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The undefeated Northome-Kelliher football team has seen support across both towns. Signs have been placed across from the First State Bank and also at the Village One Stop in Kelliher. Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer

Northome-Kelliher football team: ‘An experience for everybody’

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KELLIHER — As the undefeated Northome-Kelliher football team advances, so does its support system.

"It’s been electrifying ... because we’ve had huge turnouts at our last two games," said Calvin Mayer, the father of Steven Mayer, who plays on the team.

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"And they just keep getting bigger and bigger," added Kristi Pink.

Pink is a teacher at Kelliher Public School and has had all five of her sons play on the team. Currently her youngest, Adrian Pink, is in the spotlight. She is also married to defensive coach Tom Pink.

The Mustangs will face Ely (10-0-0) at 4:45 p.m. today for the Section 7 Championship in Esko. Northome-Kelliher faced Ely in the playoffs last year and lost.

"So this is kind of a grudge match," Mayer said.

"We want to prove that we can do it and the kids are playing so well," Pink added. "I’m feeling pretty positive."

This will be the first time since Kelliher and Northome have become sports cooperative schools that they have advanced this far in post-season plan.

"The co-op has been very positive," Pink said.

The modesty of the team also seems to have been key to their success.

"There’s no bickering amongst the kid at all," Mayer said. "They get along so well."

Being part of a winning team is certainly exciting for the boys but they’ve lifted the spirits in their communities as well, supporters said.

"It’s not just about that football team, even though they’re the ones doing all that hard work," said Jeannie Jean, teacher at Kelliher Public School. "They don’t realize the effect it has on everybody, but they’re the ones who get to carry us all."

Jean has helped with ordering signs for the school as well as providing "Go Mustangs!" buttons to parents and the community.

Coach Derrick Gross has been pleased with the support the community has provided.

"We have a group of parents and community that provide a meal before every game, away or home," Gross said. "That’s special."

Before the team departs for Esko, community members have been invited to breakfast with the players from 8:30 to 9:15 a.m. at Kelliher School. A pep fest will follow at 9:30 a.m. in the gym.

"It really is an experience for everybody," Jean said.

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