Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



Wave win in muddy mess

Following the game, East Grand Forks Senior High senior Frankie Vargas took a running start. After a 10-yard sprint, Vargas sprawled out in the mud turning Senior High field into his own gridiron Slip 'n Slide.

EGF Football
East Grand Forks' Frankie Vargas pursues Motley-Staples quarterback Alex Jansson in the second half of their game Tuesday in East Grand Forks. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

Following the game, East Grand Forks Senior High senior Frankie Vargas took a running start. After a 10-yard sprint, Vargas sprawled out in the mud turning Senior High field into his own gridiron Slip 'n Slide.

Clearly, the Green Wave football team had embraced what most considered awful conditions.

"We knew it was wet, so we decided to have some fun with it," Vargas said.

Senior High battled the elements and Staples-Motley, scoring two second-half touchdowns to knock off the Cardinals 14-6 amidst constant drizzle and heavy wind in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Section 8AAA playoffs Tuesday night.

No. 4 seed Senior High, which improved to 6-3, plays at Pequot Lakes on Saturday in the section semifinals.


"There's no question that this was a gutty, gutty performance," Senior High coach Scott Oliver said. "This team has hardened itself and was able to work through a night in which Mother Nature threw at us one of the worst nights I've ever been a part of."

That's saying a lot, too, for a veteran coach such as Oliver, who played in the Canadian Football League and had coaching stints in Roseau and Crookston.

The conditions helped stymie the Green Wave in the first half. Senior High had 6 yards of total offense in the first two quarters.

With Staples-Motley having 179 yards of total offense in the first half, the only promising statistic for the Green Wave was the scoreboard.

The Cardinals led 6-0 at halftime on a 22-yard run from Gavin Kadlec. Staples-Motley ran 40 offensive plays in the first half to Senior High's 17.

The Wave, though, say there was no panic at halftime.

"I was still confident," said Vargas, a tight end and nose guard. "I was confident that our quarterback and center would be all right (after some missed exchanges in the first half). I also know Tanner Dahlen runs hard. I trust him with the ball."

The tide turned quickly for the Wave in the second half. After forcing Staples-Motley into a three-and-out to open the third quarter, Dahlen took the third offensive play from scrimmage 37 yards into the end zone. Senior High quarterback Gage Ausmus punched in a 2-point conversion on an option run to make it 8-6 with 8:25 left in the third quarter.


Then Senior High took advantage of a wild stretch in the fourth quarter, which featured three turnovers on four plays. The Green Wave fumbled twice and Staples-Motley once.

However, four plays after Senior High's second fumble, the Green Wave took advantage of another sloppy play.

On fourth-and-25 from its own 19, Staples-Motley's punt snap short-hopped punter Blake Petrich. Petrich picked up the loose ball, tucked it under and tried to run. But Senior High's Ryan Boushee met Petrich at the 10 and forced a turnover on downs.

Two plays later, Dahlen bullied his way through a handful of tacklers and rumbled into the end zone for an 8-yard score with 9:31 left in the fourth quarter. After a missed 2-point conversion, the Wave led 14-6.

Fumbled snaps and impossible footing prevented Staples-Motley from making a comeback. The Cardinals' best opportunity came on fourth-and-13 from the Wave 17 with 20 seconds left. However, Petrich -- taking one of his few snaps at quarterback -- rolled to his left and managed to scramble for 11 yards before being forced out of bounds a couple of yards short of a first down.

"He ran hard and gave it all he had," said Staples-Motley coach Ryan Beachy, whose team beat Senior High 44-0 in the playoffs last season. "Just to get that many yards was pretty good . . . but one more would've been nice."

Statistically, Staples-Motley was dominant. The Cardinals finished with 262 yards of total offense to Senior High's 84.

Every yard came on the ground as both teams finished with no passing yards.


"With the conditions, obviously this became a slugfest," Beachy said. "It was a war between the tackles. We usually like to be a little more diverse offensively. The conditions, though, kept us from throwing the football.

"But both offenses were limited. Even third-and-15, how are you going to pass when your quarterback can't feel his hands? Give East Grand Forks credit. They came back after that halftime deficit and scored one into the wind."

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
What To Read Next
Get Local