Soccer: Park Rapids players and coaches confident of winning more games – Park Rapids Enterprise

Head Coach Jeremy Nordick is counting on a Park Rapids football team confident to produce a winning record this fall.

Ten players graduated from last year’s team that posted a 1-8 record and was outscored 231-91. The Panthers received the No. 6 seed for the Section 8AAA tournament and finished their season with a 28-0 loss to No. 3 Perham in the first round. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton defeated Fergus Falls 22-20 in overtime in the section championship game.

Park Rapids has several starting points to fill with the graduation of Kobe Burton, Parker Harmon, Tristan Hill, Logan Jackson, Jaxson Lund, Josiah May, Nick Michaelson, Sam Reish, Kaleb Stearns and Kiergon Wilkins.

On the offensive end, the Panthers have to replace their best running backs in Hill (88 carries for 347 yards and three touchdowns) and May (35 carries for 96 yards) and the best receivers in Jackson (38 receptions for 522 yards and three touchdowns). six TDs), Michaelson (24 catches for 446 yards and a TD), Stearns (six catches for 117 yards), Lund (seven catches for 49 yards and a TD) and Harmon (five catches for 38 yards).

Defensively, Hill (85 total tackles), Burton (56), May (46), Jackson (42), Michaelson (36), Stearns (14) and Harmon (13) were among the top tacklers. May had 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage while Stearns had two interceptions. Jackson returned an interception for a TD, Stearns recovered two fumbles and Michaelson averaged 35.2 yards on 17 clearances. Hill, Burton and Jackson received honors from the Midwest Red District.

If the boys continue to progress, we will be a very, very difficult team to beat at the end of the year.

Jeremy Nordic

On the plus side, the Panthers return their entire offensive line and starting quarterback among their 12 returning card winners. That group includes seniors Ethan Eischens, Hunter Harrison, Luke Hartung, Cory Johnson, Lucas Kritzeck, Malachi Martin and Mason Yliniemi; juniors Noah Morris, Noah Larson and Matt Johanning; sophomore Kaleb Weaver; and freshman Jaydon Walen.

Morris returns at quarterback after completing 74 of 135 passes for 1,050 yards and seven touchdowns and will be protected by the starting offensive line of Eischens, Harrison, Kritzeck, Martin and Weaver. Johnson and Yliniemi will be the tight ends. Competing for spots on the offensive line are seniors Nicholas Graham, Daniel Hoyt and Marc Moir; young Jack Moses; and sophomores D’Andre Johnson and Mason Nisius, while junior Anthony Tyge will provide depth at tight end.

Walen and Johanning will start at running back with sophomore Aiden Maanum providing depth. The receivers will be Hartung, Larson, Johanning and junior Blake Morris with sophomores Landon Strasburg and Ryan Carroll providing depth. Johanning and freshman Carter Hirt will serve as backup quarterbacks.

“We’re going to use the same formations, but we’re going to have a slightly different offensive look,” Nordick said. “We’re going to have more speed in the backfield, which we’re going to use to our advantage. Our receivers are confident that they can make the big plays. I’m excited about the depth we have on our offensive line. Another year in the weight room has them more physical. I really like what I see on offense.”

Returning to the defense are Yliniemi and Martin up front with Kritzeck joining Cory Johnson and Larson at linebacker spots. Hartung, Morris and Johanning return to high school. Larson (50), Johnson (43), Yliniemi (33), Hartung (17), Kritzeck (14) and Johanning (12) return after posting double digits in tackles. Larson had two interceptions while Johanning forced two fumbles.

Eischens, Harrison, Graham, Weaver, Nisius, Moses, D’Andre Johnson and youngsters Mason Sherva and Bryant Tesch compete for the starting spots up front with Maanum, Tyge and young Owen Van Batavia providing depth at linebacker. Walen and Strasburg will also see time in the secondary, while sophomore Kale Ravness will enter during nickel coverage.

“Our line will be our strong point defensively,” Nordick said. “We have a lot of extremely athletic guys at linebacker and in the secondary. They like to go up and hit people. We’re not going to overtake anyone, but we’re going to be just as physical and give the other teams everything they can handle.”

Walen will handle kicking duties and join Maanum, Johanning and Noah Morris as kick returns and punts.

Rounding out this year’s list are junior Alex Brewer; sophomores Thomas Hartung, Matthew Berdahl, Peter Carroll and Gannon Hrdlicka; and freshmen Wrigley Clark, Jackson Soderberg, Mason McCarthy, Heath Safratowich, Gabriel Hoogakker, Andy Johanning, Cooper Ackerman, Kaden Shepherd, Corbin Schiller, Parker Hunter, Carver Laturnus, Bradyn Hoffman, Travis Feather-Kaumans, Damian Arellano, Alex Holmer and Chance Landstrom.

The Panthers coaching staff is very experienced and all have competed at the collegiate level. In addition to Nordick (Bemidji State), Jesse Bucholz (Concordia College) returns to the staff as defensive coordinator. The new varsity members are Josh Popanda (St. Cloud State) as offensive and defensive line coach, Wyatt Sanford (Dakota State) as defensive backs coach, Jeb Sanford (Dakota State) as linebackers coach, Noah MacPherson (Northern State) as tight end and defensive line coach, and Kevin Murphy as special teams coach and assistant offensive coordinator.

“All of those guys have a passion for the game,” Nordick said. “They constantly think about Park Rapids football.”

Nordick believes that the passion for the game from the coaching staff and players keeps the Park Rapids soccer program headed in the right direction.

“DGF has the tradition that we are trying to reach. They hope to win every match. DGF is the team to beat this year, but I think the rest of the section is a toss. I think the whole section is more open than in previous years. I think either team can win it. That will make this season fun,” Nordick said. “Our program is where we want it to be. The development of the K-12 program has grown. The numbers are where we want them to be and the emotion is where we want it to be. We have 51 guys who think team first and I love to see that. If the varsity team can win a few more games on Friday night, this program will take off.”

The key to turning the corner and becoming more successful depends on players believing they can win games. Nordick feels that this group has that belief.

“The children are excited. They are confident that they can win,” Nordick said. “We have a lot more balance and depth on both sides of the ball than in the past. We’re going to take it one game at a time and grow and develop throughout the season. I feel like we have a chance to win our first playoff game and we’ll move on. If the boys continue to progress, we will be a very, very difficult team to beat at the end of the year.”

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