The Kelliher/Northome Mustangs ended their 2009 football season losing 42-0 to the Clearbrook-Gonvick Bears in Clearbrook Oct. 24 in the first round of the Section 8 nine-man play offs.
The Bears took control early in the game by physically manhandling the Mustangs. Though the Bears were only the fourth seed in Section 8, Mustang Head Coach Derrick Gross thinks they would compete evenly with the top teams in the Great Northern Conference: McGregor and Cromwell.
Kelliher/Northome, with their win over Nevis, became the 2009 Great Northern Conference Western Division Champions with a division record of 3-1. Though tied with Nevis, the Mustangs claimed the title because of their head to head win.
Gross was proud of the effort his team displayed at Clearbrook, competing at every snap, though outmatched they played hard without regard to the scoreboard. He especially commended the four seniors who played: Al Lindquist, Charlie Schuh, Dalton Lindley and Caleb Lindley saying "all four were able to walk off the field with pride" knowing they had given their best effort. Lindquist and Caleb Lindley both played well though they were injured. Gross commended Schuh's defensive efforts stating, "he had a ton of tackles." Gross praised Dalton Lindley's efforts on both sides of the ball stating he had several nice runs on counter plays offensively and did a super job on pass coverage including an interception defensively.
Another bright spot for the Mustangs mentioned by Gross was the play of the younger players who improved each week and made some nice plays in the second half. He felt the Mustang quarterback duo of Evan Nelson and Tristan Williams both had some nice plays. Gross also was optimistic watching his young wide receivers Jeff Roosdett and Keith Shaughnessy make some nice plays.
The Mustangs were able to get their entire roster playing time and Gross hopes that the experience will carry over to more success in the future.
Several sophomores and freshmen have earned starting spots this year and different ones came up with big plays at various times of the season. Freshman Caleb Schneider and sophomore Lance Pink along with junior Cody Graupmann received praise for their line work in the Nevis game. Sophomore receiver Joe Schuh and junior receiver Jacob Gunderson were also praised by Gross for their blocking in that big Mustang victory. Sophomores Scott Peirson, Cyril Weidenborner, Travis Olafson and Micah Jorgenson all picked up some varsity experience in the play off game as did freshmen Zach Spangrud and Brandon Schmid. Juniors Tyler Gibbs in the backfield and Kyle Erickson on the line have been mainstays all year and with Nelson and Gunderson should provide a solid core of senior leadership next season.
Gross was pleased with this year's seniors stating, "I would like to thank all these seniors for their dedication and leadership. I wish them well in future endeavors and remind them that they will always find friendly faces and helping hands in their Mustang football family."
He included Evan Hanks and Mark Frenzel in that group. Hanks was injured most of the season, but continued to attend practices and games and was an asset because of his ability to spot what was happening on the field. Frenzel was ineligible all season, but helped the team improve by attending practice though he knew he could not play in games.
Though the 2009 season is barely over, Gross is already optimistically anticipating next season.