Cougars, Holsteins look to host playoff gameEnding the season with a win is one thing, but battling for a home playoff game is completely different.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Ending the season with a win is one thing, but battling for a home playoff game is completely different.
Heart River, ranked No. 5 for the second straight week, and New Salem-Almont-Glen Ullin have identical records. Both football team’s are 6-1 overall and 5-1 in Region 4. The two meet Friday at 6 p.m. in New Salem to fight for Region 4’s No. 2 seed in the Class 1A playoffs and a home playoff game.
“I think we are two different styles,” Heart River head coach Dave Hendrickson said. “They play smash-mouth football. We’re a little bit different. We’re a misdirection team, deception team and try to rely on speed.”
NSAGU head coach Steve Kleinjan said his Holsteins have their hands full this Friday.
“They’ve got a ton of talent,” he said. “They come at you with three talented running backs and a good quarterback. They’re an extremely difficult team to prepare for.”
The Cougars are in the midst of a special season, catching the state media pollster’s attention multiple times this season. The season would mean even more if they could host a playoff game.
“We need to get this for home-field advantage in the playoffs,” Heart River running back Seth Ewoniuk said. “It’s a lot at stake, because this could be first time in Belfield, South Heart history that we’d host a playoff game.”
Though Heart River and NSAGU are two different types of teams, both have running backs leading the way.
“Cameron Morman is an outstanding running back,” Hendrickson said of NSAGU’s standout senior. “We have two or three good running backs. Our two primary backs are small and have to rely on speed.”
That speed didn’t go unnoticed with Morman, who said the 5-foot-8, 140-pound Ewoniuk runs like he’s 25 pounds heavier and a couple inches taller.
“Seth is so fast, it’s not even funny,” Morman said. “He can make the smallest thing huge.”
Ewoniuk knows he is going up against one of the best running backs in Region 4. Morman, who is 6-1 and 185 pounds, has rushed for 969 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.
“Cameron is a heck of a running back,” Ewoniuk said.
Ahead of any good running back is a solid offensive line. Heart River has a good, though undersized, offensive line. But, the Cougars have 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior fullback Jordan Strecker to help.
“We rely on our offensive line,” Hendrickson said. “Our backs don’t block for each other. They’re too small to block, then Jordan Stricker blocking.”
Kleinjan said NSAGU’s offensive line has been a nice surprise this season after coming into the season with a few question marks.
“Our offensive line is doing a really good job,” he said. “We didn’t expect to be in the position we are now at the beginning of the year.”
Morman said even one extra year can make all the
“If you would have asked me the first week of football if we would have an offensive line as strong as we do, I would have told you ‘You’re crazy,’” Morman said.
But, expectations changed when you’re a playoff team.
“I don’t think anybody in the league expected us to be 6-1 right now,” Kleinjan said. “We were picked sixth in the poll. I think our kids played well as a team. People like to point to Cameron because he’s a great football player. We’ve got a group that play together as a unit.”
Hettinger-Scranton pulling out all the stops against Shiloh Christian
Hettinger-Scranton hoping for playoff spot The Hettinger-Scranton football team’s minds are making the playoffs, and the Night Hawks are going pull out all the bells and whistles to make it happen.
The Night Hawks travel to Bismarck to face Shiloh Christian in a 9-man, Region 4 game at 6 p.m. Friday.
“We just going to let everything fly,” Hettinger-Scranton head coach Randy Burwick said. “We’re going to throw out everything we have in the playbook. The playbook is going to be emptied.”
The leading candidate to make some big plays happen is senior Ben Laufer, who has returned four punts for 80-plus yards this year.
“He’s got a knack for it,” Burwick said. “He sees the alleys very well, makes good cuts and makes people miss.”
Not only does Laufer possess a talent at returning the ball, he’s also a wide receiver and quarterback.
“He’s returned touchdowns, he’s thrown for touchdowns, he’s caught for touchdowns,” Burwick said. “He’s a triple threat out there. It’s surprising, because he’s only played two years of high school football.”
Shiloh Christian sees it has a tough test in front of them, but the Skyhawks like that opportunity.
“Hettinger-Scranton is going to be a huge test for us,” Shiloh Christian head coach Funnon Barker said. “They do a ton offensively, their defense gets after it. It will come down to whoever makes the least amount of mistakes.”
Those mistakes are also seen by Hettinger-Scranton as it prepares for the Skyhawks’ high-flying offense.
“Defensively we’ll have to play the best game of the season,” Burwick said. “We’ve got to hold those guys to little or nothing.”
Shiloh Christian’s offensive attack is lead by 6-foot-2, 170-pound wide receiver Aaron Hulstrand. The senior receiver entered his first season of football since junior high.
“He has done a real nice job for us,” Barker said. “He’s really come along. I had a pretty good idea on the kind of player he could be for us,” “I think he’s one of the better athletes in the school.”
The offensive explosion should keep Hettinger-Scranton on its toes, something the Skyhawks have made other teams do in the past.
“We like to be able to attack the field from sideline to sideline,” Barker said. “Force defenses to stay on us and make them stay at home. If defenses over pursue, we can take it to the house at anytime.”
The Night Hawks have looked forward to this moment from the beginning of the season - having their destiny in their control.
“We wanted to be in this position,” Burwick said. “Now we have to put our best effort forward.”
DHS junior heading to state soccer tournament with Bismarck Century
DHS junior Austin Mack heading to the state boys soccer tournament with Bismarck Century Playing for a different school might cause some chemistry issues, but Dickinson High junior Austin Mack said everyone on the Bismarck Century boys soccer team has been very inviting.
“They’ve always been great including me on the team,” Mack said.
Mack makes the nearly 100-mile trip to Bismarck five days a week for practice. The two days he doesn’t head to Bismarck is Sunday and Wednesday. Those days, Mack runs for the Midgets’ boys cross country team. It’s the second year Mack has done this routine.
“I joined cross country,” he said. “So, the days that I wouldn’t be able to make to Bismarck, I’d run cross country in town.”
This weekend, however, Mack is focused on soccer. He’ll likely start at center back for the Patriots in the tournament.
The West Region champion Patriots open the tournament at 1 p.m. today against Fargo Davies at Mandan’s Dacotah Centennial Park.
Mack said he is looking forward to getting back into the state championship match. The Patriots took second place last year, losing to West Fargo.
“I’m really excited with the group of guys we have,” Mack said. “We’re just going to take it one game at a time. We were hoping to do just as well or even better.”
Though juggling two sports can be tough, Mack said his coaches are accepting of both his soccer and cross country responsibilities.
“My cross country coach is really good about it,” Mack said. “He knows that I love to play soccer and he’s really accepting of it.”