Huskies shut out Wolves in 34-0 playoff victory

“You stack the work days and it kind of shows that the kids' hard work pays off and we just keep going,” said Nate Zachmann, Huskies head coach.

Cole Manolovits and Matthew Huether share a handshake after stopping a potential scoring passing play.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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MOTT, N.D. — The Hettinger County Huskies comfortably move to the second round of the 9-man football state playoffs following a decisive victory against Steele Kidder County on their home field on Saturday in a shutout performance of 34-0.

The Huskies dominated the rushing and passing game with five touchdowns and tallied 362 total offensive yards on their way to scoring in each quarter of the game. Hettinger County’s confidence grew alongside their unchallenged lead as the majority of the points would be scored in the second half.

“We talked all week that we want to win the line of scrimmage and be very physical at the point of contact,” Nate Zachmann, Hettinger County head coach, said. “The biggest thing I told our seniors was, ‘This is your home field. Make sure when you step off the field on Saturday that we get a good feeling.’ And we definitely did.”

After a strong drive into the redzone, quarterback Cole Manolovits would run a one-yard carry for the first touchdown in the game. The splendor of the Huskies’ defense and senior key players kept Kidder County from scoring — having to dig especially deep into their gas tanks in the second quarter.

After a forced turnover in their own redzone, the Huskies made a big play recovering a fumble and redeeming their previous quarter’s worth of offensive hiccups.


Hettinger County fumble the snap.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“They had the ball there in the 15, four or five times and not letting them get into the endzone is a credit to our defense,” Zachmann said. “We had control of the ball in the second half a lot better. When you take care of the ball and keep it in front of the chains and you are blocking downhill, you actually wear teams and that is what you want to do.”

The Huskies scored in the last two minutes of the second quarter, this time in the air. Manolovits sent the ball spiraling towards wide receiver Matthew Huether for a 75-yard touchdown, with the bulk of the yardage coming after the catch. The scoreboard read 12-0 at the end of the first half, but would not say so narrow for long.

In the game, Huether tallied an interception, a blocked punt and three touchdowns, two receiving and one rushing.

“Matt is a do-it-all for us type of player,” Zachmann said. “He is a wide receiver, outside linebacker, he is very crucial in our run-blocking game as well… He really had a complete game and when Miller got hurt, he finished the game as tailback. He hardly had any reps as tailback so he really stepped up for us.”

Jaren Rafferty claims a backfield tackle.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

The two sides battled at the line of scrimmage with gaps closing as quickly as they were opened. In the third quarter, Manolovits was able to make an explosive rush resulting in a 65-yard touchdown to garner him his second rushing touchdown and his longest run of the season. With a two-point conversion successful, Hettinger County went into the final quarter with a 20-0 lead.

Their highest scoring quarter would be the last as 14 additional points would come as they managed the clock to secure their first-round playoff victory.

Huether collected another passing touchdown late, catching a 12 yard out route and then ran in the final six yards for a touchdown. The junior totaled three catches for 124 yards and 11 carries for 64 yards.

Manolovits was 6-9 for 158 yards and ran the ball nine times for 106 yards.


Cole Manolovits in the backfield looking for a receiver
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“Cole has always been a gamer,” Zachmann said. “He does a good job managing and has a good presence in the huddle. I think when the play call comes in, he is very assertive on what we are going to call and I think that is very important for the quarterback.”

It will be a repeat second round for Hettinger County, who will once again face powerhouse New Salem-Almont. It will be a tough matchup for the Huskies who haven't won against the Holsteins since 2015 with six games played since their last victory.

“We just have to keep on building,” Zachmann said. “The big thing too, is trying to take it to the next step and maybe get to the next round. You stack the work days and it kind of shows that the kids' hard work pays off and we just keep going.”

Cole Manolovits and Rhett Miller stop a near explosive rushing play.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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