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MAHNOMEN CLAIMS SECTION 6-1A CHAMPIONSHIP: Indians make return trip to state playoffs

AVERY FAIRBANKS finds an opening during the Section 6-1A championship game inside the Fargodome Friday. Fairbanks rushed for a game-high 123 yards and three touchdowns in the 28-7 victory.

Grunt to gamebreaker. It sums up how Avery Fairbanks' role has changed.

Fairbanks did the "dirty work" last season for the Mahnomen football team by making life easier for senior running back Alex LaVoy.

Now, he's the guy, and on Friday he showed it, running for 123 yards and three touchdowns in Mahonmen's 28-7 win over Browerville on Friday in the Minnesota Class 1A, Section 6 title game at the Fargodome.

"He really did the dirty work last year for our team," said Indians coach John Clark. "Now, it is Avery's time to shine."

Fairbanks' big day helped the Indians (11-0) advance to the Minnesota state football tournament for the second year in a row.

Mahnomen opens the state tournament against Braham (9-1) on Nov. 12 in Duluth.

Fairbanks said he hopes this year's run goes better than last year, which ended in a first-round loss to Barnesville.

If he can replicate performances like this, a longer playoff run could happen.

"The line today, they played really well," Fairbanks said. "They did a really good job of creating holes."

Fairbanks' three touchdowns were all a little different.

On his first one, a 5-yarder, he just powered through the Tigers' (9-2) line for a 6-0 lead.

His second touchdown, a 16-yard run, involved Fairbanks getting into open space and turning the corner for the score and a 16-7 lead.

The third, a 2-yarder, was just easy, as he strolled in for the score and a 20-7 lead.

Pretty impressive stuff considering he also plays on defense.

"He takes a beating just about every play on offense," Clark said. "Then on defense, he goes out there and does his job. At one point we put him at safety and it was the first time we've done it all year."

Mahnomen's defense has just found ways to limit opponents all season long, and it showed against Browerville.

The Tigers kept using misdirection to create big gains and finished the first half with 89 rushing yards.

All that changed in the second half.

Tigers quarterback Seth Kellen, who had 45 yards in the first half, took punishing hit after hit, resulting in a change at quarterback.

Bringing in Mitchell Heid meant Browerville had to throw, which led to Heid throwing two interceptions.

Even when Browerville tried to run, Mahnomen had other ideas. The Indians' defense only allowed 13 rushing yards in the second half.

"We take pride in that," said Indians defensive end/linebacker Luke Littlewolf.

"We call it 'Tribe Pride' and it's something we really are proud of."

Mahnomen 6 6 8 8-28

Browerville 7 0 0 0-7

M - Fairbanks 5 run (pass failed).

B - Dreher 65 pass from Kellen (Kellen kick).

M - Fairbanks 16 run (run failed).

M - Fairbanks 5 (Littlewolf pass from Pavek).

M - Pavek 4 run (Schoenborn pass from Pavek).

RUSHING: B, Dreher 7-30, T. Wollenberg 10-23, Kellen 14-48. M, Pavek 19-101, Fairbanks 21-123, Kochmann 1-(-5), Hoffner 4-21, Bjerke 4-24, Bjorge 1-10.

PASSING: B, Kellen 6-12-1 102 yards, Heid 3-6-0 32 yards. M, Pavek 5-25.

RECEIVING: B, T. Wollenberg 2-9, Dreher 4-101, Petermeier 2-24. M, Littlewolf 3-25.