Bismarck Century takes home first ever state crown over Minot

FARGO - In mid-September, a football state championship seemed like a remote possibility for Bismarck Century. On Friday night -- in the middle of November -- the Patriots celebrated the first such title in school history. Quarterback Dalton Feen...

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Zach Sweep hoists Bismarck Century teammate Kade Lynch into the air after the Patriots beat Minot 28-21 in the Class 3A championship football game Friday in the Fargodome. (FNS Photo by Dave Wallis)

FARGO – In mid-September, a football state championship seemed like a remote possibility for Bismarck Century.
On Friday night - in the middle of November - the Patriots celebrated the first such title in school history.
Quarterback Dalton Feeney racked up 397 yards from scrimmage as No. 2-ranked Century rallied for a 28-21 victory over the No. 1 Minot Magicians in the Class 3A state championship game, played at the Fargodome.
The Patriots (10-2) won for the eighth straight time after splitting their first four games and avenged a 35-7 regular-season loss at the hands of the Magicians on Sept. 18. That was their last defeat.
“We came such a long way the last couple of months. We didn’t start very well, but we knew we could turn it around,” said senior Adam Geiger, Century’s leading receiver. “It took a lot of hard work, but we got it done. We never stopped believing.”
Century coach Ron Wingenbach collected his first state championship in 26 years of coaching at North Dakota high school football’s highest level. He coached Carrington to a Class B 11-man state title in 1988.
“This is very exciting for me personally, but this is all about the kids,” he said. “They never got discouraged when we started out slow. They just kept working and getting better, and it all came together. They went through a lot to get this far. I’m very proud of this group – the first state football champions in school history.”
Feeney’s return in late September certainly helped. The all-state quarterback was sidelined for five games because of an injury to his throwing arm suffered during the American Legion baseball season. There was a chance he would miss the entire campaign, but Feeney never considered it.
“No way was I going to miss this. I love these guys and I saw how hard they worked every day,” said Feeney, who completed 19 of 28 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed 26 times for 106 yards. “I wanted to be there with them … I wanted us to do this together. What we did today was the ultimate goal. It’s a great feeling.”
The Patriots trailed 21-14 late in the third quarter, but surged ahead after converting a pair of Minot turnovers into touchdowns. Kevin Vanderpan started the rally with an interception of a Ben Bolinske pass on the Minot 31. Four plays later, on fourth-and-13, Geiger made a spectacular diving grab of a Feeney pass in the end zone for a game-tying 34-yard touchdown with 3.2 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Four plays after the ensuing kickoff, Geiger picked off a long Bolinske attempt on the Century 32. Ten plays later, Feeney found a well-covered Geiger in the right corner of the end zone for a 26-yard score with 6:26 remaining. Geiger finished with seven catches for 127 yards.
“Adam is an outstanding receiver. He’s made big catches all year,” Feeney said. “Those two touchdown catches were amazing. He’s the one I have the most trust in. If I get the ball anywhere near him, I’m confident he’ll make the catch.”
Down a touchdown, Minot went three-and-out on its next possession. Century took over with five minutes remaining and never gave the ball back. The Patriots used 10 rushing plays to run out the clock, converting two third downs along the way.
“We got the ball and we were not going to give it back to them,” Feeney said. “The offensive line really stepped up.”
The Magicians (10-2) got on the board first, scoring on a 26-yard pass from Bolinske – the Class 3A senior athlete of the year – to Brett Lunde with 2:12 remaining in the first quarter.
Century answered on the ensuing possession, with Feeney connecting with Zach Sweep for a 26-yard score. The extra point attempt failed, and Minot led 7-6 with 9:54 left in the second quarter.
Minot made it 14-6, scoring 4:46 later on a 36-yard Bolinske-to-Justin Engg touchdown pass, but Century was quick to answer again. This time, Feeney found Alex Horner for a 35-yard catch-and-run to the end zone. Feeney later passed to Geiger for the 2-point conversion, tying the score at 14 with 1:13 remaining in the second quarter.
The Magicians rolled up 207 yards in the first half, but managed only 109 after halftime.
“Minot has a lot of weapons, which was a big concern,” Wingenbach said. “Bolinske made a couple of big plays in the first half, but I thought our defense really stepped up the rest of the game.”
Bolinske went 8 for 16 for 153 yards, and carried seven times for 74 markers to lead the Magicians.

BC 0 14 7 7 - 28
M 7 7 7 0 - 21
M--Brett Lunde 26 pass from Ben Bolinske (Mason Hoffer kick)
BC--Zach Sweep 26 pass from Dalton Feeney (kick failed)
M--Justin Engg 36 pass from Bolinske (Hoffer kick)
BC--Alex Horner 35 pass from Feeney (Adam Geiger pass from Feeney)
M--Engg 32 pass from Bolinske (Hoffer kick)
BC--Geiger 34 pass from Feeney (Sweep kick)
BC--Geiger 26 pass from Feeney (Sweep kick)
RUSHING: BC, Feeney 26-106, Logan Gross 7-19, Sweep 1-3, Philip Davies 1-2, Cady 1-0. M, Bolinske 7-74, Austin Nagel 19-68, Matthew Marler 3-15, Carson Mosser 1-6.
PASSING: BC, Feeney 19-28-1--291. M, Bolinske 8-16-2--153.
RECEIVING: BC, Geiger 7-127, Sweep 4-74, Horner 3-55, Tanner Ghering 4-26, Michael Olson 1-9. M, Engg 3-73, Braydon Lund 3-29, Lunde 1-26, Nagel 1-25.

Class 3A Senior Athlete of the Year
Ben Bolinske, Minot
Class 3A Coach of the Year
Jeremy Newton, West Fargo Sheyenne

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