Esky set for ‘Air’ Blue Devils
ESCANABA –After two straight emotional victories, Escanaba is set for a football air attack at Oconto, Wis.
The Eskymos go across state lines for a nonconference game against a pass-happy Blue Devils’ offense. Kickoff is 7 p.m. CST.
“They like to chuck the ball,” Esky coach Dave Howes said. “They have some big wide outs and they like to spread the ball around. They are 7-1 for a reason.”
Esky (6-1) has won five straight games, including impressive victories against Menominee and Gladstone the past two weeks. The Eskymos hope to win their last two games (Oconto, Kingsford) to gain home-field advantage in the state playoffs.
First up is Oconto, which features quarterback Jake Krueger and 6-foot-4 wide receiver Isaac Woller. Krueger has completed 83-of-148 passes for 18 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Woller has 36 receptions for 677 yards and 10 TDs.
Oconto, which averages 35.4 points per game, has defeated Rosholt 40-0, Roncalli 40-7, Algoma 28-0, Kewaunee 36-15, Peshtigo 35-14, Sturgeon Bay 24-10 and Coleman 47-0. The Blue Devils’ lone loss (34-33) came against Southern Door, which Menominee defeated 62-26 in Week 5.
Oconto, which operates out of the spread formation offense, also has generated 1,451 yards on the ground and 21 touchdowns. Key ball carriers are Parker James with 501 yards and seven TDs on 79 attempts and Bennett Frazer with 333 yards and three TDs on 50 attempts.
The Blue Devils’ key player on defense is Carson Moe with 95 tackles.
Oconto is considered a Class C school toward playoff points for the Eskymos. Howes said the Blue Devils have a solid nucleus that knows how to win.
“From what I am hearing, they are a very athletic bunch,” said Howes, who is the first coach to lead Escanaba to three straight state playoff berths. “They’ve been playing well for years and years together. They are athletic and big kids. They execute and do what they do. They have been in some lopsided games.”
Howes said his defense should be ready for Oconto’s spread formation because the Eskymos see it in their practices. Esky’s secondary is a strength of the team and the overall defense is playing very aggressive and fast at this point in the season.
“We will have to strap on our helmets,” Howes said. “We can’t overlook anybody at this stage of the game.
“They will throw more than what we’ve seen this year. It will put some pressure on our secondary. It’s all about execution and communication.”
Last season, Esky was in a similar situation heading to Merrill, Wis., with a 6-1 record. The Eskymos lost a 21-20 decision at Merrill.
“We don’t want to do that again,” Howes said. “It’s one game at a time. We have to execute on both sides of the ball.”
Esky’s balanced offense should put pressure on Oconto’s defense.
Junior quarterback Craig Kamin has been steady all season with 12 touchdowns and only one interception.
Ryan Robinette has caught a TD pass in each game, while Esky’s balanced ground attack features three impact runners — halfbacks Scout Wunder and Logan Carroll and bruising fullback Cody Vandermissen.