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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WILLMAR -- The newly appointed co-coaches of the Cardinal varsity wrestling program have proved already that they can work in harmony. Justin Brown and Ed Oehlers have teamed up the past four years to guide the freshman football team. Last week, the administration determined they would be a good fit for wrestling, too. Brown came to Willmar as an elementary teacher in 2004 while Oehlers has taught physical education classes here since 2007.
RIDGEWATER OVERVIEW: Ridgewater demonstrated competence running the ball last week -- especially in the first half -- and the ability to make big plays through the air. Quarterback Jackson Illies threw two touchdown passes and backup signal-caller Colton Otto threw another in a 32-6 victory over winless Vermilion. Looking ahead to Northland, coach Rob Baumgarn stated: "This is a chance to get to .500. I would think our sophomores on defense would remember giving up 400 yards rushing last year. Northland started slow, but it takes time for the new players to learn the wing-T.
A LOOK AT WILLMAR: This much is known about Willmar after two games: the Cardinals can move the ball in the air and on the ground with equal authority. Now all that's needed is to realize those capabilities in the same game. The Cardinals showed a well-oiled aerial game in the first half at Alexandria, but went scoreless the second half in a 22-21 loss. Last Friday, Willmar uncorked a flashy running game in the second half after Brainerd chewed the Cardinals up in the first half. "It will be a great challenge up there," said head coach Jon Konold.
The 1946 football team at Willmar High School won its first six games to claim the West Central Conference crown, but lost the final game at Redwood Falls, 2-0, on a blocked punt that went for a safety. A fourth player on that team goes into the Cardinal Pride Hall of Fame this month with the induction of Kenny Johnson, the squad's left halfback and linebacker. Those were single-wing days, a formation that would be overtaken in the 1950s by the T-formation which in turn gave way to the I, veer, the shotgun spread and other formations. Allan Backlund, a junior in 1946, would snap the ball to
WILLMAR -- The Brainerd Warriors scored 26 straight points in the first half and went on to beat the Willmar Cardinals 32-18 on a damp Friday night at Hodapp Field. The outcome is hardly a surprise.
Vermilion (0-2) at Ridgewater (0-2) Today at 3 p.m. at Hodapp Field VERMILION?OVERVIEW: In the home opener for Ridgewater, Vermilion visits Willmar looking to bounce back from a 42-7 loss at Ely to Rochester. That followed a 35-13 setback to Minnesota West at the Kickoff Classic. That's a tougher schedule than Ridgewater's played so far, but the Ironmen still have to be concerned that the defense is allowing 465 yards per game. Middle linebacker Ethan Washek was so busy against the Yellowjackets that his 19 tackles earned Defensive Player of the Week honors in the MCAC North.