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Polls underestimated May-Port-C-G

Preseason polls weren't kind to the Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg football team. But Patriots coach Mike Bradner didn't put a lot of stock in them.

Preseason polls weren't kind to the Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg football team. But Patriots coach Mike Bradner didn't put a lot of stock in them.

"In a couple of coaches polls I saw, we were picked for dead last in our region," Bradner said. "We squeaked into the playoffs last year, and we graduated some key players from that team. I could see where the assessments were that we'd be down.

"But our personal expectations were high. We felt we had a good nucleus back, that we'd fare well."

After some initial stumbles, the Patriots are meeting Bradner's expectations. After losing its first two games by 33-19 and 38-0 margins, May-Port-C-G has won three straight. That includes two consecutive wins to open the Region 2A schedule, leaving the Patriots tied with Larimore atop the region standings.

The improvement has been steady. May-Port-C-G had fewer than 200 yards in total offense in each of its first two games. In its three wins, the yardage has increased every game, from 284 to 362 to a season-high 401 yards Friday in a 38-28 win against Park River/Fordville-Lankin.


The two losses were to experienced teams, Bradner said. The Patriots, on the other hand, were still sorting out positions.

Ethan Kyllo, a starting wide receiver last season, was in the mix at quarterback when practices began in August. Now, he's become the team's workhorse running back, rushing for 431 yards (7.7 per-carry average). Josh Gates, a running back last season, has become the team's top receiver (11 catches, 270 yards). First-year starter Eric Fugleberg (32-of-72, 486 yards) has settled in at quarterback. And they're working behind an improved line anchored by guards Issac Hovde and Chris Moore and center Justin Omdalen.

"Any time you have kids in new positions, there are growing pains,'' Bradner said. "It took time to see where the kids fit in best.

"Ethan is our best athlete. It was a matter of finding where we could best utilize his talents. We knew we had to get the ball in his hands a lot. Eric is feeling a lot more comfortable in the passing game. And our line is our biggest area of improvement from last year to this year. They understand their blocking schemes and they're able to make the adjustments they need."

The result is a Patriots team that has exceeded the expectations of preseason polls -- but not the expectations of May-Port-C-G coaches.

Win-E-Mac offense

is up and down

Win-E-Mac is riding an offensive roller coaster on the football field.


The Patriots are 3-2. In its two losses, Win-E-Mac dropped one-sided decisions of 44-6 to Waubun and 42-0 to Ada-Borup and had fewer than 140 yards in total offense in each game. In its three wins, Win-E-Mac has totaled 103 points and has gotten 281, 361 and 453 yards in total offense in the games.

"We didn't do much against Ada-Borup and Waubun," Patriots coach Jeremy Morgenroth said. "They're just that much better than teams in our section. In the other games, we played teams who are more to our level."

The Patriots' strength is on the ground. Evan Massmann has rushed for 748 yards and six touchdowns. Andrew Giannonatti was moved from offensive lineman to fullback for the past two games and has totaled 216 yards and four TDs.

"Evan can grind it out, but he has a little more breakaway speed," Morgenroth said. "Andrew is more of a power back. He's probably the best we have at most positions. He gets the tough yards for us, and he's a good lead blocker back there, too."

Stingy Spoilers

Grafton is 3-2 with the stingiest defense in North Dakota Class AA football.

The Spoilers have allowed only 26 points, the fewest of any of the 15 AA teams in the state. They have three shutouts, more than any other AA team, and haven't allowed more than 14 points in a game.

Grafton coach Tom Maus said that strong defense starts with the line of tackles Alex "Bubba" Martinez and Todd Paulson and ends Paul Dusek and Colton Johnson.


"We have a pretty big, physical line," Maus said. "They create havoc. They've been able to shut down running games.

"Bubba and Todd both are forces inside at the tackles. They complement each other well. Bubba is a big, physical player. Todd has great speed; he always seems to be in backfields. They both force double-teams from blockers."

Paulson has been in on 32 tackles, with seven sacks and 12 tackles for losses. Martinez has 14 tackles, with three sacks and five tackles for losses. The secondary has been stingy, too, with Hendry Medina, Tyler Lindell and Evan Collette each having two interceptions.


for Gators

Near-misses are going against the Badger-Greenbush-Middle River football team.

The Gators are 1-4 and have lost three straight games, but each was a narrow setback. Red Lake County beat the Gators 16-6 in a game that was 8-6 in the fourth quarter to start the losing streak. Then the Gators allowed a touchdown and gave up the lead in the final minute in their last two games, falling to unbeatens Warren-Alvarado-Oslo 14-13 and Fosston 21-14.

"It's frustrating, especially the last two weeks," B-G-MR coach Kent Janicke said. "We've played good games, although some penalties hurt us against Fosston. We feel we could be 4-1.


"We know we can play better football. And we know we can compete with the best teams in our section. We don't feel like we're a 1-4 team, that we're close to the top teams. The kids aren't quitting. And we see ourselves getting better each week."

One big problem for the Gators has been in the red zone. Janicke said the team has had approximately 12 drives that ended inside opponents' 20-yard lines with the Gators getting no points. "We need to improve on that," Janicke said.

Due to injuries and ineligibilities, the Gators have yet to play with their regular lineup this season. Janicke said the team will be at full strength for the first time Friday in a game at Fertile-Beltrami.

Tough loss

for Tommies

Thompson is in the thick of the race for one of the four North Dakota 9-man football playoff spots out of Region 3. The Tommies will have to continue the chase without Alex Shimek, as the team's leading rusher broke his leg in a game at North Border last week.

"We expect to still be in the hunt for a playoff spot," Thompson coach John Maus said. "Obviously, we're a better team with Alex. It's just another thing a team has to overcome. Where it hurts is the trickle-down effect as far as depth."

With Shimek gone, Garret Reineke will become Thompson's feature back. He had 29 carries against North Border, good for 151 yards.


"Garret has been sharing some carries with Alex," Maus said. "He's a good back. But we lose him as a wide receiver, where he'd mainly line up. He was tough for teams to cover with his speed and good hands. Defenses had to adjust to him."

DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to gdevillers@gfherald.com .

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