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Titans, Cowboys meet for rival showdown

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson Trinity senior fullback Coltyn Nelson, left, rushes against Killdeer during a nonconference game on Aug. 30, 2013 in Killdeer.

Though the game doesn’t count toward its conference standings, the Dickinson Trinity and Killdeer football teams each want a win.

In the previous five meetings between the two teams, the Titans hold a slight 3-2 advantage.

The Cowboys and Trinity open the regular season for the sixth straight year at 8 p.m. today at the Biesiot Activities Center.

“It’s a big bragging rights game,” Killdeer head coach Lou Dobitz said. “The kids understand that and as coaches we discussed that it doesn’t mean anything in regards to regional play, but it means a lot to the kids. When it comes down to it, both teams want to get better and stay healthy.”

During the 2013 meeting, Killdeer handled the Titans 43-21. The Cowboys scored 14 points after a pair of early fumbles from Trinity.

Trinity second-year head coach John Odermann said the loss still stings. Odermann, who is a Trinity graduate and helped the Titans to win back-to-back state championships in 2000 and 2001, remembers stepping the field during his high school career to play the Cowboys.

“We want to come and fire on all cylinders,” Odermann said. “We know there’s going to be some miscues with it being the first game. The thing that we learned last year is that you have limit miscues, especially in those first couple of plays. That snake bit us right away at the beginning of the season. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen at the beginning of the game.

“That Killdeer game is an exciting game, because we’ve been playing them forever. These kids know that we’ve been playing them forever and they anticipate this game as much as the coaching staff does.”

The 2013 season was an extensive learning experience for the Titans. More than 30 players received their first opportunity to play full time at the varsity level. The team went 0-9, which was the third losing season in last eight years, and only lost two players to graduation.

However, the nerves from the 2013 season are long gone. Trinity junior quarterback Willy Jahner said from the first day of practice the team has been ready and focused.

“We’ve grown a lot more mature this year,” he said. “This preseason our practices have been really good. (During the scrimmage on Aug. 23), we all look comfortable and more mature.”

Last year, Killdeer’s season was the complete opposite from Trinity. The Cowboys went 7-2 and suffered back-to-back losses to end the season. Hazen, which went on to win its second straight Class 1A title, defeated the Cowboys (21-6) for the Region 4 championship during the last week of the regular season. Velva ended Killdeer’s season (27-20) in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs at the BAC.

Graduation for the Cowboys wasn’t too kind. Killdeer lost nine players including four starters on the offensive line and starting tight end and middle linebacker Calum Blankenship, who is a freshman for the Dickinson State football team.

“We are anxious to get going, but we are going to be shorthanded,” Dobitz said. “We are probably going to have to be patching up some holes all season up front. We lost all those seniors and we just don’t have the guys to replace them. We are going to make due with what we have and I know they are going to try hard. We are probably going to be outmatched up front against Trinity.”

The Titans have waited more than nine months to get back into the football field. Jahner said the team is ready for the season opener.

“With returning most people, we have a whole year of experience now,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting better every day. Last year, we realized that this year could be a lot better. We are just hoping it is.”