By NICK SLOAN, NJSloan212@gmail.com
For the second straight week, a Kansas City, Kan., football team has a major task ahead of themselves.
The upstart Washington Wildcats travel to Mill Valley Friday night to take on the Jaguars of Mill Valley. Washington enters the game on a two-game losing streak, while Mill Valley has dominated its last six opponents during a six-game winning streak.
Some game notes entering the festivities:
1. Both teams' rushing attacks feature multiple running backs who can make nice plays.
For Washington, Javeon Williams has led the way with 552 yards on 79 carries this season. He's also scored seven touchdowns. Fullback Marvin Bowens has grinded out 307 yards on 46 carries, along with three touchdowns. Williams and Bowens will be key to any hopes of a Washington upset Friday. If there's one glimmer of light for Washington, it's that teams have had some luck rushing the ball against Mill Valley. Piper hung in against Mill Valley early on because of special teams and the rushing attack. However, it's still a very tough uphill battle for the Wildcats.
In the case of Mill Valley, senior running back Kendall Short is on a bit of a roll after an injury-filled first part of the season. In the past two weeks, Short's ran the ball for 209 yards on 29 carries. Included in his production are four touchdowns on the ground in the past two weeks. His 110-yard, three touchdown performance against Schlagle earned him NBC Action News' Player of the Week award. He's also a threat in the passing game, catching three balls for 50 yards and one score in the past two weeks. The Jaguars leading rusher is also its leading passer. Skyler Windmiller has 390 yards this season and has scored seven touchdowns. Nick Wilson and Logan Koch have combined for 400 rushing yards this season.
2. It's experience vs. youth at the quarterback position.
Windmiller is obviously the featured star of the Mill Valley offense. He's totaled nearly 1500 yards this season and passed for 20 touchdowns. He's only thrown six interceptions this season. Like Schlagle, Washington will have to be prepared for Windmiller and the offense to dominate the middle of the field. That's what killed Schlagle in the passing game early last week.
While the senior Windmiller looks to lead his team to another victory on senior night, Washington sophomore quarterback Kalem Harrison looks to continue writing his own chapter. Harrison's thrown for nine touchdowns this season and nearly 1,000 yards - easily the best season for a Wildcats quarterback in the past five years. Harrison's made some nice plays this season. He'll need to make a lot of plays and avoid mistakes to beat Mill Valley.
3. Both teams' return games have made plays this season.
I touched on this last week, but Mill Valley's special teams unit has been really good this season in the return game. Mill Valley's generated 770 total return yards this year on just 31 returns, a 24.8 average in terms of yards. Staton Rebeck has over 400 return yards for the Jaguars. Rebeck is also a threat in the offense and outside of Windmiller, no player on the Jaguars has scored more touchdowns than he has.
With Washington, Lloyd Stanfield is always a threat to take one all the way back. He had a return touchdown taken away from him on a bad block in the back call in the Wyandotte game. Stanfield is also a dangerous wide receiver and in order to pull the upset, Washington needs to shut down Mill Valley's special teams and to find an opportunity here or there to make a big play on special teams.