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Murphy: Ada-Borup's Pelzman built to return kicks

Ada, Minn. It takes a certain kind of person to return kicks and punts in the game of football. To locate a football in the air, judge in a split-second whether or not it's returnable, get under it, catch it-all the while opposing players are fly...

Ada, Minn.

It takes a certain kind of person to return kicks and punts in the game of football. To locate a football in the air, judge in a split-second whether or not it's returnable, get under it, catch it-all the while opposing players are flying down at you to lay you out-takes someone with no fear. It takes someone with a special kind of crazy to handle the chaos.

Senior Dexter Pelzman is that guy for Ada-Borup. He's eyeing state records in the process.

"You have to have good hands and be able to catch balls coming from quite-a-ways up," Ada-Borup coach Paul Tinjum said. "You want a guy that is athletic and quick and make people miss. He was the obvious choice."

When a team is set to punt or kick to Pelzman, Tinjum can feel the players on the sideline inch closer to the field behind him.

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"Everytime we get a punt return or kick return everyone is paying attention," Tinjum said. "They're kind of on the edge because they know something big might happen."

Pelzman summed up rather simply the job qualifications for the kick and punt returner.

"Mainly, if the person can catch the ball coming out of the air with people running down the field instead of getting scared and dropping it," Pelzman said. "I just want the ball in my hands."

Pelzman has returned 10 punts for 417 yards and five touchdowns this season for 8-1 Ada-Borup. The five punt returns for touchdowns ties the state record with DeLaSalle's Michael Van Leer in 2008, Hopkins' Ryan Moseman in 1999 and Starbuck's Bob Nelson in 1967. His punt return average of 41.7 yards for the season puts him second all-time behind Nelson's 42.4 in 1967. He also has returned 10 kicks for 272 yards and a touchdown.

Pelzman would have broken the state record for punt return touchdowns in a game and season if his third punt return touchdown against Cass Lake-Bena wasn't taken off the board for a penalty.

"It's a game changer," Tinjum said. "Anytime you can score on one big play and eat up 40, 50, 60 yards that's huge. It's a huge momentum swing."

It's like life for Pelzman. A kick or punt return may look like chaos, but there's a route to a goal somewhere in there. For Pelzman, he has a route set for life.

He has one older brother in the Marines and one in the Navy. Dexter has followed in their footsteps and enlisted in the Navy. He will leave for basic training in Illinois on July 7 for eight weeks and then to San Antonio to learn to be a dental assistant for 16 weeks before waiting for his next destination. He plans to be a dentist after all is said and done.

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"I hope it all goes as planned," Pelzman said.

If anyone has seen him return a punt or a kick, it's hard to imagine Pelzman doesn't get to exactly where he wants to go.

Murphy has covered sports in Chicago, Minnesota and North Dakota since 2009, working for The Forum since 2012. Contact: cmurphy@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5548
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