Cotton is the sports editor at The Press, where he covers the area's high schools. He came to The Press as the Multimedia Editor in May 2015 after graduating from the University of Northern Colorado with his master's degree in Sociological Practice. He holds undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Sociology from UNC, as well.
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I wrote about Bob Waldal last week. I think I spoke with him in person only two or three times, but before any of those times, I had called him on the phone to preview the 2015-16 girls basketball season. I finished all of my questions, and I think he sensed it because then he followed with his own. "Where are you from?" "How do you like it here?" I thought it was a nice gesture by a nice man to take an interest in me.
BEACH — The Beach High School football team wrapped up its fourth playoff victory in school history early on against visiting Towner-Granville-Upham on Saturday in the opening round of the 9-man playoffs. Buccaneers senior quarterback Josiah Orluck and junior running back Clay Mattern each scored a pair of touchdowns in the first half, lifting Beach to an early advantage in what would ultimately be a 40-8 victory at Buccaneer Field.
RAY — Mott-Regent-New England opened the 9-man football playoffs on Saturday with a 38-32 victory at Ray-Powers Lake. The Wildfire improved to 6-3 overall this year with the win, and they move on to face North Prairie next Saturday in Rolette. Wildfire senior Josh Wallace played a role in all five of his team's touchdowns against Ray-Powers Lake — he ran for three, threw for one more and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
MOTT — After a one-year absence, the Mott-Regent-New England football team is back in the 9-man playoffs. To get there, the Wildfire had to win their final two games to keep pace with the other teams fighting for the fourth spot out of Region 5. First, they defeated Central McLean 44-6 on Sept. 29, and then they won 50-22 against Grant County-Flasher on Oct. 6 to earn their berth. "We were thinking it was playoffs two games ago," senior quarterback Josh Wallace said. "That was the whole team mindset through those games."
BEACH — Bob Waldal amassed more than 300 victories over parts of five decades of coaching basketball in North Dakota, but that lifetime record is hardly the record of a lifetime. Waldal had fought prostate cancer for the better part of the last two years, and it eventually forced him out of coaching the game he loved so much after the 2015-16 season at Beach High School. On Friday morning, Oct. 13, 2017, Waldal died at age 71 in Beach, surrounded by most of his immediate family.
The Minot High football team needed a win to be in, and the Magicians wasted no time in their pursuit of a playoff berth. Minot opened up a 21-0 lead in the first quarter against Dickinson High on Thursday, eventually claiming a 41-7 victory at the Biesiot Activities Center. "We haven't had the regular season we would want, but all that matters is the playoffs," Minot senior receiver Peyton Lamoureux said. "You've just got to make it, and anyone can win."
Nathaniel Jilek's first carry against Beulah last Friday was fumbled but recovered by a teammate. Shortly after, a Dickinson Trinity coach shouted from the sideline for Jilek to keep two hands on the football. For the rest of the evening, Jilek covered the points — uninterested in stiff arming defenders — and ran for 140 yards and a touchdown in Trinity's 21-0 victory.
BEACH — The Beach Buccaneers are back in the 9-man football playoffs this year for the first time since 2013. And just like that 2013 appearance, Beach will play host to Towner-Granville-Upham for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday. The Buccaneers enter as the third seed out of Region 5, behind New Salem-Almont-Glen Ullin and Shiloh Christian. TGU (6-3, 4-2) is the third seed out of Region 4. After six combined wins from 2014-16, the Buccaneers went 6-2 overall and 5-2 in Region 5 this year to reach the postseason.
Dickinson High's win last Friday at Williston was bigger than just serving as the team's first victory of the season. The Midgets (1-6, 1-3) are still mathematically in the running for a playoff spot with two games remaining, and they will find out a lot about their fate after this week. At this point, Dickinson is essentially working to overtake Bismarck Legacy in the standings — Dickinson can finish, at best, 3-3 in the region, while Legacy can finish, at worst, 2-4. However, Legacy can secure the fourth and final playoff berth with a win at Williston on Friday.
HETTINGER — The Dickinson Trinity volleyball team defeated Hettinger-Scranton in three sets on Monday by set scores of 25-21, 25-15, 25-19. The win improves the Titans’ record to 26-6-3 overall and 8-0 in Region 7. The Night Hawks are now 5-3 in the region. Trinity’s offense was led by 12 kills from Sarah Mayer and 11 from Masy Kuntz. Alexa Walby tallied 32 assists, Farrah Zeller collected 13 digs and Amber Sickler had five aces and eight digs.