We’re ready to come back full force this week with the weekly high school football previews. So let’s get right to it!
RUNNING WITH THE DEVILS
1. Devils Lake (2-0) vs. Bismarck (2-0)
Devils Lake charged into Class AAA last season by winning a share of the EDC title. They have a chance to really make a mark on the state if they can somehow slow down the avalanche that is the Bismarck Demons. Last season they lost 39-0 to the Demons but Devils Lake would like to make it much closer this season. The Firebirds don’t bring back a load of experience but they have found plenty of talent so far this year. Nate Mertens and Austin Schall have taken care of most of the scoring for Devils Lake this year. They brought their team back to beat Mandan in double overtime last week. So far Devils Lake has found a way to overcome early deficits to stay unbeaten.
But if they plan on getting down early to Bismarck they might have a different result this week.
Bismarck is led by power runner Layne Johs who has 291 yards rushing in his first two games. Both those games were well in hand early as they shut down West Fargo 29-0 in week one and bruised the Davies Eagles 52-10 last week. Senior signal caller, Ben Joliffe hasn’t had as many passing opportunities but has been efficient so far. The real star of this team has been the Demons Defense. They put up 8 sacks and a safety in week one and came back strong last week with four takeaways. Look for standouts Riley Plant and Josh Seibel to zero in on Austin Schall early. The Demons just have too much firepower for the Firebirds. Demons by 27.
DAKOTA BOWL REMATCH
2. Grafton (2-0) vs. Fargo Shanley (1-1)
This is a rematch of the championship game in Class AA last season. Last year Grafton and Shanley both had more talent on the field. But both teams have been able to muster up some respect this year as well. Thomas Maus has his team focused with Christian Lunde leading the way at quarterback. Early season wins against Rugby and Park River have the Spoilers going in the right direction but this is a true test against a tough team. Shanley has a big and physical line that sets the tone. Last season Grafton manhandled them in the regular season but used some of their quickness in the Dakota Bowl to make it a closer game. This year I would expect Shanley to pound the ball with sophomore Danny Stasch. He matched Peter Saintal yard for yard last week against Fargo North. Chase Montplaisier threw the ball 22 times last week, I think that number will go down significantly this week. However Grafton will be focused enough to shut down the young Deacons and get the win. Grafton by 3.
HEART OF THE MATTER
3. Heart River (2-0) vs. Grant County-Flasher (2-0)
The Heart River Cougars sit at number two in my power rankings with their first big test of the season staring them in the face. Heart River has used their power backfield to mow down Watford City and Southern McLean for a combined 88-13 score. Grant County-Flasher has put up equally impressive numbers in the first two weeks. They beat Garrison Max and Richardton-Taylor/Hebron 92-14 in their first two games. The difference maker in this game for Heart River will be the mighty Seth Ewoniuk who carried 13 times for 169 yards and three touchdowns last Friday. He put up 241 yards in the opener against Watford City. Cole Hecker joins Ewoniuk in the most potent backfield in the class. Junior quarterback Taylor Krenz of Grant County-Flasher will try to air it out. He put up four touchdowns and rushed for another touchdown last week. Bailey Stewart will tote the rock for the Storm as they try to strike on the door of the sportswriter’s state A rankings. There will be a lot of talent on the field for this game.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
4. Wyndmere-Lidgerwood (3-0) vs. Hankinson (3-0)
The Warbirds are looking as good as anyone in the state through three games. I have Wyndmere-Lidgerwood sitting at number two in my power rankings just behind North Star, but could easily join the writers’ poll in putting them at number one if they impress this week. Jeff Illies is playing like a man among boys and Luis Vasquez is one of the most electrifying game breakers in the state. The Warbirds will have their hands full with an improved Hankinson Pirate squad. Last season Hankinson managed just three wins, they’ve equaled that before Labor Day this season. The Pirates poured it on against Richland last week with a beefed up running attack featuring Cameron Lenzen. I’m tempted to pick Hankinson with a home field advantage, but the Warbirds have too much power and will wear out the Pirates to take the three touchdown win.