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Football: Low numbers cancels PR-B varsity season - JV team to play few Friday nights

The 2018 Pine River-Backus JV football team. Front row, from left: Larry Pederson, Austin Staricha, Finnegan O'Dell, Issac Krecklau, Jake Poehler, Connor Tulenchik, George Davidson, Caleb Ruhl and Wyatt Bean. Back row: Trevor Birr, Cody Linn, Clayton Borman, Evan Koering, Korbyn Hulke, Robert Beuckers, Tyler DeGrote, Chase Hoppe and Jake Mills. Not pictured: Logan Gordon, Dalton Middendorf, Logan Sawyer, Dylan Wheeler, Dylan Sheppard. Dan Determan / Echo Journal

With only a handful of upperclassmen signed up for the upcoming season, Pine River-Backus High School coaches and officials have decided not to field a varsity football team this fall.

Logan Gordon is the lone senior signed up to play football, along with eight juniors. Half of the team's 22 athletes are freshmen.

"Last year, when we did play a varsity schedule, about half the team was made up of seniors with only one freshman," head coach Tom Demars said. "This year it's reversed - about half the team is freshmen and only one senior. The safety of all players was the primary reason we made the decision, and being able to develop all of the players by playing in competitive games was also a factor."

Though varsity games will not be played, area football fans can enjoy junior varsity games in PR-B, often in the varsity's Friday night timeslot including against Bagley for homecoming.

The JV team is scheduled to play five of its eight games on Fridays, but will not travel to Warroad, Fosston or Ada-Borup.

The team's upperclassmen will be able to play on the JV team, and opposing teams have been informed that a few upperclassmen will be on the roster.

Activities Director Randy Schwegel also said numbers at the junior high level are good, and the school hopes to field a varsity team again in 2019. However, freshman athletes will be able to spend this season gaining experience against players of roughly the same size and speed.

"This was an extremely difficult decision, but we felt this would would be best for the program this year and be best for the development of this group of players for future years," Demars said.

Last year's Tigers were 2-6 overall during the regular season. They lost to Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 49-18 in the first round of the Section 6A tournament.



24 - Red Lake at Pine River-Backus, 7 p.m.


21 - Pine River-Backus at Blackduck, 7 p.m.

28 - Bagley at Pine River-Backus (homecoming), 7 p.m.


5 - Walker-Hackensack-Akeley at Pine River-Backus, 7 p.m.

12 - Pine River-Backus at Cass Lake-Bena, 7 p.m.

Dan Determan

Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper.

(218) 855-5879