After a 2-7 season and the departure of several skills players, one could look at this season as a rebuild for the Charleston Trojans.

The team features three seniors as a whole but brings back many juniors and sophomores that had to play last season.

Head coach Jerry Payne said that the team continues to have the same mindset as they prepare for Week 1. 

One game at a time. 

“We are going to continuously work towards improvement,” said Payne. “Everyone strives for a winning season. That’s always a goal for the team. It goes back to the same old thing: We need to win that first game. May that be week one, two, or whenever, we need to get that first game. Once we get that, we can build on that for the next game.” 

Aside from a forfeit win over Robinson, the Trojans managed just one other victory on the field – over Taylorville.

The team’s schedule will remain the same except for Herscher replacing Robinson in Week 1. 


Jack Nelson1346750%82662

Charleston has lost its starting quarterback and the top four leading rushers from last season among 15 seniors. Jack Nelson, who graduated after starting for two years, will be replaced by junior Brett Spour. As a sophomore, Spour missed significant time due to injury, but he is healthy now.

“Brett is doing very well and has done everything we have asked to this point,” said Payne. “When we run a play, he can tell me what a position player did. He’s been working hard on reading the defense.”

Also gone was last year’s starting running back Nate Shrader. Jeremiah Hayes, Cody Bell, Malik Perry and Aidan Bennett will be featured in the backfield this season.


Nate Shrader294763.866
Zayvion Johnson-Mitchell130304.30
Aiden Dukeman8374.380
Collin Patterson5132.61
Jeremiah Hayes13100.80

Luke Nelson, a junior, returns as the team’s leading receiver last year. Nelson, Langdon King and Chet Shrader will anchor the receiving corps. They will be complemented by Jacob Roe, Scott King, and Gavin Drake. Aiden Archibald made a move from offensive tackle to wide receiver. 

“We will look pretty good as long as we can put it all together,” said Payne. “We are fortunate to have a lot of experienced people back because many of these juniors played as sophomores. We have a lot of wide receivers back with experience. Aiden made a move and had good hands, movement, and will likely play defensive end as well.”


Luke Nelson1626816.751
Wyatt Strader1520813.864
Langdon King10828.20
Hunter White35117.00
Wade Wright 25929.50
Chet Shrader13636.01
Seth Howell144.00

The team will feature an experienced offensive line. Brody Rankin, now playing at Eastern Illinois University, is gone, but senior Owen Gerdes returns, joined by Josh Lynn at guard and tackles Matthew Misner and Alex Stout. Stout is coming off of a track season where he qualified for state in throwing the discus. Sophomore Marcellix Boling is also expected to start on the line

Jack Pearcy, Zac Price, Stormy Hughes and Yeshua O’Brien could challenge for playing time on the offensive line. 

“Losing Brody will hurt but, outside of him, everyone on the line is back,” said Payne. He is a big spot to fill but we have some young guys eager to help with that.”

Stout and Aidan Archibald return to the defensive line along with Zach Price and Misner.

Cody Bell, Malik Perry, Aidan Burnett, Jeremiah Hayes and Ben Coffey will all see time at linebacker while Nelson and King will lead a defensive backfield that includes Shrader, Scott King and Jacob Roe.

“We will be young,” Payne said, “but some of the juniors saw a lot of time last season.”

On special teams, the team could see a freshman kicker placekicker but the role will be decided before week one after the team held an open night for anyone interested in kicking. Connor Woodley, who was one of the nation’s top punter prospects, has graduated. 

Payne is confident it will all get figured out before the first game. Altogether, Payne said the team has done everything the coaches have asked and have been moving in the right direction. 

When it comes to competing in the Apollo, that is more clear. Payne believes the Apollo is one of the best conferences in the state and should feature a schedule where “no game will be easy.”

“Everyone improved, too,” said Payne. “You can’t sit down and assume you will win a game because every game is going to not be easy. Lincoln and Mattoon were near the bottom part of the conference and both are significantly better. Mahomet-Seymour won the conference and brings most of their players back. Effingham’s senior class went undefeated through JFL and now those guys lead the team. Mount Zion always has people and Taylorville should be better. The Apollo is never easy and it won’t be again this year.”

2022 Varsity Roster


Jeremiah Hayes (RB/LB), Owen Gerdes (OL/DL), Alex Stout (OL/DL), 


Brett Spour (QB), Gavin Drake (WR/DB), Wyatt Hurst (WR/DB), Langdon King (WR/DB), Scott King (WR/DB), Luke Nelson (WR/DB), Jacob Roe (WR/DB), Chet Strader (WR/DB), Aidan Archibald (WR/DB), Logan Reed (WR/DB), Cody Bell (RB/LB), Aidan Burnett (RB/LB), Malik Perry (RB/LB), Josh Lynn (OL/DL), Jeremiah Lobby (OL/DL), Matthew Misner (OL/DL), Jack Pearcy (OL/DL), Ethan Tso (OL/DL). 


Luke Bonnestetter (QB), Marcellex Boling (OL/DL), Stormy Hughes (OL/DL), Zac Price (OL/DL), Levi Tucker (OL/DL)


10/7Mattoon EIU
10/14Mt Zion Home
All games begin at 7 p.m.