By Mike Monahan

Jack Nelson says running an offense at the varsity level is much more difficult than at the lower levels.

But that was not evident last Thursday when the first-year Charleston quarterback completed 12 of 14 passes for 256 yards and four touchdown passes on throws of 52, 43, 8 and 12 yards against St. Joseph-Ogden. 

“Varsity is a lot faster and you have stronger guys,” Nelson said. “Everyone came out against SJO ready to play.“

For the season, the junior is now 23-of-29 for 448 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions. 

“We came out in the first quarter and did well and in the second quarter we talked about not letting up. In the second (half), our backups got to play,” said Nelson. “It was a fun game.”

Nelson’s performance in the 56-14 win helped Charleston jump out to its best start since 2016 at 2-1.

“It (playing on a Thursday) was a little different,” said CHS receiver Brayden Rennels. “It was a shorter week after a tough loss to Effingham. We had to move up practice. We went hard Monday and Tuesday and were ready to go.”

Rennels caught seven passes for 104 yards from Nelson.

“At first it was strange (playing in the spring), but, once we got going, the weather wasn’t great,” Rennels said. “But it is better now and feels like the fall”

The Trojans had a lot of success with mid-screens especially after the CHS coaches assessed the SJO defense. 

“Coach (Jeff) Schuette had a good game plan,” said Rennels. “Jack (Nelson) was putting the ball on target and the line gave Jack time to throw. All I had to do was just catch the ball. Coach Schuette found the hole in the flats and just attacked it.”

On some of the screens, Nelson had two options – both in the right flat and the middle, giving the Spartans another receiver to worry about.

Cory Spour, who rushed for 42 yards and two touchdowns on four carries, said the Spartans could not properly cover the middle of the field with their defensive scheme.

“We sort of knew they loaded the box, but we didn’t know what they were going to do in trips (a three-receiver offensive scheme) as we had no footage on them,” said Spour. “They had a safety and corner so the flats were open as it was basically three on two.”

Spour now has 31 carries for 285 yards and six touchdowns, plus five receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown this season. 

The Trojans scored before even five minutes expired.

“It is always important to hit them in the mouth early,” said Spour. “It gave us the momentum and it is easier to play when you have the lead.”

Rennels has 12 catches for 196 yards and a touchdown this season. 

“Everybody did a good job filling their gaps on defense and our outside safety’s were pushing them down and we played aggressive and I think that was the key,” said Rennels. “It has been awhile since we starting the season with a winning record and it feels good, but it doesn’t mean anything right now. We have to put our nose down and work hard the rest of the season.”

Charleston attempts to go 3-1 for the first time since 2011 Friday at Mahomet-Seymour

“It is great to have a season,” said Nelson. “It is great to come out and play the six games we were given.”