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Yellowjackets ready for season opener

The Perham Yellowjacket football team begins its 2016 campaign with a familiar foe, the Hawley Nuggets, on Friday, Sept. 2 at the Ted Meinhover Field in Perham.

The Perham Yellowjacket football team begins its 2016 campaign with a familiar foe, the Hawley Nuggets, on Friday, Sept. 2 at the Ted Meinhover Field in Perham.

It's a rematch of last year's season opener, which saw the Yellowjackets rush past the Nuggets, 36-14. Both the Yellowjackets and the Nuggets hope to improve on last year's 4-5 seasons.

The Nuggets were ousted in the first round of the Section 8AA playoffs by Frazee, 19-14, while Perham was upended by Park Rapids, 34-28, in the Section 8AAA playoffs.

Perham head coach Kyle Knutson is back for his second full season at the helm of the Yellowjackets. He was the interim coach in 2014, before taking over the reins full time in 2015. He said Hawley is a well-coached team.

"We are excited to play. Hawley has been a respected program and are well coached," Knutson said. "They play physical football like us; they usually balance the run game and the passing game pretty well."

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Last year, it was the Yellowjackets dominating the physical aspect of the game, grinding down the Nuggets, which allowed for a big fourth quarter from the Yellowjackets. Perham broke open a 14-14 game with 22 straight points, allowing them to cruise to the 36-14 win.

The Yellowjackets controlled the line of scrimmage, rushing for 251 yards, while giving Dylan Perrine ample amount of time to pass. Perrine hit on six of his 10 attempts for 128 yards. However, the Yellowjackets will be looking to fill the void left by Perrine, along with Tyler and Tanner Berby. Perrine rushed for 92 yards and a score, while Tyler Berby rushed for 66 yards and a score. Tanner Berby added 46 yards and a score as well. Perrine's targets through the air in that game, Chandler Rach, Alec Meyer and Jaden Anderson, are gone as well. Perrine hit Meyer for a 15-yard touchdown and Rach for a 53-yard score.

The Yellowjackets hope they will be able to control the line of scrimmage in the opener, like they did in 2015. When asked what the keys to the game will be, Knutson said, "To be more physical than they are. We will need to take the passing game away from them and control the run game."

Last year, Hawley's Austin Koenig rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns; however, they couldn't get anything going through the air. Drew Thompson and Ben Omberg combined to complete two pass in eight attempts, throwing two interceptions as well.

With controlling the line, the Yellowjackets hope they can get their ground game going like they did in last year's opener with Hawley.

"A solid running game is always what we want," Knutson said. "We need to control the line of scrimmage. We will go to the air if we need and that will be just fine with us."

Knutson said they like to set the tone, but don't depend on it when asked if a quick start was important.

"Ideally, that happens with a quick start, but it is just as is, if not more, important to finish the game strong," Knutson said.

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The Yellowjackets open the campaign on Friday, Sept. 2 at the Ted Meinhover Field at 7 p.m.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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