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.
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Retired coaches whistle another tune when they become referees. "I never missed a call when I was coaching," quips junior college hall of fame volleyball coach Val Swanson with a straight face. "Me neither," confirmed Mary Hanson. "Now I understand why officials miss things; I can understand their complaints," adds the Willmar Cardinals head coach from 1989 to 2008. The ex-coaches can be seen officiating at high-school matches in the area, including being paired in matches at New London and Kerkhoven this fall. "Up there (on the stand), I sometimes second guess myself," said Swanson.
A year ago in the final round, the Willmar Cardinals got pounded at Hutchinson in the section semifinals. It was a bit like the junior varsity against the varsity. The final was 48-14. The teams will meet again, this time in the quarterfinals and this time at Hodapp Field. Hutchinson was senior-heavy last year, just as the Cardinals are this year. Hutch-inson's loss to Glencoe-Silver Lake on Wednesday dropped it to No. 6, opposite No. 3 Willmar. This will be the fourth time in five years the teams have met in post-season.
WILLMAR -- Scoring on their first five possessions, the Willmar Cardinals eased by Fergus Falls 49-14 on Wednesday to end the regular season. The Cardinals (4-3, 5-3) are back at Hodapp Field at 7 p.m. on Tuesday to start the Section 2AAAA playoffs. Willmar, the No. 3 seed, meets No. 6 Hutchinson (4-4) in the quarterfinal round. The Tigers knocked Willmar out of the playoffs in the semifinal round a year ago at Hutchinson. Marshall (7-1) got the No. 2 seed after holding off Luverne, 15-13. The 49 points marked the second week in a row Willmar scored seven times.
FERGUS FALLS (0-5, 0-7) at WILLMAR CARDINALS (3-3, 4-3) Wednesday at Hodapp Field, 7 p.m. A LOOK AT FERGUS FALLS: The Otters grudgingly allowed one TD per quarter in losing to Sartell, ranked No. 7 in Class AAAA 28-0 on Friday. Fergus Falls has allowed 32 points per game while scoring nine. The Otters are quarterbacked by second-year starter Zach Rengel, a 6-1, 190-pound junior. Running back Bill Rodning is expected back from injury this week. Willmar coach Jon Konold said, "Fergus is young but sound and well-coached. Richard Risbrudt does a good job up there and we'll see a great effort.
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Cardinals piled up 367 yards of offense to overwhelm St. Cloud Apollo 49-14 on Friday in Central Lakes Conference football. Willmar's shotgun set came out blasting. After an Apollo short punt, Alex Grove moved the offense to the Eagles' two-yard line with a pass to Jeremy Schendel. Nathanial Swoyer squirmed in from the two for the first of his three first-half touchdown bursts. The Cardinal defense played the supporting role in this lopsided outcome, but got a chance to show its strength in the first quarter. Apollo faced a first-and-goal at the Willmar one.
RIDGEWATER OVERVIEW: The Warriors skid into the thorniest part of their schedule, meeting MCAC's No. 2-ranked Rochester today and No. 1 Central Lakes next Saturday at home. "They're the Cadillacs of the league," said Ridgewater coach Rob Baumgarn. "It's where we're trying to get, and we'll get there." The team will be near full strength this week with the return of leading rusher Davontay Stevens (pulled quad), who is closing in on 500 yards for the season. Elijah Swen showed some speed in returning a punt for a touchdown last week in a 32-24 loss to Fond du Lac.