Tommy Schuster sees improvement every week, and his Chippewa Valley Big Reds keep seeing big numbers on the scoreboard.
“We’re playing really good right now,” Schuster said. “We’re getting better week by week. That’s the most important thing.”
Schuster leads a Chippewa Valley offense that averages 40 points per game, and the Big Reds may need all of those points against Dakota.
Like the Big Reds, the Cougars are 4-0. They also have a high-powered offense led by a senior quarterback in Mark Tocco, who directs a Dakota squad that averages 45 points per game.
“I think they’re the two top quarterbacks in the area,” Dakota coach Greg Baur said of Schuster and Tocco. “As far as the intangibles and the way they play the game, they’re off the charts.”
Both have played at a top level this season.
In Chippewa Valley’s 42-6 victory over New Baltimore Anchor Bay last week, Schuster passed for three touchdowns and ran for another.
“Tommy’s a really good quarterback,” Chippewa Valley coach Scott Merchant said. “He’s a really good football player. If teams want to try to stop the run, Tommy’s pretty good at dissecting defenses. He’s a three-year starter. He’s the real deal.”
Tocco also has posted eye-popping numbers, passing for 1,100 yards in the first four games.
“We were hoping he was going to take the next step,” Baur said. “He’s really exceeded expectations.He’s been outstanding. He’s that perfect dual-threat guy.”
Both Schuster and Tocco have plenty of help.
Seniors Ja’Von Kimpson and Andre Chenault power the Chippewa Valley running game, and senior receivers Martice Bunting and Aidan Hall provide Schuster with reliable targets.
Bunting caught two touchdown passes last week against Anchor Bay, and Hall added another scoring catch.
“We’re just doing everything well,” Schuster said. “The line was blocking well, the running game was working, the receivers were catching the ball.”
Everything’s going well for Dakota, too.
Versatile running back Dustin Solomon, who also returns kicks and starts at safety, has rushed for 200 yards in consecutive games.
Speedy receiver Brandon Michalak caught six passes for 240 yards in Dakota’s victory over Anchor Bay two weeks ago.
To top it off, the offensive line -- senior Noah Smalarz and juniors Connor Wolfgang, Tyson Wheeler, Brandon Ross and Zack Greaves -- has proved a bright spot.
“They’ve meshed really well,” Baur said. “They’re playing like seniors.”
Defensively, Dakota is led by three seniors: lineman Riley Orlando, linebacker Jeremiah Major and safety Ross Lewalski.
Likewise, Chippewa Valley’s defense has strong senior leadership, including Marcel Lewis. A three-year starter at linebacker, Lewis has committed to play college football at Michigan State.
For now, though, he’s focused on the high school football season and the matchup against Dakota, a MAC Red Division foe.
“That’s the biggest game,” Lewis said. “That’s our rival game.”