By Paul Hines
MT. VERNON —
Friday's trip north to Centralia could have major postseason implications for the Rams football team.
“It's a big game for us, and the kids know that and coaches know that,” Mt. Vernon coach Jared Shaner said. “We're trying to get to win No. 5. You don't want to put yourself in that situation where week nine is your only option.”
Both rivals enter the game 4-3 overall and just a win away from playoff eligibility.
“The kids are going to be ready to play,” Shaner said. “(It's) Centralia's homecoming. Obviously the rivalry between the two (schools) should be a fun time Friday.”
Mt. Vernon dropped its last game against Cahokia. Centralia has struggled in South Seven Conference matchups this season, losing its last three straight by a total margin of 146 to 20. The Orphans have suffered several significant injury blows recently.
“We're going to get great effort from all their guys,” Shaner said. “It doesn't matter who's in there. A guy that was supposed to start at the beginning of the year or a backup sophomore or whoever it is when you have a big rivalry like that. And when so much is at stake, you're going to get great effort from everybody that's on the field.
“They've got a couple kids out, but we do too so I think we're kind of in the same boat.”
Over the past several years, Centralia has showcased a powerful offense. Two years ago the teams engaged in an offensive showcase that saw more than 100 points scored. Centralia won the game 59-48. Last season the Orphans claimed a 43-26 victory.
“(They're) very similar to the last couple years,” Shaner said. “They're a spread offense. They move the ball around pretty well. It has hurt them. They do have, I believe, two running backs out. So that has definitely hurt their run game, but they're pretty solid otherwise.”
Mt. Vernon will continue to be without Drew Hester, who suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot. The sophomore will be sidelined with the injury for the ret of the season. On the defensive side of the ball, Shaner used Myles Tate in his place. Graham Henken could also be used in the linebacker position as well.
Other conference matchups this week are: Althoff (3-4) at Cahokia (3-4) and Marion (5-2) at Carbondale (4-3).