WARREN, Minn. -- Michelle Gullikson is adjusting to keeping food warm for later-than-expected suppers.
Her husband, Tony Gullikson, coaches the Warren-Alvarado-Oslo High School football team. And player requests are pushing his time -- and, thus, his wife’s time -- back later into the evening.
“I keep our weight room open after practices. We have eight to 10 kids who are lifting junkies,’’ Tony Gullikson said. “They have to get in their lifting every day.
“My wife isn’t always happy about it. Our suppers have become so late. But If the kids are committed to weight training, that’s good for our program. It’s a coach’s dream.’’
The lifting is paying dividends.
Warren-A-O is 2-0 after winning just one game all last season. The Ponies are coming off one of the program’s most impressive wins in several seasons, beating perennial Section 8 9-man power Stephen-Argyle 24-6 on Friday.
The Ponies’ last win against Stephen-Argyle was in the 2013 section playoffs. They’d lost eight straight to the Storm since then. Stephen-Argyle scored 47 or more points while holding W-A-O to one touchdown in each of the teams’ previous six games.
Despite the history, senior Brandon Miller said Friday’s win didn’t surprise the Ponies. “We go out expecting to play well,’’ Miller said. “We always expect to win games. But I think it caught a lot of other people by surprise.
“It is a big win for us. But it’s still just another game, against a good team. It’s definitely a confidence builder. But we have to keep looking forward.’’
Stephen-Argyle’s domination hasn’t been just against the Ponies.
Friday’s win snapped a 27-game Stephen-Argyle winning streak against Section 8 opponents, dating back to the end of the 2015 regular season. In those 27 wins, four-time defending section champion Stephen-Argyle had winning margins of 17 or more points in 22 of the games.
“It’s a huge win for us,’’ Gullikson said. “It was great for the kids. They’re 10 miles away. It’s a rivalry. I think it shows that the section is wide open.
“We thought this year’s team had a shot at doing this. We played primarily freshmen and sophomores last year. Now they’re sophomores and juniors. With the athletic talent and the weight training they’ve done, we thought we could do well.’’
The weight training has been a necessity. Only two starters weigh more than 200 pounds. But the defense, anchored by linemen Gunnar Jorgensen, Garrett Mehrkens and Noah Rodriguez, has helped opponents Stephen-Argyle and Clearbrook-Gonvick to one touchdown each.
“Our linemen have done a real good job of controlling the line of scrimmage,’’ Gullikson said. “And speed to the ball is huge. We really get after things on defense.’’
Miller leads the offense. The senior has rushed for 283 yards and scored six of the team’s nine touchdowns. He’s 4-of-6 passing for 99 yards.
“Brandon’s about 90 percent of our offense,’’ Gullikson said. “He missed his junior year with a knee injury. He got into weight lifting while he was hurt. He came back stronger than before the injury.’’
There’s a continuing theme there -- dedication to weight training. This season, it’s producing wins for the Ponies.