PREP FOOTBALL: Sounds like a broken recordJACKSON — You want offense? Jackson County Central has offense. The Huskies have so much offense in 2012 that school football records have fallen … or are still in jeopardy of falling. The assault on the record book continues at 7 p.m. today, when the Huskies — the Section 3AA champions — meet Mayer Lutheran in an MSHSL Class AA State Tournament quarterfinal game at Chaska High School.
JACKSON — You want offense? Jackson County Central has offense.
The Huskies have so much offense in 2012 that school football records have fallen … or are still in jeopardy of falling.
The assault on the record book continues at 7 p.m. today, when the Huskies — the Section 3AA champions — meet Mayer Lutheran in an MSHSL Class AA State Tournament quarterfinal game at Chaska High School.
This season, Jackson County Central has outscored opponents 433-200. The Huskies are averaging 39.4 points per game. JCC’s highest-scoring team is the 2010 edition, which averaged 33.2 points per game.
There have been four primary playmakers who are all seniors for Jackson County Central in 2012.
Quarterback Tanner Menke shattered career records with 222 completions, 39 touchdown passes and 3,690 yards earlier this season. As a senior, he has completed 97 of 185 passes for 1,909 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
He has a lofty goal.
“It has been a dream of mine to play for a football state championship,” Menke said. “The key to our season has been that we have acted like a family, being close to one another and helping each other along the way.”
Menke said he and his teammates have played together for so long that they know what each other is thinking on the field.
“We have all been together since third grade,” Menke said. “It’s crazy because we pretty much know what another one of us is going to do.”
Menke’s 97 completions are the third-most for a season, while his 1,909 yards ranks second and his 18 TDs are tied for second.
“He’s a three-year starter and we expect him to know what he’s doing,” JCC coach Tom Schuller said of Menke. “Tanner has a special arm. It’s, by far, the biggest arm we have ever had.”
At a passing camp last summer in Texas, Menke was recorded to have thrown a ball 65 yards.
“The game has slowed down so much for me this season that it’s easier to figure out what I want to do,” Menke said. “In the pre-snap reads, I can see what the defense is trying to do, what they are going to give us or where I need to go with the ball.”
Running back Darick Vancura is close to history. His 18 rushing touchdowns as a senior are the second-most in a single season. He has gained 1,344 yards on 183 carries in 2012.
“We have a lot of guys with varsity experience.” Schuller said. “Darick has been a two-year starter and also some at the varsity level as a sophomore. He was a state champion in wrestling. I think, with many of our kids playing other sports, it’s something that has helped us.”
Vancura — the MSHSL Class A state titlist at 160 pounds — has the fifth-most yards (1,631) for JCC all-time. His 23 touchdowns on the ground rank third.
Wide receiver Kyle Luhmann is the third-leading pass-catcher in Huskies’ history. He has 55 receptions for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns.
In 2012, Luhmann has collected 40 passes for 805 yards (ranks fourth in a season) and six touchdowns (is tied for fifth in a season).
“Kyle and Darick bring hard work and great attitudes to our team. They make sure no one is getting down on themselves,” tight end Zach Copley said. “Kyle is the jokester on the team. He picks up everyone and tells them to keep going. It’s always good to have a lighthearted kind of guy.”
Copley, a starter at the varsity level for five seasons dating back to eighth grade, will serve as the Huskies’ inspirational leader for the rest of the season.
During Jackson County Central’s 35-28 Section 3AA title victory against Luverne last Friday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Copley suffered a broken leg that will sideline him for the rest of the season.
“I’ll be there supporting this team the rest of the way,” Copley said. “I’ll pick them up when their heads are down and congratulate them when they make a great play. They need to keep going because we have always wanted a state title.”
Trust has been solid among the Huskies.
“We have come together by being able to trust each other all of the time,” Copley said. “It wasn’t as much fun last season with our chemistry. This year, we’re a family.”
Copley, 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, finished his prep gridiron career with 19 touchdown catches (tied for first all-time), 102 receptions (ranks second all-time) and 1,975 yards (ranks second all-time).
“When I first saw Zach, I knew he didn’t belong on an eighth-grade football field. He was too big for those kids and needed to be brought up,” Schuller said. “At first, we had Zach with the freshman team and, then, after we had played some of the bigger schools, we inserted Zach into the varsity lineup during the second half of the season.”
Schuller knows none of the Huskies’ success would be happening without the play of JCC’s offensive line.
“With a high-powered offense, if you don’t get blocking, it doesn’t matter how many skills your playmakers have,” Schuller said. “Our offensive linemen, including our tight end (Copley) have been a huge key to our season.
“Zach really handled it really well,” Schuller added. “He had to adjust not only physically, but also mentally. And when you’re not play side-by-side among your peers for a few years, that can be a tough adjustment.”
The Huskies’ offensive line — consisting of junior left tackle Matt Schmit, junior left guard Nolan Hohenstein, junior center Chris Baker, senior right John Marker, junior right guard Ryan Brighton and junior right tackle Mark Thaemlitz — averages 6-feet and 213 pounds per player.
“They are the guys who pave the way for us by opening up running and passing lanes,” Schuller said.
More often than not, those lanes have been a direct path to the end zone.
DG Sports Editor Jeff Arenz
may be reached at 376-7328.