MANKATO — Both Mankato West and Mankato East got important football victories last week, though for different reasons.
West (3-1) defeated Rochester John Marshall 56-14, bouncing back from a last-play loss to Big Nine Conference-leading Owatonna the previous week. East (1-3) just needed a win to get out of the Big Nine basement and end a 14-game losing streak, defeating Albert Lea 12-6 after three lopsided losses to start the season.
“Whenever you lose a game like (Owatonna), you always want to get right back out there,” West coach Mark Esch said. “There’s two ways to go after a loss. You can come back strong or you can tank the next one. I was happy with the way the kids bounced back.”
The teams meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Blakeslee Stadium in the 41st annual Jug game. East leads the series 22-18, but West has won the last seven games by a combined score of 239-40. Last season, the Scarlets won 44-0.
“Trying to get that first win is not a productive way to think,” East coach Eric Davis said. “Now that we have one, we can just play the game. We made a ton of mistakes at the end of the game last week, but now we can work on making a play to win rather than worry about making the wrong play.”
West is led by junior quarterback Ryan Schlichte, who has completed 53 of 99 passes for 901 yards with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions, but the Scarlets will be without top receiver, senior Will Claussen who could miss up to a month with a shoulder injury. Claussen has 21 catches for 455 yards and six scores, with three consecutive 100-yard receiving games. Jon Pytlak will start for Claussen.
West has three running backs with at least 200 yards rushing, led by Cory Johnson with 242 yards and five touchdowns.