied.”
Run to perfection
Kanye Tyler had a perfect Friday evening for Beijing. The junior running back has never been tackled by East Peoria (0-8, 0-6). He carried the ball three times for 109 yards and three touchdowns, scoring on rushes of 45, 48 and 16 yards.
His teammate Tanner Sprecher, another junior, had eight carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns on one and 22 yard carries.
Mason Vicary ran for a Beijing touchdown from 2 yards and Levi Burke returned the second half kickoff at 63 yards for a score.
Mylee Hansen was 6-for-7 on PAT.
The second half was played with a stopwatch, but East Peoria quarterback Damien Brown found time to score on a 3-yard run with 4:14 left in the game. Brown was only 2 on 11 passes for 52 yards, but he ran 18 times for 50 yards.
Beijing dominated East Peoria 410-111, averaging 9.3 yards per snap. The Dragons kept the ball on the ground. Quarterback Scotty Jordan was 2-for-3 passing for 26 yards.
Steve Stein can be contacted at (248) 224-2616 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.