Two members of the Class 11B southwest region met in Belfield Friday night as the Trinity Titans faced off against the Heart River Cougars.
It took some time for the Titans to find their groove but they would eventually prevail 31-0, bouncing back from a defeat to Shiloh Christian a week ago.
Trinity sophomore wide receiver Luke Shobe was the star of the show for the Titans (3-1). His 65-yard touchdown on a screen pass in the second quarter opened the scoring to give Trinity a 7-0 lead. Sophomore tight end Jeremiah Jilek caught another touchdown from quarterback Drew Kovash in the quarter to extend the lead 13-0.
“He’s (Shobe) got great speed and elusiveness,” Trinity head coach John Odermann said. “He doesn’t look like a kid that will break a lot of tackles. He’s so quick that a lot of those tackles he breaks are those leg-grabbers and ankle-biting tackles.”
Shobe came up big on defense to set up another good scoring chance for the Titans before the end of the half. He came up with an interception deep in Heart River (0-4) territory, but the offense was unable to capitalize on the short field, fumbling the ball inside the five-yard line.
The third quarter was when Trinity’s offense really took off and the Cougars couldn’t prevent their own mistakes. Their troubles began when they were unable to field the kickoff for a return and let the ball bounce past them towards the five-yard line. It put the struggling Heart River offense in a tough position backed up against their goal line.
Trinity would take advantage and force the Cougars into a three-and-out, setting up their offense in good field position.
They would drive down to the goal line where senior wide receiver Tysen Praus finished it off with a one-yard touchdown catch from Kovash to make it 19-0.
The ensuing kickoff was a carbon-copy of the previous one - Heart River unable to field the kickoff and seeing the ball roll inside their own 10-yard line.
It set up another short field for the Titans where Shobe starred again for his second touchdown of the night. It came from another screen pass from Kovash, this one 50 yards out, and evaded multiple defenders on his way to the end zone. But Odermann was quick to credit the downfield blocking by the Titans’ offensive line for opening running lanes for Shobe.
“We had a right tackle blocking 50 yards downfield, that is an exciting thing to see as a coach,” Odermann said. “You have kids not giving up on the play and playing that far down the field...We look at those screen plays as an extension of our running game. When we can block on the perimeter that makes us really dangerous.”
It was 25-0 after Shobe’s second score as Trinity found their groove offensively. Kovash delivered one more touchdown pass, a six-yard strike to senior wide receiver Matt Schagunn for a 31-0 lead. It was Kovash’s fifth of the game and ninth of the season.
All night long the Titans’ defensive line was causing havoc in the Cougars’ backfield. The Heart River offense couldn’t get anything going on the ground, and when they did drop back to pass, quarterback Braden Obrigewitch had very little time to find an open receiver.
“That’s something we worked on in practice, having that energy,” Odermann said. “We came out flat against Shiloh and the first half tonight. We can’t have a slow start, especially the next three weeks which will be a meat-grinder in terms of our schedule.”
It was the first time Trinity shutout an opponent this season. They intercepted Obrigewitch three times, one apiece from Shobe, Gage Glader, and Izaak Kudrna.
Next week will be a tough test for the Titans, a home matchup with Bowman County, who lost to Shiloh Christian on Friday as well. A victory in that game would be huge for both teams in terms of earning a playoff spot.
“Every game is a must win from here on out if we want to extend our season and get those bonus games,” Odermann said. “Playoff games are bonuses and you want to keep playing every week.”
DT 0 13 18 0 31
HR 0 0 0 0 0
DT - Luke Shobe 65 yard catch from Drew Kovash (extra point good), 7-0
DT - Jeremiah Jilek 3 yard catch from Kovash (extra point no good), 13-0
DT - Tysen Praus 1 yard catch from Kovash (extra point no good), 19-0
DT - Shobe 50 yard catch from Kovash (extra point no good), 25-0
DT - Matthew Schagunn 6 yard catch from Kovash (extra point good), 31-0