For the first time since 2012, the Coles County trophy will reside at Charleston High School.
Behind a dominant first-half performance from quarterback Jack Nelson, the Trojans defeated their Coles County rival Mattoon 27-7 at O’Brien stadium Friday night.
The victory enables Charleston to post its first winning season since 2012.
“We played a great first half,” Nelson said. “All these guys out here wanted to work, and we’ve got a great squad.”
Charleston found success in the screen passing game, with two first half touchdowns coming off the same play call, a screen pass up the middle.
Sam Schuette caught both of these passes for touchdowns, each from 47 yards out.
“The way they lined up we thought if we ran the screen, the line was going to overpressure,” Charleston coach Jerry Payne said. “That’s what happened those two times, we knew it was going to happen.”
Cory Spour caught another screen pass, this one on the outside of the formation, and ran for a 25-yard touchdown at the end of the first quarter to make it 13-0.
Nelson was in control of the offense, throwing for 205 yards and rushing for another 80 in the first half. He was also responsible for all four touchdowns for Charleston, three passing and one rushing.
Nelson ran for a 59-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to give Charleston a 27-0 lead at the half.
It was the perfect way for Nelson to end his first season as a starting quarterback.
“At the start of the season, I had no idea what I was doing,” Nelson said. “I come to the end of the season here, and it’s a different game.”
Schuette compiled 130 yards receiving and scored twice in the first half. He became a favorite target for Nelson throughout the year.
“He hits us when we’re open, knows when to tuck it and run. He’s all-around a great player,” Schuette said. “He’s been a great addition and had a great year.”
The Charleston defense kept Mattoon’s Jakai Johnson quiet, holding him to 31 yards rushing. Quarterback Jackson Spurgeon remained under pressure and struggled at times to find open receivers, finishing with 150 yards passing.
Mattoon’s lone score came midway through the third quarter on a 30-yard touchdown catch by Kegan Kirts.
The Green Wave threatened to score again in the quarter, constructing an eight-play drive deep into Charleston territory, but Zachary Shick fumbled the ball, spoiling any chance of a second-half comeback.
It was the first time in the last seven matchups that Charleston defeated Mattoon.
“I told the guys all week I wanted that trophy to put in my room for a couple weeks,” Payne said. “They knew exactly how big this was. I told them this was a playoff atmosphere to go for it all.”
Schuette was relieved to defeat Mattoon for the first time.
“It’s great for the high school and community,” Schuette said. “I know it’s important for them. It’s a great feat for this whole town.”
Nelson, a junior, will be the highlighted returner for Charleston.
“He’s got heart and determination, and works his tail off,” Payne said. “He is the future for us.”
RUSHING – CHS: Jack Nelson 9-104 1 TD; Cory Spour 13-44; Ty Coartney 4-10; MHS: Zachary Shick 7-51; Jakai Johnson 12-31; Nate Eldridge 3-23; Jackson Spurgeon 4-21
PASSING – CHS: Nelson 12-14 216 3 TD; MHS: Spurgeon 19-30 150 2 INT
RECEIVING – CHS: Sam Schuette 4-130 2 TD; Tyler Thompson 3-35; Cory Spour 3-32; Brayden Rennels 2-11; MHS: Kegan Kirts 4-56 1 TD;