Area high school games to watch this week: Mack a hit on both sides of the line
Jared Mack has shown an ability to hit his own receivers. The Cavalier senior's preference, however, is to hit opponents. "I like playing defense more," the Cavalier quarterback-linebacker said. "I like to hit people. It's really exciting when yo...
Jared Mack has shown an ability to hit his own receivers. The Cavalier senior's preference, however, is to hit opponents.
"I like playing defense more," the Cavalier quarterback-linebacker said. "I like to hit people. It's really exciting when you put in a good hit on somebody.
"Even if you get hurt a little on a hit, it goes away because the adrenaline is going."
Mack figures to be one of the focal players when Cavalier plays host to Rugby on Friday in a high school football matchup of two of the top teams in North Dakota's Region 2A.
Mack has opened the season with some big numbers. He's averaging about 12 tackles per game on defense. On offense, the right-hander has completed 19-of-31 passes for 424 yards and seven touchdowns. He's on a pace that would give him a third consecutive 1,000-yard passing season.
"Jared isn't a kid who just keeps hitting one receiver," Cavalier coach Sandy Laxdal said. "We call plays from the sideline, but he audibles into different things. He recognizes what defenses are giving us and he spreads the ball around.
"He throws a nice deep ball. That's his best skill -- he throws an accurate ball with some zip on it."
Balance is a Cavalier strength. The Tornadoes' top receivers are big targets, 6-foot-5 Brandon Chrest (8 catches, 135 yards) and 6-3 Brady Robbins (5-168). In the backfield, Colby Smith has rushed for 304 yards, averaging 8.5 yards a carry, and Brennan Thorlakson has 182 rushing yards.
"I like that balance," Mack said. "We have good running backs and good receivers. It makes it easier for me because teams can't double team any one guy. When we get in the red zone, I can just throw it up in the air and let the receivers go get the ball. Usually, they have 5-10 guys covering them. That's an advantage for us."
And then there's the defense, where the 6-1, 205-pound Mack was a second-team all-state linebacker as a junior. "He loves collisions," Laxdal said. "He's always around the ball, making contact. He's the kind of player who, when he's in on plays, you hear the gasps from the crowd. He's made his mark as a big hitter."
Mack can contribute in other ways. In a playoff game last season, he hit the game-winning field goal in a 9-6 victory.
"He's a versatile kid,'' Laxdal said. "And he brings intangibles to all the sports he plays. He's an outstanding leader, a fierce competitor."
Rugby counters with a standout of its own in Eric Kuntz, a second-team all-state running back last season who has rushed for more than 200 yards in each of the Panthers' first two games. Rugby is 1-1, its lone loss by one point in its opener to perennial state power Harvey, while Cavalier is 3-0.
"Kuntz is probably the best running back in our region," Laxdal said. "They're a run-oriented team. We're a little more diverse, although we've relied more on our passing game so far because we've had success there."
In other area games to watch this week:
Lakota/Adams-Edmore at North Star, Friday: These two unbeatens bring different styles into the game. Lakota/Adams-Edmore, 3-0, has built its offense around all-state running back Tate Aronson. North Star, 3-0, has a big passing attack led by Jacob Hagler.
Red Lake County at Lake of the Woods, Friday: These teams have a lot in common. Both won their season openers. Both are expected to be in the hunt for a spot in the upper tier of Minnesota's Section 8A. And both feature offenses geared around strong running games.
Win-E-Mac at Red Lake County Central, Tuesday: It should be a hit-fest between two of the powers in Minnesota's West Subsection 8A. Both teams have a strong corps of veteran hitters, with Kynndyl Ross leading Win-E-Mac and Brianna Spong pacing Red Lake County Central.
Northern Freeze at Kittson County Central, Tuesday: Northern Freeze has an outstanding one-two punch at the net in Liza Hoglo and Tori Davidson. Kittson County Central counters its West Subsection 8A opponent with a reputation as a scrappy defensive team.
Grafton at North Border, Tuesday: A good offense runs through the setter, and two of the best in District 4 will match up. Hanna Thompson leads Grafton and Brenna Carpenter runs the North Border offense in a matchup of two of the top teams in the district.
DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to email@example.com .