Steady in the middle: Jamestown senior linebackers have helped
Work and play seem to go hand and hand for linebackers on the Jamestown High School football team.
Seniors Tommy Bruns, Eathan Gumke, Triston Shipley and Marc Wagner have provided the Blue Jays with stout efforts in the middle of the defense. And they don't mind doing it, either.
"We try to go around and hit people and have fun," said Gumke, who is second on the team in tackles (56.5) and sacks (4). "I think we are pretty well balanced."
Jamestown coach Tim Fletcher said they cover a lot of ground with their personalities. Wagner appears to be the most outspoken and Gumke the quietest.
"Marc is a real vocal kid, but you don't always have to lead by your vocal abilities," Fletcher said. "Eathan's pretty reserved. That's his personality. It's fun to see that come together and work as a unit. ... Each one of them brings a little something different to the plate."
Not that Gumke isn't capable of mixing it up with the best of them.
"Eathan's quiet, but when he wants to goof around, he's a pretty funny guy," Wagner said. "We all do our fair share of joking. But when it comes down to it, it's time to get down to business and do our job."
Shipley and Gumke play on the inside, while Wagner and Bruns are outside linebackers. All four were quick to credit their defensive line for taking out blockers and allowing them to move around.
"That's the most important part," Shipley said. "If they don't eat up blocks and get to guys, we can't get to them either."
Gumke and Bruns (14.5 tackles) have been in the program awhile, while Shipley (team-leading 69.5 tackles) just came out this year. Wagner (19 tackles, 4 sacks) transferred in from Killdeer before his junior season.
"Eathan's a very dedicated individual and he's done real nice job, and Tommy ... Tommy's just a solid kid. His effort has been outstanding," Fletcher said. "Triston's only been out one year, but it's great to have him and to see his progress. ... Marc has been an invaluable piece in terms of leadership on both sides of the football."
With the strong progression of the linebackers, a senior-led secondary and physical bodies up front, Jamestown may look like a defensive team. The Jays have allowed just 21 points over their last three games.
"It seems like we're more of a defensive team, but the offense works really hard," said Bruns, who is tied for the team lead in interceptions with two.
Like Bruns, Fletcher was careful about making a defensive distinction.
"It's hard to say when you look at everything that encompasses a game," Fletcher said. "You have two sides of the football and you've got to perform well on both sides. It is a real benefit if you can keep teams scoreless or to single digits. We've had good opportunities the past few weeks to keep our opponents in check."
Last week's 17-13 win over Dickinson ensured the Blue Jays a playoff spot. They'll be the No. 4 seed from the West Region, but they won't find out their opponent until after their game tonight. Grand Forks Red River, Fargo Davies, Fargo South and West Fargo all have 4-1 region records.
That won't matter to Fletcher until after tonight's game at Ernie Gates Field. Fargo North is coming off its first win of the season, a 40-26 victory over Devils Lake.
"We've had a few questions throughout the week on playoff situations, which is normal," Fletcher said. "But our focus is on Fargo North."
NOTES: The Blue Jays will be without starting senior tailback Taylor Orr tonight after he received two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties last week in Dickinson. Per North Dakota High School Activities Association rules, Orr must sit out one game. ... The Blue Jays have played Fargo North just twice since 1994, losing both decisions (2009, 2010). Jamestown's last win vs. North came on the road in 1994, a 26-10 win. The last home win against the Spartans was a 25-7 triumph in 1993.
2013 Jamestown schedule
(3-3 region, 5-3 overall)
Aug. 30 -- Won 46-12 at Grand Forks Central; Sept. 6 -- Won 38-6 vs. Mandan; Sept. 13 -- Lost 35-7 vs. Bismarck High; Sept. 20 -- Won 24-8 vs. Devils Lake; Sept. 27 -- Lost 31-6 at Bismarck Century; Oct. 4 -- Won 24-0 vs. Williston; Oct. 11 -- Lost 8-0 at Minot; Oct. 19 -- Won 17-13 at Dickinson, 2 p.m.; Oct. 25 -- vs. Fargo North, 7 p.m.
Jamestown season statistics
Opponents 22 23 39 39 -- 123
Jamestown 20 49 59 34 -- 162
Offense JHS Opp.
Passing 721 683
Rushing 1314 1051
Total 2035 1734
RUSHING: Taylor Orr 158-874, Scott Nelson 40-250, Eathan Gumke 25-140, Ross Monson 64-19, Ben Hanson 8-25, Joey Gebhardt 5-7, Caleb Ellingson 3-5, Marc Wagner 1-0, Andrew Hornung 1-0, Nolan Love 1-(-1), Layne Carlson 1-(-5). PASSING: Ross Monson 40-104-4 702, Gebhardt 5-17-0 19. RECEIVING: Tyler Ukestad 12-195, Logan Anderson 5-184, Gebhardt 9-134, Taylor Orr 8-118, Shaun Hogan 7-45, Wagner 4-45. SCORING: Ross Monson 9 passing TDs and 3 rushing TDs, Taylor Orr 7 rushing TDs and 1 receiving TD, Ben Hanson 1 rushing TD, 2 field goals and 16 extra points, Logan Anderson 4 receiving TDs, Scott Nelson 3 rushing TDs, Tyler Ukestad 2 receiving TDs, Joey Gebhardt 2 receiving TDs and Eathan Gumke 1 rushing TD. TURNOVERS: Opponents 18 (13 fumbles, 5 interceptions), JHS 13 (9 fumbles, 4 interceptions). TACKLES (top 5): Triston Shipley 69.5, Eathan Gumke 56.5, Rob Bollinger 39, Tyler Ukestad 26, Caleb Ellingson 20. SACKS: Logan Anderson 4.5, Gumke 4, Wagner 4, Shipley 1, Bollinger 1, Ellingson 1, Alex Zimmerman 1, Travis Beach 0.5. INTERCEPTIONS: Tommy Bruns 2, Gumke 2, Ukestad 1, Layne Carlson 1.
Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or firstname.lastname@example.org