The final game of the season for Mattoon will be played as the Green Wave look to upset a tough 7-1 Marion football team that is ranked No. 9 in the recent AP Class 5A rankings. A win could help Marion in the seeding for the playoffs, while a win would allow head coach Troy Johnson to earn a win in his final game at Mattoon. Here is tonight’s preview.
Team Records: Mattoon (3-5, 3-3), Marion (7-1, 4-1)
Past Results: Marion finished second in the South Seven Conference with a 4-1 record. Their lone loss this season is a 30-8 defeat to Cahokia. Among their seven wins this season, none of them were by one possession or less. Marion owns wins over Herrin (40-7), Jerseyville (64-29), Highland (48-28), Mt. Vernon (44-7), Belleville Althoff (49-14), Centralis (37-6), and Carbondale (41-8).
“Being 8-1 would mean an excellent chance to play a home playoff game instead of possibly traveling a long distance,” said Marion head coach Kerry Martin.
Mattoon is coming off an 18-0 loss to Apollo Conference champion Mahomet-Seymour. Mattoon only trailed by possession to the undefeated Bulldogs for much of the game before a few plays broke the game open. Mattoon owns a 32-27 win over Charleston in the Coles County Clash. Before that, Mattoon lost two close games, a 35-34 nailbiter to Lincoln and a close 28-22 game to an undefeated Collinsville team that became playoff eligible with the win. Mattoon started the year with a 26-13 loss to Troy Triad and then a 31-7 loss to Mount Zion. The team’s two wins have been thrillers with a 12-9 come from behind win over Taylorville in Week 3 and a 20-14 win over former Apollo champ Effingham in Week 4.
“You would like to make the playoffs, but I have no complaints,” said Johnson. “The kids have worked hard all season. We have been in nearly every game for the most part. We are a handful of players talking about playing next week in the playoffs. It just wasn’t in the cards. The kids have given everything that they have this season.”
Tickets: Tickets will be sold at Marion High School football field.
School Size: Mattoon (929), Marion (1,107)
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
Opponent History: Marion is led by head coach Kerry Martin, who is completing his 20th season at the coach. Last year, Marion finished the season as the South Seven Conference champion with a perfect 6-0 record. Martin owns an overall record of 132-69 with a streak of 16 consecutive trips to the postseason (streak not broken last year due to no playoffs due to COVID-19). Marion is in a good position to clip double-digit wins this season for the first time since 2007.
“They are a good football team and always have been,” said Johnson. “They are well-coached with some pretty good athletes on both sides of the ball. We just have to go down there and try to execute the game plan.”
Mattoon Running Game: Taeriek Grace leads Mattoon on the ground with 107 carries for 537 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Jackson Spurgeon leads the team with six rushing touchdowns. On 99 carries, Spurgeon owns 295 rushing yards.
Mattoon Passing Game: On the season, Spurgeon has completed 81-of-150 passes for 1,332 yards, 10 touchdown passes, five interceptions, and a QBR of 92.0. Derrius White will get a chance to show off as one of the top receivers in the Apollo. White has 28 receptions for 607 yards and seven receiving touchdowns.
Mattoon Defense: Linebacker Aiden Spurgeon leads Mattoon with 142 tackles, including 78 solo tackles. Aiden Blackburn is second on the team with 55 total tackles. Koby Cardwell leads the team with four interceptions, while Slater Trier has two picks. The team defense has 10 interceptions altogether.
Miscellaneous: The weather is projected to be 56 degrees at kickoff with a humidity of 71% and a two percent chance of rain. Winds will be at two miles per hour.
Marion Rushing Game: Stats were unavailable. The team appears to be led by senior running back Lukas Shrum. Shrum has recorded multiple 100-yard games this season, according to multiple box scores. Mason Gooch will also see time at tailback as well.
Marion Passing Game: Marion is led by junior quarterback Evan Noelle, who stands at 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds. Passing stats were unavailable. Noelle has multiple targets, recording a game where he found seven different receivers. The lead receivers appear to be Mason Gooch and Jake Bruce.
“Certainly, we have some kids with some big-play potential for sure,” said Martin. “I think the experience they have also helped that as well. They understand the system, they know how to make adjustments and that can lead to some big-play opportunities.”
Marion Defense: Defensive stats were unavailable. The defense has allowed just 16.1 points per game.
“Offensively, they can run and pass,” said Johnson. “They are not one-dimensional. Defensively, they are fundamentally sound. You are not going to get many big plays off them, but instead drive down the field, which is hard to do in high school football without some kind of mistake.”
What Marion Said: “We have been blessed with a good balance of offense and defense this year,” said Martin. “I would include our special teams too. All three phases have been daily consistent this year, so we hope we can continue that against a good Mattoon team and into the play-offs.
What Mattoon Said: “I have told the kids on numerous occasions that as long as we go and play hard, and play physical, it will give us a chance to win,” said Johnson. “Give us a shot to win in the fourth quarter is all I ask. That is what I think our guys are going to do.”