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Prep football: Friday's Nine-Man playoff games


What: Nine-Man state tournament quarterfinal

When: 5:30 p.m.

Where: Chet Anderson Stadium, Bemidji State

Outlook: While so many of Cromwell-Wright's 17 previous state tournaments were expected, this one was far from a foregone conclusion when the season kicked off. The Cardinals had to retool their roster after reaching the semifinals a year ago, with 12 seniors — six of whom were four-year starters — graduating. But here they are. Nic Johnson (102 carries, 1,349 yards, 21 TDs) headlines a 47.6-points-per-game offense. Cameron Cahoon (103-789, 12) and QB Drew Libbon (78-625, 14) also make hefty contributions to a ground game that has amassed 3,222 yards. Libbon is dangerous with his arm, too, tallying 936 yards and 12 TDs on 54-for-104 passing. A defense that allows 10 points a night features Libbon (146 tackles), Jaden Gronner (13 sacks) and Cahoon (seven interceptions). Cardinals coach Jeff Gronner, Jaden's father, boasts a career record of 123-36 in 14 seasons. ... Perennial state entrants, the Storm won five championships in a row from 2003-07 — including a 45-15 thrashing of Cromwell-Wright in the '05 title tilt — and again in 2009. They're in the tournament for the third year in a row. Separately, both Stephen and Argyle boasted terrific programs before merging in 1996. News Tribune sportswriter Jon Nowacki was a senior running back/linebacker on the 1992 state champion Stephen club that also defeated Cromwell-Wright in the finale, 36-20. Stoene Spilde (104 carries, 956 yards, 12 TDs), Joston Hoeper (123-806, 10) and Kyler Szczepanski (84-629, four) key a rushing attack that has piled up 3,231 yards. QB Hunter Yutrzenka has thrown for 986 yards and 16 TDs on 65-for-105 passing. A victory tonight means a spot in the state semis opposite either Spring Grove or Verndale on Nov. 16 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Radio: WKLK-FM 96.5


What: Nine-Man state tournament quarterfinal

When: 8 p.m.

Where: Chet Anderson Stadium

Outlook: North Woods' winning streak hit nine games via last Friday's win over Cook County. Grizzlies coach John Jirik calls his a "pass-first" offense. Accordingly, QB Tate Olson is a yard shy of 1,700 and has completed 89 of 163 passes. North Woods can run a little, too, averaging more than 300 yards a night. Brendan Parson (160 carries, 1,387 yards, 19 TDs) and Garrett Abramson (97-553, nine) are the leaders. Considering the forecast calls for a high temp in the low 20s Friday in Bemidji, that versatility bodes well for North Woods. "If we can't pass, we're confident that we can run the ball," Jirik said. The coach, who led Orr to three state tournaments before it merged with Cook, has a career record of 140-117 in 27 seasons. Parson has intercepted six passes on defense. ... In its third section title game since the program's last trip to state, in 2012, Nevis finally broke through last week, slipping past Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal 20-18. The veteran Tigers are stingy on defense, giving up an average of 11.8 points a night, fourth-best among Nine-Man teams. Jack Landquist has a team-high 87 tackles. On the other side of the ball, QB Jack DeWulf starts things. He's completed 51 of 94 passes for 759 yards and 14 TDs, while rushing 126 times for 743 yards and 10 TDs. Kyle Schmidt (157 carries, 861 yards, seven TDs) is the top ballcarrier. Nevis coach Shawn Klimek is 77-43 in 12 seasons. Tonight's winner gets either Russell-Tyler-Ruthton or Mountain Lake in the semis Nov. 17 at U.S. Bank.