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  • Val T.

Week 10 preview: Caston seeks to corral Marlatt, 1-loss Trojans

BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

Class 1A, Sectional 43 quarterfinal: West Central (8-1) at Caston (0-9), 7 p.m.

(winner plays Frontier-Taylor winner in semifinals)

Caston coach Chris Ulerick decided to insert freshman Gavin Mollenkopf at quarterback and move senior Landon Shafer from quarterback to tackle last week in a 55-0 loss against Knox.

Ulerick wanted Mollenkopf to get experience under center. Ideally, Caston would have a JV team that would allow Mollenkopf to gain experience, but Caston does not have enough players for a JV team.

“He hasn’t gotten a chance,” Ulerick said. “With the numbers that we have, we’re close, but we don’t have a JV schedule. So he has zero experience. Moving forward next year, he’s the heir apparent to the quarterback position. It was one of those things where we had to get him some reps at some point in time in the year. We had gotten him some reps, but we hadn’t really gotten him some ones-versus-ones type (of reps). We thought that was an opportunity to get him a start. Unfortunately, we played poorly as a group, but I don’t know that Gavin played poorly though.”

Ulerick also praised Shafer, who saw time at both right tackle and left tackle.

“Give Landon Shafer a ton of credit because the kid put on a lineman jersey and probably graded out the best of all of our offensive linemen for Friday night,” Ulerick said. “I don’t know that there was any miscommunication on his side. If we were going to get yards, it was to his side.”

This week’s matchup is a rematch of a season-opening 26-8 loss to West Central on Aug. 19. West Central went 8-1 this season and have clinched their first winning season since 2014.

The Trojans rely on quarterback Connor Marlatt, who leads the team in both rushing and passing yards. Still, four different running backs have over 200 yards rushing for the season, and West Central averages 6.2 yards per carry as a team.

Ayden White averages only three carries per game, but he averages 10.8 yards per carry.

“They’re an option team,” Ulerick said. “He makes the right reads, and if you miss him the first time, there’s usually not someone who can just gather him right back up, and between him and the number 2 kid (White), they are hard to bring down. They’re quick like cats, and you really can’t corral them, so you’ve got to make sure you get them down early because if you don’t get them down early, they’re running for a long time. Both of those players are electric quick, so we’ve got our work cut out.”

Caston and West Central have played every year since 1980, but this is the first time they have played each other in a sectional game.

If Caston wins, they would play Taylor at home or Frontier on the road in the sectional semifinals.


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