BAD AXE — When Cass City needed one of its leaders to step up, captain Josh Jensen answered the call.
The senior tailback rushed for 200 yards and scored all six of the Red Hawks’ touchdowns in a 43-14 Greater Thumb West victory over Bad Axe here Friday night.
Jensen scored on runs of 7, 8, 9, 20, 26 and 69 yards — three in each half — for the Red Hawks, who led 23-6 at the break and 37-6 after three quarters.
“Josh is a captain and that’s the kind of effort we need out of our captains,” said Cass City coach Ed Stoutenburg. “We had a very good week of practice. The kids are coming around and they are starting to understand their positions.”
The Red Hawks struggled in their season-opening loss to Sandusky. They played better last week in a hard-fought setback against Brown City, and finally put things together against the Hatchets.
“The intensity is picking up — and that was something we wanted to see,” Stoutenburg said. “Our kids have really decided that they want to play.”
Meanwhile, the Hatchets got on the scoreboard for the first time this season, but had a hard time stopping the Red Hawks’ ground game.
Quarterback Ben Braden threw a pair of touchdown passes to Seth Guigar for the Hatchets.
While Bad Axe first-year coach Mark Manenti saw some positive signs on offense, he feels his defense needs to get more aggressive.
“We are arm tackling and we’re falling to the ground — and that gives them four or five more yards each carry,” he said. “Fundamentally, we are not doing what we need to do. We are not reading our keys. It’s one guy making a mistake on a play. And it costs us a touchdown every time. It adds up.”
Jensen did his damage on just 17 carries, good for an 11.8 yards per carry average. Braedon Perzanowski added 76 yards on 10 rushes, including a 2-pointer. Nick Kappen chipped in 63 yards, helping the Red Hawks rack up 355 yards via the rush.
Cass City quarterback Ethan Nicol completed three passes for 32 yards, including a 2-pointer to Alex Zaleski.
For Bad Axe, Braden rushed 10 times for 87 yards while Spencer Kelly added 48 yards on 13 totes. The Hatchets rushed for 208 total yards.
Manenti know it’s going to take time to turn the program around. He also knows he can’t do it alone.
“These kids have a lot of heart and they want to win so badly,” Manenti said. “They have to get that mindset that they can win. That’s the problem right now. They don’t believe in themselves. They are a great group of kids. Sometimes, you just have to believe you can win.
“We walk on the field every Friday night and it’s like we already know what’s going to happen. I can’t change that. The kids have to change that.”
Defensively for Cass City, Jacob Perry had 11 tackles and a blocked punt while Jensen added nine stops and Morgan Erla eight. Zac Potrykus had a fumble recovery.
Defensively for Bad Axe, Brad Lautenschlager had a fumble recovery.
Bad Axe, now 0-3, remains at home next week when it hosts 0-3 Bay City All Saints.
The Red Hawks, now 1-2, host Unionville-Sebewaing Area.
“We play week to week and we don’t look ahead,” Stoutenburg said. “We’re 1-0 this week, and we hope to be 1-0 next week.”
Here are a few photos from the game...