The opening weeks of fall football practice gives coaches the opportunity to teach, improve and fine tune. With day-after-day of two-a-days, players on a given roster go through grueling sessions, often battling each other for playing time on the field.
However, competition amongst teammates pales in comparison to lining up against someone in different colors and different uniforms. Scrimmages provide programs the chance before the start of the regular season to break the monotony and test how far a team has come along.
Dickinson High and Dickinson Trinity took advantage of that chance, taking part in an evening scrimmage on Friday, Aug. 17 from the Biesiot Activities Center.
"We always see this scrimmage as a great opportunity to finally hit some guys of a different color jersey," Trinity head coach John Odermann said. "It's the only time we get to see Dickinson High in I think any sport all year. ... To have that kind of quality of opponent that we can just go across town and just scrimmage against is fantastic. I think it does a lot for our kids and it gives us an opportunity to see the things we need to work on two weeks before our first game."
With the varsity rosters facing off on one side of the field and the junior varsity competing on the other, the teams played two 10-play series beginning near midfield before each squad had a five-play series near the goaline.
"It's great that we're able to do this with Trinity and work out some things before the games start counting," Dickinson High head coach John Tuchscherer said. "I thought that we did a pretty good job."
Both teams had their struggles out of the gate. Dickinson Trinity senior quarterback Aric Knopik fumbled the first snap of the scrimmage as the Titans failed to reach the end zone during their first series.
On the first play of the Midgets' first possession, junior quarterback Tallon Klatt and junior tailback Tanner Nixon had a miscommunication on the handoff, resulting in a loss of yardage. DHS was able to rebound by the end of the series. Set up by a long reception, senior running back Adam Bokanga, Klatt snuck the ball in from a yard out for the scrimmage's first score.
Trinity responded quickly in its second series, as senior wide receiver Kaden Kuntz made a leaping grab over a defender in one-on-one coverage for a 35-yard touchdown reception. Five plays later, sophomore full back Nathaniel Jilek added a touchdown plunge from two yards out.
The Titans showed their strength defensively during DHS' second series, forcing two turnovers while the interior of the defensive line held the Midgets to only short gains while running the ball.
"I thought we did very well," Trinity senior nose guard Isaac Fridrich said. "We have a new kid Tanner Soehren stepping up playing nose end and he did very well. ... Both Alija [Karsky] and I thought had a pretty good scrimmage here. Then Mason Eilts came in and showed us what he had, so today was pretty good."
Dickinson High got in on the takeaway fun at the start of Trinity's first when senior linebacker Chandler Wanner jumped in front of a slant pattern for the interception.
Resetting the ball at the 10-yard line, the Titans scored three plays later as Kuntz was able to take it in after receiving a pitch from three yards out. On their final offensive play of the drive, Knopik connected with sophomore Cole Fitterer for a 10-yard touchdown reception.
The Midgets ended the scoring on the day when junior quarterback Dylan Montagner found junior wide receiver Alex Praus on a fade pattern toward the back of the endzone. On the previous drive, Praus could not haul the fade, but made good on play the second time around.
"I usually start off by focusing on my footwork right off of the break with with a one-two step," Praus said when describing the timing. "Then I just turn my head and I go up and try to get it."
Dickinson Trinity will begin its regular season on the road against Bowman County on Friday, Aug. 31. A week earlier, the Midgets will travel east and take on Fargo North in its season opener.
"We talked about with our kids about coming out here and competing, when you get an opportunity, take advantage of it," Tuchscherer said. "We did some really good things tonight and we did some things that are correctable, but the effort and the energy were really good."