MANKATO — As players went down with injury last week, Mankato West football coach Mark Esch was concerned that even if his team advanced, he might be running out of bodies.
But this week, most everybody has returned and is ready to take on No. 1-seeded Chaska at 7 p.m. today in the Section 2AAAAA championship game.
“I was a little worried on Saturday,” Esch said. “But I think we’ve had a great week of practice.”
Junior safety Nate Nelson will miss tonight’s game with a concussion and could return if the Scarlets advance to the state playoffs. Junior Ryan Schlichte, who also plays quarterback, will take his spot.
“We’re going to have to monitor him to see if and when we need to get him off the field for a break,” Esch said. “He’s pretty good back there.”
The Scarlets are already missing junior receiver Josh Athey, who suffered a broken collarbone in the the regular-season finale. Junior receiver Steven Nessler has been out all season with a stress fracture in his pelvis, but he might be available if the Scarlets keep playing.
Junior receiver Connor Watts left last week’s game with a shoulder injury but has been cleared to play. Senior receiver Will Claussen has been playing with a bad shoulder since Week 3. Senior lineman Josh Wold has also been playing with a sore knee, and he missed some snaps last week.
Esch said that Chaska senior Kolby Seiffert is a 1,000-yard rusher, and senior quarterback Justin Arnold is a dual threat to run and pass.
“They have a pretty explosive offense that will test our defense again,” Esch said. “And they’re fast on defense wo we’ll see how that plays out.”
Esch said that his main concerns tonight are turnovers and penalties.