Friday, September 14, 2012
sponsored by

Lincoln notes

Railers hope to stun highly touted Titans

By Justin Tierney

Send a link to a friend

[September 14, 2012]  The Central State Eight conference's reputation as one of the premier football conferences in the state was re-established once again this week, with four of the conference's nine teams earning spots in the Illinois Associated Press rankings, including Chatham-Glenwood, Lincoln's opponent in this week's contest.

The Railers travel to Chatham for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

The Titans enter the game ranked as the No. 3 team in Class 6A.

Lincoln is one of the smallest teams in the Class 5A division.

Each of the conference's state-ranked teams has a flavor of sorts.

There's the high-octane spread offense at Rochester (No. 2 in Class 4A) and Jacksonville (No. 7 in Class 5A).

There's the storied tradition at Springfield's private school powerhouse, Sacred Heart-Griffin (No. 4 in Class 6A).

And then there's Chatham, the league's juggernaut.

The Titans have the conference's second-largest enrollment at 1,326 students, trailing Springfield High, which has 1,450. Lincoln, by comparison, has the second-smallest enrollment in the conference with 841 students.

Not only is Chatham's enrollment over 50 percent larger than Lincoln's but, as Lincoln coach Andy McDonald pointed out, the school has a seemingly endless pipeline of athletes.

And, many of them play football.

Fifty-seven juniors and seniors are listed on Chatham's varsity roster. The entire football program at LCHS -- from freshmen to seniors -- numbers in the low 50s.

"They're very efficient in what they do on the field, for one thing," said McDonald when asked how Chatham was able to be consistently successful. "But since I've been back in the area, they've just always had a lot of good athletes. They have a lot of kids out for football. They've got 57 juniors and seniors on their roster. That obviously helps. They've been successful playing against teams of their own size.

"We were talking about the other day is that Chatham is very good in all of their sports. They've got a great emphasis on athletics in the community. They've got good athletes and kids that are dedicated to their sports. It's a very dedicated, well-rounded athletic program at the school."

Run, run, run

Another factor in Chatham's annual place at the top of the conference standings is their consistent success running the football.

Especially running one particular play: the counter trey.

[to top of second column]

The play is essentially a handoff to the running back that features a slight misdirection for the defense. When the play is successful, the opposing defense is tricked into shifting slightly in the wrong direction, while the Titan running back sprints to the outside of the offensive line in the other direction.

Over the years, the Titans have been known to run the play dozens of times in a single game.

While the Titans may lack the element surprise when running their counter-trey play, they make up for it with almost flawless execution.

The Railers' ability to limit the counter trey figures to be a pivotal element in Friday night's contest.

"We've practiced against it. Some of the seniors have practiced against it for four years, that counter-trey play," said McDonald. "There are a few other teams in our conference that run it, too, but Chatham does it the best, because they've been doing it. They run it extremely well. It's a very tough play to defend consistently. They've got big, strong linemen that are doing the job and then some big strong backs. Our guys have prepared on how to stop it; they know it's coming -- now we've just got to perform."

Countin' on Conner

The counter trey places tremendous pressure on the outside linebacker of the opposing defense, which means the Railers will be relying heavily on senior Conner Schmidt on Friday night.

Schmidt is a linebacker and running back for Lincoln. If the Railers hope to pull off the upset, Schmidt will have to be big on both sides of the ball.

"I'll have to be able to fill the holes. I can't let anything outside me," said Schmidt of his objectives on defense. "I have to run the alleys and stop them at the line of scrimmage."

Schmidt has at times been one of Lincoln's most valued players this season after literally growing into a starring role.

The mild-mannered senior gained 30 pounds of muscle in the offseason in preparation for his showcase role for the Railers this season.

He'll need all the muscle he's got on Friday night.


Justin Tierney's Railer football reports

< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching and Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law and Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health and Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor