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Willmar thriving with fast starts

In three games this season, Willmar has shown itself to be strong out of the gate. Entering week four's North Central White district matchup at Big Lake, the Cardinals have scored 81 of its 126 total points in the first half, with 34 coming in th...

Willmar's Caleb Owens carries the ball in Friday's game against Hutchinson at Hodapp Field. Jake Schultz / Tribune
Willmar's Caleb Owens carries the ball against Hutchinson at Hodapp Field on Sept. 8. Jake Schultz / Tribune

In three games this season, Willmar has shown itself to be strong out of the gate.

Entering week four's North Central White district matchup at Big Lake, the Cardinals have scored 81 of its 126 total points in the first half, with 34 coming in the opening quarter and 47 in the second.

With the Hornets scoring just seven first-quarter points and 13 in the second thus far, another fast start on Friday could lift Willmar to a 3-1 record before homecoming on Sept. 28.

After a week one win over Duluth East (27-6), Big Lake has struggled the last two weeks with losses to Bemidji (41-0) and the fourth-ranked team in Class AAAA, Hutchinson (40-12).

Trying to buck that trend, Big Lake will lean on running back Deandre Hill, who has run the ball 55 times for 315 yards and two touchdowns, which were both in week one. The Hornets have also lost the ball control battle thus far with six turnovers compared to four takeaways.

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While facing off with a winless Princeton team in week three, Willmar put forth its biggest offensive performance of the year with 595 total yards (375 rushing, 220 passing). The defense also knocked the Tigers down with five sacks and three takeaways (interceptions by Drey Dirksen and Jake Evans; fumble recovery by Kaden Streed).

Over three games, the Cardinals are averaging 483.7 yards on offense, with Dirksen accounting for 310.3 per game.

Last year's matchup produced a 38-6 Willmar home win. In that game, the Cardinals had a 32-0 lead after three quarters. Caleb Owens (eight carries, 64 yards, one touchdown) and Ethan Roux (nine carries 34 yards), who are back in the lineup this year, led Willmar in rushing. The passing game also accounted for four touchdowns and 145 yards.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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