PREP FOOTBALL: Huskies advance to Section 3AA final with 42-0 victory
JACKSON -- The Jackson County Central football team wants to prove that it's the best team in the region. It has already made believers out of the Windom Eagles. The Huskies shut out the rival Eagles on Saturday for the second time this season, t...
JACKSON -- The Jackson County Central football team wants to prove that it's the best team in the region.
It has already made believers out of the Windom Eagles.
The Huskies shut out the rival Eagles on Saturday for the second time this season, this time a 42-0 win in the second round of the Section 3AA playoffs to end Windom's season.
"There's no excuses: they beat us, and they're a very good team," Windom head coach Travis Bretzman said after the loss.
"I watched some film on the number one team in the state, and I don't think they have anything different than JCC. I told the kids, 'This competition's what we want.' I think they're one of the best teams in the state, and I'd rather get knocked out of the playoffs by a very good team than by a team we should have beat."
The Huskies now have to prove that they can beat the Luverne Cardinals, whom they'll face in the section championship on Friday. The Cardinals handed them a last minute loss in the section championship last year, and also beat them 10-9 earlier this season for the Huskies' only loss of the year.
JCC head coach Tom Schuller said that his team is looking forward to the opportunity.
"Both the teams, us and (Luverne), had far reaching goals of winning the whole thing," Schuller said. "After last year's disappointment we've taken this long journey and we're there again. All we can ask for is an opportunity, and we've earned that this year, and so has Luverne."
If the Huskies play like they did on Saturday, they will be well on their way to making amends for last year's loss.
JCC set the tone early with three touchdowns in the first quarter.
Windom started the game with the ball, but was forced to punt. The punt was returned by Colton Ward (10 carries for 83 yards) to the Eagles' 13-yard line, and two plays later QB Tanner Menke connected with Zach Copley for the game's first score.
The Huskies then capitalized on a pair of big defensive plays. The Eagles botched a snap attempting to punt, and punter Travis Mattson was tackled at the Windom 17-yard line. Ward ran in for the Huskies' second touchdown three plays later.
On the very first play of Windom's next drive, JCC's Tyler Schoer made a sack, forcing a fumble, which he then recovered.
The drive ended with Windom's Drake Borsgard intercepting a pass in the end zone, but the Huskies forced a punt and scored two plays later on consecutive rushes by Carsen Nyborg (20 carries for 161 yards, two receptions for 29 yards).
Nyborg was the catalyst during most of the Huskies' drives, more than filling the gap left in the offense with standout Cooper Moore sitting out injured.
Schuller praised Nyborg and Ward for picking up the running game, which totaled 376 yards during the game, and Darick Vancura for filling in for Moore on defense.
"The key thing is that our offensive line and defensive line picked up the slack too," Schuller added. "I thought we won the battle on the line of scrimmage. It makes it a little easier to carry the ball and play linebacker when your guys in front of you are dominating."
"We did really good on the running game, and Jordan Phibbs dominated as well," Nyborg added. "It was tough without Cooper, one of our main running backs, but everyone was doing well getting their assignments down, blocking right."
Ward ran for a 40-yard score in the second quarter, ending the scoring for the half. The final two touchdowns were scored in the fourth quarter.
Tanner Asa, who filled in after starter Menke left in the second quarter with an injured leg, scored on a quarterback keeper on the first play of the quarter, and Brett Larson scored on a 55-yard breakaway with just over three minutes left.
The Eagles were led in rushing by Jared Peterson (eight carries for 36 yards), and QBs Spenser Kipfer and Adam Eisenmenger combined for 102 passing yards. Jake Holt had a 38-yard reception and Lee Holt had a reception for 51 yards.
Borsgard and Joel Riordan each had an interception.
Neil Litfin left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury and left in an ambulance after the game.
The Huskie defense recorded four sacks (one each by Schoer and Mark Thaemlitz, and two by Copley), and Nyborg had an interception.
The Huskies also benefitted from exceptional kicking. Boog Steiner was a perfect 6-for-6 on extra-point conversions, and Marcelo Rinaldi had six touchbacks on seven kickoffs, twice kicking the ball through the uprights on a kickoff.
Both teams were hit hard by penalties, with the Huskies incurring 13 and the Eagles 12.
"Every time we play them it's an emotional thing," Schuller said. "We want to beat them every time and they want to beat us every time. Today was pretty emotional early. There were too many penalties on both sides. Some of that can be attributed to kids being fired up on both sides and getting a little carried away once in a while."
The loss marked the end of the first season for the Eagles under Bretzman. They started 4-0 before finishing the regular season 0-4, then beat Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial in the first round of the playoffs.
"We had a lot of fun," Bretzman said. "That's one thing coming in, you just want to have fun and see where we can go. We're just trying to make them football smarter, and we're working on that.
"A lot of kids came out for football that hadn't before, and it sounds like we're getting more kids coming out next year. If you're having fun then kids are going to want to do that, so hopefully the future's bright."
JCC on the other hand is hoping for a bright present. The result of Friday's game against Luverne, which will be played in Marshall, will determine whether or not the Huskies reach their goal of winning the section and entering the state tournament.
"We need another good week of practice, that's all we can ask for," Schuller said. "We're elated to have another week with the kids, it's a fun group to work with. There's pressure now because a bad performance and you have to turn your gear in, and we don't want to do that. We're having a good time."
Windom 0 0 0 0 -- 0
JCC 21 7 0 14 -- 42