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Strength vs. strength: Unbeaten JCC meets up with powerful Waseca

JCC vs Luverne Section 3AAA 5
JCC head coach Tom Schuller (middle) talks to his team following a section tournament victory over Luverne. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

JACKSON -- A new team, and a new perspective for the Jackson County Central football team.

Last week in the Section 3AAA championship game against Fairmont, the Huskies were able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they ran consistently, never feeling they had to resort to the pass despite the fact that they possess one of the best throwers in southwest Minnesota in senior Rudy Voss.

JCC will try to run the ball effectively again today in the state quarterfinals. But realism gets in the way of that.

“We’re not going to be able to only throw the ball six times against Waseca,” said head coach Tom Schuller.

At high noon at Lakeville South High School, the 10-0 JCC Huskies will square up with the 8-2 Waseca Bluejays in the state Class AAA quarterfinals. It will be a matchup of two teams with powerful lines, highly talented skill players, and a legacy of success.

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Jackson County Central, coming off a convincing 36-12 win over Fairmont, will play an oncoming Bluejays squad coming off a 42-20 win over Stewartville in the Section 1 finals. The Jays lost a regular season game to Fairmont 20-14 on Sept. 13. But that, said Schuller, should be thrown out the window.

“They were still sorting through their 500 guys. They hadn’t made the final decisions yet on who they were going to play where,” Schuller explained on Friday, referring to the deep talent pool that Waseca possesses.

“It’s the most talented team we’ve seen by far,” he warned. “The most team speed we’ve ever had to play against. We’re going to have to play a flawless game to beat these guys, but that’s what it takes at this level.”

On paper, the Huskies have what it takes. They are senior-dominated with a savvy, accurate, shifty-footed quarterback, a stable of fine running backs blessed with both power and speed, several sure-handed receivers and a big and sturdy line. Defensively, the JCC line can control a game. But if they don’t, quick and strong linebackers can take care of whatever business needs to be done.

JCC has averaged 47.9 points per game this season and allowed just 7.4 points against. Waseca scores an average of 40.8 points a game while giving up 16.8.

“They line up in a spread,” said Schuller. “It’s a little bit of a wing-T. It’s probably a little bit deeper than most shotguns. And they’ve got a really good offensive line. You’re constantly having to deal with the perimeter, and the players there are really fast.”

When the Huskies are on offense, Schuller will especially be concerned with Waseca defensive end Marcus Hansen, who is something like a human highlight film. “It’s alarming on tape what he’s done to people. He’s incredibly gifted and physical. And he’s only a junior,” said the veteran JCC mentor.

Because Schuller doesn’t expect JCC to dominate Waseca up front like they did Fairmont, the Huskies will need to be creative.

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That means throwing the football more often. And trying to be as close to perfect as they can get.

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