Ground supportTeam North Dakota looks to backfield to lead
Team North Dakota has plenty of power in its backfield this year. Add in Valley City’s Derek Elliott, and speed comes into play as well.
By: Chris Aarhus, The Dickinson Press
Team North Dakota has plenty of power in its backfield this year.
Add in Valley City’s Derek Elliott, and speed comes into play as well.
With the likes of Hillsboro’s Andrew Grothmann (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) and Velva’s Josh Weidler (6-2, 205), size and strength at the fullback position shouldn’t be an issue.
Grothmann, an all-state fullback for 9-man state champion Hillsboro, is certain to get touches when the team kicks off the Badlands Bowl against Team Montana on Saturday at Denton Field in Miles City, Mont.
“He’s a powerful, quick kid,” said coach Brad Sandy, who coached Harvey to a second-straight Class A state title last fall. “He’ll touch the football a few times.”
Weidler will be used more in passing situations.
“That’s what we’re looking at right now,” Sandy said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Elliott said he looks forward to running behind Grothmann.
“Andrew can really plow through some guys,” Elliott said. “That will open up the running game.”
Elliott represents the majority of the speed at the tailback position. The all-stater will get to use that speed on the edge, too. He’ll line up at wide receiver in a special formation.
“We’ll try to do some of that with him,” Sandy said. “He’s shown us he can go and mix it up inside, too.”
Elliott intends on playing receiver for Valley City State in the fall.
“I like playing running back more than anything … I wish I was playing a little more running back to be honest,” Elliott said, “but it’s always good to help out the team as much as I can.”
Besides Elliott, Sandy has the use of Park River’s Jay Jelinek, who stands 6-2, 190 pounds. The other tailback who won’t spend much time adjusting is Kordel Wolfe (6-2, 195), an all-stater who played for Sandy at Harvey.
“The other two (Jelinek, Wolfe) are real power-type tailbacks,” Sandy said.
Grothmann was impressed by who’s running behind him.
“Derek … he’s fast,” Grothmann said. “Kordel can pound the ball really good … Jay can run it pretty quick, too. We’ve got some guys who can get out to the edge and make things happen.”
“We’ve got some big running backs,” Elliott said. “That’ll help us power through the defense and stuff.”
The X-factor in the entire mix could be Fargo South linebacker Brandon Jemison (6-0, 190). Jemison is penciled in at linebacker, but Sandy didn’t rule out using him on offense.
“We might give him a chance to run the ball a few times,” Sandy said. “Otherwise, he’ll play on the defensive side. He’s a warrior over there.”
Jemison is battling a sore groin, however.
“Certainly, we’ll have to look at (playing him on offense),” Sandy said. “The deal is we’re bringing them all out there. They’re all going to play.”