Whitens, Jets jayvees help power victory
POWERS – The North Central Jets’ present and future looks bright after Friday night’s 28-12 Mid-Eastern Conference victory over Newberry.
The Indians do not have a junior varsity team so the Jets called up some of their top contributors on the jayvee and the three freshmen certainly contributed to the victory.
“Zach Estrada and Taylor Belanger played well inside, Tanner Poupore, Noah VanEnkevort and of course Bobby Kleiman and Jason Whitens had a couple of big plays too – Bobby with a two-point conversion and Jason had a couple touchdown receptions,” said Jets coach Kevin Bellefeuil. “The jayvee kids came up, and they played.”
Quarterback Rob Granquist threw touchdown strikes of 23, 27 and 16 yards, two of which went to the 6-foot-4 Whitens, Granquist’s cousin.
Whitens hauled one in at about the two yard line before walking into the end zone, and the second he hauled down near the back of the end zone.
“Jason is 6-foot-4 and he runs well,” said Bellefeuil. “He’s a good athlete and a big target. I don’t see him going back.”
It was quite the varsity debut for the heralded freshman Whitens, who is also expected to be a big contributor on the Jets’ basketball team this winter.
“It was great, especially coming from my cousin Rob. It’s amazing,” Whitens said. “Playing catch in our backyard every day, it pays off now.
“Me and Rob kind of have a connection, so it works out.” he added.
The Indians had their opportunities. Jets’ tailback Josh Granquist lost two fumbles during the game, one inside the Jets’ 10-yard line and Newberry capitalized. But in large part North Central’s defense stood tall. Senior 6-foot, 200 pound running back Chris Ducsay was held to 66 yards on 16 carries while fullback Steven Livermore rushed for 23 yards. Freshman quarterback John Paramski showed solid ability to throw on the run however, as he completed 6-of-20 passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
With misty rain sprinkling down early, Josh Granquist received the bulk of the work for North Central, and he delivered, rushing for 128 yards on 24 carries.
“Josh put it on the ground a couple times. I told him two is a good number for the year and he agreed with me,” said Bellefeuil. “I won’t quit giving him the ball though.”
As the light precipitation stopped, North Central (5-1) took to the air more. Rob Granquist completed 7-of-15 passes for 116 yards and three touchdowns, though a couple of drops contributed to his completion percentage.
“We did have some other opportunities,” said Bellefeuil. “We stalled a couple times in the red zone, but defensively we were really sound.”
Both teams started out slow. Near the end of the first quarter, both the Jets and the Indians (2-4) had just one first down apiece. But the Jets got a solid drive going toward the end of the first quarter, highlighted by a eye-popping spin move from Josh Granquist that gained 15 yards on the last play of the quarter. Two plays later, Rob Granquist hit Devin Wodrazka for 23-yard touchdown reception and the Jets were on the board. Five minutes later, the Jets drove right back down, finishing off 74-yard drive with a 27-yard strike from Granquist to Whitens and North Central led 16-0.
The passing game opened up in large part thanks to Josh Granquist’s effectiveness running the ball.
“I was afraid that was going to happen,” said Newberry coach Fred Bryant. “Just like last year, we were expecting a lot of pass and I said let’s not overthink it because they ran all over us last year in Newberry.
When you have a hard tim stopping guys inbetween the tackles, they have some play-action stuff they can get you on.”
Bryant was hoping the rain held out as it favored his run-heavy offense while hindering the Jets’ passing attack.
“I was hoping we’d get some more rain to give them a little trouble with snaps and stuff, cause we can go under center and not have too big of an issue,” he said. “But give those guys credit. That’s a good quality football team that prepared well and knew what we were ready for. We knew what they were going to do too, but we had a harder time stopping what they did.”
North Central travels to North Dickinson, Friday night.