Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.
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FARGO—Friday was not the way the Fargo Force wanted to open the United States Hockey League season in front of the home crowd, falling 5-2 to Sioux Falls at Scheels Arena. After having lost 18 players from last season's roster, Force fans got a look at some of the newcomers. In the first two periods, there weren't many looks at full strength, as Sioux Falls scored five power-play goals.
FARGO—Fargo Force forward and University of North Dakota hockey commit Mark Senden stared at the ice of Scheels Arena on Wednesday with a smile. He had begun an answer, stopped mid-sentence and smiled. He was asked what he loves about the game of hockey. "You're free," Senden said. "You're free from the world when you step on the ice. The only thing that matters is what's happening between the glass and the boards."
Moorhead Moorhead senior running back and defensive back Otis Weah stood next to his mother in the end zone at Jim Gotta Stadium before football practice last Thursday. He stared, looking for something that wasn't there. On the field, Weah plays with bold, almost reckless, speed. The noises from his collisions have crowds teetering between excitement and concern. Weah does not fear those crunches. He has a rare confidence that he will always be the one emerging from those hits unloading a triumphant scream.
MOORHEAD—Concordia running back Chad Johnson was a bit timid heading into Saturday's Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchup with Gustavus. He wasn't afraid of the Gusties. Two touchdowns away from jumping coach Terry Horan for career touchdowns, the senior was afraid he wasn't going to get the ball. "He said we were going to pass the ball the rest of the year," Johnson said with a laugh.
MOORHEAD—Willmar had just tied No. 7-ranked Moorhead in Friday's football matchup on a 21-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-10. The touchdown was set up by a Spuds turnover on their first play from scrimmage of the second half. Moorhead assistant coach Paul Cragg pulled senior Otis Weah aside and told him to be the playmaker he is and to go out there and make a play. Weah went 60 yards for a touchdown on the next play from scrimmage, and Moorhead never looked back, topping Willmar 36-20.
FARGO—The last time Fargo Shanley beat Bismarck St. Mary's in high school football, current Moorhead coach Kevin Feeney was the coach of the Deacons. In 2002, the Deacons beat St. Mary's 24-14—their first win in a season opener in five years. Mark Gilbertson took back an interception for a touchdown, Butch Blahosky rushed for two touchdowns, Andrew Knoll added a touchdown and Logan Schmitz had 11 tackles for the Deacons. They are 0-8 against St. Mary's since. The Deacons head to Bismarck for another matchup at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29.
Rothsay, Minn. Rothsay senior running back and linebacker Wyatt Curtis used to be afraid on the football field. He was the smallest guy on it in seventh grade. After years of work, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior runs with no fear. "I was nervous before games," Curtis said. "It's crazy to think only a few years ago I was the smallest guy on the field, so I was trying to avoid the contact. Now, I just go right at it."
MOORHEAD—The all-too-familiar sight of Minnesota State Moorhead's defense breaking seemed to be a foregone conclusion Saturday against Concordia-St. Paul. The rain came down hard on Scheels Field at Alex Nemzek Stadium in the second half of the football matchup, as did the Golden Bears on the MSUM defense.
GLYNDON, Minn.—The Pequot Lakes football team came to Glyndon, Minn., Friday to face a Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton team that had beaten the Patriots in four straight section championship games. The Patriots came to Glyndon having lost a delayed football game on Monday to Perham, in which the Yellowjackets scored 14 unanswered points. The Patriots came to Glyndon angry. And they took it out on the No. 10-ranked Rebels in the form of a 35-7 win in Minnesota Class 3A action.
ELLENDALE, N.D.—Two of the best running backs in the state of North Dakota will go against each other on Friday, Sept. 22, as defending Class 1A state champion and top-ranked Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm will host Fargo Oak Grove at 7 p.m. And the forecast calls for rain. "You can expect a lot of grinding it out in this game," Oak Grove coach Melvin Whitney said. To go along with the backfield matchup between Oak Grove senior Ben Hoggarth and E-E-K senior Clayton Grueneich is the fact both teams are 4-0.