Panthers dominate Wolverines

Tom Ahrendt will fondly remember Park Rapids' 2006 homecoming football game. Before the largest crowd at Vern Weekley Field in recent years, the Panthers enjoyed their most dominant performance in re-cent years with a 35-0 Northern Lakes Confer-e...

Tom Ahrendt will fondly remember Park Rapids' 2006 homecoming football game.

Before the largest crowd at Vern Weekley Field in recent years, the Panthers enjoyed their most dominant performance in re-cent years with a 35-0 Northern Lakes Confer-ence victory over Wadena-Deer Creek.

The Panthers scored their season high in points and held W-DC to only 54 yards in total offense to remain in first place in the conference with a 3-1 record and stay in third place in the Section 8AAA standings with a 4-2 overall mark and 60 points.

"This was a lot of fun," said Ahrendt. "The crowd was awesome. This is our first homecoming victory in my four years as head coach. I'm happy for the kids. It's nice they're finally on the other side. Hopefully we can keep riding this wave."

The Panthers, who are third among all Class AAA teams by allowing only 6.8 points a game, totally dominated this game defensively by forcing six W-DC punts and forcing two turnovers. Park Rapids held the ball for 36:15 while the Wolverines ran only 28 plays, managed only two first downs and held the ball for only 11:45.


A 14-play, 79-yard scoring drive on the opening series of the game set the tone for the Panthers. Johnnie Weller's 5-yard run on third-and-5, An-thony Koeller's 11-yard carry, gains of 8 and 6 yards by Weller to the W-DC 42, Grant Dierkhising's 14-yard run and a 9-yard run by Kevin Vaadeland on fourth-and-1 set up a 9-yard TD run by Vaadeland. OC Haugen's extra-point kick gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead with 4:55 to play in the first quarter.

After forcing the Wolverines to punt after three plays, the Panthers put together another scoring threat, but Haugen was short on a 38-yard field goal. Dusty Craig's 18-yard run was the big play in that 31-yard drive.

After exchanging turnovers, the Panthers extended their lead when Dierkhising capped a seven-play, 46-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run. Haugen's kick made it 14-0 with 5:37 to play in the first half. Dierkhising's 29-yard run to the 11 and Vaadeland's 14-yard carry to the 1 were the key plays in that drive.

On Park Rapids' fifth series of the first half, a 12-yard reception by Billy Winkler and a 13-yard run by Vaadeland led to a first down at the W-DC 32. But a holding penalty ended that drive and the Panthers settled for a 14-0 lead at the break.

A 12-yard punt by the Wolverines on their first possession led to Park Rapids' third touchdown of the game. Craig's 7-yard TD run and Haugen's kick gave the Panthers a 21-0 lead with 8:12 to play in the third quarter. Craig had three carries for 16 yards and Koeller rushed twice for 10 yards on that short 26-yard drive.

W-DC was stopped on fourth-and-1 two drives later and the Panthers regained possession at the Wolverines' 24. Koeller rushed three times for 11 yards for a first down at the 13, but two straight holding penalties pushed the Panthers back to the 32. On fourth-and-22, Dierkhising hit Vaadeland for a 23-yard gain and Koeller followed with a 2-yard scoring run. Haugen's kick provided a 28-0 lead with 6:10 to play.

The Wolverines fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Panthers took over at the W-DC 35. Koeller followed a 29-yard run with a 1-yard TD run as the Panthers concluded the scoring with 4:11 remaining.

Koeller led the Panthers with 113 yards on 23 carries. Dierkhising rushed seven times for 66 yards, Craig had 65 yards on 14 attempts and Vaadeland gained 49 yards on six carries as the Panthers compiled 305 yards on the ground on 61 tries. Park Rapids also had 18 first downs in the game.


"Every game is another step forward. We're happy to be 4-2, but we still have a lot of stuff to improve on," said Ahrendt. "Hopefully the kids are not satisfied where we are at and are hungry to keep winning."

The Panthers will travel to Grand Rapids Friday night. Grand Rapids is 2-4 on the season with wins over Detroit Lakes (20-19) and Hibbing (33-12). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

W-DC 0 0 0 0 0

Park Rapids 7 7 7 14 35


PR-Vaadeland 9 run (Haugen kick)

PR-Dierkhising 1 run (Haugen kick)

PR-Craig 7 run (Haugen kick)


PR-Koeller 2 run (Haugen kick)

PR-Koeller 1 run (Haugen kick)



First downs 2 18

Rushing 24-54 61-305

Passing 0-4-0 3-14-1

Yards passing 0 40


Total net yards 54 345

Fumbles 2-2 0-0

Penalties-yards lost 3-27 4-45

Punts-average 6-27 0


RUSHING: Koeller 23-113, Dierkhising 7-66, Craig 14-65, Vaadeland 6-49, Weller 8-27, Overly 1-1, Ricke 1-1, Sandretzky 1-(-17).

PASSING: Dierkhising 3-14-1 for 40 yards.

RECEIVING: Vaadeland 1-23, Winkler 1-12, Overly 1-5.

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