By Kyle Daubs
In terms of what Mattoon football can do better in 2020, senior linebacker Zach Shick made an easy answer.
The Mattoon High School Green Wave only did do twice last season, going 2-7. That didn’t sit well with the team’s only Apollo Conference all-team selection.
His assessment for winning in 2020 includes several cliches, but that doesn’t mean they are inaccurate: Play hard, one game at a time, and compete as hard as possible on each play.
“We will go as far as we can go,” said Shick. “I like to take it one game at a time. It would be nice to have a winning record and all that, but you can’t look over any teams. We can’t overthink it, and we just have to try to go out and win.”
Mattoon’s two wins came against Charleston and Collinsville last season. Mattoon came within two points of beating Lincoln, a 29-28 loss.
But there is reason for optimism. The team featured mainly sophomore and juniors. With more experience, especially at the quarterback position in junior Jackson Spurgeon, the Wave could make it a more competitive year.
However, COVID-19 has thrown a stake in the wheel. Preparing with no football and social distancing has been difficult, but Shick said the team has been adjusting.
“It’s been going good,” said Shick. “It’s hard to adjust, but we have to adjust to the situation. It’s pretty hard to go through plays when we can’t have a football on the field. It’s hard to practice without a football in general. All we are doing is the best we can.”
Shick said that Dakota Spencer and Keaton Harms have been great role models for the team.
“A lot of us seniors have tried to step up and lead by example with a lot of class,” said Shick. “We just want to stay as optimistic as possible and look for the best.”
Shick knows there could be no football. As COVID cases continue to arise around the state, that thought continues to creep into everyone’s mind. One positive, he noted, was how the NFL has been trying to return to play while MLB started its season last Thursday.
“With the NFL and MLB starting up again, it gives us hope,” said Shick. “We just want to be the best we can be and go out and try to win some football games.”
One of those football games he would love to play is against Charleston.
“The main game is Charleston and the Coles County Clash,” said Shick. “That’s the biggest game of the season. It would be pretty rough because a lot of people always come to watch that game. There’s a large attendance and a lot of people look forward to it.”
The clash nearly had 10,000 people in attendance, but Shick knows there is no way that will happen. Even if there are no fans, Shick still wants that game to happen.
“That would suck, but our goal is to go out and play football,” said Shick. “We are there for the sport. The fans are just a plus.”
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