Prep football: Deer River tops Barnum for Section 7A title

The Bombers committed five turnovers — three in the first half — in the loss. The Warriors will play New York Mills in the first round of the state playoffs.

Willie Richardson (9) of Barnum catches a pass against Deer River during Section 7A football final on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at Egerdahl Field in Proctor. Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Deer River junior Tygh Gullickson stripped Barnum receiver Joe Peterson in the first quarter and then scored on the ensuing drive in the Warriors 32-8 win in the Section 7A championship game Friday at Egerdahl Field in Proctor.

On Barnum’s opening drive of the game, quarterback Hayden Charboneau found Peterson for what looked to be a first down, but Gullickson was able to take the ball away and return it to the Bombers’ 27-yard line.

“The ball came down and I was trying to make the tackle, but the ball looked loose and I stripped it out,” Gullickson said.

The turnover and 2-yard scoring run set the tone for the first half, with Barnum committing four turnovers and Deer River not running a play in its own territory until there were less than six minutes left in the first half, leading 20-0.

“Field position and turnovers — that’s high school football and we’ve been in the positive with that all year as far as turnovers,” Deer River coach Brent Schimek said. “That was a huge play by Tygh, a huge momentum swing.”


The Bombers picked up a couple of first downs on the ensuing drive, but the Warriors stopped them on a third and nine play near midfield.

Barnum tried a quick kick punt, but Deer River blocked the kick and recovered it at the Barnum 42, setting up a 27-yard touchdown pass from Sam Rahier to Ty Morrison.

Charboneau threw an interception on Barnum’s next drive and Joseph Herfindahl broke loose for a 35-yard scoring run.

Herfindahl also scored late in the fourth quarter and had 95 yards on the ground. Gullickson added 108 yards rushing for the Warriors. He and Schimek credited the offensive line for creating the holes for the Deer River rushing attack.

“That’s what we are right now,” Schimek said. “We’ve got a bunch of senior linemen. They all started last year, they’re all back and we just get on their shirt tails and we go.”

Barnum found a little momentum at the end of the first half when Charboneau found Caden Sheff for a 59-yard score, but the Bombers couldn’t keep it going in the second half.

“We played some different coverages than what we played last time,” Schimek said. “Ethan Williams, our safety, really directing traffic back there and he did a good job getting everybody lined up in the right spot.”

Barnum’s defense played much better in the second half, holding Deer River’s attack in check and Willie Richardson was able to get a strip sack of Rahier.


“We just made a couple of alignment adjustments,” Barnum coach Rob Minkkinen said. “Our kids came out in the second half with a good fire, good energy and toughness to them. We were pretty proud of them for that second half.”

Minkkinen was especially proud of how Barnum (7-4) has turned things around the past two years after a difficult 1-8 campaign in 2019.

“This year’s group of seniors really bought into what we call a brick-by-brick mentality,” Minkkinen said. “They just get better every day. Our upperclassmen last year and this year have done a phenomenal job. We couldn’t be more proud of those older kids, laying the foundation for younger kids to build off of.”

Deer River (10-0) is set to face Section 6 champion New York Mills in the Minnesota Class A quarterfinal at 7 p.m. Friday in Brainerd.

Barnum 0-8-0-0—8

Deer River 14-12-0-6—32

DR — Tygh Gullickson 2 run (run failed)

DR — Ty Morrison 27 pass from Sam Rahier (Gullickson run)

DR — Joseph Herfindahl 35 run (pass failed)

DR — Rhett Mundt 8 pass from Rahier (run failed)


B — Caden Sheff 59 pass from Haryden Charboneau (Sheff run)

DR — Herfindahl 1 run (run failed)

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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