BY DAVE PEDERSEN
Delano established itself as a running football team in the 41-9 victory against Dassel-Cokato to start the season Friday.
The Tigers next play at home against Annandale, 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6. Last season Delano lost 20-19.
“We were going to come out running with our size up front,” said coach Merrill Pavlovich about the strategy in the first game. “Jack Nelson finished strong last year and got off to a good start. We ran our belly series with dive plays as our bread and butter.”
Nelson is a senior halfback who rushed for 149 yards on 14 carries, breaking off a 40-yard touchdown run.
Pavlovich says the key to Delano’s running success has a lot to do with the fullback. Last year junior Aaron Wagner played one game at fullback. He took over as the regular starter and gained 65 yards on 10 carries. Wagner also took on a new position as defensive end, where he also did well according to his coach.
Another big play was by Seth Norling, who returned an interception 87 yards for a touchdown near the end of the second quarter. Hanson completed a 37-yard scoring pass to Adam Kraft in the third quarter.
The other touchdowns were by Brett Norling on a 1-yard run and by Joe Emmer on a 5-yard run. Nate Meyer and Austin Neisen also had interceptions. Fumble recoveries were by Damon Longstreet and Brady Miller.
Hanson was 4 of 8 passing for 92 yards. Kraft caught three passes for 87 yards. Delano had 316 yards rushing and total yardage of 408.
Christian Triplett and Kraft led the defense with seven tackles, both also having four unassisted. Sawyer Thomas and Brett Norling had six tackles, while Zach Linden and James Otto both had five.
Pavlovich said what was unusual about the first game was how the team had very little physical practice the week prior due to the stretch of above 90 degree temps.
“If we got an hour with the kids in practice we were lucky,” said Pavlovich. We backed off and did not practice with pads or helmets. In the past we always had a day or two of hot weather, but never a whole week. We did spend more time in film prep and going over a game plan and play recognition. Physically, we did nothing.”
One player who got a kick out of the first game was sophomore Evan Tolkkinen, who booted five of six extra point attempts.
Tolkkinen had been attending Mount Olive parochial school in Delano until ninth grade when he started going to Delano this year. Pavlovich said he would see him at the football field kicking field goals.
“Friends from his church invited him to our summer camp and we liked what we saw,” said Pavlovich, about the 5-6, 135-pound “non-contact” kicker. “Triplett will do our kickoffs and punts.”
Contact Dave Petersen at [email protected]