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Football Roundup...News about Wrenshall and other area teams

Back-up quarterback Dustin Shelton describes a play to his Wrenshall teammates late in the third quarter last Friday in Wrenshall. Shelton, a senior running back, rushed for a game-high 174 yards on 10 attempts in the up-and-coming Wrens' 55-0 whipping of neighboring Carlton. Tyler Korby/Pine Journal

WRENSHALL--Dustin Shelton surged for a 70-yard touchdown run on Friday, but it's the run he and his Wrenshall football teammates are on that is most moving.

The Wrens continued their move up the standings with a 55-0 Great Northern nine-man prep football shutout over neighboring rival Carlton last Friday night in Wrenshall.

Shelton, a 5-foot-9, 155-pound senior running back, has been playing football since grade school. However, it was during his junior high season in 2009 when football at the small school was disbanded due to its lack of numbers.

The Wrens (3-3) surely put up the numbers last week. Shelton rushed for a game-best 174 yards on 10 carries, including his third-quarter score. Fullback Luke Vine added 119 yards and four touchdown runs, while Hunter Pauly piled up three scores to go with his 101 yards.

This comes after a forfeited season, a year of junior varsity in 2010 and two one-win rebuilding years of varsity.

Last week was the Wrens' third straight victory.

"We're finally getting over the top -- it feels great," said Shelton. "We could have shut down again, but we stuck it through and we're finally flying high."

"We're improving each week," added sixth-year Wrenshall Coach Jeremy Zywicki, whose team has beaten McGregor, Isle and Carlton in consecutive weeks. "We have some guys who are hungry, who really love the game."

Several of those guys are Shelton and fellow seniors Austin Ferguson and Jared Kittel. All three have been a part of the program since it previously folded. Now, they're just humbled to be part of an improved, winning team.

"It's been a long time," said Ferguson, a tight end. "We owe a lot to the seniors above us. They made us better."

Bettering winless Carlton (0-6) -- on a blustery, wet, cold night -- was the Wrens' game plan.

"They run the ball very well," said Bulldogs Coach Erik Hanson. "They make the blocks, find the holes and do the right things. They took it to us tonight, on a soggy field."

Carlton, like Wrenshall, fields varsity nine-man football after folding its program for a season several years ago. Although outscored 233-32 since then, Zywicki remains optimistic for Carlton.

"It's a process -- it takes time," he said. "It nice to see our kids doing well, but Carlton will get back on track, too."

Meanwhile, the Wrens host Cromwell-Wright on Friday.

"Cromwell is one of those teams you look up to," said Ferguson of the four-time state champion Cardinals. "We're going to go out, play our game and do our best to beat them."


Cloquet (5-1) cruised by host Virginia 55-0 in a Sea-Range Conference shutout last Friday, as seven different Lumberjacks scored, including a pair of touchdown runs via Austin Gotchnik.

Cromwell-Wright (3-3) was beaten by Isle 20-15 in a Great Northern nine-man meeting last Friday in Cromwell. The Cardinals, losers of three straight, got two second-quarter scores from Tyler Hakamaki and Zion Smith, but it wasn't nearly enough.

Esko (3-3) ended up losing late in a 22-20 defeat at Proctor last Friday when Joe Carter -- 239 total yards -- ran for a 58-yard TD with 4:58 left, followed by Brodie Nordquist's game-winning conversion. John Carr carried the Eskomos with all three scores.

Fond du Lac Ojibwe (0-2) opened its junior varsity-only football season last week in Cloquet. The Ogichidaa was edged 18-14 by Silver Bay Monday and 26-22 by Carlton on Thursday.

Moose Lake-Willow River (6-0) ran by Deer River 45-0 in a Great Polar White wasting last Friday in Willow River. The Class AA second-ranked Rebels relied on Brad Fossum's two TD tosses to extend their regular-season and home win streaks to 60 and 44.

South Ridge (5-1) ripped by North Woods 54-22 last Friday in a Big North nine-man mauling in Culver. The Panthers produced plenty with Kody Karppinen's 25-of-40 passing night for 305 yards, while Drew Janke had 175 yards on 15 catches.

FDLTCC (1-5) fell to Ridgewater 15-12 Saturday in Superior. The Thunder, owning only one win, travel to Virginia today, Thursday, Oct. 10, for a conference clash at Mesabi Range.