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Prep football: Cardinals to hunt Elk River on Tuesday

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals will host Elk River at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of Section 6-5A football.

The Cardinals (4-4) got the No. 4 seed in the 6-team pod while the Elks (3-5) nudged Buffalo (3-5) for No. 5 by two-tenths of a point in the QRF rankings. The No. 6 Bison will play at No. 3 St. Michael-Albertville (5-3).

The winner of the game at Willmar will travel to play No. 1 Rogers (7-1) at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27.

Elk River tied for eighth-place with Anoka in the 12-team Northwest Suburban Conference, which includes many 6A schools as well as Totino-Grace, ranked No. 1 in 5A and Osseo, No. 4 in 6A. The Elks lost to both.

The Elks are a running team. Denis Bardashevskiy, a 160-pound junior, rushed for 199 and 274 yards the last two games and has 1,091 for the season.

The Cardinals and Elks have met six times previously in the post-season, the last time in 1993 when the Elks won 35-28. Willmar won twice in the playoff series, both in section finals in the largest class: 24-21 at Elk River in 1987 and 35-19 at Hodapp Field in 1988.

Elk River was a founding member of the Central Lakes Conference in 1977 but departed after the 1983-84 school year. In a memorable meeting at Hodapp Field in late October 1982, both teams were 8-0 heading into the final game with a playoff berth at stake (under the old format only conference champions advanced).

Led by the Otto brothers, the Elks prevailed 28-14. Willmar, St. Cloud Tech and Elk River each finished 8-1 that fall but only the Elks went on. Willmar fullback/linebacker Pete Stahnke was All-State.