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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Ridgewater (1-1) at Vermilion (1-1) 1:30 p.m. today at Ely High School VERMILION OVERVIEW: Rochester pulverized the Ironmen 50-6 in Week 2, one week after Vermilion won at home over Minnesota West, 21-7. The Ironmen favor the pass. Quarterback Logan McAllister is 27-for-56 for 341 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. While the Miners have averaged only 40 yards on the ground, they remain a team with big-play capability. Last year at Willmar, the Ironmen crushed the Warriors 55-17 in Week 3 and would reach the state championship game.
Willmar Cardinals (1-0) vs. Fergus Falls Otters (0-1) Friday at Fergus Falls, 7 p.m. WILLMAR OVERVIEW: Willmar gave up 412 yards (239 passing) but made big plays defensively when it needed to pull out a 26-19 win over visiting Bemidji. "We had our ups and downs but I thought overall the kids battled adversity and showed character and heart," said new coach Jon Konold. "We had great spurts on offense and defense; this week we'll be looking for consistency." Willmar had drives of 55 and 80 yards for scores but it took two defensive touchdowns to keep the Cardinals in front.
The bar is set high for the volleyball team at Ridgewater College. There's no one to blame but themselves. Those three straight trips to the NJCAA Division III championship leave little slack. The fourth edition of Joe Sussenguth's Lady Warriors appears to have the same caliber of talent as the previous teams. Sussenguth succeeded Val Swanson, who happens to be his stepmother, before the 2006 season. He debuted with a national title.
WILLMAR -- After two games, there's no disguising Ridgewater is a team in search of some offense. The Warriors fell to Mesabi Range 20-3 Saturday in their home opener. For the second week in a row, the new spread attack produced only a field goal. "That was pathetic," said coach Rob Baumgarn after a long huddle with his coaching staff at the end of the game. "There's no reason we shouldn't have had 25 points. Every time we got close (to the goal line), we shot ourselves in the foot." Freshman quarterback Jackson Illies, from the shotgun, was intercepted four times.
WILLMAR -- Under a full moon, the Jon Konold era at Willmar debuted with a 26-19 win over the Bemidji Lumberjacks on Friday night. Over 1,600 fans on a perfect evening saw Willmar's new shotgun offense revealed. It produced two touchdowns and made no turn-overs. But it was the defense that saved the evening for Willmar with five takeaways. Two went for touchdowns -- second-quarter interception returns of 22 and 73 yards by Adam Fagerstrom and Taylor Filipek, respectively. "There were so many big plays," said Konold.
Mesabi Range (1-0) at Ridgewater (1-0) 1:30 p.m. today at Hodapp Field, Willmar MESABI RANGE OVERVIEW: The 2008 MCAC champion Norsemen took down Fergus Falls 13-3 in the opener. In his first college game, Avery Walker earned Offensive Player of the Week in the North Division after running for 90 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. That was part of 243 yards rushing as the Norsemen unleashed four running backs that averaged at least 5.3 yards per carry. QB Mario McCollough ran for a TD and threw for 59 yards completing 7 of 14 throws with two INTs.
Bemidji (0-0) at Willmar 0-0 7 p.m. Friday at Hodapp Field, Willmar BEMIDJI OVERVIEW: In the first-ever meeting last year in football, the Lumberjacks beat Willmar at Bemidji State University Stadium, 25-12. Bemidji has a "new-old" coach with the return of Troy Hendricks, a hometown native who was head coach for seven years, but resigned to become athletic director five years ago. The Lumberjacks, reclassified down to Class AAAA, return four seniors among their seven starters. Key backs graduated.
With a new coach (Jon Konold) bringing to town a passing offense, there's more buzz than usual for the home opener on Friday at Hodapp Field. But some 30 years ago, the shifts in Cardinal football were like rumble strips on Willmar Avenue.