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It’s what’s up front for the Wolverines

October 25, 2016

Wilber-Clatonia is one of the stingiest defenses in the state, and the Wolverines show no sign of letting up.

The Wolverines have registered six shutouts in nine games and have given up just six touchdowns.

“Yutan is the only team to score on our first-team defense,” said Wilber-Clatonia coach Lynn Jurgens. “We gave up only six touchdowns all year and two of them were special teams — Palmyra had a kickoff return and Yutan had a punt block they returned.”

And it’s what’s up front that sets the tone for the Wolverines, who have 22 sacks for 198 yards in losses. Riley Homolka, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound senior, leads the way with six. Defensive ends Jacob (6-3, 175) and Zack Keller (6-3, 240) have 4½ apiece, and Gavin Oliver (6-1, 285) has 2½.

“Our defensive line is pretty darned good. Riley is so quick off the ball that a lot of times, the guy over him doesn’t even touch him,” said Jurgens. “He has unbelievable footwork, he sheds blocks and he’s a very athletic kid for his size.”

His presence helps his line mates, Jurgens said.

“The thing that makes him unique is that you can’t double-team him, because if you do, Zack and Gavin are tough to block one-on-one.”

Top-ranked Wilber-Clatonia (9-0) will open the Class C-2 playoffs Friday at home against Stanton (6-3).

The offense is led by quarterback Tanner Sand, who has thrown for 515 yards and run for 438. Coltin Rezabek has run for 650, and Brice Broz gives the Wolverines a multi-faceted player. He has rushed for 308 yards, has 383 yards receiving, 320 yards in kick returns and 95 yards on interception returns. He has seven picks for the season.

“All the top teams in C-2 have tremendous lines. It’s hard to find a true standout quarterback or running back, although I think Tanner Sand has done a tremendous job,” said Jurgens. “There was a time we were close to the C-2 scoring record, which is something like 51 points a game. We could have gotten it, but that’s not what we do.

“We like to get a lot of kids in and build for the future. They practice every day and work their butts off. We have 45 kids out this year, and that’s low for us.”

The Wolverines are averaging 48.2 points a game, although Jurgens said he wouldn’t characterize it as a big-play offense.

“We don’t have that tremendous speed. Now, we’re more 5 to 6 yards and just keep going until something breaks,” he said. “We can’t beat ourselves with penalties. We really work on blocking with our feet and not our hands.

“If we face a third-and-long or medium, I think two plays, because we go for it on fourth down a lot. It’s been very successful.”

The Wolverines have punted just seven times and didn’t punt until the fourth game of the season.

Jurgens said Stanton runs the double-wing, relying on power football.

“It’s going to be a physical game. We can’t give up big plays,” he said. “And on defense, they’ll blitz like crazy. I like that, because you don’t have to go get them, they come to you.

“The one thing we have going for us on offense is that we’ve only put in half of our playbook. We have a lot of stuff teams haven’t seen. It’s nice to be able to do that.”