Cole rushes passer

WEM senior Cole Kokoschke returns to action Friday vs. Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton. (Faribault Daily News file photo)

3-and-out with the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Bulldogs

Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (4-2 overall, 4-1 district) welcomes District Mid Southeast (Red) foe Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton (3-3 overall, 2-3 district) to town for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

The Buccaneers enter Friday’s game riding a three-game winning streak. They have outscored their opponents 89-6 in those games.

The Bulldogs have won two of their last three games. They are coming off a 26-6 defeat to Class A No. 7 United South Central.

When the Bucs have the ball

WEM’s ground-and-pound rushing attack has been their offensive theme all season. Friday will be no exception.

Senior Brant Melchert leads the Bucs with a team-high 608 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 105 carries. Jaden Taylor, also a senior, has missed a handful of games but has been effective when healthy rushing for 207 total yards on 18 attempts.

Third-year starting quarterback Grant McBroom will look to continue his strong start. The senior is 46-99 with 711 yards with an impressive 8:1 touchdown to interception ratio through six games.

The Bucs will get back tight end Cole Kokoschke. The 6’3”, 200-pound senior will pose as another receiving option for McBroom alongside seniors Dylan Androli and Nick LeMieux, who’ve contributed nicely in their final high school seasons.

“Defensively, they run a 3-4 with a cover two, said WEM head coach Mike Richards. “I’m sure they are going to send linebackers to rush the quarterback here and there.”

Richards says they’ll have to keep an eye on defensive tackle/linebacker Logan Miller. The senior has 18 tackles. Leading the Bulldogs defensively appears to be Dainen Johnson, who ranks first in tackles (41) and tackles for loss (5).

Regardless of who’s on the other side of the ball, the Bucs will stay run-heavy — something Richards says presents an advantage this time of year.

“Here in Minnesota, the playoffs are going to be played in cold weather and it’s going to be easier to run the ball. Also, with the possibility of snow, throwing the ball gets a little bit tougher so we believe our ground-and-pound offense will be advantageous to us in cold weather.”

The Bucs average 26.3 points per game. The Bulldogs surrender 17.5

When the Bulldogs have the ball

Running back Jagger Ignaszewski presents the biggest threat for WEM’s defense. The senior leads JWP’s rushing attack, totaling 817 yards and four touchdowns on 160 carries.

At quarterback, Kobe Weimert is 22-59 with 354 yards and six touchdowns.

Given Mike Richards’ connection to JWP, he has a good feel for what the Bulldogs offense will look like.

“I coach wrestling too, so I know the Janesville guys because we are combined for wrestling. Then the head coach over there, we coached together there for six years. They are quite similar to what we are when it comes to offensive plays. They do a little bit more of shifting, but their offense looks quite similar to ours.”

With WEM’s JV team playing Monday and its sixth-grade team in action Tuesday, the field is currently a bit sloppy. As a result, it’s fair to suggest that each team will want to keep their feet underneath them and get the running game going early.

The Bulldogs average 16.2 points per game. The Bucs surrender 16.7.

Key to the game

If the Bucs can contain JWP’s rushing attack led by Ignaszewski, they will position themselves nicely to improve to 5-1 in the district.

Coach says

“This is going to be an important game to set up going into the section playoffs. Winning this game puts in a spot to be at least the 3-seed going into the sections. Then next week, playing against USC, that kind of helps set up the possibility of moving into the 1-seed. So this is a big game for us to keep the train rolling.” — WEM head coach Mike Richards.

Reach Sports Reporter Dan Slaubaugh at 507-333-3119 or follow him on Twitter @fdn_dan. ©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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