Killdeer hosts region opponent Hazen as both head coaches expect a battleKilldeer head football coach Lou Dobitz has no doubt this week’s Class 1A, Region 4 game against No. 5-ranked Hazen is going to be a battle.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Killdeer head football coach Lou Dobitz has no doubt this week’s Class 1A, Region 4 game against No. 5-ranked Hazen is going to be a battle.
Hazen head coach Rick Philion agreed with that statement.
“With teams like that, you just have to make sure you are technically sound,” Philion said. “They are so physical and so big that you’re not going to get many opportunities against a team like that.”
However, the coaches have different reasons why it is going to be a battle. Killdeer, a big, strong and physical team, is matching up with a speedier finesse team in Hazen.
“Hazen is still the team to beat in our region,” Dobitz said. “Their nonconference game was against Beulah, so they had a formidable opponent right away. I know they lost a few kids from last year, but they have an all-state quarterback coming back.”
The all-state quarterback Killdeer hopes to contain is senior Stetson Carr. Dobitz said if his team misses a tackle against Carr, it’s going to be difficult to catch him.
“He’s quite an athlete,” Dobitz said. “He’s got great speed and he makes really good decisions. That offense runs with him and he’s got a great supporting cast. We’ve got to tackle well. That’s a big key for us. When we have opportunities to tackle him, we have to tackle him right away.”
The offensive and defensive lines are the crown jewels for the Cowboys (1-2, 1-0 Region 4) and Philion knows.
“At this time of the year, a team like that can really wear you down real fast when you’re not used to playing a whole lot of games,” he said. “We’re definitely concerned with their size.”
The Bison (1-1, 1-0 Region 4) returned many quality players in the supporting cast of Carr, but a handful are hurt including junior offensive lineman Austin Cieslak and junior running back Briar Bornemann.
“Where we are hurting right now is we have a lot of injured guys,” Philion said. “We have guys that did come back with experience who are sitting for us.”
The Cowboys, on the other hand, are still testing the waters at their skill positions.
Killdeer’s plan coming into the season was to have sophomore Lewis Dobitz at tailback. But he got hurt during a scrimmage at Dickinson High on Aug. 17.
“We still developing things because we lost our tailback at the scrimmage in Dickinson,” Dobitz said. “In the Trinity game, we tried out a few guys. We still shaking it out to see how can take over a lot of those roles.”
Hazen has younger players filling in roles while players return from injury. Philion said opening season with a 28-8 loss against rival Beulah opened the eyes of his young players.
“It was really good for us,” Philion said. “Our kids, with the youth that they have, didn’t fully understand that the game gets won Monday through Thursday. I think they fully understood after playing that game against Beulah that they have to show up for practice, not just on game night. Our practices have been more solid since that game.”
Heart River remains No. 2 in standings
Heart River head coach Dave Hendrickson made no bones about, they were small last year, and they are even smaller this year.
“You try to improvise for those things,” Hendrickson said. “The players have done a good job with that. We lost some very good football players last year. We had to make a lot of adjustments and I always say, ‘You have to customize your offense.’”
Despite the size disadvantage, the old motto is, “It’s not how big you are, it’s how big you play.”
The Cougars, ranked No. 2 in Class 1A, have taken that motto to heart, starting out the season with back-to-back wins against Watford City and Southern McLean.
Heart River’s big test of the season will come against Grant County-Flasher (2-0), who received votes in the latest Class 1A football poll.
“They have a lot of talent,” “Number one is we are both 2-0. I’ve been telling (players) all week, it’s at their place, it’s during their homecoming and what greater situation at the time, playing a team that’s No. 2 in the state. That’s a nice situation to be in.”
Hendrickson said being ranked as a top tier of teams in Class 1A is nice, but you have to keep winning to stay there.
“We talk about it,” he said. “I tell the kids all the time. It’s nice to be ranked, but the bottom line is you have to win. Everything falls into place if you win. They understand that.”
At the heart of Heart River’s lethal rushing attack are seniors Seth Ewoniuk and Cole Hecker. They give the credit to their offensive line.
“The first thing both will tell you is they gain yards, because the offensive line blocks,” Hendrickson said. “When the offensive line doesn’t block, they aren’t going to gain yards. We didn’t do a very good job against Southern McLean. They will both give credit to the offensive line.”
Mott-Regent sees history repeating itself
Mott-Regent head coach Ron Benson knows his stuff. The team website is a prime example.
Benson has statistics marked down from the past decade. He and his coaching staff noticed one date the last three years.
“We were looking back the last three years and we lost the third week of the season,” Benson said. “It’s kind of history repeating itself, but we’ve always got a little better from it too. I think we’ve learned from our loss and hopefully we can play better.”
The Wildfire went through injury bug last year, when they lost current University of North Dakota football player Tanner Vesledahl and current senior Jonah Honeyman. Injuries reared an ugly head again and bit running back Logan Haberstroh. The senior has a broken fibula.
“The doctor told him that it could be healed in three weeks,” Benson said. “I was kind of surprised when I heard that. Logan will be out, so we have to work with other kids. If we can hang in there, hopefully he’ll be back and makes us a strong team down the road.”
Benson’s plan to replace Haberstroh at tailback could be different each game, depending on what the Wildfire want to accomplish.
“We’re just moving people around and trying different combinations,” Benson said. “It’s probably by committee right now.”
As for the passing and catching, that just comes naturally to brothers Tyler and Taylor Zentner. Benson laughed and said they’ve been throwing the football to each other their whole lives and doing it on the football field is no different.
“That’s all they do,” Benson said. “For the last, I don’t know how many years, (they) are outside throwing the ball around. That’s why it’s natural, because it’s something they do. You never see them in the house.”
Mott-Regent hosts Beach in a 9-man, Region 4 game at 7 p.m. Friday. Benson said in this region, there are no off weeks.
“It’s a tough grind week in and week out,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough game. There’s nothing easy about each week. We have to be better and more prepared. Each one is important and each one is a stepping stone.”