Collinsville, particularly its rushing defense, will face a stress test at 7 p.m. Friday against visiting Triad.
The run-happy Knights gained 426 yards on the ground last week in a season-opening thrashing of visiting Mattoon. Seniors Adam Nelson (234 yards, four touchdowns) and Steven Evanoff (117 yards, one TD) led the onslaught.
To be in contention, first-year Kahoks coach Rick Reinhart knows his team’s defense must be staunch. That’s easier said than done against Triad.
“They do a great job,” Reinhart said. “They play great defense and offensively, they’re going to pound the ball. I remember playing Triad years ago at Bethalto. It’s the same old story. They’re strong, they’re tough, they play the run, they come after you. It’s going to be a very physical ballgame and one we’re going to have to be ready for.”
Knights coach Paul Bassler is wary of the Kahoks. Triad is 9-3 in the last 12 meetings against Collinsville, but the Kahoks won 24-14 two years ago in Collinsville.
“They’re always dangerous. They always scare me,” Bassler said. “They’re athletic as can be, and this year is no exception. (Wide receiver) Trevore Sanders is probably as fast as anyone in the area and the (Jordan) Reichert kid is playing really well (at quarterback) and doing the little things. They’re a good football team and we have our work cut out for us.”
Bassler said it’s like having “a badger stuck in the hole.”
“They’re going to come out fighting,” he said of the Kahoks. “We’re going to have our hands full. It’s a good, healthy rivalry.”
Friday’s game: Triad (1-0) at Collinsville (0-1), 7 p.m.
Last meeting: Triad defeated Collinsville 27-7 on Sept. 6, 2104, in Troy.
Last week: Triad bombed Mattoon 52-10 in Troy; Collinsville lost 24-22 to Althoff in Belleville.
Twin terrors: Bassler expected big things from speedsters Nelson and Evanoff. But their performances against Mattoon might have exceeded those expectations.
“We played better offensively than I anticipated for this early in the season,” Bassler said. “It was a special night for (Nelson). He knows people are going to key on him, and Steven knows that. So does (quarterback) Tom (Bauer). We’re going to have to be balanced.”
Triad only threw the ball once last week, although Bassler said there a handful of passing plays were called that wound up being scrambles by Bauer when Mattoon’s coverage was sound.
Reinhart would be shocked if Nelson doesn’t carry the ball the majority of the time.
“He’s the real deal,” Reinhart said. “You can tell he’s incredibly strong. It’s going to take a heck of a tackle to bring that guy down.
“We haven’t been against (a rushing attack) like this. We’ve got to make them work for everything they get, but if we start missing assignments, they’re going to score in about two seconds.”
Road to recovery: Althoff scored on a 23-yard pass play on fourth-and-10 with 16 seconds to play last week to defeat Collinsville. Reinhart hopes his players can shake the disappointment.
“To say that we’ve had a great week of practice ... It was not up to my expectations,” Reinhart said. “That’s just all a part of the changing of the culture. That’s up to me to find a way to make it work. We’re still just trying to get ourselves better. If we can win some along the way, that would be absolutely wonderful. The bottom line is you’ve got to finish. We just let up.”