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The Perham Yellowjackets head into state quarterfinal play on a six-game win streak. Photo by Bob Williams.

Column: Jackets making believers

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It was the end of week six of the football season and a fellow employee, who shall not be named, (Deb Spiczka) asked me what I thought the chances were Perham would defeat Thief River Falls.

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I did not reply in the affirmative. In fact, I proclaimed a loss.

Deb agreed with me.

The Yellowjackets were 2-3 and had been the victim of bad luck, bad timing and on the field their play was impressive at times, but not enough to seal victories consistently.

Since our combined failure to predict that game correctly, the Yellowjackets have not lost a game.

At first, Deb and I felt shame. Self-deprecatingly, we acknowledged we were certainly quite wrong on that one, even though it was a one-point victory in overtime.

Weeks passed; victories began to accumulate and we were forced to turn the tables and start taking credit.

It was because of our doubting that the winning streak started. Something had to be said to save face.

Since that day, Perham has continued to make believers out of Deb and I.

Perham marched into 4A Detroit Lakes and outgunned the Lakers 35-28 and took out East Grand Forks by the same score the following week at home.

Park Rapids and Staples-Motley played scrappy enough to hang for a half.

Early in the season, halftime was nothing but a cause of chagrin for the Yellowjackets.

Hail Mary's at the buzzer in week one versus Pelican Rapids and week five at Pequot Lakes deflated Perham and their fans at the break. It felt like a jinx.

Later in the season, especially versus Park Rapids and Staples-Motley, a different team came out of the break--a team that takes charge and owns the third and fourth quarter.

The Yellowjackets put up 28 points or more every game since Deb's and my anti-jinx, but had yet to find themselves in a low-scoring defensive affair.

Sooner or later, especially, in the playoffs, defense is going to win a game.

As the convincing accumulated with the wins, the Section 8AAA final game, on turf, was purported to set up a high-flying score fest between the defending champion Patriots and the Jackets.

Instead, it was smash-mouth, defensive football--my favorite.

There were crunching hits; guys' limping off the field and most of the offensive damage was done on the ground. Passing seemed to be just a bit off for both squads.

Throw in a couple field goals just for spice.

But it was the Perham defense that really made me a believer.

The best way to deflate an opponent is to out-hit them, get off the ball quicker and unleash mayhem in their backfield.

That is what I saw versus Pequot Lakes.

As I checked out the next opponent at Providence Academy Friday night, I saw a team that can be disrupted by the "beast mode" Perham team from Alerus Center last Thursday.

Listen for that chant from the Perham sideline. I find it quite apropos.

"Beast mode."

It is hard not to believe in that when it is right in front of your eyes.

Believe me, Deb and I do.

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Robert Williams
Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
(218) 346-5900 x223
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