PREP FOOTBALL: JCC scores on 1st 5 possessions in 37-0 winWORTHINGTON — Joel Hartzler is feeling more confident behind center these days.
By: Michael Brauer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Joel Hartzler is feeling more confident behind center these days.
Jackson County Central’s quarterback threw for three touchdowns and dashed for a 75-yard touchdown run to open the second half as the Huskies rolled over Worthington 37-0 Friday night in a Southwest Conference football tilt.
“I feel a lot better than last year,” he said.
Not bad for an old receiver.
“Joel’s been doing great, he’s starting to settle in as a senior like you’d hope he would,” JCC head coach Tom Schuller said.
Schuller called on Hartzler to switch from catching to throwing last year after all-conference signal-caller Nathan Brandt injured his knee.
Hartzler directed the offense for the last game-and-a-half of the season, including a postseason loss to rival Windom.
But the senior will be the first to tell you that he wasn’t ready.
“Last year, I didn’t expect to be starting, but this year I’ve had time to prepare,” he said.
With Brandt gone this year, Schuller again handed Hartzler the keys to the offense, which Worthington found out has a quick ignition.
On the first play from scrimmage, JCC receiver Trevon Bargfrede outlept defensive back Justin Larson for a jump ball from Hartzler 40 yards down the left sideline.
Five plays later, Hartzler found Bargrede again on a fade route for an 8-yard touchdown to put the Huskies up, 7-0.
It wouldn’t be the last time that JCC would march down the field through the outmatchhed Trojan defense.
On their four first-half possessions, the Huskies churned up drives of 68, 51, 84 and 37 yards — all of which ended in touchdowns.
Running back Taylor Menke (14 carries, 78 yards) punched in a one-yard score, and in the second quarter Hartzler threw a pair of 10-yard scores to Nolan Luhmann and Bargfrede.
The quarterback then ended any notion of a second-half turnaround for the Trojans on the first play from scrimmage to open the third quarter.
Hartzler took the snap on a right veer option, cut upfield, burst through a seam, found another gear and ran practically untouched 75 yards to the end zone.
“You get emotional at halftime, then they come out the first play and go for a touchdown,” lamented Trojans head coach Dennis Hale. “Obviously, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
When it was all said and done, Hartzler had ran for 93 yards on only six carries and completed nine of his 11 tosses for 129 yards.
“I’m just trying to do the same things that Nate (Brandt) did last year,” Hartzler said. “Bargfrede was really great.”
Bargfrede, the Huskies’ top receiver, caught four passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns.
Twice, the senior receiver pulled down Hartzler’s throws by simply outjumping the smaller Trojan defensive backs.
“That was the best game he’s played for us in his career,” Schuller said of Bargfrede. “That first deep play we threw was anybody’s ball, and he went up and got it — he’s got an advantage, he’s probably 6-foot-3, so that really helps us out.”
“My throws weren’t even that great, and he still caught them,” Hartzler said, praising his receiver. “He was awesome, he did everything.”
Everything including running and punting.
As part of Schuller’s veer option attack, Bargfrede carried the ball from his wideout position three times for 20 yards.
“That was fun, we put some new plays in during practice and it worked pretty well,” Bargfrede said.
Bargfrede also took care of punting duties when he was called upon — which wasn’t much.
JCC racked up 392 total yards, 263 of them on the ground.
When WHS was finally able to stop the Huskies and force a punt, the Trojans’ offense went three-and-out.
On the punt attempt, the wild snap went way above punter Lucas Henning’s head and rolled out the back of the end zone for a safety. It was JCC’s final points of the night.
Worthington (0-2, 0-1) has now allowed 70 unanswered points, stretching back to the second quarter of last week’s game against Fairmont.
“(JCC) dominated the line and it was no contest,” Hale said. “They scored at will, they threw the ball well; they ran the ball down our throat.”
WHS was breaking in new senior quarterback Travis Meinders, who didn’t play in last week’s season opener because of a pulled hamstring.
The Trojans had trouble moving the ball, only managing identical 83 yard totals rushing and passing.
Meinders went 6-for-13 through the air with a costly interception on the Trojans’ deepest drive of the night.
Helped by a 15-yard face mask penalty, WHS drove down to the Huskies’ 20-yard line.
But defensive back Steven Salzwedel intercepted Meinders on a throw to the end zone for a touchback.
The sophomore Henning also took snaps for WHS as Hale tried to find something that could work against the Huskies’ physical defense.
Henning completed four of his nine throws for 32 yards.
Trojans’ running back Mitchell Jensen had nine carries for 48 yards and three catches for 37 more.
The Trojans will try and turn things around Friday when they travel to Pipestone Area to take on the Arrows.
JCC faces a tough test next week against reigning Southwest Conference champion Luverne, who is off to another 2-0 start this year.
The Cardinals beat the Huskies 27-11 last season, but this time the game will be in Jackson.
JCC 14 14 9 0 — 37
WHS 0 0 0 0 — 0