When something dear to the hearts of many ends, closure is needed.
These are my impressions of the 2007 area football season, which sadly ended Friday.
I was only able to catch one Brainerd football game this year. It happened to be the loss to the United States Olympic track and field team (disguised as Cretin-Derham Hall). With all due respect to that program, this column will deal with Brainerd area teams.
The two-headed monster
Take one away and the other just isn't the same. Put them together and they lead a team.
Pat Bresnahan and Marcus Hernandez are good friends. It's a good thing because they needed each other to help the Pine River-Backus Tigers to a 4-4 regular season.
At the start of the season Bresnahan was a fullback and Hernandez a tight end. At the end the two were both in the backfield punishing opponents.
Bresnahan finished with 552 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Hernandez caught 13 passes for 178 yards and a score.
It would figure the two would also tag team at linebacker.
Pillager's Jake Eastman.
In four varsity seasons Eastman went from quarterback to halfback to wide receiver to slot receiver to halfback.
This season Eastman gained 455 yards rushing on 91 carries for a 5.0-yards per carry average. He scored eight rushing touchdowns.
He caught 21 passes for 249 yards and two more scores.
As a cornerback he added a team-leading six interceptions to go with 31 tackles.
The big boot
When your coach was an NFL kicker and wears a Super Bowl ring, you're bound to pick up some tips.
Pequot Lakes senior Cam Hallan finished with a 41.6 yards per punt average.
He also had nine touchbacks on kickoffs.
While Sam Moenkedick got all the tough yards, Ethan Kern was a threat every time he touched the ball, all 5-foot-6, 135 pounds of him.
Kern entered Verndale's state semifinal game with 776 rushing yards and nine touchdowns as well as 11 receptions for 103 yards and another score. He averaged 15.9 yards on punt returns, 22.6 yards on kickoff returns.
He also had 95 tackles, one fumble recovery and four interceptions, three of which came against Houston.
Corey Egan became the second Pierz player in two years to record 10 interceptions in a year.
Egan tied last year's Dispatch All-Area Player of the Year Scott Herold with a school-record 10 interceptions.
Egan, a 6-foot-1, senior defensive back, secured his 10th pick at the end of the first half of Friday's Class 2A state semifinal loss to Luverne.
Mr. Personality/Mr. Improved
Pierz's Scott Janson gets two awards.
After sharing time at quarterback with Tyler Swoboda last season, Janson came into his own as the leader of the Pierz offense.
Before Friday's Class 2A state semifinal loss, Janson had thrown for 1,234 yards and nine touchdowns on 93-of-174 passing (53 percent).
In five playoff games he was 44-of-66 with three touchdown passes and 628 yards. He also rushed for four touchdowns.
In those five games, Janson threw just one interception. It happened to be his last high school pass.
That is why he gets the Mr. Personality award. I had talked to Janson after a few games and during a few halftimes while he was warming up his left arm. He was always articulate and had something to say, which is a sports writer's dream.
After Friday's game, I knew he would be disappointed, but I also knew he would tell me what happened. He did. He fought back his emotions and explained what happened on Pierz's amazing final drive of regulation. He also talked about that last pass. It was a fine display of character and maturity.
Coaches of the year
A combined 608 career victories and two state semifinal appearances this year, with apologies to Pierz's Leo Pohlkamp, this year's coaching award goes to Brainerd's Ron Stolski and Verndale's Mike Mahlen.
Both finished the season with 304 career victories, three short of tying the all-time wins leader, George Larson of Cambridge.
Only three teams in the lakes area finished with winning records this fall. All three played in last week's state semifinals.
A common trait between Brainerd, Pierz and Verndale is their coaching staffs. There has been turnover in each program, but it's been limited and those being promoted have been with their respective programs for a while.
Actually, Verndale's four coaches of Mahlen, Tim Seaton, Jeff Moore and Matt Jones have been together for as long as I've been here - eight years.
The combined record of those three teams was 32-6.
The other eight teams the Dispatch covers went a combined 15-57.
jeremy millsop, sports writer, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5856.
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