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Prep Football: Cards belong with big boys

Willmar cornerback Noah Slagter tackles Princeton's Bailey Ross on a screen pass on Friday against Hodapp Field. Curt Hogg / Tribune1 / 6
Willmar's Austin Kowalczyk sprints down the sideline while returning a punt against Princeton on Friday at Hodapp Field. Curt Hogg / Tribune2 / 6
Willmar safety Drey Dirksen flies in to tackle Princeton running back Connor Beck on Friday at Hodapp Field. Curt Hogg / Tribune3 / 6
Willmar wide receiver Noah Slagter runs up the field on Friday against Princeton at Hodapp Field. Curt Hogg / Tribune4 / 6
Willmar running back Caleb Owens stretches for the goalline to score a touchdown against Princeton on Friday at Hodapp Field. Curt Hogg / Tribune5 / 6
Willmar quarterback Donald Jurek high-steps in the end zone after scoring on a two-point conversion against Princeton on Friday. Curt Hogg / Tribune6 / 6

WILLMAR — One week ago, in a close loss to one of the best Class AAAA teams in the state, the Willmar football team proved it belongs with the big boys.

Taking on a lesser opponent on Friday night, the Cardinals showed that they could be dominant.

Behind five touchdowns from quarterback Donald Jurek, Willmar punched across the first eight scores of the game en route to a 54-14 win over Princeton at Hodapp Field.

It was apparent from the opening drive that Willmar was likely to improve to 2-1 on the season.

Running back Caleb Owens took the Cardinals' first carry over 40 yards and, three plays, later, punched in a three-yard touchdown to take a 6-0 lead.

Following another three-and-out by the Tigers, Noah Slagter returned a punt to the four yard line, setting up a Jurek touchdown from one yard out.

That combo connected for Willmar's third of four first-quarter touchdowns just minutes later on a 27-yard strike down the sideline. Slagter went over 200 yards receiving on the season a 45-yard receiving night.

Jurek found Drey Dirksen for a 23-yard touchdown to wrap up the first quarter with a 28-0 lead and added a two-yard strike to Nick Prokosch in the second quarter.

Another tough test awaits Willmar next Friday, when it plays host to Big Lake.

Both teams' lone loss on the season has come at the hands of No. 4 Hutchinson, with Willmar losing 46-38 in Week Two and the Hornets falling 21-14 on Friday.

Jurek completed 10 of his 14 passes on the night for 224 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions. Through three games, the Cardinals senior quarterback has thrown for 696 yards and 10 touchdowns to just one interception.

Three more touchdowns in the third quarter, including a 52-yard catch by Prokosch cemented the win for Willmar.

With Prokosch's second score, Princeton has allowed at least 50 points in each of its first three games—all losses.

Owens rushed for a game-high 120 yards on 12 carries.

Willmar 54, Princeton 14

Princeton (0-3) 0 0 0 14 — 14

Willmar (2-1) 28 6 20 0 — 54

Scoring Plays

W — Caleb Owens 3 run (2-pt. PAT fail)

W — Donald Jurek 1 run (Drey Dirksen pass from Jurek good)

W — Noah Slagter 27 pass from Jurek (2-pt. PAT fail)

W— Dirksen 23 pass from Jurek (Jurek run good)

W— Nick Prokosch 2 pass from Jurek (PAT fail)

W — Prokosch 52 pass from Jurek (Dirksen kick)

W — Ethan Roux 1 run (Dirksen kick)

W — Gavin Haverly 3 run (PAT fail)

P — Hepner 13 run (2-pt. PAT good)

P — Devalk 3 run (2-pt. fail)


First downs: 11 ... Penalties: 4-32 ... Rushing (Individual and team): Cole Heppner 14-81, Jacob Chase 7-39. 29-159 ... Passing (Individual and team): Michael Schimming 7-16-28-1.James Flicek 2-6-43-0. 9-22-71-1.... Receiving (Individual and team): Tim Wesely 1-17, Colton Malecha 1-26. 9-71 ... Interceptions: none... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): n/a ... QB sacks: none


First downs: 15 ... Penalties: 6-55 ... Rushing (Individual and team): Caleb Owens 12-120, Ethan Roux 8-16, Donald Jurek 5-21, Miguel Moreno 4-24 ... Passing (Individual and team): Jurek 10-14-224-0 ... Receiving (Individual and team): Jake Evans 2-30, Noah Slagter 2-45, Caleb Ditmarson 1-53, Nick Prokosch 3-62, Drey Dirksen 1-23, Austin Kowalczyk 1-11 ... Interceptions: Evans 1, Bryce Erickson 1 ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): Dirksen 5-4, Gavin Haverly 3-2, Andrew Reigstad 4-2, Jake Evans 3-2 ... QB sacks: Taylor Tjaden 1, Haverly 1

Curt Hogg

Curt Hogg is a sports reporter at the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minnesota. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016. 

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