Willett showing big-play ability for East Grand Forks Senior High football team

East Grand Forks' Nathan Willett makes an acrobatic catch as Pirate defenders look on. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Nathan Willett is known for his long-range scoring on the basketball court.

Last winter, Willett averaged 12 points and made more 3-point baskets (64-of-167) than 2-pointers (50-of-102).

Last Friday, the senior brought that long-range scoring ability to the football field for East Grand Forks Senior High. The 6-foot-6 Willett had two touchdowns receptions, two other acrobatic catches and 83 receiving yards in a season-opening 27-19 win at Crookston.

“I like being the home run guy, making big plays for my team,’’ Willett said. “Sam (Votava, EGF quarterback) was throwing me some great passes. He does the same in basketball.’’


Said Senior High coach Ryan Kasowski: “Nathan’s definitely our home-run guy. When we need a big play, he’s the guy we’ll look to first. He can go deep or, if it’s a short-yardage situation, we can just throw it up to him.’’

Willett had 11- and 28-yard touchdown receptions against the Pirates, the latter when he pulled the ball away from a Crookston defender in the end zone.

Willett also had a leaping 24-yard catch that set up another TD. On his fourth catch, Willett hauled in a tipped pass in a crowd as he fell to the ground.

“That’s the player he is,’’ Kasowski said. “He makes those spectacular catches in practices all the time and you wonder how he did it. You get used to seeing him make those catches.

“He has size, speed, athleticism and good hands -- a good combination for a receiver.’’

Senior High will play another good passing combination when the Green Wave are at Pequot Lakes for a 7 p.m. game today. Pequot Lakes quarterback Cale Wolf was an honorable mention all-subdistrict pick last year and Bode Magnuson was named subdistrict receiver of the year.

“They run an offense very similar to us,’’ Kasowski said. “They were ranked No. 1 in our section in the preseason. They’re pretty talented.’’

In other games today involving Greater Grand Forks teams:


Williston (1-0) at GF Central (0-1)

The Knights won two games last season. One of those was a 39-13 win against Williston, whom they host at 4:30 p.m..

“We’re a different team,’’ said Central coach Bill Lorenz, whose team opened with a 43-0 loss to Bismarck Legacy. “But after beating them last year, the kids feel we can do it again.

“But there are some things we have to fix from last week. We were inconsistent on the offensive line and gave up too many big plays on defense.’’

Williston’s Charlie Whitlock threw for 206 yards in a 41-0 win over Watford City. Whitlock passed for 221 yards against Central last season.

Bismarck (0-1) at Red River (0-1)

After being edged 14-12 by Minot -- a team that scored 47 against the Roughriders last year -- Red River hosts the defending state champion Demons at approximately 7 p.m.

“They were pretty senior-dominated last year,’’ Red River coach Vyrn Muir said. “But they’re a typical Bismarck team. They come off the ball hard and try to run it right down your throats.’’

Parker Monette was 16-of-27 passing for 178 yards in the opening loss to Minot. “We moved the football,’’ Muir said. “Our line came off the ball hard and Parker made plays with his arms and feet.’’

Red Lake County (1-0) at Polk Co. West (1-0)

The Thunder play their lone game in East Grand Forks at 7 p.m. in a matchup of two of the top teams in Section 8A.


“We probably throw a little more, but not by a lot,’’ PCW coach Darrin Byklum said. “We’re both primarily running teams.

“They’re huge up front. They may have a little more speed than last year. But they usually run right at you.’’

Both teams are coming off big wins, PCW beating Cass Lake-Bena 68-0 and Red Lake County beating Red Lake 50-0.

East Grand Forks Nathan Willett hauls in a touchdown in the second half as Crookston's Zach Brown defends. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

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