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Minnesota sibling buddies, football coaching rivals set to meet in Fargodome

At every Kroulik family gathering, the conversation inevitably turns to football. That should be no surprise. Mark Kroulik was the long-time coach of the Stephen-Argyle football dynasty, winning seven state 9-man titles in his 15 seasons as a hea...

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At every Kroulik family gathering, the conversation inevitably turns to football.

That should be no surprise. Mark Kroulik was the long-time coach of the Stephen-Argyle football dynasty, winning seven state 9-man titles in his 15 seasons as a head coach.

His sons, Matt and Casey, played for their father. Now they coach, as well-Casey as the head coach at Clearbrook-Gonvick and Matt as defensive coordinator at Stephen-Argyle.

The brothers will be on opposite sidelines Thursday with the Section 8 9-man title on the line when Stephen-Argyle, attempting to repeat as champion, meets Clearbrook-Gonvick. The game is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. at the Fargodome.

"Football definitely comes up when we get together,'' the 41-year-old Casey said. "We do it from an enjoyment standpoint. With my dad coaching, us playing and and going on to coach, it's always been a common interest. It's fun bouncing ideas off of each other.''

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Conversations were put on hold Saturday after Clearbrook-Gonvick and Stephen-Argyle won section semifinal games. "Matt sent me a phone message saying, 'Good luck. We probably won't talk until Thursday,' '' Casey said.

The brothers are close. They will probably talk on the field before the game. Once play begins, they'll be on opposite sides. They don't anticipate any interaction during the game.

"It's never me against him during a game,'' the 38-year-old Matt said. "I'm thinking about our kids, our defense. I'm sure Casey is the same way, concerned about his team, not me.''

The brothers were teammates on Stephen's 1992 9-man state championship team. Their on-field coaching style is different. When the Stephen-Argyle coaching staff arrived to scout Clearbrook-Gonvick at its semifinal game Saturday, "I heard Casey from about two blocks away where we parked. The game had started and he was already yelling at the officials,'' Matt said.

"In our defense, there were some bad calls,'' Casey said, laughing. "I am probably a little more emotional on the sideline. I get excited. Matt is more calm. I wish I had more of that. Neither of us are yellers at practices. We're more coaches and teachers then. I think we we got that from dad. He always said coaching is teaching.''

As for parents Mark and Beth Kroulik, the on-the-field meeting of the brothers is a dilemma. No favoritism is shown. They stand behind the goal post, equal distance from each bench.

"We'll each call Dad this week, asking him about this or that,'' Matt said. "He doesn't want to get caught in the middle. He'll see caller ID and I don't think he wants to answer the phone.

"It's terrible for Mom. She can't cheer for anything.''

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Their teams are similar in that both are heavily geared toward the run. Stephen-Argyle has balance. Five players have rushed for more than 270 yards, led by Kyler Szczepanski (141-774) and Joston Hoeper (83-512). Clearbrook-Gonvick relies more on the 1-2 punch of Tristan Bakke (180-1,363) and Ethan Dorman (140-1,159).

Stephen-Argyle beat Clearbrook-Gonvick during the regular season. Casey is hoping that brotherly sharing will be a factor.

"Last year, our teams split two games,'' said Casey said. "That was fair. I hope we can do that again.''

Minn. Section 8 9-man matchup

At Fargodome, 12:30 p.m. Thursday

Clearbrook-Gonvick

Coach: Casey Kroulik.

Record: 6-4, No. 3 seed.

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Recent section playoff history: The Bears are in the section championship for the first time since finishing second in 2010.

Offensive average: 29.9 ppg.

Defensive average: 21.3 ppg.

Starting offensive lineup: Soph. QB Ethan Dorman, sr. RB Tristan Bakke, sr. RB Trevor Rogstad, sr. RB Spencer Reed, sr. TE Nathanael Dahl, jr. TE Ben Solberg, soph. G Richard Hale, jr. G Ty Nelson, sr. C Judah Benett.

Starting defensive lineup: DLs Nelson, Bennett and Hale, LBs Dahl, Rogstad, Solberg and fr. Jonny Hamnes, Ss Dorman and Bakke.

Rushing leaders: T. Bakke 180-1,363, Dorman 140-1,159, Rogstad 58-329, soph. Damen Bakke 37-291.

Passing leader: Dorman 29-70-3, 400 yards, 5 TDs.

Receiving leaders: Dahl 14-184, Rogstad 5-41.

Stephen-Argyle

Coach: Ethan Marquis.

Record: 9-1, No. 1 seed.

Recent section playoff history: The Storm are attempting to win their second straight section title.

Offensive average: 37.7 ppg.

Defensive average: 17.5 ppg.

Starting offensive lineup: Sr. QB Chris McGlynn, sr. RB Tom Gryskiewicz, jr. RB Stoene Spilde, jr. RB Kyler Szczepanski, sr. TE Wyatt Neuschwander, jr. TE Wyatt Hamre, sr. G Isaac Mills, jr. G Zach Fincher, sr. C Conner Jensen.

Starting defensive lineup: NG Jensen, Ts Mills and Fincher, DEs Gryskiewicz and jr. Joachim Kazmierczak, LBs Neuschwander and Hamre, DBs McGlynn and Spilde.

Rushing leaders: Szczepanski 141-774, soph. Joston Hoeper 83-512, Gryskiewicz 44-422, Spilde 57-382, McGlynn 57-273.

Passing leader: McGlynn 38-77-1, 683 yards, 12 TDs.

Receiving leaders: Neuschwander 15-248, Spilde 7-186, sr. Sandler Hanson 6-141.

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