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No. 5 Titans football looks for second straight upset at St. Mary's

Looking past the three unanswered touchdowns in the second half, Dickinson Trinity's defensive game plan last week went about as well as the Titans hoped it would.

Valley City running back Nate Rodriguez (44) is tackled by Dickinson Trinity defenders Isaac Fridrich (far left), Denit Sorenson (middle) and Hunter Dassinger on Sept. 16 at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)
Valley City running back Nate Rodriguez (44) is tackled by Dickinson Trinity defenders Isaac Fridrich (far left), Denit Sorenson (middle) and Hunter Dassinger on Sept. 16 at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

Looking past the three unanswered touchdowns in the second half, Dickinson Trinity’s defensive game plan last week went about as well as the Titans hoped it would.

Trinity shut down then-No. 2 Valley City’s vaunted rushing attack in the first half and held on for a 28-18 upset of the Hi-Liners.

Saturday in Bismarck, the Titans hope they have at least one more upset left in them. Bismarck St. Mary’s, which is 4-0 overall (2-0 West Region) and ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, hosts No. 5 Trinity (3-1, 2-0) at 6:30 p.m. CT at the Bismarck Community Bowl.

To come away with another victory, controlling the line of scrimmage and stopping the Saints’ running backs - a group headed by senior Cole Spies and junior Kurt Dickhut - will again be vital.

“They have some big guys on that line, and we have to play aggressive,” sophomore lineman Isaac Fridrich said. “If they get to our linebackers, they’re going to get out and they’re going to go, so our front line, we have to hold them.”

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Last week, head coach John Odermann called on his defensive line to “gum up the works.” That unit will have to do so again against the Saints.

“We did tendency reports on them this week, and they’re about 80-20 run,” Odermann said, “so if you want to beat St. Mary’s, you’ve got to be able to shut down the running game. Then when you shut down the running game, you have to be ready for them to pass.”

What almost doomed the Titans against Valley City was a stagnant offense in the second half. Dawson Kram’s 40-yard touchdown that put the game away in the fourth quarter was the team’s savior and - save for Trinity’s game against Central Dakota on Sept. 9 - represented the team’s only points in the second half of games this season.

“That’s a real point of emphasis for us to just keep going,” said quarterback Lucas Jones.

Fridrich added: “We’re making sure from the first warmups all the way through the end of practice, we’re working as hard as we can. That’s what happened against Valley. We just pulled off the gas a little bit, and that can’t happen this week. It has to be all the way through the fourth quarter.”

Odermann is of the mindset that holding off Valley City was more productive for his team than a shutout would have been.

“Maybe it was a missed opportunity to get that shutout, but the fact that we had to fight to put that one away,” Odermann said, “did more for us as a team. Being able to buckle down in the fourth quarter, get that touchdown (from Kram), I think was a big thing for our team from a confidence standpoint. We held off a pretty good run, held strong and didn’t back down.”

That was evident after the game. The Titans appeared unafraid of Valley City’s ranking, and the players believe they played as such. Much like last week, Trinity is again unfazed by the ranking of its opponent entering the contest.

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“It’s just another football game. Anything can happen at any time,” Jones said. “We just have to go out there, play hard and see what happens. The best team will win.”

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