NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN
FILE — Taylorville linebacker, Cash Foraker, received the “Huzzah Chain” after forcing a fumble during their week one victory. The junior set the THS all time single-season tackle record in a season with 139. Topping 2016 graduate, Travis Winans (134), which was previously set in 2015.
Lucas Domonousky Breeze-Courier Sports Editor
TAYLORVILLE — Since the 2019 season, the Taylorville Tornadoes have experienced a drought in the postseason department. The announcement was made last Saturday, Oct. 21 that they have secured a spot in the first round of the IHSA Football Playoffs. They will face off against the Murphysboro Red Devils (8-1) at 3:00 p.m on Saturday, Oct. 28. We sat down with Taylorville Head Coach Jeb Odam to explain the preparation, leadership and his raw thoughts on the 2023 season.
WHAT HAS THE PREPARATION PHASE LOOKED LIKE?
“A lot of team.We asked the underclass kiddos if they wanted to stick around and be apart of it. A majority of them did. Getting those guys incorporated in team, to reps with individual drills has been nice to have some fresh energy at practice. Tonight (Thursday) we will go over all of our Special teams and even more teams. So getting that extra day of practice is nice. it helps us button down some fundamentals. It also helps us to be more creative and exotic on offense and defense.”
WHAT IS DIFFERENT WITH THIS TEAM COMPARED TO LAST SEASON?
“More so than anything is the off-the-field camaraderie these guys have. A lot of really close relationships, not only within the class, but within several classes stacked on top of each other. Those guys spend a lot of time hanging out with each other off the field and, I think, some of that really carries over on the field as well. That has been really fun to watch. Seeing the friendships my son (QB1 Baron Odam) has and how they can really incorporate some of those young guys as well.”
HOW MUCH DEPTH DOES THIS TAYLORVILLE TEAM HAVE?
“I’m a little biased because I’ve been coaching those juniors since they were in Kindergarten. We had thirteen Kindergarten kids when we started and a lot of those kids are still playing for the program. We’ve tried to get them as much playing time as they possibly can so the game is slower for them. To add in the seniors, with some of their quirky personalities and the way they play the game, it has been really fun to see that mixture in the locker room. It’s been really fun to work, as coaches, to get guys in certain spots and really get guys in the right positions, the right opportunities to be successful. A guy like (junior) Waylon Wolfe, for example, very twitchy, makes really great reads. Might not be able to catch the ball very well but where we put him on defense is perfect for him. A guy like (junior) Cash Foraker who is really intelligent and really patient. Nothing really phases him. We’ve got him in a perfect spot. (junior) Baron (Odam) at quarterback. He’s been playing that his whole life. Just trying to get him to slow down and make good, positive decisions on a regular basis. All those things blend together and a little bit more so this year.”
DISCUSS THE RECORD SETTING YEAR CASH FORAKER HAS HAD.
*Junior Cash Foraker set the all time tackle record for a single season against Bethalto on Friday, Oct. 20. The previous record was set by Travis Winans in 2015 with 134.*
“That’s outstanding. To put him on top of the list of guys like Kyle Woods, Parker Stokes, Evan Champley, Andy Greggory and Travis Winans, those guys are just maniacs at that position. Again, an individual that we’ve put in the right spot at the right time and he very rarely misses. He does a great job of being the backbone of the defense. Although, Jake McConnel quarterbacks the defense, it all starts and ends with Cash Foraker and his ability to go sideline to sideline. When he gets there, he usually gets there with pretty bad intentions so that has been fun to watch.”
WHAT’S THE SCOUTING ON MURPHYSBORO?
“Super aggressive on both sides of the ball. They’ve got lots of kids in the program for being a smaller community. They have a lot of pride and a lot of energy. When you watch their game film there are tons of fans there so it’s a very unique atmosphere we are going to walk into. And because they have lots kids they can get really creative. They’ve got one or two guys that play both ways. So that means, at practice, you’ve got your set of guys that just play offense, you’ve got your set of guys who just play defense and that allows the defense to get really creative and really aggressive and really good fundamentally. That allows your offense to get really creative and do things that are a little unorthodox that you have to prepare for on a weekly basis. They’re eight and one (8-1). They’ve been to a State Championship in the last four years. So they have some really positive energy going on down there.”
HOW DO YOU THINK THEY ARE SCOUTING THE TORNADOES?
“I’d like to think, what Coach (Lee) Mateer does on defense is something they haven’t seen before. The way he layers his defensive players from different angles and different spots. Some of the exotic things he does, I think that gives them a cause to make them look at their offense and see what they can do well. As far as their defense versus our offense, we’re changing tempos more than what we have in recent weeks. We know we’re more of a run oriented team right now and we’ve got to make sure we come downhill and give them some exotic looks to change their eyeballs and still come at them.”
ANYTHING MORE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD ABOUT THIS GAME, SEASON OR EVEN FUTURE PLANS FOR NEXT SEASON?
“I could pull up our master schedule for two years out but a lot of times you have to go day by day. When you get into the season, you may get injuries and eligibility issues which is something we haven’t really had this year. It has been really nice. We’ve been really blessed with injuries. The macro portion of it, when do we want to start over for next year? How much time do we give the kids off? When is the Lift-a-Thon? When are we starting in the summer time? All those things kind of blend together and the kids and parents do a really nice job of being patient with us as we make those plans. This year has been really special with a great blend of young men that have sacrificed in the offseason, with a group of parents that are willing to be patient with us on a lot of different fronts. It’s been a fun ride and I hope it doesn’t end on Saturday.”