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Killdeer travels to Hazen for key game

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Killdeer senior Grady Houghton, who plays running back and linebacker, is back in action Friday against Hazen after sitting out a week.

Speed versus size.

Hazen has the speed and Killdeer has the size for each to make a run at the Class 1A, Region 4 title. The teams meet at 6 p.m. MDT Friday in Hazen.

"We do have some advantage with size," Killdeer head coach Lou Dobitz said. "We are hoping to play tough football and use that to our advantage."

The teams are only about an hour away from each other. Though it's a rivalry game, Hazen head coach Rick Philion characterized it a friendly type of rivalry.

"Killdeer is a team that we see in basketball every year," said Philion, whose Bison moved from 2A to 1A a few years ago. "Our junior high and JV teams played for a long time even though we were in different classifications."

The Hazen offense, lead by junior quarterback Stetson Carr, has been lighting up the scoreboard, scoring 76 points in its first two games

"We are lucky enough to have pretty much the same group of kids coming back this year," Philion said. "They are much more confident and knowledgeable bunch."

Killdeer looked strong in its first two games, taking a 21-7 loss to Dickinson Trinity to start the season and rolling past Standing Rock 53-12.

"We know right away, Hazen has a lot of speed," Dobitz said. "They've got a lot of guys with speed. We know it's going to be a tough one."

That speed offers Hazen some big offensive opportunities. The Bison hope to use their offensive weapons against a Killdeer team that is able to play power football and run out the clock.

"Speed is a nice thing to have. You get that advantage to sometimes break a play," Philion said. "Instead of having a 10 or 12 play drives, we are able to put some points on the board quickly.

"If we had to match up one on one with them, I think we'd come up on the short end."

What's been more impressive than the offense? Defense. The Bison posted consecutive shutouts to start the season, but Philion sees the biggest test this Friday.

"We haven't played a team of Killdeer's caliber," he said. "They are an experienced bunch coming back from last year and know what it takes to win games.

"I think this is going to be a good measuring stick to see what kind of team we are going to have this year."

Dobitz believes his team's mixture of size and speed should match up well with Hazen.

Grady Houghton, who features both speed and size, is the Cowboy's primary running back. Houghton, who ran for almost 500 yards and seven touchdowns last season, didn't take a running back snap against Standing Rock, but was in the game playing linebacker. The senior had 65 yards and one touchdown against Trinity.

"He didn't even run the ball against Standing Rock," Dobitz said. "We didn't focus on him needing to be in that position and just ran everybody else. He tweaked his ankle, but still played linebacker for us.

"Grady carried the ball 32 or 34 times against Hazen last year."

Killdeer's head coach is worried about one key facet to Hazen's game -- Carr and the quarterback option.

"We are really focused on stopping what Hazen has for an option game," Dobitz said. "They are really good at it and they have that speed, they use with it."

Though the Killdeer and Hazen game might be glimpse to what the Region 4 title comes down to, Dobitz knows the region features tough competition.

"There are a lot of good teams in this region," Dobitz said. "Grant County(-Flasher) and Heart River both have very good teams."

Heart River volleyball looks to continue its good start

Heart River brought back its top player from last season in Miranda Kadrmas, who was an all-district and all-region selection.

The supporting cast has really come into full form though, helping the Cougars start the season with a 6-1 record.

"It's going well," Heart River head coach Craig Pool said. "We've got a lot of inexperienced players in new positions and seeing gradual improvements all the time."

The inexperience isn't showing on the court with Heart River sweeping four of its wins. The Cougars have lost a total of five games in their seven matches.

"One thing that I admire about the group that I do have is they are having some growing pains, but they are very committed," Pool said. "These are girls that love to get after things."

Having a fast start might be beneficial from a coaching standpoint, but Pool says there is a lot of volleyball to be played.

"If you've got kids that are willing to work, you are going to have success down the line," he said. "If you are having that success already and you still have a long way to go. The potential for good things down the road is very optimistic."

Pressure is one thing every coach is used to and Pool is no exception. The start to this season can take pressure of the coach, but Pool said there is more pressure now to continue to do well.

"I want my players to have the most success this season," Pool said. "I think it puts on more pressure, so the girls do well this season."

Kadrmas gets most of the attention on the court, but Pool has an outstanding senior vocal leader on the court in Quinn Steffan.

"Both Miranda and Quinn are vocal leaders," he said. "They both know when to get the girls going. They don't hold back."

Heart River continues its season tonight at Glen Ullin-Hebron at 6:30.

Dickinson High cross country builds on success

The Dickinson High boys and girls cross country teams had a week off after its home opener and came away with first- and second-place finishes, respectively, in Glendive, Mont., on Tuesday.

The boys and girls have seen success early on this season, but Dickinson head coach Shawn Leiss said there is still more to accomplish.

"We've had a solid start," Leiss said. "But we have a long way to go to get to the state meet. We have a lot of work, training and competing to do."

Vlad Kutka continues to lead the boys' team, while being supported by Jackson Binstock, Joseph Sickler and Gabe Dschaak. The four finished in the top 10 in Glendive.

"Vlad, Jackson and Joseph really work together at practice," Leiss said. "I expect the three of them to be right in there. That's where they've been in practice and I expect them to lead the team as we continue on."

On the girls' side, Emily Tyrell was the top finisher for Dickinson at home, but Meleah Leiss took third in Glendive. The Dickinson girls have one thing they are extremely talented at -- running in packs.

"The girls have a good team dynamic," Shawn Leiss said. "They support one another and when its time to compete in a race, they do the same thing."

Dickinson continues its season Saturday, traveling to Mandan, where coach Leiss will see some of the top competition in the state.

"We'll be competing against some schools that have larger enrollments and bigger teams," he said. "The level of competition will be a little bit higher on Saturday."