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Area high school football: Kelliher-Northome's ascent is no surprise

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sports Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

NORTHOME — Derrick Gross could see it coming. The Kelliher-Northome football team just completed an 8-0 campaign and the Mustangs have earned the top seed in Section 7-Nine Man.

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K-N will open its postseason 7 p.m. today at home against Northeast Range (Tower, Soudan, Babbitt and Embarrass) and Gross knows that the Mustangs will be ready.

“Our success has been a few years in the making,” the coach said. “We’ve been improving over the last number of years and the leadership of our four seniors on this year’s team has made a big difference.

“Those seniors have bought into the program, have done all of the work in the offseason and have become great leaders.”

The senior leaders include linebacker/tailback Mark Geerdes, quarterback/safety Isaiah Rahier, defensive back/tight end Will Thurston and defensive end Brody Grundmier.

Their leadership was on full display last Wednesday when K-N and Wrenshall were in the fourth overtime of the regular-season finale.

“That was, hands-down, the most exciting and intense game I’ve ever been a part of,” Gross said. “It was 14-14 at half and 14-14 after regulation. Both teams scored a touchdown and a 2-point conversion in the first overtime and in the second and third overtimes the defenses took over and neither team scored.

“In the third overtime Wrenshall missed a game-winning field goal and in the fourth overtime we stopped Wrenshall and we had a fourth and goal from the 4-yard line.”

At that juncture the seniors took over.

“In the huddle during the time out Mark (Geerdes) said, ‘Coach, give me the ball.’ When you have a senior back like him there is no question what we were going to do.”

Geerdes lived up to his words as he took the handoff and headed for the end zone.

“We gave the ball to Mark and he absolutely refused to not cross the goal line,” Gross said.

Game over.

“Our main strengths are that leadership and our experience,” the coach said. “We’re a seasoned team with the four seniors and 12 juniors. Many of the juniors saw significant time last year and a couple of them even started as freshmen.”

Among the impact juniors are starting linemen Adrian Pink, Shawn O’Neil, Donald Lindquist and Dylan Villaran.

“Behind these guys we have rushed for over 3,000 yards,” Gross said.

“It’s not a real big secret what we’re going to do. In the second half of the season opponents have come out with plans to stop us but we have been able to make the adjustments at half time that we needed to make.

“And so far we’ve been successful.”

The Mustangs hope to be successful today when they take on Northeast Range. If they win that game K-N will be home 7 p.m. Saturday against either No. 4 seed Chisholm or No. 5 Mountain Iron-Buhl.

The section title game is 4:45 p.m. Nov. 1 at Esko Stadium.

“This group of kids is amazing,” Gross said. “This is the third straight year that they won state all-academic awards and it is no coincidence that we became successful on the field when the academic awards were being won.

“It’s just a great bunch of kids,” the coach continued.

The playoffs also begin today for the other area football teams.

In Section 6-Nine Man, Cass Lake-Bena (2-6) was seeded sixth and will head to No. 3 Waubun (5-3) for a 6 p.m. game. If the Panthers pull off the upset they will take on either No. 2 Nevis or No. 7 Remer on Saturday.

Clearbrook-Gonvick (4-4) was seeded sixth in Section 8-Nine Man and will visit No. 3 Goodridge-Grygla (7-1) today. A win would vault the Bears into the section semifinals and Saturday’s game against either No. 2 Kittson County Central or No. 7 Climax-Fisher.

In Section 8A, Red Lake (0-8) is ranked eighth and has the unenviable task of traveling to Mahnomen. The Indians are 8-0 and are ranked No. 1 in the section and in state.

In Section 7A Blackduck (3-5) is seeded fifth and will visit No. 4 East Central (3-5) today in Finlayson. A win would be rewarded with a Saturday game against either No. 8 Cook County or No. 1 Braham.

Bagley (2-6) is ranked fifth in Section 8-2A and will open tonight at No. 4 United North Central (3-5) in Menahga. A victory would send the Flyers to top-seeded Hawley (7-1) on Saturday.

The area volleyball teams will begin their tournament action on Thursday. The pairings are expected to be announced today.

Area Football Playoffs

Section 7-Nine Man

Today’s 7 p.m. Quarterfinals

Game 1: Northeast Range (No. 8) at Kelliher-Northome (No. 1)

Game 2: Mt. Iron-Buhl (No. 5) at Chisholm (No. 4)

Game 3: Bigfork (No. 6) at North Woods (No. 3)

Game 4: Lake of the Woods (No. 7) at Ely (No. 2)

Saturday’s Semifinals (high seeds)

Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner

Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner

Championship

Nov. 1, Esko

Game 7: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 4:45 p.m.

Section 6-Nine Man

Today’s Quarterfinals

Game 1: Rothsay (No. 8) at Ada-Borup (No. 1)

Game 2: NCE (No. 5) at Park Christian (No. 4)

Game 3: Cass Lake-Bena (No. 6) at Waubun (No. 3), 6 p.m.

Game 4: Remer (No. 7) at Nevis (No. 2)

Saturday’s Semifinals (high seeds)

Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner

Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner

Championship

Oct. 31, Fargodome

Game 7: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 12:30 p.m.

Section 8-Nine Man

Today’s Quarterfinals

Game 1: NCE (No. 8) at Win-E-Mac (No. 1)

Game 2: Stephen-Argyle (No. 5) at WAO (No. 4)

Game 3: Clearbrook-Gonvick (No. 6) at Goodridge-Grygla (No. 3), 7 p.m.

Game 4: Climax-Fisher at KCC

Saturday’s Semifinals (high seeds)

Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner

Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner

Championship

Oct. 31, Fargodome

Game 7: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 3 p.m.

Section 8A

Today’s Quarterfinals

Game 1: Red Lake (No. 8) at Mahnomen (No. 1), 7 p.m.

Game 2: Fosston (No. 5) at Fertile-Beltrami (No. 4)

Game 3: BGMR (No. 6) at Lake Park-Audubon (No. 3)

Game 4: Northern Freeze (No. 7) at RLC (No. 2)

Saturday’s Semifinals (high seeds)

Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner

Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner

Championship

Oct. 31, Fargodome

Game 7: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 5:30 p.m.

Section 7A

Today’s Quarterfinals

Game 1: Cook County (No. 8) at Braham (No. 1)

Game 2: Blackduck (No. 5) at East Central-Finlayson (No. 4), 7 p.m.

Game 3: Ogilvie (No. 6) at Deer River (No. 3)

Game 4: Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (No. 7) at Barnum (No. 2)

Saturday’s Semifinals (high seeds)

Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner

Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner

Championship

Oct. 31, Public School Stadium

Game 7: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 4:45 p.m.

Section 8-2A

Today’s Quarterfinals

Game 1: Hawley (No. 1) has a bye

Game 2: Bagley (No. 5) at UNC-Menahga (No. 4), 6 p.m.

Game 3: Crookston (No. 6) and Frazee (No. 3)

Game 4: Warroad (No. 7) at Barnesville (No. 2)

Saturday’s Semifinals (high seeds)

Game 5: Game 2 winner at Hawley, 2 p.m.

Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner

Championship

Nov. 1, Fargodome

Game 7: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 8 p.m.

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