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Kerry Collins, Published September 29 2009

Collins: Nuggets’ offense just keeps pounding away

It’s business as usual in Hawley. The football season is off to a familiar, rocking start for the Nuggets, as Hawley is 4-0 and has outscored its opponents by an average of 59-4 so far this season.

“The offense is making the right decisions, and we’re guessing right when we go to just one hole,” Hawley coach Peder Naatz said. “We’re just working on things like we have in the past.”

The recipe for success has been similar to years past – a punishing ground game led by Nate Mattson and Kevin Olson.

But quarterback Taylor Harms has been stinging opponents, too. In Friday’s 66-6 win over Pine River-Backus, Harms ran for four touchdowns and threw two more.

“For the most part, we’ve been running, but we have some wrinkles in the passing game that we introduce each week,” Naatz said. “We’ve had some nice variety with the passing game, and Taylor has been very good for us.”

A big test for the Nuggets will come on Oct. 9, when Hawley heads to Barnesville. The Trojans are also 4-0, and are winning by an average of 43-5 this fall.

Barnesville and Hawley are the last two unbeaten teams left in the Northern Plains Conference.

“We’re waiting for that team to come in and give us problems so we know where we’re at, and that will be Barnesville,” Naatz said. “They are good this year. They’ve been playing well and seem to have a bit of a swagger.

“And that’s understandable, they know they’ve got a good team.”

The Nuggets have won the last four Class 2A, Section 8 titles, and they’ve advanced to the state semifinals in each of those four seasons.

Despite Hawley’s strangle hold on the section in recent years, Naatz pointed to 4-0 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton as the favorite to win the section this year.

“That’s definitely a good-looking squad, and they do things that can create problems for us,” Naatz said. “That’s a motivation for us, and having them just 12 miles down the road makes for a nice little rivalry.”

All four of those consecutive section titles came by defeating Pelican Rapids in the section title game, but a matchup against D-G-F is expected by the Nuggets – if they make it that far again.

“That would be great for the high school football community in this area because it’s two solid programs, the kids know each other and it would be a great matchup,” Naatz said. “All you want is a shot to play for a section championship.

“We have a long ways to go yet, but everybody thinks about it a little bit.

Ulen-Hitterdal getting back on track

Over the past two football seasons, Ulen-Hitterdal was a dismal 0-18. Don’t look now, but the Spartans could be flirting with a winning record.

Ulen-Hitterdal downed Win-E-Mac 26-6 on Friday, putting them at 2-2 on the season, and only one team left on their schedule (Ada-Borup) has a winning record.

Success isn’t that far in the past. In 2007, the Spartans went 10-2, and lost to powerhouse Stephen-Argyle in the state 9-man quarterfinals.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Kerry Collins at (701) 241-5548