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Willmar Cardinals football preview

Willmar Cardinals (1-0) vs. Fergus Falls Otters (0-1)

Friday at Fergus Falls, 7 p.m.

WILLMAR OVERVIEW: Willmar gave up 412 yards (239 passing) but made big plays defensively when it needed to pull out a 26-19 win over visiting Bemidji. "We had our ups and downs but I thought overall the kids battled adversity and showed character and heart," said new coach Jon Konold. "We had great spurts on offense and defense; this week we'll be looking for consistency." Willmar had drives of 55 and 80 yards for scores but it took two defensive touchdowns to keep the Cardinals in front. While the offense will need to get more than 211 yards most weeks, it was an impressive turnover-free debut in the new up-tempo offense.

FERGUS FALLS OVERVIEW: The Otters fell 13-6 at Moorhead in their non-conference opener. The Spuds, who are in the largest class (AAAAA), held Fergus to 40 yards rushing but southpaw-throwing, sophomore quarterback Zach Rengel hit star receiver Nick Risbrudt eight times for 104 yards and a late touchdown. Fergus was 0-6 their first year (2006) in the Central Lakes Conference, finished 3-3 the next year and 6-0 to win the title last fall. They went on to win the Section 8AAAA championship. QB Derek Hansen (1,600 yards, 17 TDs) is now at Augustana and running back Matt Mithaugen is also gone. He rushed for 144 yards last September when the Otters beat Willmar 31-22.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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