QND at Charleston
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Trojan Hill, Charleston High School.
Records: QND -- 2-5. Charleston -- 0-7.
Radio: Victory 103.9 will broadcast the game at myradiolink.com.
Losing streak at 17
Charleston has lost its last 17 games and 22 out of its last 23 games, winning for the last time on Oct. 14, 2016 in a 20-14 victory over Salem. Scoring has been a problem for the Trojans during this recent run. They scored 14 points or less in six of their last seven games in 2016, as well as in seven of nine games in 2017.
This year's team scored just 70 points in the first five games, but the offense has been more prolific of late. Charleston scored a season-high 25 points against Lincoln in Week 6, then topped that figure with 34 points last week. It was the most points for the Trojans since a 41-14 victory over Mount Vernon on Sept. 2, 2016.
Charleston nearly broke its losing streak on Sept. 28 when Brayden Doyle scored a touchdown with 1:48 remaining to take a 25-20 lead over Lincoln. The Railsplitters won the game 26-25 when they scored on a 6-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the game.
Charleston also put up a fight last week against playoff-bound Effingham (5-2), scoring 28 points in the second quarter of a 56-34 loss.
"Some coaches pride themselves in wins and losses. I pride myself in having good kids," Trojans coach Tyler Hanner told the Journal-Gazette & Times-Courier. "Trying to take these young boys and turn them into young men, I would let any of these kids take my sons to McDonald's any day. They are good kids. I am not going to sleep out night trying to figure out what I can do to get them a win, but when the season is over, they are good kids and I am going to pride myself for having good kids."
Coach happy with blocking
Senior quarterback Dalton Haworth has completed 50 percent of his passes (62 of 123) for 674 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he's thrown eight interceptions. The Trojans have rushed for only 777 yards this season for 3.3 yards per carry. Doyle, a junior, leads the Trojans with five rushing touchdowns, and senior Nick Sweeney has rushed for 319 yards, with a season-high 91 coming against Effingham last week.
"I think (Sweeney) is running the ball better, and we are blocking up front better as well," Hanner said. "Nick is seeing things and hitting better gaps on our zone running. He was able to rip off a couple of really nice runs last week."
Senior Taylor Edwards leads the team with 18 receptions for just 71 yards. Alex Sweeney has caught nine passes for 186 yards, and Keagan Brady has caught 14 passes for 238 yards. Caden Myerscough (45 tackles) and Nick Sweeney (39 tackles) are the Trojans' top defenders.
Cornell sees improvement
The Raiders clinched a playoff bid in last year's meeting with Charleston, winning 51-0 at Advance Physical Therapy Field. Reed Hyer caught touchdown passes from Nick Wellman of 61, 25 and 17 yards, and Dalton Venvertloh had touchdown runs of 79 and 49 yards. The Raiders piled up 506 yards of total offense and limited the Trojans to 141.
No playoff bid will be at stake on Friday, but two victories in the last three games show the type of improvement that Raiders coach Jack Cornell is seeking.
"Victories have kept our guys locked in. They've made it more fun for them," he said. "It's tough to lose, and it's tough to lose a lot. Victories give our guys hope. We've seen how we've played lately, and it's helped our mental capacity to handle things that happen. It helps keep our guys invested."
Raiders adapting to ‘high-level' Xs and Os
QND has scored 49 or more points and rushed for 598 yards in its victories over Westmont and Macomb, and the Raiders went toe to toe with state-ranked Breese Mater Dei for the first half before losing 42-14 in Week 6. Venvertloh carried the ball 34 times for 324 yards in the two victories.
"We have to be disciplined on defense. We also have to make sure we take good angles to the ball and make good tackles," Hanner said about the challenge of defending the Raiders. "They are going to give us a variety of looks. We have to be sound and not get thrown off by those looks."
Cornell says he's been impressed by his team's ability to adapt to new things being added to the offense and defense as the season has gone on.
"I don't want to give away the farm, but we've put some high-level Xs and Os into our plan, and our kids have run them very well," he said. "It's complex stuff we try to make as simple as possible."