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WCA/Ashby Knights wear down Wolverines

Wadena-Deer Creek's Preston Warren hauls in a fourth quarter touchdown when he gets by the West Central Area/Ashby defenders and makes the catch falling in the end zone. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal

The West Central Area/Ashby Knights took advantage of the numbers game and used their depth to wear down the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines, spoiling homecoming with a 28-20 victory on Sept. 22.

The Knights ground attack came up with a late drive, extending the lead to a two-possession game. However, the Wolverines battled back when Jake Dykhoff rushed in from 6 yards out, cutting the lead to eight points. However, the onside kick was recovered by the Knights sealing the game.

“It was a heck of a game. It was back and forth, back and forth with punch and counterpunch,” Wadena-DC head coach Howie Kangas said. “They had the ball one more time than we did and had a few less penalties and that was the end result of the game.”

Kangas said earlier in the week the Wolverines would be a pass heavy team and they followed up, passing 38 times, while running just 14 times. Dykhoff passed for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 19 of his passes. He was the only guy to run the ball in the game, rushing for 37 yards and a touchdown.

The passing attack and the lack of numbers eventually wore down the Wolverines during the warm and humid night.

“What really showed up in the contest was our lack of numbers. It was pretty obvious by the tail end of the third quarter that we were gassed,” Kangas said. “We just didn’t have anyone else that we could put out there. We have 23 kids and it’s tough. It’s 80 degrees out and it’s humid. We are throwing the ball so much they are running many miles a night and it’s hard on them. I can’t begrudge their effort, it was outstanding on their part.”

Preston Warren led the team with 152 yards receiving on 10 receptions with two touchdowns. Max Phillips hauled in six passes for 71 yards in the game.

“Preston is a playmaker and we want to try and get him the ball,” Kangas said. “There is no question about him. We made an adjustment in the game, moving him from a slot to a wide receiver and we isolated him away from trips. We were able to get the first down and we moved him back to slot and eventually got the touchdown. It’s like drawing plays up in the sand.”

Brady Sabolik rushed for 105 yards on 20 carries for the Knights, while Kaden Spindler rushed for 85 yards and a score. Ross Anderson passed for 119 yards and two touchdowns for WCA. He threw an interception as well.

The Wolverines grabbed the early lead when Dykhoff connected with Warren for a 48-yard score.

However, WCA answered with a 36 yard pass from Anderson to Parker Clavin. They converted the 2-point conversion, making it 8-6.

Anderson and Spindler added third quarter touchdowns, giving the Knights a 20-6 lead. The Wolverines came back in the fourth when Dykhoff hit Warren for a 15-yard touchdown pass. Dykhoff found Ryan Anderson for the conversion.

However, after an onside kick, WCA used a time consuming drive which found paydirt when Anderson hit Dawson Staples for a 12-yard score, making it 28-14.

Dykhoff hit Warren on the ensuing drive, giving the Wolverines the ball inside the Knight’s 10 yard line. Dykhoff finished the drive with a 6-yard plunge, cutting it to 28-20. However, the Wolverines were unable to recover the onside kick, falling to the Knights.

“I’m real pleased with the effort of our kids,” Kangas said. “We have 23 kids and they battled their heart out. I couldn’t be prouder of them. We have to go and see what we can do better as coaches and stay the course, work hard.”

The Wolverines fall to 0-4 overall on the season and return to action on Sept. 29 when they take on Pelican Rapids in Pelican Rapids at 7 p.m.

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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