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Wolverines return to the gridiron with OTC

The Wadena-Deer Creek football team kept the game close until midway through the fourth quarter with the Parkers Prairie Panthers in their 2017 season opener, before fading, 41-20. The Wolverines will face another strong opponent in their second time on the field when they take on Ottertail Central.

The Bulldogs opened the season with a 6-0 victory over Thief River Falls. The Bulldogs handled the Wolverines, 52-8, in last year’s season finale. The Wolverines hope they have and can close the gap on the Bulldogs this Friday.

“Traditionally, they are very good and what I have observed on film is they have really good size in their lineman and their receivers are really tall and athletic,” Wadena-Deer Creek head coach Howie Kangas said. “Where they don’t have great size, they have great speed. It really puts us in a quandary with how you keep the dam plugged. They are really talented.”

Austin Wensauer broke the scoreless tie with the Prowlers when he scored from 18 yards out, making it 6-0, scoring on fourth down. Their defense was strong throughout, holding the Prowler offense to just 145 total yards.

Wensauer led the ground attack with 157 yards on 32 carries. As a team, the Bulldogs ran for 209 yards.

The Wolverines found success on the ground, finishing with 186 yards rushing with Jake Dykhoff leading the way with 98 in the loss to Parkers Prairie. Dykhoff passed for 62 yards as well. Kangas said the team will have to give OTC several different looks to keep them off-balanced in their meeting on Friday.

“For us we have to run a combination of a lot of different things,” Kangas said. “We can’t let them draw a bead on us. From what I observed from them playing Thief River Falls, they played a tight set and OTC put eight people in the box, it was impossible to run on. When they spread you out, they run a 4-3 with multiple coverages. They are well coached, Not only are they talented, they are well coached.”

Kangas believed the Wolverines gained some confidence with their game against the Panthers. The previous two seasons, the Panthers routed the Wolverines, 48-14 and 30-6.

“I was very impressed with how well our kids competed,” Kangas said. “They competed for four quarters. I made a couple of coaching mistakes and then we threw a couple picks and had a fumble, which were untimely for us. Otherwise, we were in the game up until the fourth quarter. We got into their territory and had a couple of turnovers, which really sucked the wind out of us and changed the momentum of the game.”

He said the team had some unknown parts to their puzzle and the kids played hard in their opener with the Panthers.

“I thought we tackled well and I thought we blocked pretty well,” Kangas said. “There is something to be optimistic about there.”

Kangas said the teams is a little nicked up, but they are not injured heading into their game with the Bulldogs.

The Wolverines and the Bulldogs kick off at 7 p.m. from the Wadena High School football field on Friday, Sept. 8.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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