PREP FOOTBALL: Tigers set for Huskies’ run

MARSHALL – The winner of tonight’s Southwest Conference football game between Class 2A No. 10-ranked Jackson County Central and Marshall will be in control of the league.

The Huskies (4-1 overall, 3-0 SWC) and the Tigers (2-2 overall, 2-0 SWC) are the only undefeated teams left in the conference. JCC enters this game with a three-game winning streak, while Marshall has won its last two contests.

“We’re playing better and we’re gunning for this game because the winner takes control of the conference,” Tigers head coach Terry Bahlmann said.

After losing their first two games this season, the Tigers can still reach one of their goals, and that is to defend their three-time Southwest Conference title.

In order to reach that goal, Marshall has to stop Jackson County Central’s potent rushing attack, which averages 270 yards per game.

“We know that we have to stop the run,” Bahlmann said. “JCC runs out of multiple formations and they are physical up front with two linemen (senior Nolan Hohenstein and sophomore Gavin Mulder) on the left side. Plus, they return three starters on the line from last season.”

Keegan Moore, Luke Norland and Paden Moore are the ground-gainers Marshall needs to contain.

The Huskies top rusher is Keegan Moore, who has piled up 579 yards and eight touchdowns on 62 carries. Norland is JCC’s second-leading ground-gainer with 295 yards and three TDs on 66 carries. Paden Moore runs third for the Huskies with 161 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.

“Their left side is going to a physical side of the football and we need to neutralize that and then tackle,” Bahlmann said. “Their backs run hard and they throw a lot of different things at their opponents.”

Another factor is Huskies quarterback Shadrach Wacker, who has completed 23 of 51 passes for 347 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions.

But the Tigers counter with an offense that exploded for its highest point-total of the season (47) at Pipestone Area last week.

“Our kids made the plays when we needed them,” Bahlmann said. “(Sam) Marshall and (Andrew) Hmielewski took some big plays and turned them into touchdowns. We had some good speed there. It was just a matter of executing our offense all at once.”

The Tigers generated three touchdowns from Marshall (91-yard run, 30-yard interception and 75-yard pass from Brad Bahlmann) and two more scores from Hmielewski (78-yard and 17-yard passes from Brad Bahlmann). Brad Bahlmann ended up 11 of 15 in passing with 290 yards and no interceptions.

Still, Coach Bahlmann believes line play will go along way in determining the winner of this game.

“I think this game comes down to the team that controls the offensive and defensive lines,” Bahlmann said. “Whoever can establish a dominant effort on either side of the ball will be successful because it will allow that team to do what it wants to do.”