After the worst loss of the season for Charleston, the Trojans pack up the trailer and make a nearly two-hour drive down to Collinsville. The larger Kahoks are going to be a tough matchup as the school has twice CHS’s enrollment and owns a 3-0 record over some quality competition in the southern part of Illinois. Here’s the preview for tonight’s game.

Team Records: Charleston (1-2), Collinsville (3-0)

Past Results: Collinsville opened the season with two nail-biting victories. That included a 13-6 win over Belleville East. Then, the team escaped with a 10-7 win over Troy Triad. Last week, the team blew away Alton 41-0. All three games were non-conference. As for Charleston, the team owns a forfeit win over Robinson. Then, Charleston dropped back-to-back Apollo Conference games to Lincoln (14-6) and Effingham (42-0).

Charleston has been without head coach Jerry Payne for the last two games due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. On Wednesday, Payne returned to the sidelines at practice.

“It’s been terrible. If I could sit in the gator and watch practice, it would be fantastic,” said Payne. “We will see how long it takes to get through the process and get me home. I am going to chill and make sure everything is okay. I don’t want to rush it, but I’m going to do what I need to do to get back.”

Tickets: Tickets will be sold at the gate at Collinsville High School. 

School Size: Charleston (796), Collinsville (1,866)

Kickoff: 7 p.m

Opponent’s History: First-year head coach Colton Rhodes has this team off to its best start since 2010. Since 2010, the team had won a combined 19 games, including a 1-4 season last year. Former Mt. Zion head coach Mike Popovich coached at Collinsville, including two straight 0-9 seasons before Joe Bevis took over for one season. Collinsville has made the postseason just three times in school history, including its last appearance in 2010.

Collinsville Running Game: Collinsville averages 145.7 rushing yards per game. Junior Jerry Richardson leads the way with 55 carries for 334 yards, good for 6.1 yards per carrying. Richardson owns two touchdown runs, while junior quarterback Kolby Anderson also has two touchdown scores. 

“Our running back, Jerry Richardson, is definitely the real deal,” said Rhodes. “However, I don’t want to take anything away from our offensive line. Our offensive line is very big and aggressive and they love to run blocks. I have confidence in calling a run play and then executing every time so Jerry can find a hole and gain positive yards.”

Collinsville Passing Game: Collinsville averaged 165.0 passing yards per game, led by Anderson, who completed 26-of-49 passes for 495 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Anderson owns an overall QBR of 122.4.

Collinsville  Defense: Collinsville has allowed just 13 points this season, including a high-powered Troy offense to just seven points. Their first shutout of the season was last week against Alton. Defensively, sophomore Isaiah Norton leads the team with 27 tackles. Both Richardson and Anderson play both sides of the ball and have tied for the second-most 16 tackles. As a team, the defense also has three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.  

“3-0 on the season is an outstanding achievement for our team,” said Rhodes. “We had a bit of an offensive explosion in Week 3; however, our defense has been lights out all season long. We have given up 13 points total in our three games we have played so far. We are going to continue to follow the lead set by our defense and hopefully create problems for every offense we face from here on out.”

Miscellaneous: The weather is projected to be 81 degrees at kickoff with a humidity of 62% and a three percent chance of rain. 

Charleston Rushing Game: Zayvion Johnson-Mitchell leads the team in rushing with 14 carries for 35 yards. Nate Shrader owns 11 carries for 11 yards, while Jack Nelson owns 16 carries for negative eight yards and the only rushing touchdown. 

Charleston Passing Game: Before leaving the game with an injury, quarterback Jack Nelson completed 7-of-19 passes for 63 yards. On the season, Nelson has completed 21-of-38 passes for 249 yards. He does not have a touchdown pass, but he has one interception. According to Payne, Nelson is ready to start this week.

“We didn’t compete well against Effingham,” said Payne. “This week, we should be at full strength. Jack needs to go through the protocols, but everything is looking well for him to advance towards starting. The coaches are working on getting the ball out of his hands as fast as we can to help relieve some pressure.”

Backup Nate Schrader completed 3-of-7 passes for 43 yards. Hunter White leads the team with five receptions for 69 yards. Langdon King owns four receptions for 62 yards. Wade Wright owns two receptions for 59 yards. Schrader has also spent time at receiver with three receptions for 30 yards. 

Charleston Defense: Charleston allowed 330 rushing yards to Effingham last week, including four rushing touchdowns. In two games, the Trojans have been outscored 56 to 6.

What Collinsville Said: “Charleston has a very well balanced team,” said Rhodes. “We are going to have to prepare for Charleston with our offense, defense, and especially special teams. They have a very well coached and disciplined team. We will have to limit our mistakes and penalties if we want to be successful against them.”

What Charleston Said: “Lincoln, we didn’t do a good job of scoring in the red zone. Effingham just ran all over us and punched us in the mouth,” said Payne. “We need to shorten things up. The defensive line got run over. Effingham sent everything and the kitchen sink. Historically, we have struggled against run-heavy teams.”