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Wolverines checkmate Knights in season opener

Wadena-Deer Creek Head Coach Howie Kangas meets with some of his players in the first half of Friday's prep football game at Barrett. Kangas and the Wolverines broke a 17-game losing string by topping the Knights 28-16.1 / 2
Photos by Brian Hansel West Central Area's David Ehlers (70) pursues Wadena-Deer Creek's Evan VanErp in Friday night's season-opening football game for both clubs.2 / 2

Evan VanErp logged 152 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns Friday as the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines broke a 17-game losing streak by topping West Central Area 28-16.

The game marked the head coaching debut in blue and gold for Howie Kangas, who spent 18 years as head man at Perham before retiring after the 2009 season. Kangas helped the Yellowjackets with 119 games and reach the state tournament three times.

Kangas and his staff installed a Jet offense before the season. The offense emphasizes motion and misdirection, and the Wolverines used it to out-gain the Knights 472-148.

"We were constantly knocking on the door," Kangas said. "It was just a question of when we were going to spring something and eventually, we did."

Jake Krause rolled up 101 yards on 20 carries and scored once on a one-yard plunge. Freshman Andrew VanErp gave the Wolverines a big boost with 66 rushing yards on 11 carries and five receptions for 30 yards. Sophomore receiver Blaine Cooper caught two passes for 31 yards.

The lead see-sawed in the first half with Evan VanErp putting his club up 6-0 on a 21-yard run in the first quarter.

The Knights came back to take the lead, after a fumble recovery gave Dave Drexler's club a short field at the WDC 30.

Dakotah Kashmark bootlegged the ball across the goal line from six yards out and added the go-ahead conversion himself.

The Wolverines started a drive from their own 24 late in the first quarter that stayed alive with the help of a 21-yard run by VanErp and a 19-yard pass reception by Cooper. Evan VanErp converted on a fourth and five to put Jake Krause in position to score three plays later from the one. VanErp's conversion put WDC on top 14-8 with 8:05 left in the second quarter.

Kashmark found Drew Peterson open for a two-yard touchdown reception before the half. Kashmark's conversion run put the Knights on top 16-14 at the half.

The score did not change until the fourth quarter when Evan VanErp broke off two scoring runs of 27 and 20 yards.

"Big plays really hurt us," Drexler said. "We need to limit those big plays and get stops on crucial, momentum-changing drives."

The Wolverines limited the Knights to just 77 yards on 31 rushing attempts. Zach Fischer was WCA's top rusher with 32 yards on 10 carries. Alex Anderson was WCA's yardage leader through the air, catching a Kashmark pass for a 31-yard gain.

The Wolverines will host Barnesville Friday in a 7 p.m. game.

WDC 6 8 0 14 - 28

WCA 8 8 0 0 - 16

WDC: Evan VanErp 21-yard run (PAT failed), Jake Krause 1-yard run (PAT Evan VanErp run), VanErp 27-yard run (PAT Andrew VanErp pass from Evan VanErp), Evan VanErp 20-yard run (PAT VanErp run)

WCA: Dakotah Kashmark 6-yard run (PAT Kashmark run), Drew Peterson 2-yard pass from Kashmark (PAT Kashmark run)


First Downs 18 8

Yards Rushing 366 77

Yards Passing 61 71

Total Yards 427 148

Passes 7-10 5-11

Intercepted by 1 0

Fumbles lost 1 1

Penalties 4-30 4-20