The Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines kick off the new season with a pair of tough tests when they open the season with Parkers Prairie on Aug. 30 in Parkers Prairie. The season-opening road contest will be a stiff test for the Wolverines. Parkers Prairie returns with several key players from last year's team that finished with a 4-5 record, but earned a 41-20 victory over the Wolverines in last year's season-opener.
"Parkers Prairie is traditionally a power football team and they return a couple of really good players," Wadena-DC head coach Howie Kangas said. "That concerns me from a number of stand points. We will we just have to see if we can throw out an anchor and try to hang on."
In last year's contest, quarterback Matt Ferle completed 10 passes for 150 yards and three touchdowns. However, it was the ground attack that wore down the Wolverines in last year's contest. Austin Koep had 34 carries for 165 yards and two scores. His ground attack set up their potent play action passing attack. The Panthers broke open a 20-12 game with a 21-point fourth quarter.
According to Kangas, the Panthers play power football and that is their make-up. He said they use the play action pass off of their strong running game.
"The key to keeping the play action pass from being so effective is stopping that off-tackle play," Kangas said. "It's pretty hard to play action pass if the run doesn't work. If the run works, the play action works. The key is to stop the run."
He said the key will be their down linemen on defense need to occupy some blockers and control the line of scrimmage, allowing the defenders in the defensive backfield to roam free and get to the running back.
It doesn't change offensively from last year for the Wolverines. They hope to pick up some big chunk plays and instead long sustained drives. To do that, they will need to create space on offense, allowing their playmakers to get some room on the outside.
"I don't think we have the type of make up where we can take the ball and go 15 plays and score," Kangas said. "We have to try and hunt some big plays and try to get the ball into the hands of the right people like Max Phillips, Hunter Hawkins and Zach Shaw and some of those players."
Hawkins takes over at quarterback and Kangas said he brings a lot to the table with his athleticism, height and the want to compete. Kangas added they are doing a lot on his abilities, whether it be short throws, mid-range passes or the option game.
The Wolverines and the Panthers kick off the new season at 7 p.m. in Parkers Prairie on Friday, Aug. 30.