STEPHEN-ARGYLE AND KCC THE FAVORITES IN SECTION 8 9-MAN FOOTBALL

The four-time defending champion Stephen-Argyle Storm has been picked to finish first in Section 8 9-Man Football coaches poll that KROX conducted.  Kittson County Central was a close second.  The poll and season preview for each team is below –

SECTION 8 9-MAN COACHES POLL
1. Stephen-Argyle (6) – 42
2. Kittson County Central (1) – 35
3. 
North Central Stars (Kelliher-Northome-Bigfork) – 26
4. Goodridge-Grygla – 25
5. Northern Freeze – 23
6. Warren-Alvarado-Oslo – 20
7. Badger-Greenbush-Middle River – 17
8. Lake of the Woods – 7

Stephen-Argyle – Coach Ethan Marquis
The Storm are the four-time defending Section champions including an 8-0 regular season in 2018. Stephen-Argyle topped Kittson County Central in the Section championship game 27-20 before falling in overtime of the first round of the State Playoffs 28-20 against Mountain Iron-Buhl. The Storm must replace a talented and deep senior class that won the Section every year they played.
Top returners – Dawson Fueillerat (45 rushes, 316 yards, 3 TDs), Mason Mock, Jason Lindgren (26 rushes, 158 yards, 3 TDs, 4 catches, 31 yards), Kole Szczepanski, Josh Pietreszewski
Season preview
– (Provided by Coach Marquis) – “We will see two teams, if not three, that will be competing for the Section 6 Title as well as the usual tough competition for Section 8.  We expect almost every team we play will be better than they were last year.  The wide variety of cross-over games with Section 6 will make the Section 8 outcome difficult to predict.  We plan to prepare hard, one week at a time, and do all we can to reach our team goals.”

Kittson County Central – Coach Cory Waling
The Bearcats were 4-4 in the regular season last year, but got hot at the right time advancing to the Section championship game for the fourth straight year. KCC beat the Northern Freeze 48-14 before topping Kelliher/Northome 22-16 in overtime of the semifinals of the Section playoffs. Kittson County Central’s bid for a state tournament appearance once again came up just short against a familiar foe as Stephen-Argyle topped the Bearcats 27-20 in the Section championship game.
Top returners
– Zach Vig (RB/LB), Cade Langen (OL/DT), Adam Gustafson (RB/DB), Gunner Klein (C/DT), Mitchell Docken (OL/DE)
Season preview
– (Provided by Coach Waling) – We have a ton of positions to fill after losing 8 seniors off of last year’s Section 8 Runner-up team.  We do have returning linemen with experience so we will need to lean on them to get our skill people up to speed.  We will lack any real depth this season so injuries could cause lots of trouble for us.  If we stay healthy and some of our younger players step up we look forward to a successful season.”

 

Northern Freeze – Coach Adam Gast (Did not respond)
After a winless 2017 season, the Northern Freeze went 3-5 during the 2018 regular season before falling to Kittson County Central 48-14 in the first round of the Section playoffs.
Top returners – Ty Anderson (123 rushes, 612 yards), Mason Bring (46 rushes, 174 yards; 11-26, 24 yards passing), Tristian Comstock, Isaac Johnson, Logan Gast, Adam Maurstad
Season preview
– (Provided by Coach Gast) – “I believe we are looking forward to one of our better seasons in years we have a lot of players who have gotten lots of playing time in the last couple of years.”

Goodridge-Grygla – Coach John Wilebski
The Chargers started the regular season 4-0, but won just one of their last four games in the regular season. Goodridge-Grygla beat Clearbrook-Gonvick 59-20 in the first round of the Section tournament before falling at Stephen-Argyle 22-16 in the semifinals of the Section playoffs.
Top returners
– Moses Jensen (20 rushes, 254 yards), Hudsom McMillin (5-10, 90 yards passing), Blake Passa, Cory Klevin, Riley Manderud, Levi Kiesow
Season preview
– (Provided by Coach Wilebski) – “We are young & rebuilding after losing 9 senior’s from last season. Hope to compete & stay away from injuries. Hope to make a strong playoff run.”

 

North Central Stars (Kelliher-Northome new co-op with Littlefork) – Coach Steve Geerdes
The Mustangs went an impressive 7-1 in the regular season last year, but only played one Section opponent beating Lake of the Woods 52-8 in the regular season. In the Section playoffs, Kelliher-Northome once again toppled Lake of the Woods 36-0 before falling at home to Kittson County Central 22-16 in overtime of the Section playoff semifinals. This year’s team experienced an eventful offseason according to head coach Steve Geerdes, “Kelliher/Northome has entered into a coop agreement with Littlefork (without a coop Littlefork would not have been able to field a team for this season).  We will be called the North Central Stars.  We will continue to play 9-man regular season in the 9 North District.  MSHSL has informed us as of last week that we should stay in 9man section 8, but depending upon what shakes out with a few other teams could be placed in section 7.  I was given Sept 3 as a hope to know the date by the MSHSL.  As new coop we have been practicing with 27 players, 10 of which are seniors.  We hope the coop will allow us to be able to compete in the district and section by giving our opponents a game.”
Top returners
– Benji Jourdan, Jacob Pendergast, Matt Kennedy, Cam McRoberts,  Ethan Dreher, and Ethan Koist
Season preview
– (Provided by Coach Geerdes) – “Kelliher/Northome were joined in our coop this year by Littlefork.  We will be called the North Central Stars, we will continue to play in the 9 North 9-man district.  As of Monday, Bob Madison at the MSHSL contacted me and they hope to have official football section assignments out on Monday, Sept 3.  But as per our conversation, we could be assigned to 9-man section 7 or section 8.  He was hedging toward keeping us in section 8, but I think that was dependent upon a few other things with other coops and teams that might field teams this fall.  For the season outlook as a new coop you would expect to go through some growing pains and it will be a learning process.  We hope to put a team on the field that gets better each week.”

 

Warren-Alvarado-Oslo – Coach Tony Gullikson
The Ponies won their only game last season in their regular-season finale besting Laporte 44-14 to finish 1-7 before falling to top-seed Stephen-Argyle 47-6 in the first round of the Section playoffs.  Last year many 9th and 10th graders played and started for the varsity.    If they could get to .500 it would be a giant step in the right direction.
Top returners – Brandon Miller Sr. did not play last year due to a torn ACL. He was a two-way starter his sophomore season and will be a difference-maker. Gunnar Jorgensen, Sr., is a two-way starting lineman.  Connor Narlock, Sr., started on offense and played defense while Blaise Potucek, Jr., will remain a two-way starter at both running back and linebacker.
Season preview – (Provided by Coach Gullikson) “Brandon Miller Sr. did not play last year due to a torn ACL.   He was a two-way starter his sophomore season.  He is a difference-maker.   Gunnar Jorgensen Sr. is a two-way starting lineman.  Connor Narlock Sr.  Started on offense and played defense, Blaise Potucek Jr. RB/LB two way starter last year.

Badger-Greenbush-Middle River – Coach John Lee
The Gators enter Section 8 9-man football as an unknown quantity. BGMR drops down from Section 8A where they won just one game via forfeit before finishing the regular season with seven straight losses. The Gators lost in the first round of the Section 8A playoffs 46-14.
Top returners – Andy Dostal (31 rushes, 154 yards), Dade Melby (All-Section, 58 rushes, 140 yards), Kasen Swenson (29-69, 251 yards passing), Gage Creekmore, Garrett Undeberg, Kaden Opdahl, Zach Evans, Jacob Bergsnev, Kyle Stauffenecker
Season preview
– (Provided by Coach Lee) – “ We’re playing a very tough no conference schedule including Fertile-Beltrami, NCE/UH, and Clearbrook-Gonvick. 4-4 would be great.”

Lake of the Woods – Coach Bob Laine (Did not vote in the coaches’ poll)
The Bears finished 2-6 in the regular season last year, before falling to Kelliher-Northome 36-0 in the Section playoff’s first round. Lake of the Woods is once again only scheduled to play one Section opponent in Kelliher-Northome during the regular season.
Top returners –  Senior QB Kodi Jonassen and TE/WR Gunner Ferrier
Season preview
– (Provided by Coach Bob Laine) – “We lost 9 seniors to graduation last year and return only 3 starters on offense an 4 on defense so I am not sure how we will be.  We return only one interior lineman so it will depend on how quickly the new guys get a feel for our offense.”