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Photo by Rand Middleton Concordia Cobbers' new "one-two punch" consists of quarterback Michael Dunham (No. 1), left, pitching to fullback Andrew Larson (No. 2) at Carleton College in Northfield on Saturday.

Dunham off to strong start for Concordia College

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Michael Dunham, who quarterbacked the Willmar Cardinals for the better part of three seasons, is 3-0 as a starter at Concordia College. The Cobbers improved to 3-4 in the MIAC and 5-4 overall by beating Carleton 31-19 in Northfield Saturday.

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Dunham threw for 162 yards and ran for 45 more, though three sacks made it a net 32. His 20-yard keeper capped the scoring in the fourth quarter.

The 6-2, 190-pound sophomore has an impressive quarterback efficiency of 129.19. He's thrown for 975 yards , completing 78 of 135 passes with five touchdowns and only one interception.

After backing up senior Andrew Larson with part-time work over the first five games, Dunham started the fourth quarter against Augsburg with the Cobbers down by two touchdowns. In a remarkable 15 minutes, he completed 19 of 35 passes for 244 yards and two TDs to send the game to overtime where the Auggies did prevail.

That got him the starting role.

It also allowed coach Terry Horan (WHS 1985) to move Larson, perhaps the team's best athlete, to fullback.

They've been quite a "one-two punch" -- Dunham, wearing No. 1 and Larson in the No. 2 jersey combined for 332 yards at Northfield.

"Andy is our best running back," said Horan. "He's had two touchdowns in each of the last three games."

Dunham said the transition went smoothly.

"After Augsburg, Andy and I had a meeting with coach Horan and the offensive coaches. They said a boost was needed because we'd been inconsistent. They wanted to keep Larson on the field. He said he'd be happy to try fullback and he has just taken off with it."

Dunham was an All-Central Lakes quarterback in 2007 when the Cardinals went 5-2 in conference. Larson, who quarterbacked the Fergus Falls Otters in high school, played in the secondary the previous three seasons.

Horan recalls watching Dunham play basketball. "I remember he buried a three-pointer in the last seconds against St. Cloud Tech to get the game to overtime," said Horan. "I knew I wanted him; he's so calm and cool and doesn't rattle. He's got this knack for making big plays."

The best part, says Horan, is having him for two more years.

Dunham saw his brother Mark, the Cardinals' senior quarterback, play twice this year. "He threw for more yards than I did my senior year," said Mike. The younger Dunham threw for over 1,900 yards.

The Cobbers host Gustavus Adolphus on Saturday to conclude the season. Former Cardinal teammates Andy Boersma and Alec Saunders are on the Gusties.

When it comes to recruiting, Horan pays special attention to this area and the Central Lakes Conference. Kent Johnson, junior from Litchfield, was expected to compete with Dunham for the back-up role this fall but broke his finger and was moved to running back. He was slated to start against Bethel but blew his ACL three days before the game. Justin Hanson, a junior offensive guard from New London-Spicer, has made several starts.

On the fly

n Ex-Lady Warrior Tara Thielke, a junior guard, has joined her former Hancock teammate Jenni Noordmans on the UM-Morris basketball team.

n After two years at Ridgewater, former Cardinal Trent Molacek is wrestling for Jesse Nelson at Southwest Minnesota State. Nelson, who went to Marshall after coaching the Warriors, has two other ex-Warriors on the Mustang roster: Brandon Schunk of Wabasso and Brian Beilke of Sauk Centre.

n Sam Sussenguth is beginning his fifth and final season at North Dakota State (he redshirted as a freshman). Listed at 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, he played in 27 games as a junior averaging six minutes of floor time. The Bison open at Utah Valley in Orem Friday.

n Abshir Ahmed set a school record by scoring 24 goals (the All-Conference senior also had five assists). The previous high was by Andy Rogers, who scored 22 goals in 2005. The boys soccer program, now 10 years old, won 27 games over the past two seasons.

n Freshman Kelsey Evans has averaged 15 minutes in the first two games at Briar Cliff in Sioux City. She has four steals and four assists and scored three points in the Chargers' two wins.

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Rand Middleton

Covers Willmar and area high schools and Ridgewater College, plus amateur baseball, stock car racing and fitness events in summer. Writes weekly column since 1980. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 

(320) 214-4334
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