MATTOON — Last Friday’s game Mount Zion started off about as well as it could for the Mattoon football team. By the end of the first quarter, Mattoon had a 14-0 lead against the Braves and were up 17-7 going into halftime.
The Green Wave didn’t score again, though, and the Braves mounted a second-half comeback. Mount Zion scored 19 unanswered points in the second half and came back to beat Mattoon 26-17.
Mattoon doesn’t have the time to sit back and look at last week’s loss, since the formidable Taylorville Tornadoes come down for Homecoming at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“Obviously the loss hurts,” Mattoon coach Troy Johnson said. “But we don’t have an option but to move forward. We have a good Taylorville team coming in and we need to get ready for them.”
Mattoon is 2-4 overall on the season, and another loss officially knocks the Green Wave out of the playoffs for the second straight season. Mattoon made the playoffs for four straight seasons (2012-15) but missed the playoffs for four straight seasons (2008-11) before that. The Green Wave are 2-2 in the Apollo Conference.
Taylorville is 5-1 on the season and 3-1 in the Apollo. The Tornadoes' only loss of the season is to Effingham, which is ranked No. 7 in Class 4A. Taylorville is coming off a 28-7 win over Alton Marquette, which was ranked in 2A.
The Tornadoes have put 249 points on the board this season, and last week’s 28 points were the lowest of any game this season for Taylorville. Even in the loss to Effingham, Taylorville scored 37 points.
“Their coach does a great job with them. They have the ability to run and pass,” Johnson said. “They have many weapons and a real good quarterback. They are fundamentally sound on defense and have all 11 running to the ball.”
The Tornadoes have a dangerous weapon on offense with Justin Wright. In the loss to Effingham, Wright hauled in 12 passes for 390 yards and four touchdowns. The 390 yards set a new IHSA single-game receiving record.
Taylorville has plenty of good offensive players after Wright, too.
“He is really good,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, he is not their only weapon, which makes it difficult to just take him away.”
Mattoon has allowed 213 points this season, the second-most in the Apollo. Mattoon did hold Mount Zion to 26 points, its second-lowest point total of the season, and Johnson thinks the defensive unit is improving.
“I believe the defense did (take a step forward),” Johnson said. “We just have to get all three aspects of the game going at the same time.”
Offensively, the Green Wave have scored 142 points this season but were held scoreless in the second half last week. The 17 points were the second-lowest Mattoon has scored this season.
Taylorville has only allowed 101 points this season, the second-fewest in the Apollo. The Tornadoes gave up 50 points in the loss to Effingham, but the second-most points against Taylorville was the 20 points Charleston put up the third week of the season. Taylorville has allowed fewer than 10 points in three games this season.
Johnson said he is looking for more consistency out of the offense.
“Each person on offense has to be more consistent,” Johnson said. “When we have breakdowns, it seems to be different people. Sometimes, I believe, we try to overthink the situation instead of just doing what we know to be right.”