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Final weeks hold dear meaning for Titans' football players from New England

With each passing week, the co-op between Dickinson Trinity and New England grows closer to an end. With the North Dakota High School Activities Association going through its biennial football review, talks between the schools regarding the footb...

Dickinson Trinity linebacker Denit Sorenson works to shed a Turtle Mountain blocker Sept. 30 at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Dickinson Trinity linebacker Denit Sorenson works to shed a Turtle Mountain blocker Sept. 30 at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

With each passing week, the co-op between Dickinson Trinity and New England grows closer to an end.

With the North Dakota High School Activities Association going through its biennial football review, talks between the schools regarding the football partnership got heated and messy over the winter, but the goal for both sides - for this season, at least - was to find a place for New England's kids to play their 2016 season.

"It was a lot of 'he said, he said,' but as long as we got to play somewhere, it didn't matter," said senior Cody Holt. "It's awesome just to play somewhere."

Holt's touchdown return last week from his spot on the defensive line stands out as the flashiest play from a New England player this season, but pizazz - at least for the current group - is not what these players are known for, head coach John Odermann said.

"I'm going to miss having these kids around because they bring something to our team," he said. "They have a blue-collar attitude that I think can rub off on these Trinity kids in a real positive way. And it helps us be a better team."

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That kind of attitude will be necessary team-wide as the Titans set to take on No. 2-ranked Beulah at 7 p.m. today at the Biesiot Activities Center.

The Miners (5-1, 3-1 West Region) are the defending Class 2A state champions and one of the two teams in the region that Odermann's Titans haven't beaten in his tenure at the school.

"I'm hoping for another Valley City turnout," said junior Denit Sorenson. "(Beulah) is No. 2, so was Valley City. It's just going to be a game like that. We have to punch them in the mouth first."

That's the mentality Odermann appreciates out of the New England group, which, along with Holt and Sorenson, includes sophomore Tate Nordby, junior Dejan Tasdelen and five freshmen: Jaxson Hewson, Logan Wolf, Robert Prince and Gabe Sorenson, Denit's little brother.

"They're tough, hard-nosed kids, and they play physical," Odermann said. "They're used to working, and they work hard. They're tough."

Nordby has played in spots this season as a defensive back, Tasdelen joined the team just a few weeks ago and the freshmen are playing behind some upperclassmen, as well, making Holt and Sorenson the major in-game contributors for the Titans (4-2, 3-1) this year.

"Cody, he's had a fair amount of adversity, but to see a kid come back and have as good of a senior year as he's having has been fantastic," Odermann said. "From a coaching standpoint, he's been a great leader for us. There have been a few times on the sideline where I was about to lock a kid on, and Cody grabbed him and locked him on for me. When you've got a senior that's showing that kind of leadership on the sideline, that's really great."

Not to be overlooked, Holt's physical tools - namely his 6-foot-8 stature - plays into the Titans' favor, as well.

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"You can't teach a kid that's 5-8 to be 6-8," Odermann said. "Having that kind of size, he's a formidable force on the offensive and defensive line."

Sorenson lines up at left guard, right next to Holt at left tackle, and is also a linebacker for the Titans.

Sorenson was also named a team captain.

"Any kid-not just a kid from New England-any kid that is voted a captain as a junior, that's pretty outstanding," Odermann said. "That speaks to his character and his leadership on the team."

Sorenson added: "I felt really proud that they voted me and thought I'd be a good captain for the team. It meant a lot."

The Titans are quickly running out of games. After Beulah, they're on the road at Watford City and end the regular season at home against Stanley-Powers Lake. They hope a playoff berth follows.

After this season, New England will form a new co-op with Mott-Regent at the 9-man level next season. As a part of the new football alignment - with Jamestown and Devils Lake dropping to Class 2A - Dickinson Trinity will move to Class 1A.

A lot of change is coming for all parties.

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"The biggest thing is going to be getting to know everybody," Nordby said. "But I guess I've never been a quitter from where I came from. I've been told just to keep on going."

There's some uncertainty, as well. But the New England players said they're trying to savor their last few weeks as Titans.

"We've always played with Trinity, and the thought of going somewhere else - these guys are my brothers here, I've played with them since I was in seventh grade, and it's tough to think about," Sorenson said. "I'm treating this like it's my last year of football. Next year, I don't know what I'm going to do next year. I'm just playing all out."

Related Topics: NEW ENGLANDPREP SPORTS
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