Knights have key holes to fill, but returners to lean on

West Central Area football hosts Barnesville in season opener on Friday night at 7.

1 Evan Paulson DSC0728.jpg
West Central Area-Ashby's Evan Paulson looks for a receiver during a game against Crookston on Oct. 9, 2020. Paulson is back as a senior captain this fall to help lead the Knights after a 5-2 season last year. (Photo by Jared Rubado / Alexandria Echo Press)

West Central Area-Ashby football is coming off a season where it went 5-2 and would have played for a Section 6AA championship against Osakis if not for the season getting shut down during the pandemic last year.

The Knights have some important pieces to replace from that team, but they also have key guys to fall back on as they try to play near the top of the section and district fields again this fall.

“We want to be disciplined and do the right thing on and off the field,” head coach Nate Wood said. “Enjoy the process of self-improvement, in football and personally. Focus on the little things and work to become the best version of ourselves, as a team, player, and person.”

WCA-Ashby lost the Midwest Blue District Player of the Year in Jaden Norby to graduation. Norby is now a freshman tight end at the University of North Dakota. Austin Mattson, Brady Reeve, Jordan Lohse, Kade Olson, Nate Kisgen, Shane Wrolson, Tate Christenson, Trent Koloski and Connor Nadgwick are also letter winners lost to graduation.

Colton Lindquist, a senior center and defensive lineman, is a four-year starter for the Knights and one of the captains looking to lead the way for this group.


“Other captains are Evan Paulson and Mattson Hoff,” Wood said. “Anthony Sykora looks to build on his 700-yard rushing season from last year.”

Wood knows there are going to be ups and downs throughout a season. That’s why he emphasizes the importance of staying positive through adversity. He said a strength of this group is their willingness to be coached and the work ethic and positive attitude guys have.

It’s a group that expects to do well. Lindquist, Paulson (QB/LB), Hoff (RB/LB), Beau Robinson (OL/DL), Cole Anderson (WR/DB), Hunter Norby (RB/LB), Ryder Staples (WR/DB), Sam Heeter (OL/DL), Sykora (RB/LB), Torin Olson (WR/DB) and Tyler Stone (OL/DL) are all returning starters. Isaac Kreft (TE/DE), Blake Flint (OL/DL), Nas Dotts (WR/DB) and Ruebens Swanson (RB/DB) are others who Wood expects to fill important roles this fall.

Wood sees Osakis and Pillager as a couple of the top teams to contend with for the Section 6AA title as the Knights try to be competitive with the Silverstreaks, Huskies, Sauk Centre, Staples-Motley and Wadena-Deer Creek in the six-team section.


SENIORS - Carson Spangler, Colton Lindquist, Hunter Norby, Mattson Hoff, Ryder Staples, Torin Olson, Evan Paulson, Sam Heeter, Ruebens Swanson; JUNIORS - Anthony Sykora, Beau Robinson, Blake Flint, Bret Amundson, Cole Anderson, Damon Sansted, Isaac Kreft, Justin Blasyck, Parker Stach, Quinten Winter, Tyler Stone; SOPHOMORES - Adam Lohse, Ben Nyreen, Brady Lindquist, Cam Anderson, Fred Schlotfield, Grant Lindquist, Jackson Nadgwick, Jake Norby, Nas Dotts, Will Rustan; FRESHMEN - Ben Bye, Cash Nelson, Hunter Gruchow, Jeremy Blasyck, Owen Sansted, Sam Hanson, Tucker McGee, Tyler Girard, Zach Vick

COACHES - Head coach - Nate Wood - 4th season, 21-30 career record, 15-11 at WCA; Assistant coaches - Dave Stone, Eric Schoenbauer, Andy Peterson, Peter Nelson, Matt Nemec



Sept. 3 vs. Barnesville, 7 p.m.

Sept. 10 at Staples-Motley, 7 p.m.

Sept. 17 vs. Pillager, 7 p.m.

Sept. 24 at Hawley, 7 p.m.

Oct. 1 vs. Crookston, 6 p.m.

Oct. 8 at Breckenridge, 7 p.m.

Oct. 15 at Osakis, 7 p.m.

Oct. 20 vs. Underwood, 7 p.m.


Oct. 26 Section playoffs, TBD

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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