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Perham football kicks off with Detroit Lakes

Perham's Jenson Beachy gets to the goalline before a Detroit Lakes' defender knocks him to the ground during the 2016 battle in Detroit Lakes. Beachy and the Yellowjackets renew the rivalry with Detroit Lakes on Sept. 8 at the Ted Meinhover Field. Jason Groth/FOCUS

The Perham football team finally gets to strap up the pads and play for real when they square off with the Detroit Lakes Lakers on Friday, Sept. 8, in the annual Battle for the Paddle game at the Ted Meinhover Field in Perham.

The Yellowjackets received a 2-0 forfeit victory over Frazee in week one. The Hornets forfeited their varsity season due to lack of numbers in the junior and senior class. The Yellowjackets sent their ninth and 10th graders over to Frazee in the scheduled spot of the contest and came away with a victory.  

Perham head coach Kyle Knutson said the bye week allowed the team to get focused and polish up their schemes ahead of the Detroit Lakes game.

The Battle for the Paddle has been an intense game in years past. The Yellowjackets were defeated last year, 26-14, and were edged out 33-32 in 2015. The Yellowjackets were stopped at the 1-yard line in the closing seconds of the game.

“We feel the past two years should have been a Perham victory,” Knutson said. “Two years ago, time expired on the 1-inch line and last year was close, too. Our boys are ready.”

The Lakers are coming off a 20-12 defeat to Rocori. The Lakers fell behind early, but couldn’t overcome the deficit. Jackson Haire led the Laker attack with 81 yards passing and 61 yards rushing against a stingy Rocori defense. Cameron Erb added 27 yards on three carries for the Lakers. Haire spread the ball out through the air, hitting six different receivers. Tanner Doppler led the team with 29 yards receiving.

Rocori had success stopping the Lakers ground attack and the Yellowjackets hope to do the same on Friday.

“We will have to stop the run and contain the pass with them,” Knutson said. “If we give Haire fewer options and control (Ben) Nordmark, we should be OK.”

When asked if there will be first game nerves, Knutson said he doesn’t think there will be any.

“The boys feel they got a little robbed with Frazee and are really dying to play,” Knutson said. “I’m just impressed with how hard they are working and how focused they are.”

Knutson said the key for the Yellowjackets will be to take care of the football and to keep things moving.

Turnovers hurt the Yellowjackets in the 2016 matchup. They had nine fumbles on the game, losing four of them. The Lakers raced out to a 26-0 lead, before Perham rallied with a pair of touchdowns, cutting it to 12. However, the fumbling issue hurt Perham’s comeback bid.

Jenson Beachy rushed for 83 yards and passed for 95 yards in the loss. Zach Peterson added 58 yards on six carries in the loss. Haire finished with 108 yards on the ground, while passing for 24. Cameron Erb rushed for 94 yards, while Ben Nordmark added 56. Nordmark rushed for a pair of touchdowns, while Haire rushed for one and passed for one.

The two teams restart the rivalry on Friday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Ted Meinhover Field in Perham.

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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