BY PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
A week rarely passed without Jared Shaner and Doug Creel talking about next season's Rams football schedule.
Late last week, Mt. Vernon solidified the lineup of opponents for next year. They include new additions Taylorville and Charleston.
“I would ask (athletic director Doug Creel) if he got any emails, and he would ask if I did,” Mt. Vernon football coach Jared Shaner said. “I'm glad it's done now, a year out as opposed to maybe wait until after this football season or even into next winter some time.”
Taylorville and Charleston will be the opening two weeks of the season for Mt. Vernon. Both games will be at home in 2014 with road matchups the following season. Shaner said he and Creel wanted to target schools that were somewhat close and had a similar student size as Mt. Vernon. Both cities are about two hours from Mt. Vernon. Taylorville (858) and Charleston (774) both have smaller enrollments than Mt. Vernon (1,258), according to the IHSA website.
The last two seasons the Rams opened the year with Rochester. The two-year deal between the schools expired this season, leaving a potential opening. Mt. Vernon has faced Mascoutah the past several years in the second week of the season. Shaner said there was a possibility of Mascoutah moving to the final week of the season.
“They did not have the week two open anymore,” Shaner said. “We worked with them a little bit to try to maybe flip-flop them and try to get them into week nine at some point, but at this point it doesn't look like that's going to work.”
Taylorville and Charleston are both members of the Apollo Conference starting next season. Taylorville moves to the conference after being a member of the Central State Eight previously.
Taylorville has missed the football postseason the past four seasons and has a combined record of 12-24 during that stretch. The Tornadoes had a stretch of seven straight playoff appearances from 1997 to 2003.
Charleston has made two straight playoff appearances and have a combined 20-4 record during that time. From 2008 to 2010 the Trojans fluctuated between four and five wins each season.
“Taylorville is just a good, solid football program and Charleston's had that same thing going on the last four or five years,” Shaner said.