The Wadena-Deer Creek football coaching staff had a change in philosophy as the season wore along. The change has paid off during the final two weeks of the season, especially during its 42-13 victory over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle in Wadena on Oct. 17.
The Wolverines went from a predominately a shotgun-spread offensive-minded team to a power running attack. The Wolverines rushed for 315 yards as a team and six touchdowns in their victory over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle. Wadena-DC head coach Howie Kangas said moving Thomas to the fullback position was one of the keys to helping the team find its identity.
“We had to get out of shotgun and get underneath center,” Kangas said. “We had to put Thomas at fullback to settle the game down and to honor the A and B gap. When you put that size in there, they are going to have to honor the dive play and it opens up the rest of the veer.”
Colby Schertler rushed for three scores and 108 yards on 13 carries, while Cade Kapphahn rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Steven Thomas added 70 yards on 14 carries.
“We battled hard. It’s the seniors last night on this field, so we were just playing with everything,” Schertler said. “We were leaving everything on the field.”
A dominant performance from the offensive line helped the three Wadena-DC running backs. The Wolverines found themselves on schedule and ahead of the chains throughout the night. They finished with 23 first downs in the win, which was keyed by the strong ground attack.
“As long as we didn’t have any penalties, we were going to get first downs,” Kangas said. “We were able to give the ball to multiple backs in the wishbone and all of that had a factor to it. We got a great job from our offensive line as they kept punching a hole and getting a hat on a hat.”
The Wolverines set the tone on the first play of the game when they forced a fumble. They didn’t score on the ensuing drive, but changed the field position and set the tempo of the game.
Kapphahn started the scoring with his first of two touchdowns when he scampered 29-yards in the first quarter. Payton Rondestvedt hit Max Phillips for the 2-point conversion.
“We just executed really well. I told the kids that we played good assignment football defensively and we got the game started off right by getting a turnover on the first play of the game,” Kangas said. “It didn’t take us long to score early and often. We just executed really well offensively. We were able to change the line of scrimmage and our quarterback made a lot of great decisions on the option.”
Thomas put the finishing touches on a 17 play drive in the second quarter with a 4-yard plunge. It was followed by a 38-yard scamper by Schertler late in the first half, giving Wadena-DC a 22-0 lead.
Rondestvedt hit Noah Roers for a 52-yard pass down the middle of the field to start the third quarter, which set up a 2-yard run by Kapphahn. Schertler added a pair of second half touchdowns as he broke from 24 yards and 4 yards in the second half.
Long Prairie-Grey Eagle found some offensive from quarterback Hudson Pung. He finished with two second half touchdowns, one of three yards and another of 46. Schertler said the goal was to contain him and the Wolverines did that for the most part, holding him to 40 yards rushing and 35 yards passing.
Rondestvedt completed all four of his passes for 94 yards. Roers had 52-yards receiving, while Schertler had two receptions for 36 yards. Max Phillips had one for six yards. Rondestvedt and Phillips had a big connection, but a penalty brought the play back.
Defensively, Schertler, Cooper Folkestad and Thomas got to the quarterback for sacks. Wyatt Hamann recovered a fumble in the win.
The Wolverines close out the regular season with back-to-back wins and improve to 3-5 overall.
LPGE 0 0 6 7--13
WDC 8 14 13 7--42
WDC: Cade Kapphahn 29-yard run (Payton Rondestvedt pass to Max Phillips)
WDC: Steven Thomas 4-yard run (kick failed)
WDC: Colby Schertler 38-yard run (Kapphan rush)
WDC: Kapphahn 2-yard run (Daniel Cardenas kick)
WDC: Schertler 24-yard run (kick failed)
LPGE: Hudson Pung 3-yard run (conversion failed)
WDC: Schertler 4-yard run (Cardenas kick)
LPGE: Pung 46-yard run (Joe Langer kick)