Football Roundup-'Dogs run past Red LakeA look at area football teams with a special focus on Carlton
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
With the football season on hiatus in Carlton last fall, Dominic Bennett decided to give cross country a whirl. Although the Carlton sophomore is back on the gridiron now, it seems a year on the cross country team didn’t hurt his game at all.
The 5-foot-11, 150-pound running back rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns to help the Bulldogs run past Red Lake 61-38 at Jim Erickson Field last Friday night in Carlton. Playing in the program’s first varsity contest since 2010, Bennett said it was one of the best games of his life.
“Last year was a rough year for all of us,” said Bennett, who – along with his teammates – saw the entire season forfeited due to the lack of players. “It’s just a fun game we love playing. That hit all of us hard.”
The Bulldogs (1-0) hit the Warriors hard in their return to varsity play, scoring eight of their nine touchdowns on the ground last week. Along with Bennett’s runs of 18 and 40 yards, fellow sophomore running back Mike Moralez rushed for 117 yards and three scores. Senior quarterback Erik Adams scored three times, including a striking 68-yard kickoff return.
Perhaps that running success comes from new coach, Erik Hanson. The 35-year-old is a former two-time All-American track speedster and football return specialist at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He ran the 100 meters in 10.5 seconds and played five seasons of football at UMD.
“You can’t really teach speed, but it sure helps,” said Hanson, who coached two seasons of football in Cloquet and 10 years in Duluth before being hired at Carlton in late June. “I’ve had some good coaches in my life, so I’m just trying to send it down the chain. The things that I’ve learned, I’m just trying to teach to them here. It has been the right fit.”
Hanson, who also coaches girls track and boys hockey around the area, said the Bulldogs football team has 40 players in grades 6-12 as a part of a program that has shifted from Class A to 9-Man this fall. Carlton will play five junior varsity games and – according to the Minnesota State High School League – will have three varsity contests in order to qualify for the Section 5 9-Man postseason. They already beat McGregor in JV, too.
“We start three eighth-graders,” Hanson said. “These kids are young, but they are learning and seeing what being under the lights is all about.”
In varsity, Carlton will next head to Hillcrest Lutheran Academy Sept. 28 and host West Lutheran/Southwest Christian in Carlton Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.
“We have to keep each other motivated, always give 100 percent and no matter what, never give up,” Bennett added. “It’s football. We love it.”
Barnum (1-2) allowed an opening drive score, but then never looked back in their 30-7 Great Polar Alliance Red Conference rout over Cook County last Friday at Grand Marais. Danny Warpula, Colton Selix, Brandon Newman and Steve Swanson all had touchdowns for the Bombers in their first win. Warpula led all rushers with 161 yards.
Cloquet (2-1) racked up 346 yards rushing in their 47-18 Sea-Range Conference victory over host Virginia last Friday. The Lumberjacks, which pulled away from a 13-12 halftime lead, were paced by Marquez Evans’ 116 yards and two scores, while Austin Gotchnik had 138 yards and a TD along with Kyle Klatt, Kaleb Kadelbach and Maxx Brenner.
Cromwell-Wright (1-2) gave up the first five TDs in their 60-14 Great Northern Conference loss to state recognized and unbeaten Onamia last Friday in Cromwell. Zach Kinstel led the Cardinals with both scores on an 80-yard kickoff return and 44-yard run.
Wrenshall (1-2) struggled early on with turnovers in a 32-6 Great Northern Conference loss to Hill City last Friday at Wrenshall. Caleb O’Connor led the game offensively, punching in the lone score for the Wrens.
FDLTCC (2-2) had a safety, blocked an extra point and a punt in their 32-13 Minnesota College Athletic Conference victory over Itasca last Thursday in Coleraine. James Griffin paced the Thunder with 133 yards rushing and a touchdown, while Chaise Jokinen, Andre Sims and 6-foot-5, 337-pound DeMarcus Rawls all scored.