Beach to appear in first ever playoff semifinal
Following its 20-12 victory over Kidder County in the quarterfinals of the 2020 NDHSAA playoffs, Beach hopes to pull off the upset of the season in the semifinals as it takes on top-ranked Cavalier on Saturday.
The Buccaneers (7-2) will be making its debut in the state semifinals. While the team is happy about the milestone, it is also preparing for its hardest competitor to date.
“When you do something for the first time in school history, it’s always exciting,” Beach head coach Mike Zier said. “But Cavalier is a really good team, they’re undefeated. They’re the state runner-up last season.”
The Tornadoes (11-0) are coming into the semifinal with a strong urge to have another chance at playing for the 9-man championship at the FARGODOME on Nov. 13. The team has recorded back-to-back blowouts in the tournament, beating Tri-State: Fairmount-Campbell-Tintah-Rosholt 48-28, and recently defeating Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg 52-6.
But Beach will be coming into the semifinals with a large amount of confidence, as well. The team had a blowout victory against Divide County High 34-0 to start the tournament, and had a strong performance against the Wolves to earn its slot in the semifinals.
“We’re playing good football right now,” Zier said. “I think if we go up there, kinda control the clock a little bit and keep their offense, a super talented offense, off the field, I think that gives us a shot to win.”
The Tornadoes are known around the 9-man conference as a strong, balanced team. Zier noted the Buccaneers will really need to buckle down on defense and limit the passing game. As for the offense, Beach will need to have very little, possibly no penalties, and have zero turnovers in order to pull off the upset.
“Overall, they have so much speed, size and talent that they’re a good team, team. They do have really good players, but we have to try and stop their whole team,” Zier said.
While the entire team will need to play its best football, Zier said he will be looking for heavy influence by the seniors to bring home the victory.
“Our seniors, (running back) Tyson Mattern, (linemen) Blake Van Horn and Kyle Sarsland, and (wide receiver) Wyatt Tczap, have led us all year and they have to have a big game for us on Saturday.”
While the team is looking at itself as an underdog, Beach is ready to put on one of the biggest battles and have one of the best performances in school history.
“They’re excited, they know the task for them,” Zier said. “As soon as we hit that bus, it all comes down to football. Everything else is kind of static. Just go out there and do the best we can.”
With the strange 2020 season, Zier said he's excited just to coach the Buccaneers for another week.
“I didn’t think we’d be able to get 10 football games in, let alone three,” he said. “This year’s been crazy, there’s so many good teams that were not able to play their full schedule and we were able to do that.
“Just to coach these guys another week and see what happens,” Zier added. “We’re a family and it’s really been uplifting in this terrible 2020 for everyone and it’s giving us something to talk about that is not COVID related.”
Kick off for the Buccaneers and the Tornadoes is scheduled for 1 p.m. MST