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Thursday, September 30, 1999
NFL PREDICTION CONTEST A HIT!
Our NFL Prediction Contest has been going well! It's been fun to see the picks come in and of course to tally the results on Sunday evening, setting the stage for the battle for glory (and twenty bucks) on Monday night. So far it has been exciting. We have had four or five people involved going into the Monday night games, so the points become huge, as they are the tie-breaker. Mike Smith, re-knowned CPA, was our week one winner, but he has show his incredible knack for picking winners by being in the final four each week. Tom Spencer, the Perham teacher, our week two winner, edged Smithy for the cash (the check is still in the mail). In week three, a first time player, John (a.k.a. Napoleon Flash) Rose, survived a heated competition (which once again included Mr. Smith), to claim first place money with only 3 misses. In case you're wondering, we are not keeping cumulative records, because not everyone enters every week (I don't know why they don't, they just don't). Try to join these 3 winners by entering the contest from our home page. By the way, no matter what page you are on, you can always return to our home page by clicking on the craigolsonsports.com logo button at the top of the page. I have added a new wrinkle to our contest. For every week that you enter, you will receive an entry in our end-of-the-year-thanks-for-playing-drawing. We will have 3 cash prizes to award, $75.00, $50.00 and $25.00. It doesn't matter how you do during the season, it just matters how lucky you are in a drawing! So, tell your friends, and be sure to enter each week. That extra cash could come in handy for Christmas!

Speaking of the NFL, this year it is going to be extremely difficult to pick winners. There have been so many injuries to key players, and it seems like there are no real dominant teams! I never would have predicted that the four Conference finalists from last season would have a combined record of 1-11 through the first three weeks of the season, but they do. The Vikings (1-2) have an important Central Division game this Sunday against Tampa Bay. The Bucs are always tough on the Vikes. Mike Alstott seems to eat them alive with his power running game, and Warrick Dunn keeps the defense honest with his quick-hitting, slashing style. The addition of Jerry Ball will help the Vikings defend the run. If they can slow the Bucs ground game down, they should be able to win. Trent Dilfer never has impressed me with his throwing ability. Their defense, however, is another story. It may be the best in the NFL. The Vikes need to mix things up. They need to give Randall Cunningham time in the pocket, and they need to get a running game established early in this game. Leroy Hoard may miss the game due to an injury, so Robert Smith needs to be the man. They are seven point favorites, which I don't understand. Three or four, maybe....but seven? Home field must be huge in the minds of the oddsmakers.

It's our anniversary Friday. Our one-month anniversary of craigolsonsports.com. Please, don't send gifts, but do visit our site regularly. Thanks to all of you who have bookmarked it and make it a regular stop while you're surfing. I knew it was good when Kevin Burkhardsmeier put it in his favorites. Burky and the boys and Integrity Computer Systems are going to be sponsoring the Integrity "Player of the Week" award beginning next week. We will announce the winner every Tuesday, based on nominations from area coaches, submitted for events of the previous week. This will be a great way to give some deserving athletes some recognition. Athletes will be chosen from the areas that we cover on a regular basis (see our menu). Visitors are urged to make nominations also.

More soon, after my weekend treks to DL and Rochester. Can't wait for some good football! The crowd in DL should be their largest ever, so if you're going, get there early! See you at THE game!
Posted By Craig Olson
Saturday, September 25, 1999
Bring On The Lakers
With the latest triumph for the Fergus Falls Otters comes an air of anticipation for the biggest match-up of the year. The Lakers, coached by Flint Motschenbacher, are off to a 3-1 start. They lost to Albany 18-16 in the second week of the season. Of course, the Otters had the miracle comeback and finish at Albany, winning 20-19. The Lakers followed up the loss to Albany with a heart-stopper against Litchfield, which they won 25-21. In fact, DL jumped out to a 12-0 lead after one quarter in that game, but Litchfield rallied to take the lead 15-12 early in the fourth. They then lost the lead and gained it back late in the quarter, only to have the Lakers pull out the win in the final minutes. Sound familiar? Otter fans don't have to go back to far to find heart-breaking losses to the Lakers. How about last October in the Section 8 AAAA semifinals when the Otters took a 20-13 lead into the final quarter. DL scored with 5:33 left in the game but failed to convert the extra point, so they still trailed 20-19. Their defense held the Otters on three plays and the offense then scored with 1:31 to go, putting the Lakers up 25-20. You could fee the wind go right out of the Otter crowd with that touchdown, but nobody told Phil Link's team that they were beaten. The Otters struck quickly, too quickly as it turned out, as Aaron Olson connected with Brendan Giese on a 35 yard scoring pass with fifty-nine seconds left. Too much time for the Lakers, as they pulled out he miracle finish, scoring with only 20 seconds on the clock. Talk about your heartbreaks! You can bet that game will be brought up more than once this week. Phil Link said Saturday on the "Super Sports Saturday Show" on Lakes Radio, that the Otters remember that game well and it still stings. He also said that although this is a big section football game, it's a distinct possibility that these two teams will meet again in an even bigger game in October or early November. Count on it!

Some football highlights from this week: Justin Arneson (see the Fergus Falls page for more info). Al Krueger's Thunder get their first win, beating Warren-Alvarado-Oslo. Mike Frisch's West Central Area Knights go to 4-0 by thrashing a top-ten team, Roseau, on their field, 35-6. Hillcrest wins without four starters in the lineup. Jon Ronnevik (knee surgery), Jason Bruns (injury), Brandon Moline and Nate Stoltenow (dorm rules violation)--Coach Risbrudt says the intent of Moline and Stoltenow was good-hearted but they still violated a school rule and were disciplined for it. Comets win 52-12 as John Kilde scores 4 TD's and rushes for over 200 yards.
Perham wins their homecoming game over D-G-F and the Spartans rally to win as Freshman QB Josh Tolle throws 3 touchdown passes.

The Fergus Falls Jaycees Punt, Pass and Kick Contest was held Saturday morning at FFCC. First place winners go on to compete in sectional competition October 9th in Brainerd. Here are the winners:
Girls, ages 10 & 11---Kaylie Howe
Boys, ages 8 & 9 -----Joey Anderson
Boys, ages 10 & 11---Christopher Rylander
Boys, ages 12 & 13 ---Joshua Smith
Thanks to the Jaycees for keeping a good program alive in Fergus Falls. Hopefully more people will take advantage of this opportunity next year. It's great for kids!

Underwood senior Ashley Evavold was named the Little 8 Conference volleyball player of the week for the week of 9/13/99 through 9/18/99. Ashley is the daughter of Vicki and Virgil Evavold of Underwood. In 2 matches that week she was 52 for 58 on attacks, resulting in 34 kills, 21 for 24 serving with 3 ace serves, and picked up 24 defensive digs. Coach Diane Ross said, "Ashley has been a dominant net person in our last 2 matches. She hit a .640 kill percentage against a tough Rothsay defense.

This coming weeks highlights include, two boys soccer matches at the middle school, Detroit Lakes Tuesday and St. Cloud Tech Saturday. The John Hermes cross country invitational (17 teams competing) Thursday at DeLagoon Park, the Otter girls swimming invitational on Saturday at the middle school pool, Otter Tail Central's homecoming game in Battle Lake, West Central Area's homecoming game in Barrett and of course the Detroit Lakes homecoming game against the Otters. By the way, it's the first home game of the year for the Lakers.

Hope to see you at one of these events!
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, September 22, 1999
Area Football Teams Have Pollsters Attention
Every Wednesday, the Associated Press Minnesota Prep Football Poll is realeased. There are several sportscasters and sportswriters from around the state who participate in the polling process each week. They are the so-called experts we always hear about. I am one of the Class 4A pollsters and my co-worker, Lakes Radio Sports Director, Jeff Swedberg is a pollster in 2A and 9-man. Coaches don't necessarily like or dislike the polls. In fact, if you poll the coaches they will probably say it's no big deal, and they are right. It doesn't make a bit of difference where you are ranked when you're out there on Friday night lining up against an opponent. You still have to play the game and execute the fundamentals to get the win. But, it is a source of pride for the school, and the community as a whole, when your team is ranked among the best in their class in the entire state. We have several ranked teams in our area after three weeks of the season. Both of our high school football teams in Fergus Falls are ranked, the Otters at number 4 in class 4A and the Hillcrest Comets at number 6 in 9-man. Fergus Falls has climbed rapidly in the poll, after beginning the season out of the top ten. Hillcrest started at number 3 in the state and has fallen due to their loss at Verndale last week. The Pirates moved up a notch to number 5, and another area 9-man team, Ashby is back in at number 10. Another 4A team, Detroit Lakes, the perennial area power in high school football, is rated number 8, which sets up a great showdown on the Lakers home field a week from Friday (October 1st) between DL and FF. The unbeaten West Central Area Knights have earned the respect of the 2A pollsters (Sweds did some heavy lobbying), as they appear at number 10 this week. Terry Horan's Breckenridge Cowboys sit in the number 3 spot. In 3A, the Otters homecoming opponent, Crookston is ranked third, Minnewaska Area and Roseau are tied for number 7. In 1A, Browerville is number 2, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg is number 3, and Parkers Prairie is in at number 5. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out come playoff time, but for now, enjoy it if your team is getting the attention. In the minds of 'the experts', they deserve it!

The Fergus Falls Quarterback Club is providing a Tailgate Chili Feed prior to the homecoming game on Friday. Brad Russell's award winning chili recipe will be served from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the south parking lot by the Middle School. The chili feed is a fundraiser for the Quarterback Club and everyone is welcome.

Kami Jesnowski, senior setter for the Brandon-Evansville Chargers, was named the first player of the week in the Little 8 conference for 1999. Kami's award covered the week ending September 11th. In 3 conference wins over Hillcrest, Ashby and Underwood, Jesnowski had 59 assists, served 38 of 39 for 97% with 6 ace serves, and had 15 defensive digs. Chargers coach Terri Strom raves about Kami's contributions, "She does a great job setting the ball, always creating a playable ball for our hitters."

I could go on and on, and I will, but in another column on another day! Remember, we'd love to hear from you. Our e-mail address is [email protected]

Hope to see you at a game this week!
Posted By Craig Olson
Monday, September 20, 1999
Sammy Makes More History
What Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire have done over the past two baseball seasons, has been nothing short of incredible. What Sosa has done has never been equalled by any other player in major league history....yet. When Sammy went deep against the Brewers on Saturday, he became the first player to hit 60 or more homers in two different seasons. Babe Ruth only did it once, Roger Maris only did it once, Mark McGwire has only done it once....but should join Sammy anyday now. He has hit three homeruns in his last two games and is sitting on 59. With 12 games left either Sosa or McGwire, or both, could reach McGwire's 70 homeruns of 1998. It will take some doing, but don't think it can't be done!

The Vikings offensive line allowed six sacks of Randall Cunningham on Sunday, and the Vikings running game was non-existent. Is Ray Sherman to blame? Or, is the offensive line playing with less intensity? Are they starting to become complacent? There are many questions. Defensively, the Vikings gave up an incredible amount of yardage to the Raiders in the second half. Oakland had the football 22 of the 30 minutes, and deserved to win the game. The Vikes had better turn up the intensity level on Sunday at Lambeau Field, or they will be 1-2.

The Otters Homecoming game Friday against Crookston will feature two top-ten rated teams in Minnesota high school football. Both teams are 3-0. Crookston is coming off a 12-0 shutout win over Thief River Falls, while the Otters were very impressive in their 42-12 win over Cloquet. This is the third straight home game for the Otters, who will travel to Detroit Lakes on October 1st to play another top-ten rated team, the Lakers. That game will be the first home game for Detroit Lakes this season.

Underwood high school graduates, Breck ('96) and Lindsey ('97) Johnsen are teammates at Mayville State University once again this fall. Breck, the only senior on the team, is a middle hitter, while Lindsey plays the outside. Mayville State is 9-3 and 3-1 in conference play. They have made great strides under second year head coach Heidi Sunderland. Mayville won the Black Hills State Tournament a week ago and placed second at Valley City earlier this season. Breck played for the Lady Spartans for two seasons after high school, and was a member of the 1997-98 team that had a perfect 14-0 division record. Another former Spartan, Heidi Brunko, has been declared academically ineligible. NAIA rules say you have to have so many credits toward your major to be involved in athletics. Apparently Heidi was short by 1 credit. She is considering being red-shirted and resuming her volleyball play next year.

Battle Lake high school graduate Ginny Sawyer, is practicing fall softball at St. Ben's. She was selected to fill one of only two available openings on the squad. Ginny also will find out soon, how much playing time she can get during the Basketball Season.

Tom Spencer, a teacher in the Perham school district, is the week #2 winner in our NFL Prediction Contest! Congratulations Tom! Remember to E-mail your picks every week. Just click on the appropriate link on the home page. Spencer and Mike Smith (our week #1 winner) missed only 3 games. It went down to the Monday Night battle between Dallas and Atlanta which went to Dallas 24-7. Spencer's pick of 24-14, Smith went with 31-17, so Spencer wins on the margin of victory. Our contest has shown growth each week and I am excited about the number of people playing! Tell a friend and have some fun pickin' the winners. Tom wins $20.00 in cash.

Congratulations to the Homecoming Royalty at Fergus Falls High School. Football player Dave Karst and volleyball player Becca Bach were crowned king and queen on Monday night at the Middle School.

Send us some feedback, e-mail us at [email protected] We'd love to hear from you!

See you at a game!
Posted By Craig Olson
Thursday, September 16, 1999
THOSE NASTY INJURIES
Sometimes it's enough to make you throw in the towel! When injuries take their toll on sports teams, several things can happen. First of all, a key injury or two can cost your team a legitimate chance at a title, not to mention jeopardize the athletic career of the injured player (see Vinny Testaverde, New York Jets). Secondly, it hurts your team depth, because it forces you to cut into that depth to replace the missing player, putting a less experienced person in both the starting and back-up spots. But not everything that can happen because of an injury, is bad. The opportunity presents itself for another young athlete to step in and fill a role that they wouldn't normally be asked to fill. This can lead to some very positive happenings for that individual and the team (see Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees). Plus, it can be a real benefit to the team when the injured player returns to the lineup, because the sub is now more experienced and able to contribute at a higher level. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of sports, and several teams are struggling with them this season.

FFCC has been hit hard this fall. Lloyd Danzeisen's football squad has lost two quarterbacks to injury. Last year's all-conference performer, Dustin Solarz, had off-season shoulder surgery and still hasn't been able to play a down. Look for him to be red-shirted. Freshman Mike Strohmeier, who made a stellar debut in an opening week win over Hibbing, suffered a concussion the second week of the season, came back from that, but separated his shoulder last week against Vermilion. He is most likely done for the season. That leaves inexperienced Freshman Josh Tolle to handle the offense, but who's the back-up?
Ann Williams' Lady Spartans lost standout Freshman middle hitter Cathy Selvig to an ankle injury prior to last Friday's game against Vermilion. She has missed four games, but is expected to return to the lineup Friday against Hibbing. Amy Schoeck has picked up some additional playing time in her abscence and has filled in well, but there's no question they miss Selvig's blocking ability. The Spartans also lost returning middle hitter Mya Braun, who was involved in a car accident this summer. Mya's injuries may prevent her from returning to athletic competition. Steph McGrane, an all state performer last year, is sitting out this season, recovering from shoulder surgery, and her future status is uncertain.

Ashby senior, Andrea Balgaard, has been diagnosed with mononucleosis and will be out for several weeks. Coach Brenda Johnson expects her to return for the final five games of the regular season and the playoffs. Her loss is quite a blow to the Arrows, as she is their only experienced senior. The loss of her on-the-court leadership skills will make as big an impact as her statistical contributions. Brenda Johnson is going to miss her, "Annie is one of those natural middles that don't come along too often. She's always comfortable on the floor and is in the right place at the right time." Johnson is looking for senior Erica Evavold to step up her role on the team, "We use Erica as a utility player and she's very valuable to us in that capacity, but now she seems to be taking on an increased role in the leadership of the team. She's a very hard worker." Sophomore Cassie Benson and Junior Kelly Koplin will be called on to produce the numbers that will be lacking with the loss of Balgaard. Both of them will gain valuable varsity court time over the next several weeks and that should strengthen the Arrows when Balgaard returns.

Is is our wish that no injuries would occur to our area student-athletes, but of course, that's not very realistic thinking. Thankfully, modern medical procedures allow for quick recoveries in most cases, and today's athletes are in tremendous condition, which helps accelerate the healing process.

Stay healthy and I hope to see you at a game!
Posted By Craig Olson
Tuesday, September 14, 1999
We Have A Winner!
Our first NFL prediction contest winner is....are you ready?....None other than Mike Smith. Yes, that Mike Smith. The one who starred for Keith Swanson's Hoffman Bearcats in 1978 when they were state champions in 9-man football. Smithy was quite an outstanding 160 pound outside linebacker,for the Cats, who went undefeated that season. Mike said, "Coach Swanson was a great motivator. We listened to what he said, because if we didn't, we ran." He won our contest with six wrong, one of four entrants to miss six, as our first ever contest went to the wire and total points decided the victor. Jeff Swedberg (you know him as Sweds on Lakes Radio sports), Craig Samuelson (Sammy, of high school coaching fame), and Jeremy Kovash (Perham coach, former Spud) were the other three in the running going into Monday night. You can enter the contest this week from our home page.

Speaking of the NFL's first week, some observations:
The Vikings were not overly impressive, but they won. Leroy Hoard ran hard and the defense shut down the running game of the Falcons, but they need to perform much better than they did to have a championship season. Hey, it's only the first game, right? Don't be so hard them! Look for the Vikes to beat the Raiders by two touchdowns.
My pre-season AFC champion, the New York Jets, will have a hard time winning the title now. The season-ending achilles injury to quarterback Vinny Testaverde will be too much to overcome, in my opinion.
My new AFC pick is Jacksonville. They were extremely impressive in throttling the 49ers. Miami will give them a great run, though. The Dolphins were very good against Denver on Monday night. Marino AND a running game? Look out!
My longshot pick, Indianapolis. I like the Colts. Peyton Manning is already establishing himself as a top-notch NFL QB, and Edgerrin James will be in the upper echelon of running backs in the league. Plus, the Colts have a solid defense.
The Packers pulled out a miracle win. How many of those does Favre get in his NFL lifetime?
Best comeback...Dallas with 21 fourth quarter points and 6 more in overtime to win at Washington.
It's good to have the NFL back, isn't it?

Former Perham High School volleyball standout, Pam Osterfeld, has turned up at NDSU, where she is playing either middle or outside hitter for Zaundra Bina's Bison. In the box scores I've seen, Pam is averaging between 8 and 10 kills per game. She redshirted during the 1996 season and spent two years playing for Division I Texas Tech University, graduating in 2-1/2 years with a bachelor's degree in psychology, with an exercise sport science minor. She is pursuing her master's degree in communications at NDSU.

Jenny Gronner, the all-around athlete from Underwood, is getting some limited playing time for the Bison as a freshman. Jenny is planning to major in history and at this time isn't planning on participating in track and field at NDSU, although the opportunity is there if she wants to explore it in the future. Jenny is a three-time Class A 400 meter champion.

Congratulations to the American Legion Post 30 Women's Softball Team, which placed 5th at the Midwest Regional National Tournament in Kansas City, Kansas. The team won four games and lost two. Team members include: Stacey Agar, Sherri Amundson, Gloria Andreason, Vicki Boyack, Kathy Burgau, Heather Fix, Alisha Follingstad, Angela Follingstad, Anita Follingstad, Terri Johannsen and Mindy Tervola. Other members of the team unable to make the trip include: Heidi Brunko, Alayna Follingstad, Misty Jensen, Lyndsey Johnson, Sherri Smith, Julie Springer and Kris Torgusson.

The Perham athletic department is looking for refs/officials, for the 99-00 school year, and beyond. These officials would work games/matches from the "B" level, downs through the "7th" grade level and would be paid for their services. Contact Dan Schroeder at 346-1534 if you are interested.

The Lakes Area Shooting Center trap range and skeet field will be open to the public from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays through September. The Lakes Area Shooting Center is located 2 miles north of Fergus Falls on County Road 27 (Jewett Lake Road), and 1 mile west.

Remember, the Otters have their second of three straight home football games on Friday night against Cloquet. The official paid attendance at last Friday's Moorhead game was 1650. The estimated total attendance is in the neighborhood of 2200! What a crowd! Hope to see you at a game!
Posted By Craig Olson
Saturday, September 11, 1999
Believe It!
I'm a believer! A believer in the Fergus Falls high school football team! What a great night they had against the dreaded Moorhead Spuds. From the first moments of the game it was apparent that the Otters were ready to play. Coach Phil Link did an excellent job calling the plays. He knew the Spuds would be expecting the Otters to throw the ball early and often, so what does he do? Run! People have the misconception that the Otters are just a throwing team. People are wrong! The Otters, unquestionably, have as good a passing team as we'll see anywhere in the state this season, but, they also have some very good running backs, and a quarterback who will be very effective running the football. The other thing the Otters possess is a high level of focused intensity. They don't make many mistakes. They really stayed at home against the 'wing counters' Moorhead threw at them, and they have shown that they learn quickly. The coaching staff is very pleased with the progress of their relatively inexperienced offensive line. Plus, the Otters love to hit! Chad Hopponen has made some impressive sticks through the first two games and Roger Olson selected him as the "Quality Player" of the game on Friday night. Cannon Kilde and Caleb Rudnick can also deliver some great blows. The defense has come up big so many times already this season. Charlie Schonhardt is playing varsity football for the first time and is playing well at the defensive end and tight end spots. Does Ross Johnson ever leave the field during a game? He seems to be tireless. He came up with some big defensive plays against Moorhead including a blocked pass attempt, and is the stabilizing 'veteran' presence in the offensive line. Wins over Albany, a power in 3A, and Moorhead, always competitive in 5A, should give the Otters tremendous confidence for the rest of the season. It should also serve as a warning to all the teams on the Otters schedule and in their section, that the Otters will be hard to beat, and that they can beat you many ways. We haven't even talked about the special teams yet, but that's for another column.

Leroy Quernemoen is pretty sure that the last time the Otters beat Moorhead was 1961 under Rocky Elton. Norm Galloway's teams in 1950, 1955 and 1956 were undefeated, including wins over the Spuds. There's no question that Friday night's victory is a big plus for the Otter football program. It's one of those wins that builds instant respect around the state. A rivalry that is great in many sports, has now been rekindled in football.

Here are some of the great personal accomplishments of some of the area athletes this past friday night. Moorhead junior quarterback Jordan Talge was very impressive. He ran the offense with a lot of poise and put up good numbers, rushing for 78 yards and throwing for 160. Hillcrest's John Kilde ran for 205 yards and four touchdowns in the Comets 47-14 win over C-G-B. Jonah Evenson had a good debut at QB for Pelican Rapids, throwing three TD's against Agassiz Valley. Thunder running back Pat Ward scored 3 times and had 97 yards. Jake Sternhagen of West Central Area scored three TD's in week two, after scoring 4 in week one. Otter Tail Central senior quarterback Matt Frederick ran for three scores and threw for one more, while teammate Micah Tysver rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

On the injury front, FFCC quarterback Mike Strohmeier left early in Saturday's game against Vermilion with a shoulder injury. He won't be available next week when the Spartans play at Ridgewater. The Spartans played without center Matt Lehto (inner ear infection) and guard Nate Kidder (death of his sister) on Saturday. The team dedicated the game to Kidder's sister. Assistant coach Jay Johnson wasn't with the team either. His mother passed away earlier in the week and he was with family.

OTC defensive end Luke Turnquist missed the Bulldogs game Friday because of an emergency appendectomy. Doctors say he may be ready to practice by the 20th. Agassiz Valley linebacker Cory Thompson will return to the lineup this week and Al Krueger's team will be happy about that. The Thunder have dropped two tough games to start the season and Thompson's return will help the team's depth and will strengthen them at a couple of starting positions.

The Gophers won again, 35-0 over Louisiana, Monroe. Thomas Hamner was fun to watch, 174 yards and 3 TD's. Maybe........NOT!

Thanks to everyone that has entered our first NFL Prediction Contest. I am in the process of securing prizes for the weekly winner and grand prizes that will be awarded at the end of the season. Every one who enters during the season will receive an entry into the final drawing (one entry per week, remember).

Please keep the comments coming by e-mail. It really is appreciated. [email protected]

See you at a game!
Posted By Craig Olson
Thursday, September 9, 1999
Bring on the NFL
Are you ready for some FOOTBALL??!!!?? NFL style, of course! Another National Football League season is about to begin and it is our first here are craigolsonsports.com. All you 'geniuses' out there (to steal a Sid Hartman line) can show us your stuff in the craigolsonsports.com NFL prediction contest. Enter by e-mail each week (entries must be received by midnight the night before the first game of the week to be eligible). The Monday night score will be the tiebreaker and all decisions of our judges (me) are final. There will be a yet undetermined weekly prize package and a grand prize to be selected from all entries during the season (maximum of 17 for any one e-mail address, since there are 17 weeks of NFL football). Only ONE ENTRY per e-mail address. If we receive more than one from an e-mail address, the first one we receive will be the official entry and the others will be immediately deleted. Not too many rules, but you must be 18 or older to win. Got questions? E-mail us! Got answers (to the football contest) e-mail us! Let's have some fun!

As far as the NFL season goes, dare I make any predictions? I must confess that my passion for NFL football has waned some since my younger days. It was a lot easier to become attached to a team when I was growing up, probably because players stayed with teams longer and you got to know every team's starting lineup pretty easily. Now, I don't even know where some guys are hanging their helmet! Once the season starts there are always a couple of names that turn up on some team that I never realized they were with! Players move around way to much in this era of the salary cap and free agency. Speaking of that, does anybody think that Merton Hanks would look good in purple? He would sure shore up the secondary! this guy is an all-pro D-back on a top team in the league. Sure he's expensive, but he may be worth it, to a contender!

Okay, here goes. First of all, the Vikings. They will not be 15-1 this season. 11-5 is a realistic prediction, I believe. We all know their schedule will be much more difficult than last season. We also know that other teams in the NFL will be better prepared to face Randy Moss. He'll still be an impact player, but he's not going to sneak up on anyone this year. He'll get plenty of attention from defensive coordinators. This 11-5 record will land the Vikes the Central Division title and they will play in the Super Bowl in 2000. The 49ers will beat out the Falcons in the NFC West and the Giants will win the East. Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Atlanta will be wild card teams. The Redskins and Cowboys are improved and could have a lot to say about the wild card race in the NFC.

In the AFC, even without John Elway, the Broncos will win the west, but the New York Jets are my Super Bowl pick in this conference. Jacksonville should win the Central. The wild card teams will be Buffalo, New England and Miami (I like the East).

Enter our NFL Prediction Contest weekly. Do it now! Just return to the HOME page and click on the appropriate link! Remember to keep those e-mails coming to [email protected] (questions, comment, suggestions, praise, whatever!). We really appreciate the input of so many of you. Please tell some friends about our site and bookmark it! We love to have you visit. See you at a game!
Posted By Craig Olson
Sunday, September 5, 1999
Is This Fun or What?
What an incredible start to the fall sports season! Has there ever been a more impressive comeback by an Otter football team than the one in Albany on Friday night? Ben Brimhall was brilliant at quarterback in the second half. Coach Phil Link said it was like Ben going from elementary school (in the first half) to high school (in the second half). His 35 yard run from the 1 yard-line and his creative and composed scramble and pass to Tim Erickson for the game winner were tremendously athletic plays. The Albany fans were stunned by the sudden turn of events and the 20-19 Otter win. What is it about playing in Albany? The last time the Otters were there, in 1987, they pulled out a win on a Jason Brunko field goal as time ran out. Give credit to the Otter defense, too. They had to be dog-tired in the final quarter, but somehow they came up with enough energy and desire to produce several big plays. Charlie Schonhardt was impressive in his first football game since Middle School and pound-for-pound does anyone hit harder than Chad Hopponen? Cannon Kilde and Caleb Rudnick are a couple of other guys who can deliver a blow. Isn't it enjoyable to watch Tim Erickson play wide receiver? He is extremely focused and because of that will make some great catches, already has! He also has the ability to adjust his route to help out his quarterback. Tim should have an all-state year! Speaking of all-state, can any high school kid in Minnesota kick the ball any better than Luke Draxten? Judging from Friday night he has made great strides from last season and he was impressive then! Strap on your seat belts because the Otters are going to give their fans a great ride again this year. See you at the Moorhead game!

How about Hillcrest shutting out Verndale 8-0! The Pirates aren't accustomed to that. The Comet defense held the Verndale offense to a total of 92 yards (minus 2 passing) for the game and only 19 yards in the second half. Nick Hansen was in on 17 tackles (9 unassisted), John Kilde was involved in 14 tackles and Jake Carr, 12. These guys are all impact players on the defensive side of the ball and will probably have numbers like this all year.

Some top performances from this week's games, Jake Sternhagen of West Central Area with 161 yards on just 20 carries. He also scored on runs of 48, 10 and 49 yards in the Knights 26-0 win over Pelican Rapids. Chris Grismer of Perham scored five times in his team's 39-8 win over Frazee. Pat Ward of Agassiz Valley had 124 yards on 16 carries including a 77 yard touchdown run in, but the Thunder lost a close one to D-G-F, 24-21. Tim Erickson finished with 7 catches for 159 yards and that big TD for Fergus Falls and Ben Brimhall threw for 204 yards. John Kilde had big defensive numbers but also scored on a 65 yard screen pass and had 128 of the Comets 179 offensive yards.

On the college scene, the Spartans had to play without their big play guy, Nate Pierson. The offensive player of the week in the Southern Division in week number one, got married on Saturday and of course, missed the game against Northland. The Spartans are most likely hoping he doesn't take a long honeymoon. They could have used Pierson and a healthy Mike Strohmeier on Saturday at UND's Memorial Stadium. Strohmeier suffered a concussion early in the game and will be evaluated this week.

Lightning caused some problems with teams in our area. The West Central-Pelican Rapids game was moved from Friday to Saturday. They called the game about eleven minutes before kick-off. The Underwood game against Chokio-Alberta/Herman was played Saturday. Monday at 1:30 Otter Tail Central and Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sundburg will play in Battle Lake and at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday Ashby will entertain Hancock.

The Fergus Falls Quarterback Club is selling "Support Fergus Falls High School Athletics" Otter bottled water. Any group or organization who would like to buy it by the case can do so for $14.40 per case. Talk to a member of the Quarterback club or Julie at the high school activities office. It's amazing how much she knows about what's going on in Otter athletics!

Thanks for all the positive e-mail response to our new area sports site! Please, if you have suggestions, e-mail me! I need your input! Remember it's [email protected] .

That's all for now! See you at a game!
Posted By Craig Olson
Wednesday, September 1, 1999
Y2What?
I am probably the least likely person I know to have a site on the internet (should that be in caps?), but here goes! Welcome to the 21st Century. Thank goodness for people like John Svingen, my webmaster (that really should be in caps....and italicized....and underlined!). John is a Fergus Falls High School Graduate and a current Senior at the University of Minnesota-Morris. He is really a whiz at this computer stuff and will certainly get sick of me calling him and e-mailing him whenever I have a question. I'd like to thank him for his help in getting this thing up and running. He has spent countless hours doing so and I appreciate it.

My partners of the past two-and-a-half years at Creative Partnerships Unlimited, and friends for years before that, Mary Dolan and Chris Wasberg, have been very supportive and extremely helpful in making this a reality, too. They will have an active role in what you will see on this site and their contributions will be great!

As you can probably tell I'm excited about this venture. When you get to be mid-40's I guess you need some new challenges along the way and this will be that! It was with some slight apprehension that I decided to take the plunge into the worldwideweb.com, but my initial meetings with potential advertisers was extremely positive. The reaction of the people whose ads you see on this site is what convinced me to branch out into this new type of media. Thanks to each one of you for your confidence in what we're doing here at craigolsonsports.com.

It is my goal to bring fresh, up-to-date, area sports news to this site on a daily basis. We have started with a ten community base and have the potential of expanding that base in the future. Coaches, athletes, and fans will all be a vital part of this site. Please e-mail us with comments and suggestions. We are working on some interactive programs that will involve you and I'm really excited about the possibilities.

This column will be updated on a daily basis. There may be extreme circumstances that would prevent that on occasion, but it is my goal to have fresh information here each day. Again, I would like to enlist the help of each of you. If you have some pertinent sports information that would fit in this column, e-mail it! Don't you love e-mail?

[email protected]

Can you believe it? The fall sports season is already underway and the high school football season begins Friday! Some schedules are very interesting, like Hillcrest playing Verndale twice in the first three weeks of the season. The Otters have Moorhead on the schedule for the first time since Jeff Mehl broke his leg against the Spuds in 1983. Some familiar faces won't be on the sidelines for area teams. Keith Swanson has retired from coaching at West Central Area and will be replaced by Mike Frisch. Before Elbow Lake-Wendell-Barrett-Hoffman-Kensington (anybody else?) were together, Frisch coached in Elbow and Swanson in Hoffman. Keith has had much success through the years and will remain as athletic director. Chuck Evert, the longtime assistant at Battle Lake and Pelican Rapids, plus some head coaching years at Battle Lake, has retired from coaching and will instead spend a few Friday nights as a ref. The veterans of the area are Don Seipkes at Ottertail Central (26th year as a head coach), and Richard Risbrudt (starting his 23rd year) at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy.

Scott Bjerke, Otter Coaches Association Coach of the Year! Much deserved. Scott relates well to the kids, he is a dedicated, hard-working guy, who loves what he does.....and he does it so well. Send him a note.

Enjoy the site. Tell a sports fan you know about this site, too! Send us some e-mail and let us know what you think. See you at a game!
Posted By Craig Olson
Lake Region Healthcare
Cline Jensen P.A.
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