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Bloomington's DeeJay Lewis celebrates a defensive stop during the Purple Raiders' 50-0 Big 12 Conference victory over Peoria Manual on Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, at Fred Carlton Field.

NORMAL — The start to the Bloomington High School football season is just what the doctor (or in this case the new coach) ordered.

“I certainly think it helps. Any time you can jump out to three wins to start the season it helps the players’ confidence,” said BHS coach Scott Godfrey, who has guided the Purple Raiders to their first 3-0 start since 2004. “They know there are still a lot of good teams on the schedule. They aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves.”

One of those “good teams” is clearly Normal West. BHS will attempt to extend its promising start under Godfrey against the Wildcats in a 7 p.m. Big 12 Conference game Friday at West.

“It seems like they do a lot of things very well,” West coach Nathan Fincham said. “Defensively, they’ve got kids who fly around and are very physical. Offensively, it seems like they have athletes all over the field. It’s a very good challenge for us on both sides of the ball.”

Ranked No. 10 in Class 6A, the Wildcats are 2-1 overall and in Big 12 play. Among those also receiving votes in the 6A rankings, BHS is 2-0 in league play.

The teams have one common opponent thus far. West defeated Danville, 42-20, while the Raiders downed Danville, 21-12.

The Wildcats’ offense features the triple threat of tailback Davion McQuirter (353 yards rushing), quarterback Carson Camp (758 yards passing) and Armani Forrest (441 yards receiving).

“I think we can play at a higher level. We haven’t quite got there yet,” McQuirter said. “We can get pretty good.”

West linebacker Garrett Rhode believes the Wildcat defense, which gave up 49 points in a week two loss to Normal Community, is progressing.

“We’ve had a little improvement every week,” said Rhode. “We’re narrowing down those reads and coverages and really looking forward to coming out with more aggressive packages.”

Godfrey was pleased with the strides of his running game last week in a 50-0 win over Peoria Manual.

“We made some changes up front with some of our linemen and put some pressure on our backs to hit the hole a little harder,” Godfrey said. “It’s not where we want it to be, but it’s certainly better than the first couple weeks.”

Quarterback Griffin Moore is the Raiders’ top rusher at 102 yards with Holden Snyder adding 95. Moore has passed for 480 yards and eight touchdowns.

Diontay Griffin, Ivan Smith, Mauliek Johnson and Drew Crooks all have more than 100 yards receiving.

“It’s pretty exciting. It’s something this group of guys has been wanting to do for a long time,” Moore said of BHS’ early success. “It means a lot to us and shows all the hard work we put in in the offseason is coming to fruition.”

Two-way lineman Mark Marshall believes the Raiders have the ability to combat West’s quickness.

“We need to run the ball and get our blocks,” said Marshall. “They’ve got some speed, but I think our defensive line can definitely get some pressure on that quarterback.”

West doubled up BHS, 40-20, last season at Fred Carlton Field in Bloomington.

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Contact Randy Reinhardt at (309) 820-3403. Follow him on Twitter: @Pg_Reinhardt



Reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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