By Kyle Daubs

A conference champion right off the bat?

If a nearly two-hour drive to Troy Triad wasn’t enough, the Green Wave will play the defending Mississippi Valley Conference champions in week one. Here is a breakdown of tonight’s game. 

Team Records (Last Year): Troy Triad 5-1, Mattoon 2-3

Past Results: In 2019, Triad defeated the Green Wave by a score of 41-7. “I don’t know what our record is exactly, but we have almost gone 50-50 with them in all my years,” said Johnson. “It’s going to be one physical game.”

Tickets: Tickets will be sold at the gate at Triad’s football complex

School Size: Triad (1,157), Mattoon (929)

Kickoff: 7 p.m

Opponent’s History: Head coach Paul Bassler enters his 25th season at THS, where he has compiled a 145-96 overall record. Last year, Triad won the MVC with wins over Collinsville, Highland, Mascoutah, Granite City, and Highland. Their lone loss came at the end of the year in the rematch with Mascoutah. Bassler has made the playoffs in all but seven seasons.

“Troy is always a well-coached team,” said Johnson. “They are going to run a very disciplined offense. If you are not disciplined on defense, they can pop off for a touchdown on every play.”

Troy Running Game: A starter has yet to be named, but whoever runs will have one of the best offensive lines to run behind. Two All-Conference selections in Ben Hartman and Nate Engler lead the way. Bassler said that the offensive line was the greatest strength on the team. “We will have to match their physicality and their intensity in the first quarter,” said Johnson. “You’re never quite sure how you respond in the first game, but we will come out and be physical.”

Troy Passing Game: No starter has been named for Triad at quarterback. 

Troy Defense: All-Conference linebacker Kaden Marmon and defensive back/punter Roger Wolfe will lead the defense. Bassler said the linebacker group is the strongest unit on the team. 

Miscellaneous: The weather predicted for Friday’s game is 86 degrees at kickoff with a humidity of 65% and winds at 8 mph. 

Mattoon Passing Game: Jackson Spurgeon is 0-1 against Triad after losing as a sophomore, 41-7. This will be Spurgeon’s third year as quarterback. He will be protected by a group headlined by 6-foot-8 newcomer Sam Bradbury, along with Aiden Spurgeon, TJ Owens, Riley Spencer, and Wyatt Arndt. 

Mattoon Running Game: Johnson detailed the running back situation as a “committee.” Tyreke Grace and Aiden Blackburn are listed as the top two options for now, while Kobe Cardwell and Gavin Gline could also make contributions right away. 

Mattoon Defense: All-Apollo linebacker Aiden Spurgeon takes over as the lead man. Many offensive players could see dual time on the defensive end. 

What Troy Triad Said: “We have been playing them for a few years and feel good in our preparation,” said Bassler. “Not sure if it will translate into wins or not, but we have to make as few mistakes as possible to give ourselves a chance to win.”

What Mattoon Said: “It appears they are as good as they seem,” said Johnson. “They have always been good. I remember when I was at Indiana State and we recruited a kid from there. They have had a solid program for a long time. They are well-coached and very disciplined. We’ll need to be ready to play.”