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Eric Peterson, Published August 30 2012

Park Christian football eyes Year 2 improvement

Moorhead - Moorhead Park Christian President Kent Hannestad sported a dark blue Falcons football jersey on a sunny summer evening when a smile came to his face.

“Year 2 is a wonderful place to be,” Hannestad said. “Year 1, we were just jamming to get the football field prepared.”

Park Christian started its second year of varsity football Thursday, but Goodridge-Grygla-Gatzke played spoiler. The Chargers powered to a 47-7 victory against the Falcons in the Minnesota 9-man season opener for both teams.

“We have a challenge ahead of us,” said Park Christian head coach Dan Kowalski. “Goodridge-Grygla-Gatzke, they are a very good team.”

Senior running back Daniel Polansky rushed for 296 yards and a touchdown on 25 attempts to fuel the Chargers. Polansky also returned a punt for a touchdown and tossed a TD pass.

While the opener did not go as hoped for the Falcons, they are excited to have a team to call their own. Prior to last fall, Park Christian had partnered with Fargo Oak Grove for 12 seasons.

While that was a great partnership with Oak Grove, Hannestad said, starting a varsity team brought a new excitement to the school last fall that has carried into this season.

“We learned how football works in 9-man, so this year we are trying to grow on what we learned last year,” said senior quarterback Simeon Reiswig. “We understand what’s expected in 9-man and now it’s to meet those expectations and do our job.”

Reiswig played a hand in Park Christian’s lone score against the Chargers, tossing an 18-yard touchdown pass to junior Matt Moberg. Moberg made a slick one-handed catch in the end zone. That cut the Chargers lead to 26-7 with 1 minute, 4 seconds to play in the first half.

The Falcons have around 30 players on their roster this fall, up a handful of players from a year ago.

Park Christian had a 2-7 record in its inaugural season and is hoping to improve on that mark.

“We’re hoping to be around .500,” Reiswig said.

Park Christian junior high coach Scott Eggiman helped work the press box for Thursday’s opener. He said the numbers at the junior high level are down a bit in the second year.

Eggiman had 16 players out last fall, compared to 10 players this season. He said the goal for the program is to average eight players per grade.

“This year I think the expectations are a little higher,” Eggiman said. “I think people want to get to the games to see what happens.”

Park Christian added four sections of seating to its field, which is just east of the school. A grove of trees – located south of the field – and ropes that line each sideline give the venue a small-town feel even though it’s in Moorhead’s city limits.

“It’s just important for school identity,” said Hannestad. “The overall enthusiasm on campus is amazing. Football is one of those unique sports that unifies an entire school.”

The jersey Hannestad wore had the number “1” printed on the front. Those tops were sold last season to signify the first year as a varsity team. The school has printed “2” jerseys this fall for Year 2.

“It’s a blessing to have our own program, wear the Falcon uniforms and play underneath our own logo,” Kowalski said. “We’re just trying to work with what we’ve got and get better.”

Goodridge-GG 12 14 21 0–47

Park Christian 0 7 0 0– 7

GGG–Polansky 68 punt return (run failed)

GGG–Lawrence 2 run (run failed)

GGG–McMillin 1 run (kick blocked)

GGG–Lawrence 36 pass from Polansky (Polansky run)

PC–Moberg 18 pass from Reiswig (Heinen kick)

GGG–Polansky 36 run (Polansky run)

GGG–Lawrence 57 run (J. Kiesow kick)

GGG–Prestebak 11 run (kick blocked)


RUSHING: GGG, Polansky 25-296, Lawrence 6-100, Prestebak 6-33, J. Kiesow 5-20, McMillin 4-13, C. Kiesow 3-13, J. Wilebski 4-11, Brateng 1-5, B. Wilebski 1-3, Bakken 1-2. PC, Reiswig 16-37, Heinen 7-21, Moberg 3-11, Tompkins 1-6, Kvalvog 5-(minus-3)

PASSING: GGG, McMillin 0-3-0 0 yards, Polansky 1-1-0 36. PC, Reiswig 9-28-2 151, Kvalvog 1-3-0 2.

RECEIVING: GGG, Lawrence 1-36. PC, Tompkins 4-45, Hannestad 2-54, Moberg 2-35, Morse 2-17, Kallis 1-2.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com