We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Prep football: Tigers start fast and roll past Oredockers

Northwestern reloads with a formidable passing attack led by senior quarterback Luke Sedin.

Northwestern’s Tanner Kaufman (6) stiff arms Ashland’s Marcus Kruzan (22) on his way to the end zone
Northwestern’s Tanner Kaufman (6) stiff-arms Ashland’s Marcus Kruzan (22) on his way to the end zone in the second quarter of the Tigers' season opener at Gordon L. Nelson Field in Maple on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
We are part of The Trust Project.

MAPLE — Northwestern running back Tanner Kaufman was walking off the field Friday, Aug. 19, when he saw Tigers quarterback Luke Sedin being interviewed and decided to chime in.

“That’s the best quarterback in the conference right there,” Kaufman said.

After Friday’s performance, it’s hard to argue.

Sedin finished 7-for-11 passing for 169 yards and a touchdown to lead Northwestern to a 37-8 nonconference victory over Ashland in their high school football season opener. A full-time starter on defense for the first time, Sedin, a safety, also made two interceptions.

Sedin would have been in the 250-yard passing range — rare for high school football — if his receivers had just hung on to a few gimmes, but Sedin, a senior, shrugged that off.

ADVERTISEMENT

Northwestern’s Andrew Bourque (72), Peyton Kurtz (66) and Wyatt Dumonson (32) smother Ashland’s Hunter Chenier (33) behind the line of scrimmage
Northwestern’s Andrew Bourque (72), Peyton Kurtz (66) and Wyatt Dumonson (32) smother Ashland’s Hunter Chenier (33) behind the line of scrimmage in the first quarter of the Tigers season opener at Gordon L. Nelson Field in Maple on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“First game under the lights,” he said. “Those guys will always be open, and I’m going to trust my guys knowing they’re 10 times better than the guys across from them.”

Kaufman, one of the guys Sedin was referring to, is certainly no slouch as he scored three touchdowns, rushing five times for 62 yards and two touchdowns and returning a fumble 50 yards for another score — all in the first half. Fellow track speedster Reid Kreuser hauled in three receptions for 98 yards.

Northwestern coach Jovin Kroll is going to work with the talent he has, and that means a much more pass-happy attack than the traditional Tigers’ ground-and-pound approach.

It all starts with the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Sedin, a two-year starter.

“I think he throws the best deep ball of any quarterback I’ve ever been around,” said Kroll, in his sixth year as Tigers head coach and 16th overall as a football coach. “Jake Brill might have something to say about that (Kroll laughed). He’s playing Division I baseball at Central Michigan, so he had a cannon arm. Those two were very good quarterbacks, so time will tell if Luke exceeds him. Luke throws the prettiest deep ball I’ve ever seen.”

Northwestern quarterback Luke Sedin (4) looks downfield before throwing a first quarter touchdown
Northwestern quarterback Luke Sedin (4) looks downfield before throwing a first quarter touchdown during the Tigers season opener with Ashland at Gordon L. Nelson Field in Maple on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Kroll wasn’t sure on how many straight wins this is now over Ashland — their once-proud and closely-contested rival — but it’s at least 15.

Tight end Trevor Eliason, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound senior, added three receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown while displaying vise-grip hands.

“That tight end looked like he was 7-feet tall,” Ashland coach Travis Larson said.

ADVERTISEMENT

This was basically over at the half, even first quarter, as it was running time for most of the second half.

The Tigers led 30-0 after the first quarter and 37-0 at the half as they amassed 253 yards of offense in the first two quarters alone, including 145 through the air.

Northwestern’s Ian Smith (51) tackles Ashland’s Laken Villaverde (34) in the first quarter
Northwestern’s Ian Smith (51) tackles Ashland’s Laken Villaverde (34) in the first quarter of the Tigers season opener at Gordon L. Nelson Field in Maple on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Ashland was moving the ball with 161 yards of offense but continued to self-destruct, with eight penalties for 75 yards. The Oredockers have a gifted receiver in the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Marcus Kruzan, an NCAA Division I baseball recruit for St. Thomas in St. Paul who showed a knack for catching the jump ball right amid a pack of Tigers.

But the penalties … Ashland finished with 13 penalties for 105 yards.

“The first game of the year so you kind of expect that first game of the year,” Larson said. “Those shoot-yourself-in-the-foot mistakes, those things happen. These are 16 and 17-year-old young men who sometimes let their emotions get the best of them. You almost anticipate those mistakes happen, especially in the first game.”

Kroll was pleased with the inside linebacker play of Wyatt Dumonson and Ian Smith, as well as his offensive line. The offensive-line play is imperative if the Tigers expect to throw the ball and have anything like last season, when they went 11-1 and captured the Heart O’North Conference title.

Northwestern’s Tanner Kaufman (6) takes off for the end zone after scooping up an Ashland fumble
Northwestern’s Tanner Kaufman (6) takes off for the end zone after scooping up an Ashland fumble in the first quarter of the Tigers season opener at Gordon L. Nelson Field in Maple on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“We didn’t do a good job of always catching it tonight, but our pass protection was very good tonight, and that’s something we’ve gotten a lot better at in recent years,” Kroll said. “It’s an absolute necessity for what we want to do now. What we’re able to do in the air now is a great advantage to us, and it’s going to help our ability to run the football. If they show us a single-high safety, we’re just going to throw right over the top.”

Ashland 0-0-0-8—8

Northwestern 30-7-0-0—37

N — Kellin Trautt 24 run (Trautt run)

N — Tanner Kaufman 8 run (Kaufman pass from Luke Sedin)

N — Kaufman 50 fumble return (Trautt run)

N — Trevor Eliason 7 pass from Sedin (run failed)

N — Kaufman 8 run (Kaufman kick)

A — Ty O’Bey 1 run (Ethan Petersen run)

Northwestern’s Reid Kreuser (17) gets tripped up by Ashland’s Ethan Petersen (8)
Northwestern’s Reid Kreuser (17) gets tripped up by Ashland’s Ethan Petersen (8) in the first quarter of the Tigers game at Gordon L. Nelson Field in Maple on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
Northwestern’s Kellen Trautt (21) runs through the arms of Ashland’s Marcus Kruzan (22) for a first quarter touchdown
Northwestern’s Kellen Trautt (21) runs through the arms of Ashland’s Marcus Kruzan (22) for a first quarter touchdown in the Tigers season opener at Gordon L. Nelson Field in Maple on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
The banner was really the only thing slowing down the Tigers in the first half of Northwestern’s season opener with Ashland as quarterback Luke Sedin (4) tries to pull the paper off his helmet as he runs to mid-field
The banner was really the only thing slowing down the Tigers in the first half of Northwestern’s season opener with Ashland as quarterback Luke Sedin (4) tries to pull the paper off his helmet as he runs to mid-field after getting announced before the game at Gordon L. Nelson Field in Maple on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022. The Tigers went into halftime up 37-0.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Related Topics: FOOTBALLNORTHWESTERN TIGERS
Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
What to read next
Senior quarterback scores four touchdowns on the ground and one more through the air as Superior wins against their former defensive coordinator.
Northwestern dominated a matchup of teams at the top of the Heart O'North Conference.
The Hawks have won five straight and played their most “complete game of the season,” according to coach Dave Thompson.
On the boys side, Duluth Denfeld was a 4-0 winner.