Large-school prep football preview

After Chris Vold was named head coach of the combined Duluth Central-Denfeld football program, he and his staff researched the incoming players' strengths and weaknesses and decided to implement a totally new system from top to bottom. "It's not ...

After Chris Vold was named head coach of the combined Duluth

Central-Denfeld football program, he and his staff researched the incoming players' strengths and weaknesses and decided to implement a totally new system from top to bottom.

"It's not a Central system, it's not a Denfeld system. We started over from scratch," Vold said. "They are teaching each other and learning at the same pace. They have to help each other and that's forced them to come together ... so we're all on the same page."

While the effectiveness of that decision ultimately will be determined on the field, players from both schools appreciate the approach.

"So far, so good," said Joey Janchar, a senior fullback-linebacker who started on Central's 1-8 team in 2009. "We're all working on the same page and have been great partners in the whole combination. It's been a great experience so far."


Senior fullback-linebacker C.J. Ham, who led Denfeld to a 7-4 record and a berth in the 2009 Section 7AAAA final, says there have been no conflicts between the former rivals since fall practice began, partly due to the changes.

"Everything is new, both teams had to learn a whole new system," he said. "We all start at the same level."

Among other returnees playing both sides of the ball are senior lineman Jordan Verry, senior tight end-safety Tom Warren, junior linemen Ryan Watson and Ben Rose, and junior running back-cornerback Nate Beaulieu.

The Central Trojans -- as all athletic teams at the school will be known as in the 2010-11 season -- are slated play in Section 8AAAAA. The Minnesota State High School League, however, is recalculating enrollment figures and there is a chance Central could remain a Class AAAA school.

The same applies for Duluth East, which dipped below .500 last season and ended with a shutout loss in the playoffs. Moving up to Class AAAAA would be a daunting task for the youthful Greyhounds.

Coach Joe Hietala says his team may start Friday's opener against St. Francis with one freshman and five sophomores in the starting lineup.

"We're going to go through some growing pains all year long," he said. "But, at the same time, if these freshmen and sophomores didn't deserve it, they wouldn't be out there."

Senior quarterback Zach Farmer, senior wide receiver-


linebacker Andrew Florestano, senior running back-linebacker Mike Hillman, senior wideout-safety Nick Carlson, senior lineman Nathan Pratt and juniors David Chrysler and Brolle Kane all started last season.


Cloquet seeks to remain among elite

Cloquet went through the best and worst of times in 2009, earning a share of the Sea-Range Conference title before bowing out of the playoffs with a first-round loss to winless Central.

The Lumberjacks lost a lot of firepower on offense and return just two senior starters: center Justin Schneider and offensive tackle Dane Kiehn. The backfield, led by senior quarterback Joey Singpiel, is new.

"They need a little seasoning," coach Tom Lenarz said. "They have a lot of talent, but they're young."

Senior linemen Nick Harms and Randy Domogalla, senior linebacker Cody Stevens and senior free safety Andy Wappes lead the defensive returnees.

Despite the graduation toll, Lenarz expects his players to be competitive and, after posting their first winning record in a decade, to keep the program going in the right direction.


"Our message to them is that it took a lot to get where we're at," he said. "Now we're one of those teams coming into the season that others are trying to knock off. They're not going to sneak up on anyone."

Hermantown shared the Sea-Range title in 2009, its first piece of the conference title in a decade, and boasts 16 returning seniors and a strong junior class. But the Hawks' fine season came crashing down in a 24-point playoff loss to Grand Rapids.

"You have to play better than that if you want to win in the playoffs," coach Daryl Illikainen said. "We do want to set our goals higher."

Among the seniors are quarterback Cody Baker, cornerback Connor Lucas, tight end-linebacker Jake Knowles, tight end-defensive end Jeff Schade, guard John Hodgkins and 6-foot-6, 290-pound lineman Jake Lesar, who is being recruited by Division I-AA North Dakota State and major Division II schools.

Returning juniors include outside linebacker Brian LeBlanc, halfback-safety Corey Anderson, fullback Jeremy Peterson, nose guard Cord Reno and lineman Frank Lesar.

Grand Rapids returns 14 seniors and, due to the dissolution of the North Country Conference, plays an independent schedule that includes teams from Class AA to Class AAAAA.

Section 7AAA

Proctor hopes experience pays off


Fourteen starters return at Proctor, which is coming off a 3-6 season where every defeat was by at least 18 points.

The defense, which allowed 32 points or more in every loss, could show the most improvement. Seniors Randy Bauer, Nick Nylund and Brandon Morin and junior Kaz Anderson return at linebacker, while junior Ian Scherber is back in the secondary.

Returning running backs Ryan McCarthy and Patrick Everson will follow a line that includes seniors Nick Cosgriff and Kyle Morberg. Senior Alex Oachs started two games at quarterback in 2009.

"This group is a hard-working group of kids," coach Derek Parendo said. "This will be a Proctor team that will show a lot of fight on the field."

Roy Levitt, Anthony Christensen, Scott Comrie and Ryan Guentzel. For several years, Two Harbors has relied upon one running back to produce most of its offense. This year, however, a committee approach is being used.

"We are very much in a working man's team mode because we don't have a superstar or someone who can carry the load yet," coach Tom Nelson said.

The Agates return about five carries from a team that went 2-7 and lost its last six games. Senior quarterback Jon McDannold is only in his second year of high school football, but he's surrounded by an experienced offensive line. Seniors Gage Matlock, Adam Martin, Nick Hudson and Willie Larson and junior Noah Alm all have starting experience.

Virginia won seven games and reached the section final a year ago, losing 21-7 to Mora. The Blue Devils return 30 juniors and seniors, led by All-Area selection Cavan Stackpool (932 yards rushing, 439 yards receiving, 17 TDs). Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin's Class AAA debut was halted by Mora in the 2009 semifinals, and the Raiders seek to fill the gap left by the graduation of Dylan Peterson (1,817 yards rushing, 7.8 yards per carry).

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