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Kevin Schnepf, Published September 14 2012

Schnepf: Ada-Borup has risen to top of 9-man ranks

Moorhead - A No. 1 ranking doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the best in the state. Just ask the Ada-Borup High School football team, which survived its first week as the top-ranked 9-man team in Minnesota with a 38-13 win at Moorhead Park Christian on Friday.

“I don’t think we are there,” head coach Nathan Brager said of the first-ever No. 1 ranking for an Ada-Borup football team. “I think we can be, but we have a lot of work to do.”

Ever since Ada-Borup dropped from the 11-man to 9-man ranks in 2001, it has become a football power. After losing to Fergus Falls Hillcrest for a 9-man state title in 2001, Ada-Borup has won the last four Section 6 championships, reaching the state semifinals three of the last four years.

With Friday’s win, Ada-Borup improved its record for the last five seasons to

46-8. The way Brager sees it, the No. 1 ranking is merely a reflection of his program’s recent success.

“It’s a nice honor,” said Brager, the Cougars’ head coach for the last four years. “But if you are going to get the privilege of being the No. 1 team in the state, you have to play like the No. 1 team in the state.”

Yes, the Cougars may have made their share of mental mistakes. And they certainly had trouble stopping Park Christian’s talented quarterback Simeon Reiswig, who probably has a sore arm today after hurling 37 passes and completing 23 of them for 278 yards.

Nonetheless, it was a solid win for an Ada-Borup team with only nine seniors. And the season continues to be a work-in-progress for a team that has only three starters back from last year’s state semifinal team.

“We have a lot of guys who are still learning how to play varsity football,” Brager said.

“It just seems like they reload every year,” Park Christian head coach Dan Kowalski, referring to Ada-Borup being one of the bigger 9-man schools in the state.

Football has not always been the talk of Ada-Borup, located 45 miles northeast of Moorhead. Jim Birkemeyer, who was broadcasting Friday’s game for KRJB Radio, remembers the 11-man seasons of one win or two wins. Some of the dads watching their sons play Friday recalled the days of having to play against 11-man power Mahnomen.

And Ada-Borup assistant coach Jeff Stoen remembers the 11-man days when he was head coach. What was once a 50-to-60-player roster is now a 39-player roster this season.

“We’ve gone through a couple dry cycles,” said Stoen, a 1977 Fargo South graduate who is in his 28th year as a coach at Ada-Borup. “But it’s like it has always been … if the kids put the work into it during the offseason, you’re going to see the results.”

Ada-Borup is slowly seeing the results of to its new spread-pistol offense. Losing most of its big, physical players from last year, Brager opted to install an offense that utilizes his smaller but quicker lineup.

It was three juniors who led the new offense Friday. Quarterback J.D. Kappes ran for 59 yards and threw for 82. Running backs Lance Ruebke and Blake Fetting combined for 250 yards rushing.

“I like it a lot,” Fetting said of the new offense.

And just as Ada-Borup’s success from previous years may be the reason for its No. 1 ranking, it is also a source for motivation.

“We don’t think about that No. 1 ranking too much,” Ruebke said. “We just don’t want to be the ones who are not going to win another section title.”

Ada-Borup 16 8 8 6–38

Park Christian 7 0 0 6–13

AB–Fetting 20 run (Hoven pass from Kappes)

PC–Moberg 1 run (Heinen kick)

AB–Kappes 7 run (M. Ruebke pass from L. Ruebke)

AB–Kappes 1 run (Kappes run)

AB–M. Ruebke 5 pass from Kappes (L. Ruebke run)

AB–Fetting 2 run (kick failed)

PC–Smith 11 pass from Reiswig (kick failed)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: AB–Fetting 18-146, L. Ruebke 18-104, Kappes 14-59, Brainard 6-29, Brandt 3-33. PC–Reiswig 20-63, Moberg 5-27.

PASSING: AB–Kappes 11-15-0, 82 yards; Fetting 0-1-0, 0. PC–Reiswig 23-37-0, 278 yards.

RECEIVING: AB–Fetting 6-24, Hoven 3-43, L. Ruebke 1-6, M. Ruebke 1-5, Brandt 1-4. PC–Moberg 5-100, Tompkins 6-61, Morse 4-64, Heinen 5-30, Hannestad 1-5, Smith 2-18.