Football: Nevis once again contended for section title

The Tigers finished the season with an 8-2 record.

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Ian Ahrendt (8) capped off his senior season by earning all-state 9-man and District 9-West Central honors after leading the Tigers in rushing with 1,178 yard and 13 touchdowns along with 93 tackles on defense. Vance Carlson / Park Rapids Enterprise

Once again the Nevis 9-man football team was a major threat in the section.

The Tigers used a potent offense and a stingy defense to finish with an 8-2 overall record. Going 7-1 during the regular season gave Nevis the No. 2 seed for the Section 6 playoffs and the No. 10 ranking in the state 9-man poll. The Tigers’ quest to reach the section championship game fell short with a loss in the semifinals.

“This year's team was just excited to have a normal football season after only getting to play four games last year due to COVID. The 2021 Tigers worked hard during the offseason and were excited to play. We had a mixture of seniors and a group of talented underclassmen. The senior class did an amazing job helping the younger classmen get ready to play,” said Nevis head coach Shawn Klimek. “This team was one of the most enjoyable groups of kids to coach and had a competitive edge. They brought a physical style of football back to Nevis. We had a great defense this year and a strong running game to go along with our great passing game. As the season went along we just kept getting better and better. Playing in one of the best sections in the state makes you bring your best game each week.”

The Tigers compiled 456 yards in offense, including 307 yards on the ground, in opening the season with a 43-23 win over Badger-Greenbush-Middle River and had 279 yards in a 21-0 win over Clearbrook-Gonvick in Week 2. Nevis’ 349 offensive yards sparked a 34-18 win over Blackduck in Week 3.

Fertile-Beltrami built a 20-0 halftime lead in a 36-6 victory over the Tigers in Week 4 as Nevis was held to 199 yards. After receiving a 2-0 forfeit win over Laporte in Week 5, the Tigers ended the regular season with wins over Cass Lake-Bena (55-8), Park Christian (30-6) and Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal (21-14). Nevis’ offense racked up 416 yards against CL-B, 373 yards against Park Christian and 350 yards against NCE/UH.


The win over NCE/UH gave the Tigers the No. 2 seed for the Section 6 9-man playoffs. Nevis opened the section tournament by compiling 471 yards in a 55-0 rout of No. 7 CL-B before being held to 290 yards in a 22-19 loss to No. 3 NCE/UH in the semifinals. The Tigers led 13-0 at the half before NCE/UH rallied for the win and a spot in the section title game. No. 1 Fertile-Beltrami edged NCE/UH 26-20 to advance to state. Fertile-Beltrami was rated No. 5 and NCE/UH was rated No. 10 in the state 9-man poll.

In their nine games, the Tigers averaged 31.6 points a game while holding the opposition to 12.7 points a game. The Tigers had a nice balance offensively with 1,855 rushing yards and 1,331 passing yards. Nevis’ defense forced 19 turnovers.

Leading the Tigers this season were seniors Ian Ahrendt, Cain Mitchell, Aiden Thompson and Ethan Lewis; juniors Ethan Klimek and Nathan Keiser; and sophomore Joe Houchin. Ahrendt earned all-state 9-man honors and joined Mitchell, Thompson, Klimek and Houchin as District 9-West Central players while Lewis and Keiser were all-district honorable mention players. Klimek was named the district’s Special Teams Player of the Year.

Ahrendt led the Tigers by scoring 82 points and rushing 177 times for 1,178 yard and 13 touchdowns. Ahrendt also led Nevis’ defense with 93 tackles (including 50 solo tackles).

Mitchell was Nevis’ leading receiver with 36 receptions for 596 yards and nine TDs while scoring 58 points. Mitchell also had 61 tackles (including 41 solo tackles) and intercepted three passes.

Klimek was the Tigers’ starting quarterback, completing 67 of 122 passes for 1,290 yards and 20 TDs and rushing 46 times for 406 yards and two TDs. Klimek also kicked 22 extra points for 34 points.

Houchin scored 42 points with 19 receptions for 480 yards and seven TDs and contributed 50 tackles, including 30 solo stops, and three interceptions on defense.

Lewis rushed 17 times for 59 yards and caught three passes for 30 yards and a TD while tallying 72 tackles, including 38 solo tackles.


Thompson and Keiser solidified the offensive and defensive lines with Thompson recording 42 tackles and Keiser making 35 tackles.

Also playing key roles for the Tigers this season were senior Nathan Pyburn; juniors Jon Rice, Luke McNamee and Tyler Ford; sophomores JohnPaul Benson, Eli Lewis, Austin Ahrendt, Lealan Norby and Connor Andress; and freshmen Ayo Ogundeji and Eli Klimek.

Ogundeji scored 22 points, rushing 24 times for 148 yards and three TDs while Benson caught seven passes for 160 yards and two TDs. Eli Lewis, Rice, Pyburn, Austin Ahrendt, Eli Klimek and Norby filled back-up roles in the rushing and receiving departments. On defense, Austin Ahrendt (37 tackles, four interceptions), Eli Klimek (41 tackles, four quarterback sacks) and Benson (34 tackles, 4.5 sacks) were starters.

In addition to district honors, Ian Ahrendt (MVP, Defensive Back of the Year, Offensive Back of the Year), Mitchell (Special Teams Player of the Year), Ethan Klimek (Special Teams Player of the Year) and Keiser (Defensive Lineman of the Year and Offensive Lineman of the Year) received team awards. Pyburn received the team’s Coaches Award for Hard Work and Effort and Eli Klimek was named the Freshman of the Year.

The Tigers graduate a talented senior class, but Klimek is counting on his team to once again be one of the top teams in the section next fall.

“We finished with an impressive 8-2 record and will bring back a core group of underclassmen,” said Klimek. “With a strong offseason in the weight room, the Tigers should be competitive with the state’s best again next fall.”

POINTS: I Ahrendt 82, C. Mitchell 58, Houchin 42, Et. Klimek 34, Ogundeji 22, Benson 12, El. Lewis 8, Et. Lewis 6, Pyburn 6, A. Ahrendt 6, Norby 8, Thompson 2.
RUSHING: I. Ahrendt 177-1,178 (13 TDs), Et. Klimek 46-306 (2 TDs), Ogundeji 24-148 (3 TDs), Et. Lewis 17-59, El. Lewis 1-46 (1 TD), Rice 5-29, Houchin 5-24, Pyburn 4-16 (1 TD), A. Ahrendt 2-15, C. Mitchell 5-14, El. Klimek 5-13, E. Lindow 4-7.
PASSING: Et. Klimek 67-122-5 for 1,290 yards (20 TDs), D. Lindow 2-3-0 for 35 yards (1 TD), C. Mitchell 1-1-0 for 3 yards, El. Lewis 1-2-0 for 3 yards.
RECEIVING: C. Mitchell 36-596 (9 TDs), Houchin 19-480 (7 TDs), Benson 7-160 (2 TDs), Et. Lewis 3-30 (1 TD), Lester 2-18, A. Ahrendt 1-21 (1 TD), Norby 1-20, I. Ahrendt 1-3, Thompson 1-3.
SOLO TACKLES: I. Ahrendt 50, C. Mitchell 41, Et. Lewis 38, Houchin 30, A. Ahrendt 26, El. Klimek 23, Benson 16, Keiser 13, Thompson 13, McNamee 4, Rice 3, D. Lindow 3, Ogundeji 3, Norby 3, Ford 3, Glinnon 3, El. Lewis 2, Pyburn 2, Kalm 2, B. Mitchell 1, Lester 1, Andress 1.
ASSISTED TACKLES: I. Ahrendt 43, Et. Lewis 34, Thompson 29, Keiser 22, C. Mitchell 20, Houcin 20, Benson 18, El. Klimek 18, A. Ahrendt 11, McNamee 10, Ford 10, D. Lindow 5, Rice 4, El. Lewis 4, E. Lindow 3, Ogundeji 3, Kalm 3, Pyburn 2, Lester 2, Andress 2, Norby 1, B. Mitchell 1, Glinnon 1, Snow 1.
QUARTERBACK SACKS: Benson 4.5, El. Klimek 4, Thompson 1.5, Keiser 1.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: I. Ahrendt 2, Benson 1, E. Lewis 1.
INTERCEPTIONS: A. Ahrendt 4, C. Mitchell 3, Houchin 3, Et. Lewis 1, Benson 1, I. Ahrendt 1, El. Lewis 1, D. Lindow 1.


Related Topics: FOOTBALL
1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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