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Dickinson football roundup: Midgets aim to be on the same page

The Dickinson High football team showed its explosiveness after scoring on a long play in its first series against Grand Forks Central on Friday, Aug. 31. On their last offensive possession of the contest, the Midgets ended a 17-play drive in the...

Dickinson High junior quarterback Tallon Klatt is sacked by Grand Forks Central senior lineman Cameran Bridgeford on Friday, Aug. 31 from the Biesiot Activities Center. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson High junior quarterback Tallon Klatt is sacked by Grand Forks Central senior lineman Cameran Bridgeford on Friday, Aug. 31, from the Biesiot Activities Center. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
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The Dickinson High football team showed its explosiveness after scoring on a long play in its first series against Grand Forks Central on Friday, Aug. 31. On their last offensive possession of the contest, the Midgets ended a 17-play drive in the end zone.

In between the two scores, the Midgets defense held the Knights off the scoreboard for five consecutive series.

However, the problem according to Dickinson head coach John Tuchscherer was that neither unit played well at the same time.

Grand Forks Central immediately marched down the field on its first two drives, notching a pair of touchdowns. When the defense finally provided resistance, the Dickinson offense sputtered, collecting two first downs on non-scoring drives during a 25-13 defeat.
"Consistency," Tuchscherer said was the message preached in practice this week. "At times offensively, we did whatever we wanted; we moved the ball and put points on the board. At the same time, we couldn't get stops on defense and then vice versa, when we were getting stops on defense, but couldn't do anything on offense. So we just have to be more consistent and I think when one side of the ball is rolling, the other side has to play well too. If we can do that, that'll help us win some football games."
One element that may help the Midgets enter manageable third-down situations and sustain drives is the potential return of running back Martin Lopez.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior has been out of action recovering from a torn meniscus. Lopez believes he suffered the injury last football season, but he still played on the Midgets' basketball and track and field teams before noticing swelling in his knee during the spring.

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Returning to the field with pads for the first time on Tuesday, Lopez will be a game-time decision as Dickinson (0-2) will open West Region play on Friday against Bismarck Legacy. Tuchscherer says he will be good to go pending any potential practice setbacks.

"It feels great. I'm going to try and give everything that I can to this team to win and hopefully I can come back 100 percent," Lopez said. "It was kind of frustrating because I didn't really know when I was going to come back, but it was just matter of if I felt any more pain. So I was kind of frustrated; I wanted to be done sooner and heal up faster; just adding another piece to this team, completing our team."

The Midgets will face the Sabers in a matchup of winless teams, looking to rectify their struggles with a victory.

Dickinson has allowed 28.5 points per game while the Sabers have relinquished 31.5. Both squads average a conference-low 10 points per game.

Tuchscherer hopes his team can stop the run without blitzing, force third-down passing situations and put pressure on the opposing quarterback. On the defensive side, he expects the Sabers to blitz a fair amount.

"They're always well-coached and they are going to do things right. ... They're going to run a 3-4 defense and they are going to blitz," Tuchscherer said. "Right now, the biggest thing that we have to do in order to be successful is to be able to pick up the blitz not only on the passing game, but in the running game. And I think if we can do that, we should be able to move the ball offensively."

Titans look to bounce back against Hazen

In arguably the area's best game of the week, Dickinson Trinity held a 20-0 advantage in the second quarter and led approximately 90 percent of the time against Bowman County last Friday. However, the Bulldogs rallied late with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, en route to a 30-26 comeback victory.

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The long bus ride home from Bowman was not an easy one for the Titans, but the team views the defeat as a glass half full.

"The thing that we want to take away from that game is the successes that we did have," Titans head coach John Odermann said. "We had seven new starters on defense, six new starters on offense and a lot of inexperienced guys there against a really good football team I think is going to be at the top of the region, if not one of the top teams in the state this year. They got 14 seniors and that's a team that really presented a challenge to us and we answered it really well for several quarters. ... For the most part, we saw a lot of really great potential from these young guys that we had out on the field."

Despite allowing 370 yards of Bulldog offense, Dickinson Trinity played well in spots, defensively. Accounting for half of the Titan points, sophomore linebacker Nathaniel Jilek opened the scoring in the first period with a fumble return touchdown before senior cornerback Kaden Kuntz added an interception return touchdown in the second. Junior linebacker Seth Herner also made major contributions, leading the team with 10 solo tackles and two tackles for a loss.

"Getting that first game out of the way, there's always a big improvement between the first and second game," Herner said. "We saw a lot of good things coming out of the young guys too, stepping up in their first varsity experience. Things are looking good for the rest of the season and upcoming games."

Senior quarterback Aric Knopik wants to get the offense back on track. Knopik tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Cole Fitterer but struggled the rest of the way, throwing for 47 yards on 6-for-20 passing. The team also had its troubles on critical plays, going 1-for-9 on third down and 1-for-5 on fourth.

"Even in the beginning when we were up 20-0, every error that we had is fixable," Knopik said. "It's just figuring out what is fixable and fixing it. ... When we watched film on Monday just to pick out what we were really doing wrong and going from practice now on; it's just about fixing those little intricate errors that's going to help us in the next game."

On Friday, the Titans will host Hazen in their home opener. The Bison are coming off their first victory of the season, throttling Heart River 44-13 behind five total scores from senior quarterback Isaac Doll.

At risk of falling 0-2 in Region 4 play, Dickinson Trinity understands it has a formidable challenger on its hands.

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"A team like Hazen, they're going to come in hungry looking for a win," Odermann said. "This is the second time in two years we've played. We haven't played them several years before that, but they're an old regional rival for us. I think there's still a little bit of that regional rivalry and we have to make sure we're ready to play because they are going to come out like gangbusters ready to give us the best effort that they can."

Related Topics: DICKINSON HIGH SCHOOLDICKINSON MIDGETS
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