Willmar's offense finds another gear shifted into another gear
Willmar's football win at Clark Field had the feel of several other unexpected Central Lakes Conference victories. In 1982, Willmar was a big underdog to a "college-sized" St. Cloud Tech team at Hodapp Field. All-Stater Peter Stahnke ran for two ...
Willmar's football win at Clark Field had the feel of several other unexpected Central Lakes Conference victories. In 1982, Willmar was a big underdog to a "college-sized" St. Cloud Tech team at Hodapp Field. All-Stater Peter Stahnke ran for two touchdowns. So did fullback Kurt Schow, whose son, Adam, starts at defensive tackle on the current team, and Willmar won 31-13. Willmar went on to tie with Elk River and Tech for its first CLC football championship.
In the rain and mud in 1995, a Willmar team with a losing record upset unbeaten Alexandria 7-0 in overtime. The 2000 team beat both Alex 14-6 and Brainerd 14-7 on the road -- a big switch considering those two teams over the previous two seasons had outscored Willmar a combined 130-14.
Since 2000, Willmar hadn't beaten any of the "Big 3" -- Brainerd, Alexandria or Tech have won outright or had a share of every CLC title since 1996.
Willmar went up to Tech with the same 3-2 record as the Tigers, but a recent reputation for losing games it had a chance to win (like Sauk Rapids and Alexandria).
Inside linebacker/guard Justin Schwieger feels the Cardinals should have won both of those tilts.
"We were confident we could win at Tech," he said.
Different this time is that Willmar clutched their offense into four-wheel drive at Clark Field -- 279 yards on the turf and 173 in the air.
The offensive line stood tall: Center Justin Black flanked by guards Rob Leal and Schwieger, who alternated series with another starting linebacker, Ben Lippert; Tom Boike and Tom Underland at tackles and Ryan DeGree at tight end.
After trailing 19-13, the Tigers shot in front 27-19 with two third-quarter touchdowns. Willmar got one back, but still trailed 27-25 with five minutes left and the ball at their own 15.
It was a magnificent 85-yard drive that took three minutes. Trap plays opened up seams for Cory Hanson, who had 184 yards rushing in 28 attempts. He covered the last 40 yards in two bursts and the Cardinals were 1:55 from celebrating a 31-27 win.
Defensively, Willmar disguised its coverages in an attempt to confuse quarterback Tye Dill. The Tigers moved the ball 314 yards, but Willmar picked off three passes.
"It's a great feeling," said Schwieger, who had a team-high 16 tackles. "I think we proved we're a pretty good football team."
Bob Knutson looks forward to his first season as head coach of the Ridgewater College men's basketball program with several familiar names among the 25 prospects: New London-Spicer graduates David Johnson and Tim Dreier and Willmar's Allen Huselid and Tim Mattern. Johnson transferred after one year at Hamline. Travis Schultz, a 6-6 freshman from Russell-Tyler-Ruthton will help,
Geoff Nelson, Nick Johnson and Isaac Brehmer are back from last year's team.
Knutson, a physical education teacher at NLS, was head coach of the Wildcats boys team from 1989 to 2001.
On the fly
n The Willmar Hockey Association wants to increase participation in girls 10-and-under hockey. For information on getting started, call 320-796-6436. A free hockey hour for boys and girls with equipment provided is slated from 6:30-7:30 p.m. today at the Civic Center.
n Willmar senior Phil Cleary is one of five nominees for Minnesota Junior Tri-Athlete of the Year. The Seventh annual Multi-Sports Awards will be named Nov. 17 in St. Louis Park.
n Injured volleyball player Jamie Wilson was scheduled for her third ACL surgery -- all on the right knee -- on Wednesday. She hopes to compete next year again as a senior.
n Sam Sussenguth is listed as a 6-8, 220-pound redshirt freshmen for North Dakota State, which is in its second year of playing a full NCAA Division I basketball. The Bison play the Gophers at Minneapolis Nov. 13 and Bobby Knight's Texas Tech Red Raiders at Lubbock Nov. 17.