What separates Jalen Wuchko from many high school football players with skill and speed is how the Little Falls senior spends his time when he’s not on the field.
Wuchko has immersed himself into the Flyers’ weight-training program full-bore.
“He squats a horse and a half,” teammate Tom Tabatt said.
He cleans and benches a lot, too. Wuchko says his bench press is 265 pounds, his clean is 330 and his squat is 550.
Those numbers might be even more impressive than the area-leading 993 yards and 12 touchdowns Wuchko has compiled in Little Falls’ four games.
The senior running back is certainly causing college scouts, not to mention those in the Granite Ridge Conference, to take note heading into the Flyers’ home game Friday against Zimmerman.
“He does things we as coaches can’t believe,” Little Falls head coach Jay DeCann said. “We’re looking at each other, going: ‘How does he do that?'”
He does it with a combination of speed and size not often seen in these parts.
“He just has a great sense of how the game is played,” Tabatt said.
Added Tabatt: “You make a hole and he’ll find it ….
“He just keeps going. You’re going to need at least three guys to bring him down.”
But it’s not like you’ll hear Wuchko talking about himself. That’s not his thing.
“Jalen’s very talented and able to do some amazing things,” DeCann said. “And it’s kind of neat, because he’s very humble, very quiet.”
“I’m not the kind of guy to do a lot of talking,” Wuchko said. “I’m more of a person that leads by example.”
Wuchko has talked to numerous colleges. He said he’d like to become a certified public accountant and definitely wants to play college football.
Colleges that have contacted him include: St. Cloud State, Winona State, Minnesota-Duluth, Bemidji State, North Dakota and North Dakota State.
He attended North Dakota State’s football camp. That’s where he was timed with a 4.67-second 40-yard dash. That and his 6-foot, 220-pound frame are why all the aforementioned schools have called.
DeCann said Wuchko will have to find the right system. He’d be an ideal back in the I-formation. There aren’t as many colleges running that these days as many are going with spread offenses that feature smaller, quicker players.
“I’m definitely a down-field runner,” Wuchko admitted.
Downhill is definitely working out just fine for the Flyers. After rushing for 309 yards and five touchdowns in a 46-7 win over St. Cloud Cathedral, Wuchko leads the Times’ area in rushing. He has 993 yards and 12 touchdowns on 92 carries, good for a 10.8 yards-per-carry average.
And that’s in four games. He already has nearly 3,000 career yards rushing.
Wuchko credits his offensive line.
“Definitely, my offensive line is honestly everything,” he said. “They’ve basically made me a good runner.”
The line, obviously, is flattered.
“It’s a great feeling, too, knowing you are a part of it,” Tabatt said. “He’s amazing.
“He had 1,600 yards last year and he didn’t even start the first couple games.”
The offensive line includes Tabatt (6-5, 282, sr.), Alex Vagle (5-11, 213, jr.), Ian McQuillan (5-11, 242, jr.), Seth Kaiser (5-11, 188, sr.) and Mike Trettle (6-0, 215, jr.).
DeCann also includes fullback Trysten Ross (6-2, 215, sr.) and tight end Bryce Zawatzke (6-2, 202, jr.) when talking about key blockers.
DeCann, however, says his loudest praise for conditioning coach Nick Abbott. He says Abbott has helped the football program tremendously.
“We’re basically running a small-college weight-training program and the kids have really responded,” DeCann said.
Wuchko said he plans to be a part of Little Falls’ weight-lifting club team this winter.
For now, the thoughts are on Zimmerman (1-3). A win would give the Flyers a 3-2 record and a three-game winning streak with games against Foley, Mora and Becker remaining.
“They run a 5-2 defense and have some pretty good linemen,” Wuchko said. “It should be a good game, hopefully.”
DeCann believes the Flyers still have a chance at a No. 3 seed in Section 8-4A, with state-ranked Detroit Lakes (4-0) and Thief River Falls (3-1) the likely first two. Fergus Falls (2-2), Rocori (1-3) and Albany (1-3) also are jockeying for seeds.
Wuchko just hopes the Flyers can keep winning.
“Hopefully, we can keep it going,” he said.