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MINN. PREP FOOTBALL: Storm has explosive potential

Joston Hoeper of Stephen-Argyle Central carries against Kittson County Central during their Minnesota Section 8 nine-man title game last season at the Fargodome. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

In his first six seasons as Stephen-Argyle's head football coach, Ethan Marquis has led the Storm to the Section 8 nine-man championship game four times, including wins in the past three.

Never in that run of success has Marquis gone into a season with the proven offensive talent he has this season with Hunter Yutrzenka at quarterback, Joston Hoeper at running back and Isaac Durand at receiver.

"They're very talented,'' Marquis said. "And I like their work ethic.''

The offense starts with Yutrzenka, a senior who was 69-of-121 passing for 1,060 yards last season. Marquis has never entered a season at Stephen-Argyle with a quarterback who has completed as many passes or thrown for as many yards as Yutrzenka did.

"Hunter is very athletic,'' Marquis said. "He's quick, has a strong arm and he has the speed and ability to run the ball.''

Durand caught 17 passes for 410 yards last season; again, the most receiving yardage Marquis has had in a returning receiver. "Isaac was a state track qualifier (in the long jump) last spring,'' Marquis said. "That tells you he's an athletic kid. He's made some nice catches, and he's added a little more strength.''

To balance out the passing game, Hoeper will lead the ground game. The senior carried 157 times for 958 yards last season—the second-highest rushing yardage Marquis has had from a returning back.

"Joston's not the biggest guy,'' Marquis said. "He has some good quickness. But he's more of a power runner. He's a strong kid.''

Having a proven three-pronged attack makes it easier for Yutrzenka to run an offense.

"We trust in each other,'' the senior said. "When defenses focus on any of us, it opens things up for other guys. We'll try to take advantage of that. If they stop the run, we can throw; if they stop the pass, we can run.''

But, while the Storm have experience at the skill positions, there is rebuilding to do on the line. Senior Zach Gerszewski is the lone starting interior offensive lineman returning from last season's 11-2 team.

"The line is the big factor,'' Yutrzenka said. "They give us room to run and they give me time to throw. We graduated some guys, but we have guys who can fill those spots. I think our line will be as good as last year.''

Marquis is looking for players such as Jesse Clark, Mason Mock, Ethan McGregor and Collin Neuschwander to round out the blocking unit.

"It's mostly unproven guys,'' Marquis said, ''not that we don't think they aren't capable. They haven't gotten a lot of varsity playing time. I think we can have a good line. But it will take time.''