Game of the Week: One tough, talented Saint

KERKHOVEN -- The only thing that slowed down Dylan Rudningen this fall is a trip to the doctor. The Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg running back/linebacker thought he sprained his wrist during the Fighting Saints' week six game against Parkers Prairie....

Dylan Rudningen
KMS running back/linebacker Dylan Rudningen has racked up 1,583 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns, helping the Fighting Saints to a 6-1 record. Tom Larson / Tribune

KERKHOVEN - The only thing that slowed down Dylan Rudningen this fall is a trip to the doctor.

The Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg running back/linebacker thought he sprained his wrist during the Fighting Saints' week six game against Parkers Prairie. At halftime, he got his right wrist taped up, but the pain wasn't going away.

"Eventually, I was playing linebacker like this," Rudningen said, putting his right arm behind his back. "I went to the chiropractor and he goes, 'Yeah, that might be broken.' ... We went to ACMC because our doctor was gone and we ended up waiting five or six hours. My dad was calling (the coaches) and telling them what was going on. They were like, 'What? We didn't know it was serious.'"

And why would they think the injury was serious? Rudningen ended up running for 244 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries in a 30-24 win.

It's not like Rudningen was going to admit to being hurt anyways.


"He didn't really tell us," said Justin Johnson, one of KMS's co-head coaches along with Matt Fragodt. "That's the kind of kid he is where he doesn't want to be off the field. He broke one of the small bones in his wrist."

Through bumps and bruises and even a broken bone, Rudningen has bulldozed his way through the competition with 1,583 yards and 24 touchdowns on 223 carries as the Fighting Saints have a 6-1 record with undefeated Royalton coming to Murdock at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Even with his broken wrist in a cast and wrapped in a club, Rudningen ran the ball 30 times for 231 yards and five touchdowns in last week's 42-6 victory against Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa.

"It got really hot. It was sweating a lot," Rudningen said with a laugh, describing how he played with the club. "Tackling was a little rough."

Johnson added, "He's left-handed and (the injury) is on his right wrist, so that helps a little. We were worried about catching pitches, but so far, so good."

Averaging 32 carries a game, Rudningen admits he's sore in the morning. It's all mental to the 175-pound bruising back. Plus, the aches are worth it when he can feel a defense start to break.

"It's fun after 25 carries you can finally feel the defense break. It gets better and better," Rudningen said. "It's hard to explain but I can feed off that. ... It's a testament to how our game style is and how tough-nosed we are. We have 25 guys on our roster - and everyone plays both ways and special teams - and we're breaking teams with 50-plus on their roster."

Teams know they're getting a steady dose of Rudningen runs, stacking nine or 10 in the box and changing fronts. But it helps Rudningen when the offensive line is vocal and cohesive.


"They're so good at talking to each other and talking to me and other coaches," Rudningen said of the O-line. "Against USA (Upsala/Swanville), they told me, 'You can run it like this and we'll block it different,' or 'Dylan, it's a 46 power, run up the four-hole 'cause we're going to block it like this for you.' Every once in a while you have to bounce it or cut back but they make good holes. It's way better than last year. They're much more mature and really competitive."

After rushing for just 1,002 yards as a junior, a little extra speed and strength has gone a long way. The biggest leap Rudningen has made, according to Johnson, is how he has refused to go down after contact.

"I can count on one hand how many times one guy has tackled him this year," Johnson said. "His yards after contact, those are probably half his yards on the season."

Johnson continued, "We've really preached to the guys to not quit blocking because he's going to break tackles. Go find someone downfield and instead of a 10-yard gain, make it a 40-yard gain or a touchdown."

Against the Royals on Wednesday, Rudningen's hope is for a strong start.

"I know from the past they start really fast. They go hard right away but they left off," Rudningen said. "We have to be ready right away and punch them in the mouth. If we get the ball right away, score. If they get the ball right away, get a three-and-out. Just dominate right away."

Along with trying to beat Royalton for the first time since 2014, the Fighting Saints are also looking to end a 10-year state drought. As of Monday, the new QRF standings on has KMS tied with Mayer Lutheran for the top seed in Section 4A.

The hope is that nothing - not even a broken wrist - will slow down Rudningen and the rest of the KMS squad from a state trip.


"Ten years ago we won (a state championship). I remember (being) in second grade; it was crazy," Rudningen said. "They were huge and you knew they were going to win every time. They just dominated everybody. I remember going to the FargoDome and the Metrodome to watch it. Just to have the potential to be on the same banner as those guys, making it to state and hopefully more than that, it's humbling."

Area schedule

(Games at 7 p.m. unless noted)


Rocori at Willmar

Albany at New London-Spicer

Glencoe-Silver Lake at Litchfield

LQPV at Minneota


Dawson-Boyd at Ortonville

Canby at YME

Paynesville at Maple Lake

Benson at Minnewaska

ACGC at Sauk Centre

Morris/C-A at BOLD

Osakis at Montevideo

Royalton at KMS


BBE at Upsala/Swanville

Hancock at Brandon/Evansville

MACCRAY at Edgerton/Ellsworth

Red Rock Central at RCW

BLHS at Nicollet

With 24 touchdowns on the year, KMS running back Dylan Rudningen had led the Fighting Saints' offense to 30.7 points per game, best in the Mid State 3 district. Tom Larson / Tribune

What To Read Next
Get Local