Matthew Hudrlik and Mark Hoge have been teammates for most of their young lives.
It started in the open lot next to their homes in Ironton where the two blossomed into a dangerous one-two punch for the Crosby-Ironton Rangers football team.
"It was always very competitive," said Hoge. "When we were done with school we would go out and play against our brothers. We were always on the same team and we would make up our own plays. It was very competitive and we would always have to quit because someone would get hurt from a big hit or we would be arguing about some rule for too long.
"The next day we would come out and be ready to do it all over again."
Said Hudrlik: "Those games got a little out of hand. We used to play tackle until one of us got hurt. Then we had to switch to flag."
This year games have ended with Hudrlik and Hoge and the rest of the Rangers celebrating a win. At 5-3 C-I enjoyed its most successful regular season in many years.
Offensively, Hoge has 28 receptions for 735 yards and 15 touchdowns. He's also carried the ball twice for 32 yards and thrown a 20-yard touchdown pass on his only attempt.
"He is long, tall and he's got great speed and hands," said Gindorff. "He adjusts well to the ball and understands where the openings are in the coverage. He knows how to beat kids and go up and get the ball. He runs very good routes.
Position: Receiver-defensive back; Running back-defensive back
Key stat: Combined for 319 yards of offense, three touchdowns and five interceptions against Aitkin.
"He's always been a quarterback until this year. With what we saw of Mark at wideout we decided to go with Derik (Midthun) at quarterback and leave Mark out wide. It's turned out to be best for the team and him, too."
The same attributes that make Hoge, 6-foot-2, 175-pounds, a dangerous receiver help him at free safety where he has seven interceptions, one pass defense, 33 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Hudrlik (5-8, 145) has three interceptions, 34 tackles, three fumble recoveries and three pass defenses from his cornerback position.
Offensively he has rushed for 828 yards and five touchdowns on 106 carries. He's caught 11 passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns and thrown for a touchdown and 122 yards on 3-of-8 passing.
"He is scary quick," said Gindorff. "That's how I would describe him. He's not a power back, but we do have tape of him plowing over people, and he doesn't have blazing speed, but he's at full speed in two steps and if you give him a little space he's going to make people miss.
"We try to get the ball in his hands at least 20 times a game."
The two displayed their abilities during C-I's 34-13 defeat of Aitkin Oct. 15 when they combined for 319 offensive yards and three touchdowns and picked off five passes.
Both complimented the offensive line for creating holes and allowing enough time for the passing game to develop.
"They are team-oriented," said Gindorff. "They understand they need to be on the field for us and are willing to do whatever we ask them to do. They're both great kids and good students with very high character."
Other notable performances:
Football: Justin Ringler, Pillager, threw for 293 yards and a touchdown and ran for another against Osakis.
Tanner Tetrick, Pierz, rushed for 113 yards and two touchdowns against Howard Lake-Waverly.
Michael Weber, Pierz, threw for 173 yards and a touchdown against Howard Lake-Waverly.
Matt Moenkedick, Verndale, rushed for 234 yards and three touchdowns against Chokio-Alberta/Herman-Norcross.
Riley Snyder, Wadena-Deer Creek, rushed for 186 yards against West Central.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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