By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Rams football team will try to play the role of spoiler when they host Centralia tonight.
The Orphans (7-0) enter the game with an unblemished record and a high-powered offense.
“Really there’s no pressure on us,” Mt. Vernon coach Jared Shaner said. “We can go out and play loose and free and hopefully fast.
“If we could pull this one out, it would be one that you would never forget, being Senior Night against your rivals who are undefeated.”
Centralia scores more than 30 points a game but will be without one of its key weapons against the Rams. Quarterback Dyman Sodsaikitch suffered a leg injury against Cahokia and isn’t expected to play. Sodsaikitch has been a consistent threat for the Orphans. He threw for four scores against Carbondale and accounted for another four touchdowns against Salem early in the season.
Shaner said he expects to see running back Rashad Campbell shift to the quarterback position. Campbell averaged more than five yards per carry in a game against Carbondale.
“We’re going against arguably the best player in southern Illinois, I think, in Rashad Campbell,” Shaner said. “He does some things on the field that just aren’t quite fair in a high school football game.
“He’s on a different level than most of the other high school kids.”
Last week Mt. Vernon played a waterlogged contest on its home turf against Cahokia. The game was delayed about an hour because of lightning, and the Comanches won 20-0. Since Friday’s game the cold weather has frozen the muddy areas solid.
“There were a couple spots that were underwater last game, and now they’ve hardened up with huge divots and holes and things from cleats,” Shaner said. “It’s almost like walking on a cow pasture. Just really uneven and rough. Hopefully he can get that straightened out.
“I don’t think it will play a big role in the game other than the fact that there’s a couple spots if you landed in you’d probably be hurting for a while.”
A season ago Centralia and Mt. Vernon engaged in an offensive shootout with both teams trading touchdowns. The Orphans prevailed 58-47. Former player Blake Stricklin led the Rams offense with 255 yards on 35 carries.
Lineman Justin Armstrong missed last week’s game with a knee injury against Cahokia. The senior will return to the lineup this week. Wes Song and Jordan Wilemon will both miss the game with injuries.
Tonight’s game starts at 7 p.m. in J.D. Shields Memorial Stadium.