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Lone unbeaten: Jaguars after top seed in Class 9A

CORSICA--The Corsica-Stickney Jaguars know all too well the road to the DakotaDome isn't a smooth one--especially for an undefeated team. After falling short in the semifinals the past two seasons and losing 10 seniors from a team that fell one p...

Corsica-Stickney's Blake Moke, left, runs with the ball as Cordel Menning, right, looks to set a block during a prep football game against Avon on Aug. 18 in Corsica. (Eric Mayer / Republic)
Corsica-Stickney's Blake Moke, left, runs with the ball as Cordel Menning, right, looks to set a block during a prep football game against Avon on Aug. 18 in Corsica. (Eric Mayer / Republic)

CORSICA-The Corsica-Stickney Jaguars know all too well the road to the DakotaDome isn't a smooth one-especially for an undefeated team.

After falling short in the semifinals the past two seasons and losing 10 seniors from a team that fell one point short of reaching the Class 9B championship game last year, the Jaguars have reloaded. Corsica-Stickney enters the final week of the regular season at 7-0, the last undefeated team in Class 9A and the team with the most seed points (45.286).

"We work hard every day in practice and we've gotten a lot better since the first day of practice," Corsica-Stickney head coach Jason Broughton said. "Our kids are focused. They have a bunch of goals in mind and they're staying on task."

Broughton pointed to the offensive and defensive lines for Corsica-Stickney as the two units that have stepped up and improved the most throughout the season. Behind the offensive line of Jacob Joachim, Lane Koch, Josh Gerlach, Bailey Anthony and Brady Tolsma, the Jaguars have averaged 47 points per game.

"We've taken some big jumps. We weren't picking up blitzes, we weren't sustaining our blocks very good, all of that stuff has drastically improved," Broughton said.

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With the line paving the way, running backs Bryce Plamp, Caysen Eide, Gavin Zomer and Cordel Menning have found ways to the run the ball, both up the middle and on the outside.

"Our line has been blocking pretty good for us and with Cordel, Caysen and Gavin, our backfield has been doing good too," said Plamp, a 6-foot, 170-pound senior. "Defenses have a hard time with what we do because we keep them honest with the pass."

That's where quarterback Blake Moke comes in. The 6-foot-1 junior isn't asked to throw the ball a lot in Corsica-Stickney's offense, but when his number is called, he's delivered-tossing at least one touchdown pass in six of the Jaguars' seven games.

"He can throw the ball, we just haven't needed that a lot," Broughton said. "When we have needed to, he's done a very good job."

While the offense has been putting up the points, the Jaguar defense might be one of the most impressive units in the state this season. Corsica-Stickney has allowed an average of 6.8 points per game and the defense held Class 9B defending state champion Colome to just 116 yards of total offense in last week's 22-6 victory in Colome.

"We're playing really stout defense," Menning said. "Colome was by-far the hardest team we've played this year and that let us see where we sit with some of the other good teams in the state."

Broughton, Menning and Plamp all said the Jaguars goal is finish the regular season unbeaten with a win against Gayville-Volin on Friday in Gayville and lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Then the road to the DakotaDome in Class 9A, where Warner, Howard, Britton-Hecla, Clark/Willow Lake and Avon are sitting at 6-1, would go through Corsica.

"When you get into the playoffs, it's always tough. You have to overcome some adversity," said Broughton, who has coached the Jaguars for 17 years. "Just execute and not turn the ball over, that's important. You have to be able to run the ball and stop the run. We'll just take it one game at a time and see what happens."

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