Zach Miller remembers two things about Oct. 5, 2012: what it felt like to play football on a bitterly cold Friday night and what it felt like to lose to Mattoon.
He doesn't want to have to deal with either of those emotions again this year; instead, he said he wants nothing more than to beat the Green Wave to take sole possession of first place in the Apollo Conference on Friday.
“It motivates me a lot,” Miller said. “Last year, we played a tough game and it was so cold outside – not good weather. I think it's probably been a while since we beat them.”
Mattoon and Effingham enter Friday's game with undefeated, 3-0, Apollo Conference records, but the Green Wave have the best overall record, 4-2, and a quarterback who has picked apart defenses all season.
Jared Pilson has thrown for 1,606 yards this season, 19 touchdowns and five interceptions, including a six-touchdown performance against Salem last week.
While completing almost 61 percent of his passes this season, Pilson also leads Mattoon in rushing. He has four rushing touchdowns this season.
“We have to contain Pilson,” Effingham head coach Mike McDonald said. “We can't let him run all over the place and we can't let him throw over the top.”
In Mattoon's 56-35 win over Salem, Pilson threw four first-quarter touchdowns and all of them were for more than 35 yards, including a 73-yard pass to Jacob Harris.
McDonald said the Flaming Hearts will have to stop Pilson from completing quick strikes down the field, which is something he said Mattoon likes to do after turnovers especially.
Effingham's defense will have the responsibility of controlling Pilson, specifically the secondary that includes Marcus Robinson.
“I know he's a good quarterback and he like to throw deep,” Robinson said. “Our secondary has to get back in our drops and watch (Pilson). That's all we've been doing in practice.”