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Line leads Cowboys back into playoffs

KILLDEER -- Jaime Moreno Jr. said he was let down after Killdeer's 24-0 season-ending loss to Heart River last year that sent the Cougars to the state Class A football playoffs instead of the Cowboys.

Killdeer sophomore offensive lineman Brock Pittsley
Press Photo by Dustin Monke Killdeer sophomore offensive lineman Brock Pittsley, left, gets free to help block for senior running back Doug Kadrmas during a game on Aug. 25 at the Badlands Activities Center. Killdeer's offensive line is a big reason why it's back in the Class A playoffs.

KILLDEER -- Jaime Moreno Jr. said he was let down after Killdeer's 24-0 season-ending loss to Heart River last year that sent the Cougars to the state Class A football playoffs instead of the Cowboys.

"We had a poor game against Heart River and the whole line, maybe the whole team, thought we need to get things done," said Moreno, a 5-foot-10, 255-pound senior lineman.

The Cowboys have gotten things done this season, taking a 6-2 regular-season record and the third-seed from Class A, Region 4 into the playoffs. Killdeer visits Harvey, the No. 2 seed from Region 3 in the first round at 1 p.m. MDT Saturday.

The Cowboys had a playoff streak, which stretched several years, broken last season.

"We kind of felt disgusted," senior lineman Josh Kuntz said of last year's finish. "We felt we underachieved. Playoffs were a goal for us last year."

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It's not much of a surprise where the team's success sprang from this season -- its big men -- with the smallest lineman coming in at 220 pounds.

"Up front, it's really helped us," Killdeer head coach Lou Dobitz said.

Dobitz said the line and the other players have been committed to football. After last season, he asked the players to go out for basketball, wrestling and track and field to stay in shape.

"We talked about being a participant in other activities to become better football players," Dobitz said.

In the summer, there was plenty of time to hit the weights and attend camps.

"I went to a lot of camps to fix up mental errors I made on the field," Moreno said. "That really helped."

One beneficiary of the blocking up front has been junior running back Grady Houghton.

Houghton has rushed for more than 100 yards in several games for Killdeer. He's part of a three-pronged attack in the backfield that includes seniors Brodie Candrian and Doug Kadrmas.

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"They work hard in practice," Houghton said of the linemen. "They yell and pick each other up. It carries over to games. It's pretty awesome."

Heading into the matchup with the Hornets (7-1), the Cowboys will have to contend with a team with similar size.

It's a change from last week's regular-season finale against Heart River, where the undersized Cougars relied almost entirely on a double-wing offense.

Dobitz expects Harvey to use its versatility and overall strength.

But, he said, the Cowboys bring a lot of options to the table. The Hornets beat Killdeer 35-0 in the first round two years ago en route to the Class A state championship.

"We have strong kids with some speed," Dobitz said. "We have a good mix of everything."

Adding to Killdeer's offense is the versatility of senior quarterback Ben Pelton. With defenses looking for the run and the Cowboys' line providing plenty of time, Pelton has found Candrian and Houghton quite a few times downfield.

"We have to do that," Dobitz said of the passing game. "Otherwise, teams can put eight or nine guys in the box."

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However they do it, Kuntz said winning is the team's ultimate goal.

He also knows that whatever happens, the linemen probably aren't the poster children for the Cowboys' success. He doesn't seem to mind though.

"We make holes for them and they get all of the glory," Kuntz said with a smile. "Whatever, that's fine."

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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