CHARLESTON — Last week might have been one of the toughest weeks of the season for the Charleston football team. On paper, it looked like the Trojans might have a decent chance to pick up their first win of the season against a Lincoln team that only had one win this season
But the game turned into a lopsided loss for the Trojans as Lincoln not only won 40-14, but Titus Cannon ran for a Railsplitter-record 291 yards against Charleston.
So the Trojans have to regroup as they head into their homecoming game against Effingham at 7 p.m on Friday.
Charleston coach Tyler Hanner said the team has done just that, regrouped.
“The guys came in Monday, and we had our film session and group meetings,” Hanner said. “We had a decent practice Tuesday. It was very business-like knowing that Effingham is a very physical ball club. So I am hoping for a good outcome this week.”
Homecoming is no easy task for the Trojans, who are 0-6 and 0-5 in the Apollo Conference, when they host Effingham on Friday. The Flaming Hearts are 5-1 on the season and are ranked No. 7 in the Illinois Associated Press poll in Class 4A. Effingham lost to Breese Mater Dei 27-26 to start the season, but rebounded with a 50-37 win over Taylorville and then knocked off Mount Zion 37-19.
The last three weeks, Effingham has scored 63, 40 and 41 points respectively while only allowing 20 points total in those three weeks.
Terrence Hill is a big reason for the Flaming Hearts success. Hill broke Effingham’s career-rushing record earlier this season and has been a hard running back to stop for three seasons now.
“He is a very good running back. He is very explosive and is a strong runner,” Hanner said. “I think his best attribute, though, is his patience. He does a good job of waiting for his blocks to develop and then hits the hole with power and speed. He’s very good.”
Hill also has a good offensive line in front of him.
“They have size and good technique,” Hanner said. “And they seem to have a bit of nastiness to them.”
Hill is the best running back the Trojans have seen this season, and it comes a week after allowing 291 yards to Lincoln’s Cannon. It was the second straight week Charleston had trouble tackling and stopping the run.
Hanner said that’s an issue the team has been working on this week and it’s even more important since the Trojans are facing Hill this week.
“It is imperative for us to tackle well this week, as it is any week,” Hanner said. “But for a team that has struggled all year long, it becomes even more important. Couple that with the fact that Hill is an excellent running back, it only compounds the need for better tackling. We must do a better job tackling.”
Offensively, the Trojans have struggled the last couple of weeks with only 22 total points scored. On the season, the Trojans have scored only 91 points on the season, the lowest in the Apollo.
Effingham has only allowed 103 points this season.
The yards have been there lately, the team just needs to finish drives, Hanner said.
“We just have to keep playing football. For some reason, our drives seem to stall,” Hanner said. “Sometimes it is a mistake somewhere, sometimes the defense just clamps down. We are moving the ball down the field, we just can’t capitalize on the opportunities.”