Weather Forecast


VanErp hopes for Otter-like turnaround from Wolverines

Photo by Brian Hansel Senior Kevin Tumberg will quarterback the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines this season. The Wolverines open their 2009 season Friday hosting Park Rapids in a 7 p.m. game.

Tom VanErp has kept a newspaper clipping since last fall and he has given every one of his Wadena-Deer Creek football players to see it.

The story concerns the Fergus Falls Otters and their amazing 2008 season. The Otters went from 0-9 in 2006 to 10-1 last year and reached the state quarterfinals before falling to St. Michael-Albertville.

VanErp wants to see that kind of success creep across the county line this fall.

The winless Wolverines open the season Friday hosting Park Rapids and a victory could have the kind of morale-building that propelled the Otters so far last year.

"Right now we're ahead of where we were at this time last year," VanErp said.

The Wolverines were bitten hard by the injury bug last season. Kevin Tumberg, who had not played the quarterback spot before, was pressed into the role. This year's club has jokingly awarded Tumberg with a red No. 4 jersey -- a tribute to Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.

Tumberg will run the wishbone from the beginning this year. The 185-pound senior will be joined in the backfield by senior running back Aaron Kern (195) and junior Josh Sherman (159). Three candidates for the fullback spot are junior Cody Redfield (265), Isaiah Toedter (193) and sophomore Logan Meyer (175). Graduation cost the team standout back Riley Snyder, who had a huge 192-yard rushing game against West Central Area in the Fargodome last fall.

Junior Taylor Bienusa (160) has shown some good pass-catching abilities.

The offensive line is where the Wolverines have to put it together after losing Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year Ryan Wolfenden to graduation. Senior Dane Hoffman (285) and juniors Duke Harrison (237), Nolan Johnson (165) and Aaron Uselman (179) are all likely to see action.

The Wolverines are expected to come out faster on defense than offense. VanErp has his entire secondary back with Tumberg and Bienusa joined by juniors Jordan Rentz (142) and Colter Pettit (150).

The linebacker corps will include Kern, Toedter and senior Zack Kelderman (185).

Harrison, Johnson and Hoffman are also expected to form the backbone of the defensive line. Harrison is set at a tackle spot while Hoffman could be used at either tackle or end. Johnson, who sat out last year with an injury, will be playing a defensive end spot in VanErp's 4-4.

Rounding out the senior ranks is lineman Michael Burcham (257).

Many of WDC's large junior class were pressed into starting jobs as sophomores due to injuries. WDC's juniors this fall will also include wideout/defensive back Derek Rude (145), wide receiver/defensive back Scott Fillhouer (145), wide receiver/defensive back Alex Andrews (136), tight end/defensive back Dylan Isola (155), running back/linebackers Jared Wegscheid (152), and Jacob Wegscheid (150), tight end/linebacker Jordan Jacobson (185), running back/defensive back Kenny Sakry (148), offensive tackle/defensive end Dylan Anderson (210), lineman Kyle Moench (173), lineman Patrick Carkhuff (255), lineman Cory Tumberg (180), center/linebacker Isaac Lustila (185), center/defensive tackle Josh Youngbauer (253), guard/defensive end Ryan Johnson (190) and lineman Shaun West (237).

"I think we've got the physical skills to be pretty good," VanErp said. "We just have to develop the confidence."