Opening Weekend in 11AA and 11A football
Bismarck St. Mary’s @ Minot High
Minot so badly wants to be Titletown of North Dakota. Their basketball sweep at state combined with boys swimming and diving and girls’ soccer was a huge step toward that goal. The Magicians will need to take a step forward in the fall.
Their fall sports haven’t been nearly as successful as their winter and spring sports. The Magicians open Friday night at Duane Carlson stadium against 11A finalist Bismarck St. Marys. This will be a very good test to start the season. Minot leadership is very high with Jayden Sparrow at quarterback and returning All-State right tackle Kadyn Turnbow. Turnbow is a two-way starter manning the trenches for Minot. He will need to be very destructive for Minot to have a chance Friday night.
Minot had their best summer off-season in years, says the coaches and players. I had the opportunity to watch them practice this fall camp. “Captain Sparrow” had lost his voice calling plays and holding his team accountable. He leads in a very positive manner that should help uplift his team instead of dragging them down. If Sparrow’s skill level matches his leadership and character Minot, will be in very good shape.
Bismarck St. Mary’s lost to Jamestown in the 11A State Championship last year. Now they find themselves moving up to 11AA this year. This is a tough year to move up after they lost a huge group of All-State and All WDA players.
They lost Nick Schumacher, Isaac Felche, Nate Fedorchak, Jack Weikam, Nick Windsor, Landon Gerving and the State Powerade player of the Year Brit Senfter. This is a mountain of quality and leadership lost, combined with moving up to the big leagues, Minot might be too much too early for the Saints. Look for Minot to control the trenches in a one score game.
Minot 26 St Mary’s 20
Bishop Ryan 0-1 @ Dickinson Trinity 1-0
Bishop Ryan was manhandled by Langdon last Friday night. I do not see that repeating this weekend, although Trinity is not going to be an easy task. Trinity throttled Des Lacs-Burlington 36-0 last weekend. Bishop Ryan is hoping that Colton Feller can help replace the production lost with the graduation of Zach Hendrickson. Colton had a very productive game against Landon and will see even more space this Friday night. Ryan will be very happy to see the return of All-State lineman Coy Okeson. Okeson’s ability to eat blocks will allow Bishop Ryan’s linebacking corps to make plays.
Dickinson Trinity is mostly intact from last year and will be a very tough test for Ryan. Ryan will have to get pressure up the middle and force errant throws to come out ahead in this one. Trinity will have experience on their side.
Ryan football has a saying much like the Lannisters in Game of Thrones, “A Lannister always pays their debts.”
Ryan players say, “Ryan never loses back-to-back.” I think the huge special teams advantage gives Trinity the clear path to victory.
Dickinson Trinity 26 Bishop Ryan 19
Velva/Anamoose/Drake/Garrison @ Beulah
This might be the game of the weekend. This will be the second most important game for Beulah next to the Coal Bowl vs. Hazen. Football is amazing with its long-standing regional rivalries.
Velva will be too much for Beulah. Returning All-State lineman Armani Smith won’t be enough for Beulah to stay close in this one. Velva has too much size and skill combined with depth. Velva is a real threat to overthrow defending state champions Kindred. All-State Running back Hank Bodine will used early and often. Velva will give out large doses of Bodine and then will gut you with play action. Remember this combination — Ben Shepp to Reggie Bruner. The quarterback tight-end duo is Brady/Gronk-esque. This is a very important early season match up.
Beulah opened its season with a 36-24 win over class A Turtle Mountain. Velva will be a different animal for the Miners. The loss of Trapper Skalski and Tayton Vondra will be tough to overcome against the Aggies.
Velva 34 Beulah 12
Minot (1-1-1 and 3-1-1) vs Williston (0-3)
Minot has been struggling to score early this year after losing All-State striker Ezra Hagerott. Minot boasts maybe the best player in North Dakota in Braydon Oswalt. They also return All-WDA Manasseh Boakye. Minot will be too much for Williston and lack of Hagerott will not come in to play Thursday night.
Williston will be outmatched in every position, and it will show on the scoreboard. I expect goalkeeper J.J. Dufner to not get much work. Caydon Gibbins, Oswalt and company will be parked in Williston’s goal box most of the match.
Minot 5 Williston 0