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GGF football this week: Cushman Classic sees differing strengths

Pass-heavy Grand Forks Central faces a Grand Forks Red River team with a strong interior in a 7 p.m. Friday kickoff at Cushman Field.

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Grand Forks Central quarterback Dylan LaMont pitches the ball to running back Jack Simmers in the first half against Grand Forks Red River in the 25th annual Cushman Classic game at Cushman Field Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Red River won 24-6. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks Central wants to let its veteran quarterback throw outside to its talented skill players.

Grand Forks Red River wants to use its stable of running threats to run up the middle behind a powerful offensive line.

Those contrasting strengths will be at the core of the 26th annual Cushman Classic at 7 p.m. Friday night when the Knights and Roughriders meet at Cushman Field.

Red River won the 2021 Cushman Classic, while Central last won in 2020.

"Our offensive line has demonstrated they're the strength of our team," Red River coach Vyrn Muir said. "I thought before the season that would be the case. The thing I didn't anticipate was I didn't know who our running backs will be, but we seem to have three and quarterbacks who can run the ball, as well. Being a defensive guy myself, I know having five different guys like that is difficult to defend."

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The Riders' offensive line is led by junior center Lawson Lotysz (6-foot-3, 265 pounds). Garrett Eickman and Nolan Pieper are the tackles, while Logan Wasylow and JB Walters are the guards. In addition, tight end Logan Arason, who missed the first two weeks of the season, provides another big-bodied weapon.

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Red River lineman Lawson Lotysz (76) celebrates with teammates after sacking Valley City quarterback Gavin Gerhardt, not pictured, in the second quarter of a home football game on Thursday, October 21, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Red River has four runners in the Top 15 of the Eastern Dakota Conference 11A division.

Brett Feller has 334 rushing yards, Logan Okstad has 265, quarterback Pearce Parks has 196 and Mason Bimler has 195.

"We're worried about the run game first of all," Central first-year head coach Jake Schauer said. "They want to run the ball. They're not known to chuck it around. The offensive line makes them go. We have to strap it up and be ready to go."

The two Grand Forks schools have the top two passers in the division, although Central's Dylan LaMont is the runaway leader in 11A.

Parks, a first-year starter as a sophomore, has thrown for 434 yards, while LaMont has thrown for 816 yards.

"We knew going into the year, we had a solid pass attack," Schauer said. "We liked what we saw in our personnel. (LaMont) is a leader. He's a worker. He's throwing as much as possible. We love Dylan, and we're glad we have him."

The Knights have five of the top 12 receivers in the division in yards per game.

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Leo Strandell has more yards than anyone in the division with 272 receiving yards. Tray Kuntz has 159, followed by Jayden Haake (140), Jack Simmers (109) and Cole Barta (86).

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Grand Forks Central's Jack Simmers fights to stay on his feet after breaking through the Devils Lake defense on a first quarter carry during a homecoming football game at Cushman Field on Friday, September 24, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Muir said you can see the influence of Central assistant coach Darin King on the Knights' offensive attack. Schauer is the nephew of King, who was an offensive assistant with Muir and Red River from 2006-10.

Red River is ranked No. 3 in the last state poll with a 3-1 mark. The Riders' only loss was to No. 1 Jamestown.

Central is unranked at 1-3 but have put scares into No. 1 Jamestown and No. 2 Fargo North this season.

"They've done some nice things to utilize the athletes they have," Muir said. "They have the ability to consistently move down the field."

EGF Senior High at Park Rapids

The Green Wave will look to get in the win column when they travel to 0-2 Park Rapids for a 6 p.m. Friday kickoff.

Despite a loss in the home opener last Friday against Detroit Lakes, East Grand Forks turned some heads by keeping it a one-score game until late in the fourth quarter against a strong Lakers team.

"I thought overall our team played a really good football game," EGF coach Ryan Kasowski said. "The turnovers came back to bite us in the end. Coming off the first game, I didn't know what type of team we were, but we got a lot better from Week 1 to 2."

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The Wave defense held an explosive Detroit Lakes offense in check for much of the game last Friday.

The EGF defense has been led by inside linebacker Clyde Anderson and defensive end Grant Burger, a former linebacker the Wave moved down to the line of scrimmage in order to take advantage of his play-making ability.

Fosston at Polk County West

Polk County West's offense found a new gear last Friday against Warroad.

In a season-opening loss to Mahnomen-Waubun, Mike Gapp ran 25 times for 145 yards and a touchdown. In last Friday's win over Warroad, Gapp followed up the big first week with an even more impressive 28 carries for 231 yards and three touchdowns.

On the year, Gapp is averaging 7.3 yards per carry.

Polk County West coach Darrin Byklum credited his offensive line, headed by Daniel Suda and Alex Hart.

"I just think we're getting more consistent up front every week," Byklum said. "Mike has done a great job reading his blocks. We had most everyone coming back (on the offensive line) but a lot of them are younger and everything is starting to click."

Mantana Jorgenson leads the PCW defense with 13.5 tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss.

Fosston is 0-2 this season with losses to Red Lake County and Ada-Borup. The game is set for 7 p.m. in Climax.

Related Topics: GF RED RIVERGF CENTRAL
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

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.
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