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ThunderHawks ramp up attack

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MONTEVIDEO -- What a difference a year makes.

At this time last season, the Montevideo ThunderHawks had a 2-2 record and had scored 74 points in four games. Those two wins turned out to be the only ones they would get the whole year as they finished 2-7. They scored a total of 170 points.

The ThunderHawks go into Friday's game at Minnewaska with a 4-0 record. They're coming off a wild 56-49 win at Albany last week when they scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to come from behind and knock off the Huskies, who entered the game ranked No. 2 in Class AAA.

And ThunderHawks have already nearly matched their point total from last year, racking up 168 points in wins against Lac qui Parle Valley, Sauk Centre, Melrose and Albany.

Prep football poll voters have taken notice. The ThunderHawks have jumped from being unranked last week to No. 7 this week's Class AAA poll.

"We always preach that if we're fundamentally sound it's a tough offense to stop," Montevideo head coach Dave Vik said.

The charge has been led by a group of 12 returning starters, including 10 seniors.

ThunderHawk quarterback Brett Bergeson said this year's group of seniors have always played well together.

"A bunch of us started last year and we all had experience and expected to come out and play this well," Bergeson said.

The offensive stars so far have been Bergeson, senior running back Jake Douglas and senior wide receivers Colton Vien, Joe Bednar and Kyle TeBeest.

The ThunderHawks already had some strong pieces in place last year.

Bergeson's passing efficiency ranked seventh in the area in 2010-11, but he threw for just 807 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Vik said one of the problems was an inexperienced offensive line, and it caused the offense as a whole to struggle.

This year, with the O-line returning, Bergeson is 61-for-100 for 1,190 yards and 14 touchdowns, including a 502-yard game last week at Albany. He is ranked No. 1 in the area in passing yards.

"Having more time to throw has helped him a ton," Vik said. "A lot of the success is due to the experience of our offensive line."

Vien and Bednar have been Bergeson's most frequent targets. They've combined for 38 receptions and 679 yards with eight touchdowns.

While the other seniors had a strong track record, TeBeest has caught opponents off-guard with his success this year. He has 12 receptions for five touchdowns and is averaging 79½ yards per game.

"TeBeest has been a threat," Vik said. "He played a lot of JV last year. He worked hard and learned a lot and was ready to step it up this year. He's somebody that teams didn't know was coming."

As good as the receivers have been, Douglas, the lone running back, might be the best scoring option the ThunderHawks have. He already has 93 carries on the year with seven touchdowns. His 640 rushing yards rank second among area players.

"After our first game against Lac qui Parle, teams have known of our ability to pass the ball, which has opened up the ground game," Vik said. "Douglas sees the field real well ... he's seeing the blocks ahead of him, maybe even before they occur."

Bergeson said having so many options on offense has made his job easier.

"I can throw it off to any of our receivers and they'll go out and catch it any time (and) Douglas is an outstanding running back," Bergeson said.

The win at Albany was just the latest in the four-game scoring outburst where the ThunderHawks have racked up the most points of any team in the West Central Conference.

"I've never been a part of anything like (the Albany game) as an athlete or a coach at any level," Vik said. "It was not just that we came back but the kids not hanging their heads. They never dropped their chin at any point in that game. I was proud to be a part of that."

Bergeson said he thinks the offense can continue to put up big numbers.

"I think we'll be able to (score) no matter what defenses throw at us," he said. "If they try to take our pass from us we'll be able to run all over them and vice versa."

Ben Brewster

Ben Brewster covers the Willmar Stingers and other area sports, as well as laying out the daily sports section cover for the West Central Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @benbrewster.

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