VERNDALE -- Jordan Hinkle comes from a long line of good running backs.
Hinkle's older brother Zach rushed for 1,048 yards and 10 touchdowns in 1998, and in 1999, while injured for much of the season, still rushed for nearly 700 yards and seven touchdowns.
"Jordan isn't as big as Zach was," said Verndale head coach Mike Mahlen. "Zach was a straight ahead speed runner, but Jordan has better moves. He finds the hole better and makes the cuts. Zach was faster and bigger. He hit the hole and he was gone."
This year, Jordan takes over as the featured back. In a 48-22 win Friday over Hancock, Hinkle rushed for 162 yards on 10 carries and scored on runs of 3, 60 and 53 yards. He also caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Cory Umland. Hinkle finished with three receptions for 60 yards.
In their first game of the season, Hinkle rushed for 92 yards on 16 carries to help Verndale beat Ashby 44-14.
"The first week he set a lot of things up for us," said Mahlen. "He was our leading rusher and he did everything but score.
"This week (Sept. 7) was the same except he broke the big ones. He scored on a long screen pass and then he broke a couple long runs. They (Hancock) were putting a lot of pressure up front and we just got the ball to the outside and once we did that it was clear sailing."
Last year, Hinkle was a vital part of the Pirates' return to the state nine-man tournament. Hinkle recorded 14 catches for 323 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 45 times for 287 yards and five more scores. Hinkle added another touchdown on a kickoff return where he averaged 21.5 yards on 13 attempts.
"Last year (Matt) Kern carried the load for us," Mahlen said. "We brought Jordan in for a change of pace. We're using him more this year. Teams are going to key on him.
"Last year we used him more as a receiver. This year he's going to be more in the backfield. He's gotten stronger and quicker. A year of maturity helps."
On the defensive side Hinkle finished with four interceptions and 35 solo tackles last year. Although he hasn't picked one off yet, Mahlen said his play has been what Verndale has expected.
"He plays safety so he's not going to get a lot of tackles," he said. "At least we hope he doesn't. We like it like that.
"He's been a good defender so far. He hasn't intercepted one yet, but he's had three balls that he's made nice plays and knocked them down at crucial times in. The interceptions will come."
Unlike a big school where a player may just play on one side of the ball. Hinkle rarely comes off the field as he is the punt and kick returner.
"In a small school we need those type of kids," said Mahlen. "You always hear the phrase, 'he's a two-way player.' Well, Jordan's a six-way player. He's on offense, defense and all four special teams."
Other notable performances:
Football -- Steve Perpich of Crosby-Ironton rushed for 107 yards on 22 carries and scored twice to help C-I beat Virginia 28-7 Friday.
Pillager's Steve Bethel scored once and rushed for 127 yards on 27 carries to lift the Huskies over Bertha-Hewitt on Friday.
Pierz's Dan Saehr threw three touchdown passes of 9, 18 and 5 yards to help the Pioneers over Big Lake 19-7. Saehr finished 13-of-21 passing for 127 yards.
Pequot Lakes' Justin Biebighauser rushed for 166 yards on 14 carries to help the Patriots past Bagley 42-20 Friday. Biebighauser scored four times on runs of 40, 28 and 55 yards and caught a touchdown pass of 15 yards.
Kyle Bendson of Staples-Motley rushed for 158 yards on just seven carries to pull the Cardinals ahead of Wadena-Deer Creek 36-7 Friday. Bendson scored twice.
Matt Royer of Pequot Lakes threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns on 9-of-23 passing in a 42-20 win over Bagley on Friday.
Cross country -- Chad Brever of Staples-Motley was the individual winner at the Eveleth-Gilbert Invitational on Sept. 4.
Travis Bristow of Pine River-Backus won the Deer River Invitational on Sept. 7 with a time of 16:44.
Adam Asfeld of Wadena-Deer Creek was the individual champion at the Staples-Motley invite Sept. 8.
Soccer -- Matt Parins scored two goals for the Little Falls Flyers in a 3-2 win over Sartell on Sept. 6.
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