AREA NOTEBOOK: Back to the basics pays off for Stephen-Argyle

Back to the basics has paid off for Stephen-Argyle. After a season-opening 16-7 loss to Win-E-Mac, the Storm have won five straight football games. They've averaged 40.8 points in the five wins, scoring a minimum of 21 in each game. "Win-E-Mac is...

Back to the basics has paid off for Stephen-Argyle.

After a season-opening 16-7 loss to Win-E-Mac, the Storm have won five straight football games. They’ve averaged 40.8 points in the five wins, scoring a minimum of 21 in each game.

“Win-E-Mac is a tough team,” Stephen-Argyle coach Ethan Marquis said. “They’ll be a contender in our section. But it was still a very disappointing performance by us.

“We struggled offensively. We threw almost 20 passes; that’s not typical for us. We finished with around 175 yards in total offense. You aren’t going to win many games with that. So we gave our running game more emphasis. That’s the style that fits our team. We got away from that in our first game.”

Balance is the mark of the backfield. Justin Yutrzenka sets the pace with 646 yards on 76 carries. Max Yutrzenka has 644 yards on 60 carries and Kalen Szczepanski 402 yards on 79 carries.


“We’re hanging our hat on our running game,” Marquis said. “Max is very fast. Justin is quick, as well. He’s an inside-outside runner. Kalen is our biggest back and he uses that size. Every team needs a bruiser.

“Our line has been a gigantic factor. We don’t have one dominant player on the line. What we have is a lot of high-average kids.”

The blocking unit consists of center John Gryskiewicz, guards Aaron Hapka and Grant Bergeron and tight ends Isaac Mills and Jordan Urbaniak.

Stephen-Argyle wraps up its regular season Tuesday when it hosts Kittson County Central in a matchup of two tradition-rich programs in Section 8 nine-man.

North Star takes title

The annual Des Lacs-Burlington volleyball tournament is regarded as one of the most competitive North Dakota Class B tournaments of the season. North Star won the title last week.

North Star went 6-1, losing to Hazen in pool play. The Bearcats beat fellow Region 4 power Langdon in the first round of tournament play and beat Hillsboro-Central Valley in the final.

“I was hoping we’d be able to compete,” North Star coach Marla Hagler said. “But to win it, with our inexperience, was definitely a bit of a surprise.


“Every team we played out there was good. It’s definitely a huge confidence boost for our team.”

Sarah Hagler is the lone senior in the Bearcats’ regular rotation. She was an all-state pick a year ago and recently recorded her 1,500th career kill. Hagler has committed to play volleyball at Minnesota State-Moorhead.

The 5-foot-10 Hagler and 6-4 sophomore Macey Kvilvang give the Bearcats (18-2 overall) a strong 1-2 combination in the middle. Hagler has 255 kills and 50 blocks, while Kvilvang has 184 kills and 51 blocks. Junior first-year setter Faith Krom has 373 assists.

“Our attack is pretty middle-dominated,” Marla Hagler said. “We are trying to work in some other options, to force teams to defend other spots. And the whole team is contributing. It’s impossible to be (18-2) without everybody playing a part.”

Tough Pirates schedule

The toughest schedule in Minnesota football? Scott Butt might nominate his own Crookston team.

The 0-6 Pirates’ schedule has included the No. 2 ranked Class AAA team (Providence Academy), the No. 1 ranked Class AA team (Hawley) and three other teams that have received votes in the state poll (Barnesville, Frazee and Pelican Rapids).

“It probably sounds hard to believe, but I don’t want to thank anybody for this schedule,” Butt said.


“We’ve played six real good teams. That’s definitely played into our record. We’re an inexperienced and not very big team, especially on the line. We’ve been OK on offense, but defense has been a struggle.”

After a 34-0 opening loss to Providence Academy, the Pirates have scored two or more touchdowns in five straight games. They average 250 yards in total offense per game. They’ve also allowed more than 30 points in all but one game, a 21-20 setback against Breckenridge.

In the long run, Butt said, “I think we do benefit from the schedule. The kids haven’t been down about (the losses). They know they can play with these teams.”

Impact win for Peterson

Mayville-Portland-CG sophomore Cailee Peterson scored one of the biggest wins of her cross country career Saturday when she took first in the Class B division of the Souris Valley Invitational in Minot.

The field included 29 teams and approximately 150 runners. Almost all of the top 10-ranked teams and runners in the state were there. Peterson won in 14 minutes, 57 seconds, 20 seconds ahead of runner-up Gracie Wright of Hillsboro-Central Valley.

“That was a big confidence boost,” Patriots coach Taylor Palmer said. “It tells Cailee that she’s right there, a contender for the state title.”

One runner who wasn’t there was Sargent Central/Lidgerwood’s Peyton Frolek. She was ranked first in last week’s state coaches’ poll, one spot ahead of Peterson. “Cailee’s been close to Peyton, but she hasn’t beaten her,” Palmer said.


While Peterson had a strong individual showing, three-time defending Class B state champion Hillsboro-Central Valley won the team title and had four of the top seven finishers in Wright, Annika Rotvold (fourth), Reagan Baesler (sixth) and Shayla Fossum (seventh). The Burros had a 56 score to runner-up Bismarck Shiloh Christian’s 111.

“They’re extremely good,” Palmer said. “They have a lot of girls who will be in the top 20 at state. They’re as good as they’ve been the past few years.”

In the B boys division, Nick Pedersen of Hatton-Northwood-Thompson was the top area placer, finishing fifth.


Thief River Falls senior Madison Brekke has given a verbal commitment to play basketball at Minnesota State-Moorhead. . . . Finley-Sharon/Hope-Page’s Mikayla Larson was named to the all-tournament team at the Lisbon-Enderlin volleyball tournament.


What To Read Next
Get Local