First win 'feels beautiful' for Wolverines
The Wadena-Deer Creek football team finally walked away a winner Wednesday night and their timing was superb.
Their 12-6 victory over West Central Area before a Parents' Night crowd snapped a 23-game losing streak that reached back to a September night in 2007 when they defeated WCA 18-13 on the same field.
The symmetry of the victory was not lost on WDC's seniors who have suffered through all three seasons of the losing streak and remember when it began.
"I have been waiting for it since the last time we beat West Central. I've been waiting so long. I'm so happy we finally got it," said WDC senior back Aaron Kern, who scored both touchdowns for the Wolverines and gained 110 yards on 33 carries.
"It feels beautiful," said big WDC senior lineman Dane Hoffman. "We all did a great job. It was really a team victory. We really wanted this one."
The eighth-seeded Wolverines now move on to face top-ranked Crosby-Ironton in the Section 6AA playoffs Tuesday at Crosby. Game time is set for 6 p.m.
WDC's defensive unit allowed only one touchdown in a game for the first time this year and stopped the Knights' final drive at the WDC 25.
The Wolverines have had chances to end their miseries in several games this season. They took Park Rapids into overtime in the season opener before losing to the Panthers 13-7. They led Warroad going into the fourth quarter of their second game. They challenged Crookston on their home field by pulling off an onside kick in the fourth quarter that gave them a shot in a 29-21 loss. They lost a 14-6 game to Pelican Rapids last week at the Fargodome when Pelican's Dan Ditch picked off a fourth quarter pass.
"We've been in football games," WDC head coach Tom VanErp said. "Three of our losses had we eliminated a mistake here or there we had a realistic chance of winning."
The Knights, who are known for their "trickeration," ultimately gave the Wolverines their opportunity when a flea flicker play backfired in the fourth quarter and WDC junior Cory Tumberg scooped up the loose football. Tumberg took the ball down to WCA's 10. Three plays later, Kern punched it in from the three with 3:48 to play.
The Wolverines pinned the Knights back at their own 14 but Colton Blascyk brought his club into WDC territory by hooking up with Bryce Olson on a 40-yard gainer. The pass-happy Knights kept the ball in the air but ran out of downs with 55 seconds left.
"Play in and play out the guys that I thought won this game for us was the defensive backs," VanErp said. "You are going to give up some passes to a team that throws it this much but down the stretch they did a heck of a job of getting up and being aggressive on the ball."
The first touchdown of the game did not come until the 8:47 mark of the second quarter when Cody Blehr went straight up the middle on a 41-yard scoring play.
WDC came right back with an 11-play drive that Kern capped with a six-yard run.
The Wolverines picked up 217 of their 269 total yards on the ground. Logan Meyer backed up Kern by gaining 93 yards on 22 carries.
VanErp was in no hurry to get off the field following the game.
"This has been 2 1/2 years coming," said VanErp, who was especially happy for his seniors. "These guys have never quit. They have never given up. They've come to practice every day, they've busted their butts and I am so happy for these guys to walk off winners in their last game."
There was a lot of shouting, yelling, laughing and excitement following Wednesday night's game, but ultimately the victory meant the most for guys like WDC senior quarterback Kevin Tumberg.
How did it feel to get that 23-game monkey off his team's back?
"You have no idea," he grinned, "you have no idea."
WDC 12, WCA 6
WCA 0 6 0 0 -- 6
WDC 0 6 0 6 -- 12
WCA: Cody Blehr 41 yd run (PAT failed)
WDC: Aaron Kern 6 yd run (PAT failed), Kern 3 yd run (PAT failed)
First Downs 12 18
Yards Rushing 161 217
Yards Passing 103 52
Total Yards 264 269
Passes 10-24 5-12
Pelican Rapids 14, WDC 6
The Vikings held off a fourth quarter threat by the Wolverines and won a defensive battle at the Fargodome.
Dan Ditch intercepted a WDC pass in the final minutes after the Wolverines pulled off an onside kick at midfield.
Aaron Kern hit paydirt on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter to cut into Pelican's 14-0 lead. The Wolverines staged a late drive that was ended on downs in Pelican territory.
Kern gained 146 yards on 24 carries to lead the WDC offensive effort. Jordan Rentz caught two passes for 29 yards.
Alex Klovstad scored both Pelican Rapids touchdowns on runs of three and five yards.
Pelican Rapids 14, WDC 6
PR 0 7 7 0 - 14
WDC 0 0 0 6 - 6
PR: Alex Klovstad 3 yd run (PAT Cris Molina kick), Klovstad 5 yd run (PAT Molina kick)
WDC: Aaron Kern 1 run (PAT failed)