By Kyle Daubs
It’s all about momentum at this point.
Brody Rankin wants to keep riding it.
After Charleston High School won a combined five games from 2013-2018, Charleston entered a new era with Jerry Payne. After a 3-6 season, Payne led Charleston to its first winning season (4-2) since 2012 in the spring.
Due to COVID-19, there was no nine-game schedule, nor playoffs. However, CHS senior and Second-Team All-Apollo defensive lineman Brody Rankin wants to keep the winning going and accomplish a new feat, which would be to make the playoffs for the first time in nine years.
“Hoping we can get into the state tournament,” said Rankin. “Win as many games as possible. Hopefully, we can get out and win our first game. Then, win the next game after that and ride the momentum. Over the last two years, we have slowly got the momentum going. It would be nice to continue riding that and roll it into the playoffs.”
There is speculation that Charleston would have likely made the playoffs last year, but we will never know. Charleston graduated all three of their First-Team All-Apollo selections in Peyton Daughter, Cory Spour, and Sam Scheutte, as well as Second-Team selections Ty Coartney, Drew Matheny, and Brayden Rennels, so the road back could be difficult.
That is why the team has been hitting the offseason harder than ever.
“It’s been going pretty good. We have been hitting the weight room hard,” said Rankin. “It’s good to get the freshman going again who had a year off since they didn’t get to play JFL. We are just going to keep pushing hard with all the people here and try to get ready for the season.”
Daughtery was a First-Team selection at center and defensive tackle, while Matheny was a Second-Team selection at tackle. Rankin said that despite the losses, the team has been looking to rebuild instead of reload.
“We lost some big lineman, but we are gaining some new lineman,” said Rankin. “I am pretty confident they know what to do. We all work as a team pretty well. I’m impressed with the skill players and what they are doing. We have some newer ones that are going to need to replace the seniors that we lost.”
Charleston will also have to find a new running back with the departure of Spour, as well as losing the team’s top two receivers in Schuette and Rennels. However, Rankin likes that the team has responded to the competition and believes those positions will be filled as well.
“We will have a good roster when it’s all said and done,” said Rankin. “Everything is up for grabs right now. Nothing is final. I have to earn my spot.”
What will really help is having an experienced quarterback in senior Jack Nelson. Despite not finishing All-Conference, Nelson had a solid junior campaign, including being accounted for all four touchdowns in the team’s final win over the season over Mattoon.
Rankin expects to see a big season out of the quarterback.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Jack,” said Rankin. “I’ve always trusted him and always loved to play with him. He’s such a good team leader and a player that I am looking forward to having a good season.”