Northome-Kelliher coaches always target next game
NORTHOME — Many high school players and coaches have a tendency to look too far into the future when assessing team goals. At Northome-Kelliher, however, the outlook is kept simple.
“Our goal is always to win our next game,” said Mustangs coach Derrick Gross.
Last fall N-K accomplished that goal more often than not as the Mustangs compiled a 6-2 record in the regular season and split a pair of Section 7 Nine-Man games. In its playoff opener Northome-Kelliher edged Northwoods 28-24 but its season ended a game later when it fell 26-6 at Ely.
Gross is expecting another successful campaign although how far the Mustangs will go may depend upon the health of his players.
“We have a solid group of really great kids,” the coach said. “Win or lose, I’m really looking forward to the season.
“Our overall numbers are down a little so we don’t have as much depth as we’d hoped. But if we can avoid injuries and improve our depth by bringing along some of our younger players, we’ll have a good year,” Gross added.
The Mustangs return 11 lettermen including seniors Isaiah Rahier, Mark Geerdes and Brody Grundmier.
Also back are juniors Cody Rankin, Eli Rahier, Dylan Villeran, Adrian Pink, Shawn O’Neil and Donald Lindquist, sophomore Cal Roosdett plus freshman Joseph Weidenborner.
“We are a fairly experienced group and that should be a strength,” Gross said. “I think we also have good speed and we expect to be a physical team.”
Gross said that the coaches will rely on every player on the roster and he expects to open with seven players going both ways.
A probable starting offense could see Lindquist at center, O’Neil at guard, Pink at tackle, Villeran as the tight end, Rankin in the flat, Roosdett as the split end, Eli Rahier as the fullback, Geerdes as the tailback and Isaiah Rahier as the quarterback.
Defensively the coach could use Grundemier and Villeran at the ends, Lindquist and Pink at the tackles, Roosdett, Eli Rahier, Geerdes and Rankin as the linebackers and Isaiah Rahier at safety.
“Geerdes and Isaiah Rahier are our leaders,” Gross said. “How far they can take us I don’t know. But I do know that these two will be leading from the front when we get there.”
The Mustangs opened the season last week with a decisive 56-16 home victory over McGregor. Other home games will be Sept. 13 against Nevis, Sept. 27 against Onamia and Oct. 16 against Wrenshall.
Northome-Kelliher’s road schedule includes games at Isle (Sept. 6), at Lake of the Woods (Sept. 20), at Hill City (Oct. 4) and at Remer (Oct. 11).
Beginning this fall the Panthers football program will play an 11-man regular season schedule but will switch to the Nine-Man division for the section playoffs.
In recent years victories have been hard to come by for Cass Lake-Bena, especially in the post-season. Now that the Panthers have been moved to Nine-Man, however, they should be able to better compete against their post-season opponents.
CL-B has been moved into Section 6 Nine-Man. The section also includes defending champion Nevis plus Ada-Borup, Norman County East, Park Christian, Waubun, Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, Remer and Rothsay.
Cass Lake-Bena began the season with a 50-0 victory at Red Lake and Friday finds the Panthers visiting Walker-Hackensack-Akeley. On Sept. 13 the Panthers visit Bagley and the home season begins Sept. 20 against Pine River.
Fertile-Beltrami travels to CL-B on Sept. 27 while the October schedule sees the Panthers heading to Blackduck on Oct. 4 and entertaining Pillager on Oct. 11 and Parkers Prairie on Oct. 16.
Tyler Wittner is the new CL-B coach and his roster is led by 15 seniors. The senior cast includes Brady Wade, Caleb Duoos, Daven Staples, Joe Pemberton, Josh LaDuke, Jason Yates, Erik Jones, Damon Staples, Angel Rosillo, Kyote Windom, Brendan Humphrey, Tori Foster, Dylan Chase, Nic Rairdon and Daniel Fredrickson.
The junior cast includes Gage Headbird, Scott Waybenais, Vincent Robinson, Jon Weyaus, Will Chase and Damien Kingbird while the sophomores include Alvin Wind, Will Kingbird, Jon Staples, Kyle Kohlhoff, Kyle Pemberton and David Jones.
The recent success of the baseball team has spilled over to the other boys programs and among the teams which has experienced a resurgence is the football squad.
After a few years of struggling for victories the Drakes compiled a 5-3 regular season record a year ago and earned the No. 3 seed in the Section 7A playoffs. Blackduck took advantage of the favorable section placement as it demolished Mesabi East 38-0 in the opening round.
The season came to an end in next round of the section playoffs, however, when the Drakes dropped a 42-12 decision to No. 2 ranked Cook County.
The Drakes could be even better this fall as many of last year’s leaders return.
“We have double digit numbers of returning lettermen,” said Blackduck head coach Jeff Volk. “We have the majority of our skill players back from last year including quarterback, both runningbacks and a couple of receivers who saw plenty of playing time.
“That experience should be a plus in helping along the new guys in the lineup.”
According to the coach, the returning leaders include senior captains Trey Volk, Jacob Krabbenhoft and Colton Bales plus seniors Dylan Dexter and Riley Miller.
“They are competitive young men and, as coaches, we’re counting on them to help with the improvement of the younger guys,” Volk said. “Every season gets to be a grind and those leaders are the guys who help keep everyone focused and hungry.”
The season began last week with a 14-6 loss at Fertile-Beltrami and the initial home game will be Sept. 6 against Bagley.
A potential starting offensive lineup could see Krabbenhoft at quarterback, Volk and Cooper Jedlicka in the backfield, Jake Peterson as the tight end plus Trevor Smith and Colton Brown as the wideouts. The offensive line could include Tanner Templin at center, Dexter and Bales as the guards plus Ethan Grainger and Tyler Jablonski at the tackles.
Among those also expected to see duty are Riley Miller, Paul Ekstrom, Cody Meland, Tanner Depew, Mason Frenzel and Levi Dexter.
“We want to put a competitive football team on the field each week,” the coach said. “Our goal is to work hard and, hopefully, make a run at a conference title.”
The Bears finished 5-4 last year and coach Casey Kroulik believes that the team will be a factor once again in the Section 8-Nine Man playoffs.
“We return many of the players from last year including nine who started at least one game,” Kroulik said. “Depth will be one of our strengths.”
Clearbrook-Gonvick is not the only team in the section that boasts a team of veterans, however.
“The boys have high goals but Section 8 is looking as strong as ever,” the coach said.
“Win-E-Mac returns most of its team from a solid 2012 season and perennial powerhouses Kittson County Central, Stephen-Argyle and Grygla-Goodridge all look strong.
“And this year we have the addition of Warren-Alvarado-Oslo to the section.”
Kroulik, however, believes that the Bears will be up for the challenges.
“We have a solid senior class of leaders this year,” he said. “This group has stuck together and pushed each other for the past four years. There is no doubt in my mind that attitude and effort will never be an issue.”
Among those senior leaders are quarterback Reegen Hetland, runningback Chance Dyrdahl, tight end and linebacker Nicholas Solberg, runningback and linebacker Nick Bodenstiener plus tight end and defensive end Tanner Pletschett.
A year ago Hetland passed for 460 yards while Dyrdahl gained 626 yards on 84 carries. Bodenstiener had 94 tackles, including 15 for a loss, and Pletschett caught 12 passes for 204 yards.
Clearbrook-Gonvick began the season with a 21-14 loss to Waubun and on Friday the Bears will visit Northern Freeze,
The home schedule includes games against Stephen-Argyle (Sept. 13), Grygla-Goodridge (Sept. 27) and Kittson County Central (Oct. 4).
The Flyers enter the season with holes to fill after graduation claimed several key players.
Among the returners, however, are seniors Logan Thorson, Taylor McCollum and Jake Skansberg and all three were impact players in last week’s season-opening 22-13 loss to Frazee.
Thorson scored on an 80-yard kickoff return and again on a 2-yard run. Skansberg caught four passes for 70 yards and made 17 tackles while McCollum contributed 10 tackles.
Junior quarterback Jordan Loiland completed six passes for 98 yards and junior RJ Aufforth made nine tackles.
“Despite the loss we saw many positive things from our players and we are excited about the potential they have,” said Bagley coach Brandon Schwegel.
The Flyers roster also includes seniors Landon Peterson, Travis Torkelson, Colton Adams and Brady Evermoen. The juniors include Nathan Rolfson, Preston Olson, Caleb Snobl, Mark Lundsten, Kyle Grover, Zachary Willis, Bo Amundson and Ty Erickson while the sophomores include Lucas Olson, Levi LaFriniere, Max Beckstrand, Wyatt Larson, Drew Swenson, Wyatt Abraham, Lucas Culkins, Drew Merschman and Triston Hutson.
Bagley continues its campaign Friday at Blackduck and on Sept. 13 the Flyers return home to face Cass Lake-Bena.
Other home appearances will be Sept. 27 against Pine River and Oct. 11 against Fosston.
The Warriors belong to Section 8A and dropped their season opener 50-0 last week to Cass Lake-Bena.
Other Section 8A teams are Fertile-Beltrami, Lake Park-Audubon, defending state champion Mahnomen, Red Lake County, Badger-Greenbush-Middle River, Fosston and Northern Freeze.
The Warriors will host Fosston Friday and then head to Parkers Prairie and Red Lake County before entertaining Mahnomen on Sept. 27.
October’s schedule finds Red Lake traveling to Fertile-Beltrami (Oct. 4) and Frazee (Oct. 11) before hosting Lake Park-Audubon (Oct. 16).
Red Lake is young and the only seniors listed on the roster are Jaytee Seaton and Dallas Good. The junior class includes Trevoer Gruaman, Tyrell Patterson, Ari Mason, Jalen Jones, Carlos Jarha, Filee Barron, Devonte Sayers, Gerald Raisch, Daren Defoe and Deion Pierre.
Among the sophomores are Darrin Kingbird, Brent Cloud, Marus Skinaway, Joe Sayers and Jame Norris.