The way the Trojans have been playing the last two weeks, coach Jerry Payne believes that Charleston can hang around the Braves. Mount Zion enters Trojan Hill needing a win to confirm their hopes of making the playoffs. Meanwhile, Charleston will host Senior Night for their three lone seniors with hopes of putting off their playoff celebrations one more week. 

Here is the preview for tonight’s game. 

TEAM RECORDS: Charleston (2-5, 2-3) vs. Mount Zion (5-2, 4-1)

PAST RESULTS: Charleston is riding a two-game winning streak. The Trojans defeated Taylorville 27-8 and are coming off a Coles County Clash 35-14 victory over Mattoon. The team’s losses are to Mahomet-Seymour 55-14, Collinsville 35-14,  Effingham 31-14, Lincoln 20-0, and Herscher 41-30. 

Mount Zion opened up the season with a 48-7 win over Limestone and a 42-21 win over Mattoon. The team dropped a 49-14 contest to No. 4 ranked Mahomet-Seymour. The team bounced back with a 21-6 win over Taylorville, a 41-14 win over Lincoln, and a 39-36 overtime win over Effingham. Last week, the Braves dropped a 34-7 contest to Collinsville. 

TICKETS: Tickets will be sold at the entrance of Trojan Hill. 

SCHOOL SIZE: Charleston (796), Mount Zino (763)

KICKOFF: 7 p.m.

OPPONENT’S HISTORY: Patrick Etherton, in his sixth season, has never had a losing record at Mt. Zion. His career record is 41-17 with five playoff appearances. That includes a 9-2 record in 2016 and a 10-1 record in 2019. The Braves have not had a losing season since 2013 and have posted 17 playoff appearances since 2000. 

MOUNT ZION’S RUNNING GAME: The ground came owns a team total of 596 rushing yards. Junior Bryson Richardson leads the team with 236 yards on 55 carries for 4.3 yards per rush. Junior Jaygar Damarin is second on the team with 189 rushing yards on 25 attempts for 7.6 yards per carry. The Braves have scored five rushing TDs as a team. 

MOUNT ZION’S PASSING GAME: The passing attack is the greatest weapon for the team. Junior quarterback Makobi Adams is 121 for 203 with 1,730 passing yards and has 23 touchdown passes to five interceptions. His favorite receiver is sophomore Brayden Trimble, who has caught 52 passes for 802 yards and 10 touchdowns. The second leading receiver is Grant McAtee with 28 receptions for 530 yards and eight touchdowns. Freshman Jacob Harvey has seen some time this season with 26 receptions for 292 yards and three touchdowns. 

“Our players have spent a lot of time throwing the football throughout the summer and even after practice this fall,” said Etherton. “They are very talented players and very intelligent student-athletes.  They understand what we are trying to achieve in our offense and they are getting better at understanding defenses.  We are very fortunate to have great players at Mt. Zion.”

MOUNT ZION’S DEFENSE: A talented junior class leads the Braves. Seven juniors are the top tacklers for the Braves, which will make for a dangerous team next year. For this season, Cameron Schroth leads the team with 90 tackles, including 38 solos. He also leads the team with 8.0 tackles for loss. Jaygar Damarin, Brock Trump, and Tyson Evans all have more than 50 tackles on the season. Trump owns seven quarterback hurries, while Evans has one sack on the season. Chase Fink leads the team with two interceptions and five pass deflections. 

MISCELLANEOUS: The weather is projected to be 61 degrees at kickoff with a humidity of 27% and an 0% chance of rain. 

CHARLESTON’S RUNNING GAME: Jeremiah Hayes leads the team with 355 yards rushing on 54 carries and two touchdowns in six games. Brett Spour adds 48 rushes for 163 yards and two touchdowns. 

CHARLESTON’S PASSING GAME: Spour has completed 65 of 116 passes for 800 yards and seven touchdowns and four interceptions in six games. Luke Bonnstetter has pulled in 14 receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Luke Nelson owns 16 receptions for 220 yards receiving. Spour had his best game of the season with 231 passing yards two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. 

“I think it comes down to we are paying more attention to detail,” said Payne. “After the Mahomet-Seymour fiasco, we watched the film and some things we needed to push harder on executing. I wish I had a dollar for every time I say that word but that’s what it comes down to. We are finally executing and playing the way we can. Defensively, we have gotten a lot better the last two weeks as well.”

WHAT MOUNT ZION SAID: “One of our team’s goals every year is making the playoffs,” said Etherton. “We have the opportunity to guarantee a playoff berth with our sixth win.  Our players know this is a goal and we have the opportunity to complete one of our goals on Friday night.” 

WHAT CHARLESTON SAID: “If we played like we have the last two weeks, it could be very interesting,” said Payne. “I won’t say we will go out and beat them, but if we execute the way we have the last two weeks we have a chance to play with them. Mount Zion may not be the Mount Zion team of the past but they are still a pretty good team.”