Football: Perham takes care of business in Section 8-3A first-round win over Park Rapids
The second-seeded Perham football team scored 27 first-half points on its way to a 34-7 win over seventh-seeded Park Rapids. The Yellowjackets are set to host East Grand Forks on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Ted Meinhover Field.
PERHAM – Perham head football coach Aron Velde prides his team on being “blue collar,” which bodes well for the Section 8-3A playoffs.
The second-seeded Yellowjackets took care of business on Tuesday night with a 34-7 win over seventh-seeded Park Rapids. It’s the second time Perham beat the Panthers this season.
“This first playoff game is always weird because you have the MEA weekend and all that,” Velde said. “It’s hard for teenagers to shift their mindset from a game last Wednesday, in a game that we battled but we didn’t get the result we wanted, to then a morning film session before a whole weekend off. That’s hard for anybody–teenagers included. We came out, ripped the band-aid off and got to work.”
Hudson Hackel got Perham on the board first. He capped off an efficient opening drive with a four-yard touchdown run to give the Yellowjackets a 6-0 lead. Braylon Rach broke off a 35-yard run on the first offensive play of the game to get Peram into plus territory.
“We wanted to score on the first drive,” Hackel said. “The line did a great job. I don’t think Braylon got touched on that one run. It was insane.”
Perham scored again late in the first quarter. Junior Blaiz Schmidt threw a 62-yard bomb to senior Noah Thompson to give the Yellowjackets a two-score lead. Schmidt and Thompson connected for a second time midway through the third quarter on a 42-yard catch and run.
Thompson finished the day with two catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
“Noah had a great game,” Velde said. “He does a lot of things for us. We preach all the time that stats don’t matter. If you look game-to-game, there are one or two kids that pop. The rest of the kids are patient, and they’re not fighting each other about it. What’s good for other players is good for them. That’s key to how we operate. Your time will come, and when it does, you need to make plays.”
Perham scored one more time in the first half to take a 27-0 lead into the locker room. Schmidt jumped over the pile at the goal line six seconds before halftime. The Yellowjackets dominated the trenches from start to finish.
“The line is just a great group,” Hackel said. “They go out there to help each other and help the team. The hogs are just incredible hogs.”
Perham held Park Rapids to 11 straight scoreless quarters dating back to the season opener of 2021. That streak ended midway through the third when Noah Morris connected with Matthew Johanning on a 33-yard touchdown pass.
“That kid is tough,” Velde said of Morris. “If you don’t pressure him, and even if you do pressure him, if he moves his feet and gives himself time, his wideouts will get open down the field. They have a good passing game when they have time. They run the scramble drill really well. The goal is to contain him and not let him get outside the tackle box. Don’t let him make plays with his arm deep, and we got beat a couple of times deep no matter how hard we tried to contain that.”
Perham didn’t waste time getting the touchdown back. Hackel took the ensuing kickoff 82-yards to the house. Hackel plays on both sides of the ball and special teams, including the kicking duties.
“He kicks our extra points, and I guess game-winning field goals sometimes. He scores on a hands-team return, which isn’t common. He’s one of the many guys we have that are pretty versatile,” Velde said. “Man, he’s everything we want a Perham football player to be. He fits that mold, along with a lot of these guys. We wouldn’t be where we’re at without that versatility.”
“Noah Thompson catching up to me and getting that huge block was big,” Hackel said. “That was incredible. I haven’t seen a block like that, so I think he was taking tips from Alex Ohm.”
The win gives the Yellowjackets one final home game to end the season in a rematch with East Grand Forks. Perham beat the Green Wave 14-11 at home on Oct. 13.
“We’re blue-collar, so we’ll get up and go to work tomorrow,” Velde said. “We have a salty group of dudes, but there’s not a lot of us. We have to have that go-to-work mentality. We need to put our heads down, attack these three days and show up on Saturday to protect our own turf.”