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Tom Mix, Published August 21 2012

PHOTOS: Fans turn out as Wyndmere-Lidgerwood prevails in football opener

Wyndmere, N.D. - Wally Wittenburg is not a hard guy to find on Friday nights in the fall.

The 73-year-old resident of Wyndmere is always camped out in his usual spot on the second level of the crow’s nest press box he helped construct several years ago.

He’s been following football in Wyndmere since 1972, and he’s only missed a handful of home games in that span.

Tuesday night he watched Wyndmere-Lidgerwood defeat South Border 30-14 in the North Dakota

9-man football opener.

“Football has always been my favorite,” said Wittenburg, who lives within walking distance of the football field. “I have been a turkey farmer my whole life and I have always kind of second-guessed myself. If I had a second thing in life that I probably should have taken up, it would be coaching football.”

Instead, he shouts cheers toward the Warbirds’ sideline like it is his job. Wittenberg often passes compliment to both the home and visiting players after the game. He had three sons play varsity football at Wyndmere and he has stayed true ever since.

Wittenburg is one of many loyal Warbirds fans who congregate at the field well before kickoff.

James Aarfor, Darrel Moeller, and Frank Podhola – all 75 years old and from Lidgerwood, N.D. – sat in Aarfor’s Ford F-150 pickup truck parked in their usual spot 20 feet away from the west end zone. Moeller’s motto is “better get there early.”

The home crowd wasn’t disappointed on Tuesday with W-L picking up a victory against one of its toughest rivals in Region 1.

“It felt really good,” W-L senior tight end Jeff Illies said. “Ever since that loss last season, we have been itching to get back. South Border is a good team and we knew we had a challenge right away, but it was fun. We got a win and that is all that matters.”

Illies – who has a scholarship offer to play Division I football at North Dakota State, but is still undecided – caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Seth Harles to open the game’s scoring. He later caught a 17-yard pass from Luis Vasquez in the fourth quarter, which gave the Warbirds a comfortable 30-6 lead.

Vasquez, a senior wide receiver and linebacker, also ran for a 3-yard touchdown and had three interceptions. He did make one small mistake, fumbling three plays after one of his interceptions.

“I just make a point that if I make a mistake, I got to make it back for my team, because I can’t hurt them like that,” Vasquez said.

W-L head coach Scott Strenge said his team has a lot to work on before its next game this Saturday.

“It is tough when you play one of the best teams in the region, let alone the state,” Strenge said. “They are a really good squad and they were not at full strength. We made a lot of mistakes, but the first game you expect some of that. I’m happy we gutted it out and got a win.”

SB 6 0 0 8 - 14

WL 8 6 0 16 - 30


WL – J. Illies 15 pass from Harles (Vasquez pass from Harles), 8:44.

SB – M. Jacobson 1 run (run failed), 1:08


WL – Frank 3 run (pass failed), 8:46


No scoring


WL – Vasquez 3 run (J. Illies pass from Harles), 11:14.

WL – J. Illies 17 pass from Vasquez (A. Johnson pass from Vasquez), 6:54

SB – Thielges 13 pass from M. Jacobson (Bosch run good), 4:57

Rushing: SB – Tu. Meidinger 4-14, Bosch 15-90, Kuntz 4-2, M. Jacobson 10-9. WL – Honl 1-7, Vasquez 6-28, J. Illies 3-45, Frank 13-72, Harles 15-22.

Passing: SB – M Jacobson 10-22-3 – 96. WL – . Harles 11-15-0–98. Vasquez 2-2-0–19.

Receiving: SB – Bosch 4-25, Tu. Meidinger 3-45, Kuntz 1-6, Ta. Meidinger 1-7, Thielges 1-13. WL – Clark 1-8, Frank 1-9, Zasquez 6-41, J. Illies 4-57, A. Johnson 1-2.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 451-5651