TMP takes on unbeaten Phillipsburg
Published on -10/4/2012, 10:26 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
Two football teams. Three injured quarterbacks. One team's quarterback is returning, while the other team is likely without its starting and backup quarterback.
Unfortunately for Thomas More Prep-Marian, the Monarchs are the second team in that scenario.
TMP (1-4) lost senior quarterback Shane Zimmerman to an ankle injury near the end of the first half in last week's 50-0 loss to La Crosse. TMP coach John Montgomery listed Zimmerman as questionable for Friday's game at Phillipsburg (5-0), and the Monarchs also are without backup quarterback Max Megaffin, who broke his collarbone last week in practice.
TMP will start either junior Taylor Wasinger, who is converting from wide receiver, or freshman third-stringer Jared Vitztum at quarterback Friday.
"You could see either one of them," Montgomery said. "It kind of depends on how Taylor picks it up."
Either way, TMP will run a much more condensed offense with Wasinger or Vitztum at the helm.
"It's one of those deals where we have to make a few modifications here and there," Montgomery said. "If we throw them in and say, 'Hey, run the entire offense that we've been building on and growing throughout the season,' that's really tough for a guy."
Meanwhile, Phillipsburg will see the return of senior quarterback Sean Newlan -- a 6-foot-3, 200-pound Class 3A state hurdling champion.
Newlan suffered a high-ankle sprain in Week 2 against Oberlin-Decatur Community and has missed the past three games recovering from the sprain and an allergic reaction to the treatment afterward.
Phillipsburg coach J.B. Covington said he expects Newlan's role to be limited.
"We are going to use him, but I don't know how much we are going to use him," Covington said. "His ankle is still pretty sore. I doubt you'll see him keep the ball very much. ... We are hoping to get him out of the game early."
Through one and a half games, Newlan completed 6 of 7 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 194 yards on 19 carries.
However, Phillipsburg kept pace even without their star quarterback, winning their next three games by a 109-18 margin against Oakley, Smith Center and Hoisington.
Junior Riley Juenemann stepped up in Newlan's place and ran the offense. He's completed 9 of 14 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown and ran 32 times for 156 yards and a touchdown.
"We lost Sean early in the second quarter out at Oberlin," Covington said. "It was kind of a shock factor to go without him, but our JV guy, Riley Juenemann, really came in and ran our offense like we expected him to."
The defense has led the way for Phillipsburg, allowing an average of 6.4 points per game. The Panthers allowed 27.1 points per game last season.
Though the Panthers are 5-0 and have rolled even without their best quarterback, Phillipsburg still isn't getting any love from the statewide media poll.
However, Covington said he doesn't think his team is getting overlooked.
"We feel like we still have a lot to improve," Covington said. "We've played a tough schedule, but we've got a tough schedule coming up with Beloit. We still have to get a little bit better."
On the bright side for TMP, the Monarchs' all-league tight end/defensive end Anthony Walters should be back for Friday's contest. He hasn't played since injuring his shoulder Week 3 against Larned.
Montgomery said this week's game against Phillipsburg is all about getting better since it's the final test before district play.
"They do a nice job of staying focused at the task at hand and looking at each week to get better," Montgomery said. "... Phillipsburg is a stepping stone towards getting better."