Both Jefferson and Crestview had their share of misery with the weather in last weekend’s Northwest Conference grid clashes.
The Wildcats fell to fellow NWC front-runner Lima Central Catholic 42-19 over two days, while the Knights edged Allen East 23-15 over the same two days.
Both Jefferson (4-1, 3-1 NWC) head coach Bub Lindeman and Knights’ counterpart Jared Owens (3-2, 1-2 NWC) hope it won’t happen for the third time this season tonight as they mix it up in Convoy.
With an injury to Crestview quarterback Trevor Roop two weeks ago, Lindeman and his staff have had to prepare differently this week.
“I have heard six different scenarios with him so we have had to prepare that he will be available, as well as for someone else. He’s very quick and athletic and runs the option very well; he will hand it off to either the fullback (Jake Harmon) or keep it himself,” Lindeman began. “Now, if they go with (Preston) Zaleski under center, whom we have also seen, he’s pretty athletic, too, but not nearly as experienced. Still, either one gives them some speed to the corner and they have some skill players that can beat you to the edge.
“Defensively, they have shown a basic 3-3 stack. A lot of that is to face spread teams; I anticipate that against our double-tight formations, they will bring two guys up and make it a 5-3 stack. No matter what, they like to stay stacked.”
The Wildcats will trot out an offense averaging 37.8 points and nearly 400 yards (396.8; 266.4 rushing) per outing. Zavier Buzard (112 rushes, 884 yards, 13 scores; 4 grabs, 21 yards) leads the effort, along with Quinten Wessell (52 totes, 379 yards, 7), Austin Jettinghoff (34-of-64 passing, 644 yards, 6 TDs, 1 pick), Ross Thompson (18 catches, 345 yards, 3), Drew Kortokrax (9 for 192, 1; 12 punts, 45.2-yard average), Geoff Ketcham (12 pancake blocks) and Evan Stant (11).
The defense yields 21.4 markers and 303.4 yards (132.2 rushing) per game. Wessell (45 solos, 14 assists) leads the way from his tackle spot, along with Thompson (40 and 17, 4 for loss), Dalton Hicks (37 and 19; 7 sacks), Kortokrax (30 and 7), Nick Fitch (17 and 12), Colin McConnahea (18 and 10), Jordan McCann (24.5 and 3), Zach Kimmett (18.5 and 9), Zac Bland (13 and 13) and Chris Truesdale (4 picks; 9 for the team).
“Preparing for a 2-quarterback look takes more time; we have to be aware of the situation of who is actually in there. That’s the uncertainty of it all,” Lindeman continued. “Right now, though, we are more concerned with our overall health. These ‘double-weekends’ are taking a toll; you have to get ready Friday night and play a half, then come back the next day and do the same thing. We have the usual bumps and bruises but it seems like it’s taking until Wednesday before the guys get the soreness worked out.”
The Thunderbirds were everything Lindeman expected coming into last Friday night.
“You have to pick your poison with them. They want to run the ball, so we felt that to focus on stopping the run was our best hope and take our chances with the pass,” he added. “The problem is with their deep speed, if (Colin Stolly) can get the ball downfield to those guys in stride, you aren’t going to catch them.
“Offensively, I felt we moved the ball well enough against their 5-3 defense. Four times, we reached the red zone but had two turnovers, got stopped on the one and had one score. Those are things we have to address but overall, I was pleased with the effort and intensity we played at despite the circumstances.”
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.