PREP FOOTBALL: Central High brothers play rough both on and off the field

Few things bother Jack Mussman more on a football field than allowing a sack. It's not just about the lost yardage and the lost down. It's also a family thing.

Grand Forks Central Knights logo
Grand Forks Central Knights logo

Few things bother Jack Mussman more on a football field than allowing a sack. It's not just about the lost yardage and the lost down. It's also a family thing.

Grand Forks Central High School's starting quarterback is junior Jake Mussman, Jack's older brother. And the sack won't be left on the field.

"I have allowed some sacks," Jack said. "And (Jake) doesn't let it go. He'll keep bringing it up, joking around about it, until it gets me mad."

Coaches don't expect perfection from Jack Mussman. After all, he's just a freshman -- albeit a big one at 6-feet-5 in height and 290 pounds -- battling upperclassmen on the line of scrimmage. As the Knights' right tackle, he's a rarity, a ninth-grader starting on the offensive line from Game 1 of the season.

Bill Landry has coached Central's offensive line for 36 seasons. To his memory, Landry said, Mussman is the first freshman in that span to open the season as a starter on the offensive line.


"Even sophomores (starting) doesn't happen very often because of the physicalness on the line and learning the technique," Landry said. "But Jack has earned his spot. He's more than held his own."

Seizing the moment

Knights head coach Bill Lorenz said the plan entering the season was to keep all the ninth-graders together on the freshman team.

But low participation numbers (Central started the season with 39 players on its roster) opened an opportunity. And Jack took advantage of it.

"At first you noticed Jack's size at practices," Lorenz said. "Then we put him in against older kids. He was aggressive and showed he could handle it. . . . Watching him in fall camp, we saw that he would make our varsity better."

The transition has been difficult at times. Although the freshman has good size, he's playing against equally big juniors and seniors who have been in the weight room for several years, and thus are physically stronger.

"And there's a learning curve," Lorenz said. "In making the jump from junior high to freshman ball there's a learning curve. To go from junior high to varsity, that's a big jump, both physically and mentally."

Lorenz said the freshman's background has helped in the transition. He's grown up around the game; his father, Chris, is head football coach at UND. "Jack understands the nuances of the game," Lorenz said.


Jack has played well enough that, after last week's loss to Dickinson, Landry awarded him the Knights' hog of the week award. That goes to the offensive lineman who grades the highest in the game on consistency, technique and assignment sharpness. "Jack's been a nice surprise," Lorenz said.

Jack, who played some varsity basketball as an eighth-grader, said it isn't about age now.

"I don't think of it as me being a freshman going against older guys," he said. "I'm just trying to help make our team better. . . . I like being on the varsity. It's more of a challenge."

The 0-2 Knights host Fargo Davies (0-2) at 7 p.m. today. Davies' losses have been to state-ranked teams Bismarck Century (46-7) and, last week, 34-27 in overtime to Minot.

In other Greater Grand Forks football games today:

Red River (1-1) at Mandan (0-2), 7 p.m.

Red River has struggled with turnovers -- three early in a 28-0 loss to Bismarck that led to three scores, then three first-half interceptions in a 35-6 win last week against Devils Lake.

Roughriders coach Vyrn Muir is hoping to turn the turnover tables on Mandan, which has 12 turnovers in its first two games.


"The important thing for us is keeping our turnovers down," Muir said. "We need to work on ball security and making better decisions throwing the ball. Part it is that we've had a hard time catching the ball. We've dropped some easy ones."

EGF Senior High (0-2) at Pequot Lakes (1-1), 7 p.m.

The Green Wave are coming off a 47-0 loss to Perham. Senior High is making some switches on the defensive line, switching Eli Deziel from end to noseguard and inserting John Gander at tackle.

"Eli isn't big, but he has experience and quickness," Wave coach Scott Oliver said. "Hopefully, John will be able to hold down the middle of the line, and those switches will hold down (opponents') inside running game."

Sacred Heart (0-2) at Goodridge-Grygla (2-0), 7 p.m.

Sacred Heart is taking on the defending Section 8 9-man champion Chargers. All-state running back Daniel Polansky graduated, but the beat goes on for a run-oriented offense.

Alan Prestebak now leads a more balanced G-G offense. He's had two straight 100-yard rushing games.

"They still run the same offense," Eagles coach Drew Mortenson said. "They don't do anything fancy. They come right at you, running a lot of sweeps and trying to out-physical you. That's their game."

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