Labor Day evening in 1964 proved to be another rugged football game between the home team Pelican Rapids Vikings and Fergus Falls Otters.

Those two teams played each other on Labor Day from the late 1940s, into the 1960s.

“We played Pelican in 1964 more or less without a quarterback, because starter Dave Olson and backup Brian Grenell both were injured,” recalls former Otter Dan Larson, a senior for Fergus Falls in the fall of 1964.

Bob Warn was called into duty for the Otters at quarterback.

“We ran the same handoff play the rest of the game,” Larson recalled, “going left one play and right the other.”

The coach for Fergus Fall was R.J. Koepsell who in the previous fall, in 1963, took over from Rocky Elton who had moved to the Twin Cities. Koepsell coached through the fall of 1966 before Don Stueve became coach for the Otters, in the fall of 1967.

Fergus had defeated Pelican by 15-7 in the fall of 1963 in Fergus Falls.

Warn, in the 1964 game, scored for the Otters in the first quarter when he took hold of a Viking punt on the Otter 35-yard-line, raced 65 yards along the sidelines and scored a touchdown for Fergus Falls.

The extra point kicking attempt was blocked and Fergus Falls held a 6-0 lead until the fourth quarter.

That’s when Pelican Rapids running back Keith Engebretson scored on a 2-yard touchdown run. The extra point kicking attempt was wide and the score was 6-6.

A key play on the drive for the Vikings was a pass play from quarterback Steve Larson to Jim Nessa.

Pelican Rapids, late in the final quarter, advanced the football to the Otter 8-yard line. A field goal attempt was wide right.

The Otters, as reported by Daily Journal sports editor Tom Yuzer, also threatened to score late in the game.

Fergus Falls moved the football to the Pelican Rapids 11-yard line with 1:04 remaining in the game. Otter running backs Jim LeRoy and Chuck Vigen advanced the ball to the 2-yard line. A fourth down pass play with 12 seconds left in the game was unsuccessful.

The final score in the 1964 game was 6-6. A year later, in Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids pulled out a narrow 14 to 13 victory.

These close Labor Day games between Pelican Rapids and Fergus Falls were not surprising. In 1959 the Otters defeated the Vikings 7-0 in Fergus Falls and the following year, up in Pelican Rapids, the Vikings won by the same score of 7-0.

“We respected Pelican Rapids and they respected us,” said Gordy Kvern, a star lineman for the Otters in 1959.

That respect carried over to the game in 1964, with Fergus Falls having admiration for Pelican Rapids and the Vikings holding high praise for the Otters.

Army veteran calling for expanded background checks

Not long ago Army combat veteran Dennis Magnasco, who served in Afghanistan and now is a congressional staff member in the nation’s capital, was skeptical about expanding background checks and closing the gun show loophole.

Not any longer.

What changed his mind were the killings of 58 people in Las Vegas in late 2017 and the murders of 17 students the following year in Parkland, Florida.

Magnasco said he’s proud to be a combat veteran, gun owner and staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. He emphasized he’s also ready for gun reform.

Many fellow veterans have joined Magnasco in calling for fixing and expanding background checks “to keep firearms out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”

I agree with these veterans.

President Donald Trump, a year after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, used executive authority to ban the bump stock. I commend him.

A bump stock used in Las Vegas permitted the trigger to be held down, allowing semiautomatics to mimic fully automatic weapons.

Tom Hintgen is a longtime Daily Journal columnist. His column appears Saturdays.

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