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Trial by fire

Much of Mott-Regent's success on the football field can be attributed to senior running backs/linebackers Aaron Keller and Ethan Keller. Both pack a potent punch for the Wildfire (8-1), bringing nearly 1,600 rushing yards to the table and 22 comb...

Mott-Regent sophomore quarterback McCahen Schweitzer
Press Photo by Jason Adkins Mott-Regent sophomore quarterback McCahen Schweitzer, left, gets a pass attempt off as a North Star defender barrels toward him in a 9-man state second-round game last Saturday at the Mott Football Field.

Much of Mott-Regent's success on the football field can be attributed to senior running backs/linebackers Aaron Keller and Ethan Keller.

Both pack a potent punch for the Wildfire (8-1), bringing nearly 1,600 rushing yards to the table and 22 combined touchdowns .

Helping spark Mott-Regent's offense this year, though, has been a relative newcomer to varsity football -- sophomore quarterback McCahen Schweitzer.

"For a small kid, he has a good grip on the ball," Mott-Regent head coach Ron Benson said.

The 5-foot-8, 130-pound Schweitzer gets a chance to add to his postseason resume with a 9-man state quarterfinal game at Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn -- the top-seed from Region 5. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. Mountain time.

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The Schweitzer name is well-know among Wildfire fans, with McCahen's brother Brade Schweitzer leading the team to the 9-man state title in 2007.

Benson said he didn't rely on Schweitzer's genes alone when picking him as the starter this season.

"Coming up through the junior high and JV, you can see the type of leadership that was going to be there," Benson said.

With the younger Schweitzer's turn at the helm, Benson said he can see he's more than just someone who's trying to ride the coattails of an older sibling who was a good player.

"He's a student of the game," Benson said. "He watches it. That's all part of it."

Schweitzer got in some time at the varsity level during his freshman season, mainly in routs where the Wildfire just ran the ball to run out the clock.

"He had a chance to play in mop-up type of deals," Benson said. "But then, you're not throwing the ball in those situations."

He's completed 65 percent of his passes and thrown 18 touchdowns so far this season, with eight interceptions. While his passing yards per game average doesn't stand out -- 137.3 yards per game -- Schweitzer doesn't need to throw the ball much.

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When he does, good things happen, as what took place in a 30-24 win against North Star in a second-round playoff game last Saturday. Schweitzer engineered a Wildfire rally with the team down 24-8 at one point.

He completed two passes to score one touchdown after a Bearcats kickoff with less than 30 seconds to go in the first half that closed the gap to 24-14.

In the fourth quarter, he threw two short TD passes to complete the comeback win against the Bearcats. He finished the game with three touchdowns, completed 12 of 17 attempts for 116 yards and threw one interception.

"He was cool under fire, I thought," Benson said. "There were some mishandles at center, but he didn't get over frustrated. He was relaxed. He had one ugly play with a pick and he came back. He can forget about it."

Benson said Schweitzer likely will have to throw the ball more against the Sioux (7-2).

"They're going to try to take some things away from us inside," Benson said.

Against North Star, Benson said his game plan was probably too conservative against a team dedicated to stopping the run.

"Maybe we tried to run too much when it was kind of impossible at times," Benson said. "We know we're going to have to take a few more chances."

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Schweitzer has two athletic receivers who can fight for the ball if needed, with junior tight ends Chad Mosbrucker (6-3, 175) and Tanner Vesledahl (6-3, 230) catching most of his passes.

"They're pretty good-sized targets," Benson said.

In addition, Aaron Keller is cleared to play after suffering a concussion in the fourth quarter against the Bearcats. He might switch up positions on defense with Ethan Keller.

"We might put him at outside linebacker and put Ethan back inside," Benson said. "Ethan played inside linebacker last year."

Possibly more important than getting the passing game going, Benson said, is the Wildfire getting out to a strong start instead of playing from behind.

"I'd like to seem them play catchup," Benson said of the Sioux.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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