By ANDY WOLF
THE REVIEW TIMES
Moving forward to shake off a decisive loss is no easy task, but it’s a similar goal both St. Wendelin and Vanlue share.
In last Friday’s season opener, St. Wendelin suffered a 44-6 road loss to Hardin Northern, while Vanlue hosted Ridgemont in a 43-6 loss.
The Wildcats’ loss extended to 30 a losing streak dating back to 2011 — a 20-19 win over Ridgemont in the season opener.
St. Wendelin and Vanlue will put all of that aside when they clash at 7 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium, bound and determined to gather a win in Week 2.
“We’re both in the same boat, battling youth and depth,” Vanlue coach Chris Yeater said. “Whoever wants this game the most will come out on top.”
Offensively, both teams will lean heavily on the run game, though each prefers to do so in a largely different style.
The Mohawks are led by senior running back Donovan Scudder, who totaled 98 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries last week, in a wing-t offense complemented by multiple backs and multiple tight ends.
“Donovan is a great athlete and I like to get the ball in his hands,” St. Wendelin coach Jim Bodart said. “He’s a big, physical kid that moves well in space.”
A pair of injuries against Hardin Northern limited starting running backs Ryan Nicholson and Justin Walter to five carries and one carry, respectively.
Bodart called Walter probable for this week and Nicholson questionable.
The Wildcats (0-1) feature a spread rushing attack with Jason Summers, a senior, and Levi Kline, a junior, seeing a bulk of the carries.
Both teams also possess sophomore quarterbacks — Cyle Smith for St. Wendelin and Garrett Cornette for Vanlue — who made their first career varsity starts last week.
Cornette wasn’t asked to do much for the Wildcats, but Yeater was very pleased with his passing line of 4-for-5 for 42 yards.
“We kept it simple for (Cornette) and plan on a little more for him each game,” Yeater said. “Establishing the run will be huge to take the pressure off of him.”
Bodart is also very confident in a quick-learning Smith, who finished 4-of-13 with 26 yards and an interception, to make better reads and progressions as the season plays on.
On the flip side, the Mohawks are looking to tune up their defensive alignments after surrendering 324 rushing yards to Hardin Northern.
Wes Schlatter led the way from the Polar Bears with 21 carries, 192 yards and five touchdowns.
Last week, Kline and Summers combined to rush for 147 yards on 28 carries, with Kline scoring the lone Wildcats touchdown.
“(Vanlue) is a difficult team to game-plan against,” Bodart said. “They do a little bit of everything on offense and that’s a function of being a small team.”
Yeater’s 3-5 base defense is also looking to fix alignment issues and poor tackling that hampered them last week.
Smith will start at quarterback for the Mohawks behind the offensive line of sophomore Brody Whetsel at center, senior Rob Park and sophomore Devin Frankart at the guards and sophomores Andrew Schetter and Justin Meyers at the tackles. Scudder, Walter and Brayden Moon will be the running backs and sophomores Spencer Hipsher and Isaiah Cassidy will start at the tight ends.
Park and Frankart will start at the defensive ends, while Schetter and freshman Connor Lammers will start at the tackles. Scudder and Hipsher will start at the linebackers, while Moon will see more time at linebacker with Nicholson limited by injury. Freshman David Stosio and Walter will start at the cornerbacks and Cassidy and Smith will be the safeties.
For Vanlue, Cornette will make his second start at quarterback with Kline and Summers both at running back. Junior Daved Lamb, sophomore Andrew Biller and freshman Caleb Bonham will start at the receiver spots. Freshman Jacob Kloepfer will start at center, with seniors Brady Hanna and Logan Desgranges at the guards and junior Andrew Ross and sophomore Quin Creager at the tackles.
The defensive line will include Bonham and Desgranges at the tackles, with Hanna starting at nose guard. Biller and sophomore Jordan Fleming will start at the outside linebackers, with Summers, Kline and freshman Treg Price starting at the inside linebackers. Freshman J.J. Miller and Lamb wil be the cornerbacks, with Cornette at safety.
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