Steve Bethel is moving on after a storybook season as a starting fullback and linebacker for the Pillager Huskies football team.
Bethel is headed to the University of Minnesota-Crookston to play for the Golden Eagles after signing a letter of intent last week.
The 5-foot-11, 225-pound senior is undecided on a major, but is happy to continue his football career.
"I like how they have a small campus and how the coaches were really nice and showed me a lot about their team," said Bethel. "A lot of colleges want to see how good of a player you are. At Crookston, they wanted to know what kind of an assist to the team I would be on and off the field, not just my playing ability."
UMC is a NCAA Division II school and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
"They had a lot of freshmen last year," said Bethel. "They're improving. They finished 5-4 last year but, with these young guys stepping up, they should be pretty good.
"This is something I've always wanted to do. You know as a kid you always want to play in the NFL. My mom always said to follow my dream.
"It's showing up one step at a time. To see a Division II team want me to play for them is really cool. I just want to go out and hit somebody."
Joining Bethel at Crookston will be Little Falls running back Ryan Olson, the Flyers' leading rusher last year.
Crosby-Ironton's Ben Baratto and Pillager's Adam Brown have signed with Bemidji State.
Baratto played quarterback and linebacker for the Rangers, but will play linebacker for the Beavers.
"Their coaches were really great," said Baratto. "I like the area with the trees and lakes. I visited the players and they were really nice.
"The coach is building a really good program and I think they'll be pretty good in a couple of years."
Baratto tore a muscle in his thigh last fall and saw limited action. His success as a junior helped him land at Bemidji.
"I wish I could change my senior year," Baratto said. "But I have to live with it and hopefully I can prove myself to the people who didn't think I could go to the bigger colleges."
Baratto was torn between North Dakota State, North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth
"It's a lot of stress off you," Baratto said about picking a college. "There were a lot of sleepless nights, sitting up and wondering what am I going to do and where am I going to go.
"Since I made the decision, I've gotten a lot more sleep."
Brown was a wide receiver, defensive end and kick returner for the Huskies, who advanced to the Class 1A state championship game last fall.
The Pequot Lakes Patriots made it to the Section 8, Class 3A final and the success paid off.
Halfback/fullback Justin Biebighauser is headed to St. Cloud State. Pequot head coach Tony Maurer said the plan is to have Biebighauser play strong safety. Joey Neznik and Nic Collette are both headed to St. John's University where Neznik is slated to play linebacker. Patriots' receiver Shane Blowers will attend Moorhead State.
Maurer added that lineman/linebacker Mike Hines hasn't decided yet, but is leaning toward Mankato State, and Joby Goerges is considering Moorhead State. Tony Landecker is undecided between football and baseball but plans to attend St. Cloud State.
"They've asked him to walk on to the football program," said Maurer of Landecker. "I think he's waiting to see if they offer him anything for baseball though."
Running back Justin Schwegel, quarterback Nick Keefe and lineman Josh Bresnahan of Pine River-Backus have not committed. They visited Luther College last week and were also visiting Moorhead, Concordia and Bemidji State.
A host of players plan to attend Central Lakes College, including Pierz's Dan Saehr (QB) and John Kahl (WR).
Pequot quarterback Matt Royer will more than likely play basketball next year as will Pillager quarterback Lee Roberts, who might also play baseball.
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