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Kowalski signs football scholarship

Five members of the 2007 Somerset High School football team have solidified their plans to play college ball.

Leading the group is Evan Kowalski, who signed a national letter of intent last Wednesday to accept a scholarship package from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich. NMU is an NCAA Division II program.

Kowalski is being viewed as a cornerback by the Wildcats. He could also work into the team's plans as a punt returner and kick returner.

Also making their college football plans are:

Tony Martin, as a preferred walk-on at North Dakota State University;

Burt Geurkink, at UW-Eau Claire;

Justin Trautmiller, at UW-Eau Claire;

Darnell Tienter, at The College of St. Scholastica.

Kowalski was courted by a number of colleges. As time neared to make a decision, he was looking at either North Dakota State or the University of South Dakota. He then made a visit to Northern Michigan.

"I could tell it was the spot," Kowalski said. "The coaching staff was awesome and their facilities are sweet."

Northern Michigan plays in a domed stadium, The Superior Dome. It gets its name from being a couple hundred yards from the shore of Lake Superior. NMU is part of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which includes schools like Michigan Tech, Grand Valley State, Wayne State and Saginaw Valley State. Local sports fans will recall that former St. Croix Central basketball standout Cory Brathol, now the boys coach at Ellsworth, played at NMU from 1997-2000. Brathol ranks second in scoring in NMU history.

Kowalski said there is a possibility that he will get onto the field for the Wildcats this fall, though there is also a chance he could be redshirted this season.

Kowalski, who is known for his talkative nature, was sold by the straight talk he received from NMU head coach Bernie Anderson. Kowalski said Anderson reminded him of Somerset coach Bruce Larson in his blunt but fair approach to dealing with the players.

Anderson said Kowalski has the qualities the program is looking for: strong academics and character, to go along with his football skills.

Northern Michigan does recruit heavily in Wisconsin. Nineteen players on the 2007 NMU roster went to high school in Wisconsin.

One of the things NMU is looking for from Kowalski is to add more bulk. He's been at 160 pounds for most of his high school career, though he's tried many ways to add weight. The NMU coaches would like to see him arrive at 180 pounds this fall.

"I definitely have to get bigger and faster," Kowalski said. "It'll be a huge step, to the speed of their game."

Kowalski moved to Somerset during his freshman year when his father was hired at the Hudson Police Department. His two older brothers graduated from Flambeau High School, where they played with Jim Leonhard, who now plays for the Buffalo Bills in the NFL.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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