It’s Week 1 of the IHSA football season and the Charleston Trojans will travel two hours to Herscher High School in a non-conference matchup to begin the year. Both teams will look to bounce back from disappointing seasons with a chance to start the year with a winning record. 

Here is the preview for tonight’s game. 

Team Records (Last Season): Charleston (2-7, 1-5) @ Herscher (2-7, 0-7)

Past Results: Charleston won a forfeit contest over Robinson last year and then defeated Taylorville 34-28 for its lone win in the Apollo Conference. Herscher began the season 2-0 with wins over Chicago Dunbar and Rochelle. The team then lost seven in a row, including a 45-40 defeat to Streator, two 7-0 losses to Lisle and Manteno, respectively, and a 19-6 defeat to Peotone.  

Tickets: Tickets will be sold at the entrance of Herscher’s football field. 

School Size: Charleston (796), Herscher (505)

Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.

Opponent’s History: The football team has bounced between Class 3A and Class 4A since 2007. Since then, the team owns nine playoff appearances, but the team has not qualified for the playoffs since 2018. Longtime head coach Dan Wetzel resigned after last season. Wetzel, an Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame member, coached the team for 20 years and accumulated 96 wins during his tenure with two Elite 8 appearances, including an 11-1 season in 2016. Mike Mosier takes over in his first year as head coach. Previously, Mosier served as the team’s wide receivers coach, assistant coach and offensive coordinator. He has served as HHS since 2014. 

“I know they brought in a new coach, but, other than that, I am not sure what to expect,” said Payne. “It’s a shot in the dark, but that’s Week 1 football unless you played that team a year ago. We have told our kids to be prepared for anything and just be ready to play football. We’ll make adjustments as we go.”

Herscher’s Running Game: Cody Lunsford led the team in rushing with 659 rushing yards on 118 carries and five touchdowns. Lunsford had four games of gaining more than 100 rushing yards. Brock Wenzelman returns as the second-leading rusher after recording 214 yards on the ground. Clay Schultz returns as a senior as well after recording two touchdown runs. 

Herscher’s Passing Game: Wenzelman returns as the team’s quarterback. He threw for 792 yards on 77 of 128 attempts with eight touchdown passes and eight interceptions. His QB rating was at 72.8 for the season. Schultz was the team leading receiver last year with 269 yards and three touchdowns. The team also returns Travis Jones, who recorded 219 yards on 23 receptions. Rylen Henderson led the team with six touchdown receptions last year but has since graduated. 

Herscher’s Defense: The Herscher defense was very solid last year. The team lost a pair of 7-0 games last season and just couldn’t get points on the board. With that said, the team lost three of their top four tacklers. That included Joe Holohan, who led the team with 81 tackles and 11.0 tackles for loss. However, Jones plays on the other side of the ball and returns as the top tackler with 48 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss, and 4.0 sacks. He is the only returning player from last year that recorded a sack. 

Miscellaneous: The weather is projected to be 68 degrees at kickoff with a humidity of 77% and a 3% chance of rain. 

Charleston Rushing Game: Nate Schrader led the team in rushing last season with 217 yards but has since graduated. The Trojans will rely on Jeremiah Hayes, as well as a committee of other running backs that saw time as sophomores. The offensive line returns four starters, which could bode well for the ground game. 

Charleston Passing Game: Jack Nelson led the team in passing with 402 yards on 38 of 72 completions with one touchdown pass. Nelson graduated after starting the last two seasons. Junior Brett Spour takes over as the team’s primary quarterback. Last year, Spour played three games and missed the rest of the season due to injury but is 100% healthy now. Luke Nelson, Aidan Archibald, and Langdon King return as the team’s top receivers. 

“Ideally, we have a strong offensive line returning that has worked well together,” said Payne. “Brett Spour looks good. He looks hungry and anxious to get out in a game. We bring back two receivers in Langdon and Luke that had a lot of experience from last year.”

Charleston Defense: Luke Nelson returns as the top tackler after recording 21 tackles in five games. Alex Stout will play both sides of the ball and record a tackle for loss. On defense, King, Nelson, Jacob Roe, Archibald, and Chet Shrader will likely see two-way time. At linebacker, Malik Perry, Aiden Burnett, and Cody Bell could fight for a spot. 

What Herscher Said: “We are going to have to stop the run,” said Moiser. 

What Charleston Said: “Anxious to get on the field,” said Payne. “It’s been a good summer. It’s been a good first couple of weeks of practice. The attendance has been good. Attitudes are different. They’re hungry. They seem more relaxed with things and haven’t been as stressed compared to last year. The philosophy has always been the same. We need to get that first win.”