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Unbeaten JCC rolling with the game, faces 5-1 PA on Friday

Huskies football coach Tom Schuller rotates linemen to keep players fresh

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JACKSON -- Jackson County Central High School football coach Tom Schuller has been around long enough to know that when the game begins to change, you’ve gotta change with it.

The veteran mentor of the unbeaten Huskies says he has learned that bigger, slower defensive linemen don’t always get the job done in the faster game that prep football has become. So he rotates linebackers into the trenches from time to time. It adds athleticism, he says, and it keeps everybody fresh.

It seems to be working. The Huskies own a 6-0 record today on the verge of a big test against the 5-1 Pipestone Area Arrows on Friday in Jackson.

“We’ve had a good year,” Schuller said Sunday afternoon, “especially coming out of the gate with Maple River, Luverne and Blue Earth Area. We’re playing a lot of young kids now, but the seniors are doing a real good job.”

JCC beat Maple River 30-27, Luverne 24-0 and BEA 34-26 to get the 2022 season started off right. Pipestone Area figures to be as big a test as any. Though the Arrows fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 27-20 loss to arch-rival Luverne last week, they have spent most of the season -- as has JCC -- state-ranked in Minnesota Class AA.

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The Huskies were 7-4 last year, losing to Pipestone Area 34-28 in the Section 3AA championship. PA, which finished 11-1, lost to Maple River 39-20 in the first round of the state tournament.

Three area high school games are scheduled for Thursday this week, as Worthington is at Waseca, Luverne is at Fairmont, and Murray County Central is at Minnesota Valley Lutheran. Other games Friday have Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial at Windom Area, GHEC at Edgerton, Adrian/Ellsworth at New Ulm Cathedral, Hills-Beaver Creek at Red Rock Central, Madelia at Mountain Lake Area, Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda at Westbrook-Walnut Grove, Sibley-Ocheyedan at Ridge View and North Iowa at Harris-Lake Park.

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Senior leadership for JCC comes in the form of Cameron Scholten, a three-year starter at offensive guard and defensive tackle; Matt Haley, a three-year starting center who also plays linebacker and defensive line; Caleb Vancura, another three-year starter who plays tight end, middle linebacker and d-line; Travis Rogotzke, a wide receiver and cornerback; and Gabe Wolff, a running back.

Wolff is something of an anomaly for the Huskies. He has strictly one job -- to run the football.

“We want to keep him fresh,” Schuller said.

Wolff, a speedster who has improved this season at reading his blocks, averages close to 180 yards rushing this year. In a recent game against Redwood Valley, he set a school record with a 96-yard touchdown carry en route to 217 yards rushing.

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Schuller, not surprisingly, said the Huskies are fortunate to have a burner like Wolff, who can score quickly. In high school, explained the longtime coach, it’s hard to sustain many 12- and 13-play drives without somebody making a crucial mistake, and runners capable of ripping off long gainers often shorten drives considerably.

Quarterbacking the team this year is freshman Roman Voss, a 6-4, 195-pounder and the younger brother of former JCC quarterbacking great Rudy Voss, who’s now a sophomore at South Dakota State.

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“I bet we’re probably the only team in Minnesota to have a freshman quarterback who’s a two-year starter,” declared Schuller.

The Huskies expected Voss would have some growing pains last year, but they also knew he’d win the job outright soon enough. Even as a freshman, Roman will take chances.

“Freshmen don’t know sometimes that a play is over,” chuckled Schuller. “He’s always trying to make something out of nothing.”

Maybe so. But that was Rudy’s mentality, too, and it worked more often than not.

Trojans face stiff test

On Thursday, the Worthington Trojans will try to make more of their season. They’re 0-6 and facing a powerful Waseca squad that is 5-1. Waseca’s only setback this year was 8-7 to Marshall, and the Bluejays are coming off a ridiculous 81-36 triumph over New Ulm. Worthington, which has been prone to giving up big plays to opposing teams, faces a Waseca outfit that rolled up 595 yards against the Eagles.

Another intriguing matchup this week is Hills-Beaver Creek at Red Rock Central. Both teams own 4-2 records.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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