Whether he has the ball or not, Parkers Prairie’s Travis Yohnke impacts the game. The standout running back helped the Panthers to a 14-0 victory over the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines in their season-opening football game in Parkers Prairie on Aug. 31.
Yohnke played a big role in sparking a ground attack that wore down the Wolverines throughout the night and changed the game on defense as well, slowing down the attack.
“I thought we played pretty good defense, but they had Yohnke and he is such a special football player,” Wadena-Deer Creek head coach Howie Kangas said. “He was almost involved in three out of four plays as either the runner, the deceptor or the receiver. He is just a heckuva player.”
Kangas said Yohnke was able to impact their off-tackle play when they had the ball. Kangas said he was just a stud. Yohnke didn’t find the end zone in the game, but carried for 101 yards, unofficially.
Turnovers hurt the Wolverines in the contest. They finished with four of them, two of them by Matt Jirik, whose first quarter interception set up the game’s first score.
“We can’t have the turnovers. I knew that going into the game, we couldn’t give them the short field,” Kangas said. “What do we do at the end of the first quarter, we give them the short field and they score about four plays later when we gave them the ball on the 15. When we forced them to go the length of the field, we got the ball back. It was the short-field that hurt us.”
Tanner Shaw snuck through the line for an 8-yard touchdown run.
Kangas said he wasn’t disappointed with the play of the Wolverines defense. Kangas said he wasn’t pleased with the offense and with how he coached.
“We have to assess our personnel better and we have to assess where our strength is and really pitch to our strength,” Kangas said. “As far as our offense is concerned, we have to think people and not plays.”
Panther quarterback Brendan Johnson extended the lead with his legs and not his arm. He dropped back to pass on second-and-long, but scampered to the outside. He broke free through the secondary, going 37-yards for the score.
The Wolverines threatened to cut into the lead after the scoring drive when Hunter Hawkins connected with Max Phillips on a 53-yard pass play. However, the drive ended with a fumble, which was one of four Wadena-DC turnovers on the night.
“Our poor play offensively is all on me and we are going to get it corrected,” Kangas said.
Unofficially, Hawkins and Kapphan led the team in rushing with Hawkins rushing for 45 yards, while Kapphahn rushed for 48.
The Wolverines have another tough test out of the gates when they take on Ottertail Central on Sept. 7 in Battle Lake. The Bulldogs opened the season with a 46-14 victory over Thief River Falls.
WDC 0 0 0 0--0
PP 0 8 6 0--14
PP: Tanner Shaw 8-yard run (Brendan Johnson pass to Travis Yohnke)
PP: Johnson 37-yard run (conversion failed)