It’s a transition year. 

A rebuild. 

Maybe, a surprise. 

The Green Wave lost four All-Apollo players from last season’s 3-6 squad.

That included three-year starting quarterback and second-team All-Apollo selection Jackson Spurgeon, as well as two-way first-team All-Apollo lineman and linebacker Aiden Spurgeon. With a lot of questions on both sides of the ball, incoming senior cornerback Chase Woodard believes there’s more to see than meets the eye. 

“The team is looking solid this year,” said Woodard. “I think we are going to surprise a lot of people. We lost a lot of seniors from last year but we gained a lot of guys who didn’t play last year. I think Slater Trier is going to step up this year at QB and do a good job. Our O-line and D-line are going to step up for us. Our defensive backs are going to get a lot of this year. We’re all flying towards the ball.”

Woodard said quite a few players have stood out so far. 

“I think everyone has been standing out in their ways,” said Woodard. “Our defense as a whole is making plays on the ball and everyone is competing at practice. Our O-line is standing out to me, We have got some more size up front this year. Kaden Junge is a first-year kicker and his kicking range is impressing me. Logan Blackburn missed last season due to a shoulder injury but he is a playmaker on offense and defense. Two sophomores also stand out to me in Cale Kimbro and Deaiden Arnold. They are both athletic younger guys that will help our team a lot this year.”

The team is also transitioning towards a new coaching regime with former assistant coach Jarod Kimbro taking over from retired Troy Johnson. Woodard said the summer was productive and the team has been motivated to put the work in. 

“The team and I have been consistent in the weight room putting up big numbers throughout winter and spring,” said Woodard. “I also lift and do the footwork on my own. Coach Kimbro had Chad Hopkins from Champaign come down and put on a speed camp with us throughout the week to get us faster. The skill guys have been out some days after practice running some more routes and just catching the ball. We have been preparing all off-season.”

The motivation for Mattoon will surely be finding a way to return to the playoffs. The Green Wave have not qualified for the playoffs since 2018, which is their lone appearance in the playoff appearance in the last six years. 

“I think our team can get to the playoffs this year and contend with some great teams,” said Woodard. “We are always physical and won’t just lay down against a powerhouse team. We can accomplish some great things. We want to make our town proud and break in our new turf field with a great season.”

Woodard said that the team also wants to repeat as the Coles County Clash winners, but individually Woodard is hopeful he can make an impact on both sides of the ball. 

“ I want to improve as a player, a person, and a teammate every day,” said Woodard. “My personal goal this year is to be more aggressive on defense and get more tackles and interceptions. I also have been enjoying playing some receiver. I want my team to be able to count on me in games.”