MHS' offense should shine

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Dion Huff and Middleton's offense has a nifty blend of size and speed./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Speed kills.

It doesn’t hurt to have some size, too.

Middleton’s offense seems to have both this fall, which could make the Cardinals extremely dangerous on that side of the ball.

Middleton has a bevy of skill players that run extremely well. Combine that with an offensive line that will average 6-foot-1 and 258 pounds per man and the Cardinals could have an offense that gives their foes fits.

“We’re going to have a lot of team speed,” said Middleton coach Tim Simon, whose team opens the season at Madison Memorial Friday. “Then we should have some pretty good size up front, too. We’re hoping that’s a nice combination.”

After waiting his turn the last two seasons, senior C.J. Fermanich will take over at quarterback. Fermanich is a sensational athlete who was a first-team all-Big Eight Conference return man and an honorable-mention all-conference selection at cornerback in 2015.

Middleton prefers not to use its players on both offense and defense. So the coaching staff had long and hard debates about where to use Fermanich this fall.

Finally, the Cardinals’ brain trust decided to play Fermanich at quarterback, where the dual threat athlete could be deadly. Fermanich’s arm strength and accuracy are both solid, but his greatest strength might be his feet.

“He throws well on the run and is really good with a lot of the play action stuff,” Middleton offensive coordinator Jason Pertzborn said. “But if he chooses to pull it down and run, look out. He could score anytime.”

Fermanich has put on about 10 pounds of muscle since last season and now weighs 175. He also ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.59 seconds at the WFCA Combine in May.

“I’d play wherever they want me to, whatever’s best for the team,” said Fermanich, who’s also played varsity basketball since he was a freshman. “I just know we have a lot of talent here and I can’t wait to get going.”

Fermanich should enjoy working behind an offensive line that could be one of the better units in the state.

Senior right guard Kayden Lyles, who transferred to Middleton from Arizona this summer, leads the group. Lyles (6-3, 320) is a University of Wisconsin recruit and rated the top senior in the state by

“Kayden’s already shown he’s a great leader,” Pertzborn said. “He really wants it. He’s all-in.”

A year ago, Middleton’s offensive line was a group of undersized, overachievers. This year, size won’t be an issue.

Junior left tackle Jarrett Horst (6-4, 270) and senior right tackle Seth Craker (6-4, 243) have ideal size, while senior left guard Daydrian Spears (5-10, 232) and senior center Justin Sarbacker (5-9, 228) are blood and guts players that any coach would take to battle.

“Last year, we were a little bit undersized, but we got the most out of what we had,” Pertzborn said of his offense line. “This group probably won’t be as quick, but they’ll really get after people.”

The Cardinals would love to settle on a lead running back to replace all-Big Eight player Cam Maly. So far, though, the trio of senior Austin Delaney and juniors James Pabst and Dion Huff are neck and neck.

All three have blazing speed and don’t need much room to get rolling.

Senior Noah Helbach (6-0, 204) is one of the better fullbacks in the area and should help spring the gifted tailbacks.

“It might be a case where we wind up playing the kid who has the hot hand,” Simon said of his running backs. “All of them can hurt you.”

Split end Myron Ashford is the Cardinals’ top returning receiver and should be poised for a big senior season. The Cardinals were expecting a big junior season from flanker Brogan Brunker, but he’s sidelined indefinitely.

That means senior flanker Jack Toennies and senior tight end Chris Olsen could get more opportunities than expected.

Middleton finished second in the league in scoring last year with 34.1 points per game. And this year’s group has the ability to take it up a notch.

“We have a ton of potential and the goal is to make it deep into the playoffs,” said Fermanich, whose team lost to Sun Prairie in the first round of the playoffs last year. “We all remember the heartbreak after last year and that left a sour taste in our mouths. Hopefully it just fuels the fire.”

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