SHERBURN The Martin County West Mavericks football team's offense is fast.
"Going into each game, our goal is to go out there and put up seven points as fast as we can," said Martin County West senior quarterback Jake Faber. "I think it's important for us to establish both the running and the passing right away so we can stay balanced."
Keeping that speed on offense in check could be a challenge, but not for Faber.
FINDING?A?LANE — Martin County West quarterback Jake Faber (7) looks to run while Maverick offensive lineman Alex Saxen (57) blocks a Buffalo Lake-Hector Stewart defender in recent Southern Minnesota Conference football action. Faber had helped guide the Class 2A, No. 8-ranked Mavericks to a 4-0 record prior to Friday night’s game at Sleepy Eye Public. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Faber, who finished last season on the sideline after dislocating his hip, has come back for his final prep season on the gridiron and is picking apart the Mavericks' new conference - the Southern Minnesota - one game at a time.
"We lost some good players from last year's team, like Austin (Krumwiede) and Mitch (Sitzmann). But we have really high expectations for this team as long as we can stay balanced," said Faber.
The Mavericks' balanced offensive attack has led them to a 4-0 record prior to Friday night's game at Sleepy Eye Public, and has earned them the No. 8 spot in this week's Class 2A state rankings after holding the No. 10 spot the previous poll.
Faber has added depth to the team's ground game, running 45 times for 431 yards and eight touchdowns this fall. His running prowess was amplified in the Mavericks' 45-26 win over Minnesota Valley Lutheran on Sept. 13, when he ran 16 times for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
"Our line has improved so much this season. They pick up blitzes without me even saying anything and they make huge running holes," said Faber. "They give me time to make the decisions I need to and if I run, they make huge holes."
With the added time in the pocket this season, Faber also has been able to take to the air, connecting on 35 of 62 passes for 678 yards and eight TDs through the first four games.
"I have fast receivers: Cordell Weber, Alex Biehn, Wesley Cook and Sam Baker. Last year, Austin could go up and battle a player for the ball. This year, we just run right past the defense," said Faber.
In the game on Sept. 20 against Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, Faber completed 8 of 15 passes for 259 yards and three TDs, including a 71-yard pass along the Mustang sideline to Weber for six points.
"Jake makes doing what I do really easy with him throwing passes," said Weber. "As long as I'm in the right spot, I know the ball will practically land in my hands."
Facing new opponents has been a challenge for both the Mavericks' offense and defense this season, but one that has so far gone in Martin County West's favor.
The Mavericks have scored at least 35 points in each of their first four games, with Faber leading the way, while the defense hasn't allowed more than 26 points by opponents in any game.
"We watch film each week to try and see what they line up in against certain plays on offense, but it has been harder this season because we don't know these teams," said Faber. "It's hard to know until you are on the field playing who exactly to key on for matchups."
At the midway point of the season, the playoff picture is setting up nicely for the Mavericks, especially if their high-powered offense can stay healthy.
"Our competition in the playoffs will be so much different than the teams we play in the regular season. It's hard to say what it will be like," said Faber. "But the great thing is that everyone starts out with an 0-0 record once we get into the playoffs."
The Mavericks travel to Wabasso on Friday, Oct. 4, for another conference game.