By Mike Monahan

After a 34-0 loss to Effingham in which the Green Wave had the ball just 16 minutes and 40 seconds, the Mattoon football team faces a tough non-conference opponent in Collinsville tonight on the road. 

“We love playing at home,” said Collinsville coach Colton Rhodes. “ Our stands have been packed with purple so far this season, and we think it will happen again this week. Any time you have the stands packed with family and fans cheering, it creates an atmosphere that every high school football player loves.”

Rhodes, a Belleville East graduate, is in his second year after leading the Kahoks to an 8-2 season last year. The Kahoks are a Class 7A team. Rhodes was an assistant at Collinsville in the COVID-19 season of the spring of 2021 serving as the junior varsity and freshman coordinator. The Kahoks entered the season with seven returning starters on offense and 10 on defense. 

Collinsville is coming off a 35-14 win over Charleston. The only common opponent is Troy Triad, a team MHS lost to 41-22, while the Kahoks beat them by 29-14. 

The Kahoks will be playing its third season as an independent after having withdrawn from the Southwestern Conference for football after the 2019 season.

“Mattoon is a really solid team,” said Rhodes. “Offensively, they like to attack the field in a variety of ways as well. The quarterback has a pretty good arm, and all of their receivers can catch the ball. They have a big running back that we will try and rally around and gang tackle. Defensively, Mattoon gives you quite a few different looks. They are not afraid to mix up coverages, and they love to blitz and send pressure at the quarterback.”

Here is the preview for tonight’s game: 

TEAM RECORDS: Mattoon (1-3) at Collinsville (3-1)

PAST RESULTS: The last meeting between the two schools was when Collinsville held off Mattoon 28-22 on Sept. 24, 2021. Collinsville scored twice in the fourth quarter and Mattoon fumbled on its last possession at O’Brien Stadium at Eastern Illinois.

TICKETS: Through gofan.com on Collinsville website

SCHOOL SIZES: Mattoon 929.5, Collinsville 1865.5

KICKOFF: 7 p.m., Kahok Stadium

WEATHER: 60  degrees, real feel 58; winds 8  mph out  of the east/south east; 65 percent humidity; chances of rain start at 23 percent, but by 8 p.m. it is up to 51 percent and at 47 percent at 9 p.m.

OPPONENT HISTORY: Rhodes is currently 11-3 in his second season. The Kahoks made the Class 7A playoffs last year before falling to Geneva, 28-21. This is the third meeting between Mattoon and Collinsville with Mattoon winning in 2019 by 26-20. The Kahoks made the playoffs only three other times (1996, 1998 and 2010 in Class 6A, 5A and 6A respectively). Collinsville has not won a playoff game.

“Last year’s team finishing the season with an 8-2 record definitely has given us a great confidence going into this season,” said Rhodes. “We feel like there is still unfinished business to accomplish this season, but the team has now had a year of success under their belts. We are looking to use all of this momentum as we continue to finish out this season”

Virgil Fletcher coached the Kahoks from 1946-1965, going 99-66-11 (.594) and the 99 wins is the most by a Collinsville football coach. Fletcher coached 20 seasons and in basketball, where he is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame, he coached from 1946-1977 going 747-170 (.815) in 32 years, including state titles in 1960 and 1964. 

COLLINSVILLE’S RUSHING GAME: Jerry Richardson, a 5-foot-9, 180 senior, leads the Kahoks ground attack with 302 yards on 48 carries and two touchdowns. He was an honorable mention all-state last season. Quarterback Ethan Bagwell , a 6-2 junior, has 50 carries for 203 yards and four touchdowns. As a team, the Kahoks have 121 carries for 617 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Kahoks average 30.7 points per game. 

Said Rhodes: “He is one of the fastest players in the area based on his track times, and he shows that on the field. He has great vision as a runner, and finds the cutback lanes to attack. We also like to move him around and get him in space as a receiver since he has great hands and rarely goes down to the first defender.”

COLLINSVILLE’S PASSING GAME: Bagwell is 48-of-94 for 695 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. The top receivers are Richardson and Darren Pennell, a 6-0, 180 junior with 13 and 12 catches each, respectively. Richardson has 202 yards and two touchdowns, while Pennell has 159 yards and a touchdown. 

“Offensively, we tend to take a balanced approach,” said Rhodes. “We like to evaluate in the film process different areas we think we can attack the field. We tend to look at coverages and defensive alignments, and we teach our quarterbacks to take what the defense is giving us each play. We can be pass heavy one week, and run heavy the next week. We pride ourselves in being able to attack the field in multiple ways.” 

COLLINVILLE’S DEFENSE: The Kahoks allow an average of 12 points a game. Isaiah Norton, a 5-10, 205 junior, leads the team in tackles with five a game. Rollin Armes averages 4.8 per game and the team has three interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. 

MATTOON”S RUSHING GAME: Taeriek Grace, a 6-3, 205 senior, is the top running back with 46 carries for 244 yards  and touchdown. The ground game has 86 carries sfor 359 yards and three touchdowns. The offense averages 15 points. 

MATTOON’S PASSING GAME: Slater Trier (5-10, 150 junior) has completed 46-of-100 for 566 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions. The leading receiver is Owen Hawkins (5-11, 175 junior) with 19 catches for 256 yards and three touchdowns, while Logan Blackburn (5-5, 130 senior)  has 12 for 164 yards and two touchdowns. 

MATTOON’S DEFENSE: The MHS defense allows an average of 32.7 points. Aiden Blackburn (5-8, 140 junior) and Cale Kimbro (6-2, 175 sophomore) average 8.1 and 7.15 tackles per game. 

WHAT RHODES  SAID: “We are looking to win the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball. We will also look to continue to play great on special teams as we have this season.”