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Video preview: Perham ready to face Two Harbors in Class AAA Tournament

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The Perham Yellowjackets bring their Section 8AAA Championship trophy to their fan base after their victory over East Grand Forks. The Yellowjackets will play Two Harbors on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 3 p..m. in Brainerd. Dave Samson/Forum News Service2 / 3
Perham fans celebrate a fouth down stop late in the game against East Grand Forks during the Minnesota Class 3A, Section 8 football championship at the Fargodome. David Samson/Forum News Service3 / 3

The Perham football team was outside, embracing the cold at the start of the week for the first time in six years. The Yellowjackets advanced to the Class AAA Tournament with a 42-28 victory over East Grand Forks and will square off with Two Harbors, who defeated Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin 26-18, in the Section 7AAA Championship.

“It feels great. I’m so proud of these kids. It’s been a goal to advance into this tournament since they left last year,” Perham head coach Kyle Knutson said. “I’m really happy for them.”

The last time Perham played in state in 2012, the Yellowjackets defeated Esko 42-8 in the opening round. Esko, like Two Harbors, is from Section 7AAA.

Jenson Beachy cuts up the field. Photo courtesy Robert Williams/Forum News Service

Quarterback Jenson Beachy said it feels great, but they don’t want to be done yet. The quarterback has thrown for 2,651 yards and rushed for 880 yards.

“We have come to this week of practice ready to go,” Beachy said. “Hopefully, we can come ready to go by Saturday.”

Beachy connected for 31 touchdowns during the season, with 10 of them going to Josh Jeziorski. Jeziorski has 45 receptions for 740 yards. Jeziorski is one of the many weapons at the disposal of Beachy at quarterback.

“It’s awesome. We have endless opportunities to get someone the ball. We have younger guys stepping up and older guys making plays,” Jeziorski said. “Jenson has a great arm and is throwing a great ball this year. He is really good in that position.”

Jeziorski said it would be tough to prepare for a team like Perham’s. He said they have a lot of stuff that they can do. That was on display when they defeated East Grand Forks. Perham had three players complete passes for more than 40 yards and had six different receivers with a catch and four guys with more than 20 yards rushing.

Josh Jeziorski makes the catch and heads up the field.

The play along the offensive line has allowed the Yellowjackets to become such a prolific offense. They have progressed as the season as wore along, with a few stumbles here and there.

“It definitely has gotten better,” Kostynick said. “It started off a little rocky, but it’s definitely gotten a lot better. We have come together the last couple of games. We have had guys step up and pull through.”

Two Harbors will present a stern test for the Perham defense on Saturday. The Agates are a predominately a run based team. Joey Marker leads the ground attack. He has 979 yards on 170 carries with 10 touchdowns. Sam Johnson has rushed for 397 yards on 68 carries, while Wyatt Haugan has 391 yards and two touchdowns. Ricky Brenna has 343 yards rushing on 70 carries. The Agates have five players with 45 or more carries.

“They are going to put a lot in the box and they are going to have 11 up front and they don’t do a lot of wide stuff,” Knutson said. “They will, but they just like to run power football at you. They have some size up front, so our lineman will have a game in front of them. We just have to tackle.”

Cole Komarek leds the team in passing. Komarek has completed 15 of his 53 pass attempts for 324 yards and four touchdowns with eight interceptions.

“They are going to put a lot in the box and they are going to have 11 up front and they don’t do a lot of wide stuff,” Knutson said. “They will, but they just like to run power football at you. They have some size up front, so our lineman will have a game in front of them. We just have to tackle.”

Defensively, the Agates have forced quarterbacks into throwing 12 interceptions including the clincher which Karsen Holm returned for a touchdown against Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin. Jayden Ruberg leads the way with four interceptions on the season for the Agates.

“They don’t stunt or blitz that much. They just play solid football,” Knutson said. “They are going to adjust to our spread a little bit. They have adjusted to teams that are similar to us. So, we are able to prepare for that.”

The Yellowjackets hope to avoid the slow start that has plagued them in their last two contests. However, if that were to happen, Knutson said the kids don’t panic and they are used to that situation.

“Our kids don’t panic. Sometimes, the coaches panic more than the kids do,” Knutson said. “They have great leadership and they are poised athletes. They just maintained and new they could do the things they do. They picked back in the game and this isn’t the first time they have done it this year. They have experience with that.”

The Yellowjackets and the Agates kick off at 3 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Brainerd High School. The winner will advance to face either Cannon Falls or Fairmont at the U.S. Bank Stadium on Nov. 17 at 4:30 p.m.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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