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Unbeaten Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton set for first Prep Bowl appearance in school history

Saturday's title game against New London-Spicer will be the first time since the DGF consolidation the team has made it to the state football finals.

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Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton head coach Anthony Soderberg celebrates the 21-17 win over Esko with his team after the Minnesota 3A quarterfinals in Brainerd on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum
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GLYNDON — For the first time since its consolidation, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton will play for a state football title.

Saturday afternoon, the unbeaten Rebels will take on the 10-2 Wildcats of New London-Spicer in the Class AAA Prep Bowl championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The last state title game appearance for a team with Glyndon in its name was in 1985 when Glyndon-Felton defeated Zumbrota 38-14.

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Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton's Jordan Summers carries against Thief River Falls during their home-opening football game Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, in Glyndon, Minnesota.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

While proud of making it to the Prep Bowl title game, head coach Anthony Soderberg is especially pleased that the team has been able to play as much football as possible this year.

“As a coaching staff, you want to get the kids as many games as possible,” he said. “Our coaching staff feels pretty vindicated that we got them the full season possible. We’re happy on that end. The kids get to go out and have fun one more time and play in a football game that means a lot.”

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Having fun with the experience is the main theme Rebels coaches are passing on to players this week.

“We’ve been preaching to them to go out, have fun and enjoy it,” Soderberg said. “Win or lose, the season is done afterwards. It’s going to be kind of a surreal moment when it happens but we’re excited for the opportunity.”

With the additional week between the semifinals and finals, Soderberg and the DGF coaching staff had extra time to allow their players to recuperate and relax a little bit.

Following a 16-7 semifinal win over Fairmount, the Rebels’ players had a few days of rest, with some film review and a practice on Wednesday before being given Thursday through Saturday off for Thanksgiving festivities and family time.

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Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton's Caleb Johnson recovers a fumble by East Grand Forks' Cooper Smith in the Section 8 3A championship game at the Fargodome on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.
David Samson/Forum Communications Co.

But come Sunday evening, they were back together to go over their Prep Bowl game plan. Practices followed early in the week with a walk-through on Thursday before traveling to Minneapolis.

When DGF and New London-Spicer finally face off, the game has the potential to be a ground-and-pound showdown, with both teams taking a similar offensive approach.

“They’re going to line up and run the ball right at you,” Soderberg said. “They have a couple of pretty good playmakers in their tailback and a wide receiver that do a lot of things for them. Defensively, we have to be physical at the point of attack, tackle well and don’t give up the big play.

“We’ve got to play our game and our style and that’s trying to get four yards every play and maybe get a few more here and there. Just move the chains and try to produce points. Then on the defensive side, try to prevent them from scoring.”

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Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton's Owen Leach reaches to intercept a pass intended for Esko's Makoi Perich with coverage from teammate Caleb Johnson late in the fourth quarter during the Minnesota 3A quarterfinals in Brainerd on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Quarterback Owen Leach leads the Rebels on offense and is joined in the backfield by Jordan Summers, who has more than 2,000 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns this season.

Defensively, Leach and Nick Waale take the lead. Leach is averaging almost an interception per game in the playoffs. Waale's last play efforts to force an incompletion helped win the Rebels a section title.

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Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton's Nicholas Waale (33) defends against East Grand Forks' Clyde Anderson on a 2-point conversion in the Section 8 3A championship game at the Fargodome on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

While those three, and others, have stepped up already, Soderberg is excited to see what the big game brings out from others on the team.

“We’ll find out who steps up during the game,” he said. “(Leach, Summers and Waale) are guys you could see that out of. But, that’s going to be half the fun of it, just watching the game unfold. We’ve got some players who have stepped up big for us in the postseason and made some big plays.”

The biggest thing come Saturday, though, is that Soderberg just wants the Rebels to be true to what they know and enjoy one more game.

“There’s the saying ‘act like you’ve been there before’ but, to be honest, we haven’t,” he said. “It’s going to be a good experience. We just want to go out and play our style of football, run around and play what I think is one of the greatest games in the world one more time and watch the kids have fun.”

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