EFFINGHAM — After two straight victories, the Hearts will look to keep their modest winning streak going tonight in Mattoon.
The Hearts and the Green Wave are tied for second place in the Apollo Conference, with 2-1 conference records, making tonight’s game even more important.
In order to keep the winning streak going, coach Mike McDonald said his team needs to play well up front offensively.
“It starts up front with the protection,” he said. “Our O-line has to do a lot better up front.”
Then, McDonald said, it’ll be up to Nathan Vail, Caydin Vaughn and the rest of the offense to do their jobs and create a balanced offensive attack.
“If we get our running game going, our play-action game will be that much more effective,” he said. “We’ve got to fight to control the line of scrimmage.”
The two wins have boosted team morale, but McDonald said his team isn’t focused on keeping its playoff hopes alive. The Hearts are only focusing on picking up a win against Mattoon.
However, the team has gained some confidence after playing well recently.
“We’re feeling better about ourselves, but we’ve got a long way to go,” McDonald said. “I think we’re as confident as we need to be.”
Newton (2-4) at Olney (5-1)
After holding a 13-6 halftime lead against Robinson last week, the Eagles couldn’t move the ball in the second half, leading to a 34-13 defeat.
This week, Newton will have to rebound against Olney, the toughest team in the Little Illini-Egyptian Conference.
Newton coach Jason Fulton said his team needs to take care of the ball better if it wants to pull off an upset against the Tigers.
“We had some issues with turnovers last week,” he said. “We’ve got to limit turnovers.”
Fulton added that the Eagles need to improve their running game. Last week, quarterback Dylan Johnson led the team with 57 rushing yards and one touchdown. Allen Taylor was the second-leading rusher with 25 yards.