Will anyone beat West Fargo? Who's the best team in the WDA? Who's the better unbeaten in Class AA, Shanley or St. Mary's? These are just a few of the questions that are beginning to surface as we enter the final week of September. Fortunately, we're about to get the answer to one of those questions with Shanley and St. Mary's squaring off on Friday night at the Community Bowl. Here's a look at my latest power rankings and a recap of the top individual performances from this past week, highlighted by our Game Ball winner!
- West Fargo (5-0)
- Bismarck Century (4-1)
- Bismarck (4-1)
- Minot (3-2)
- Fargo South (4-1)
My Take: West Fargo looks virtually unbeatable right now. I haven't seen many teams, if any, in my time covering ND AAA football get off to such a dominant start. West Fargo rolled through a quartet of ranked opponents to open the year and took care of Red River with ease this past Friday. Century and Minot both had shutout victories last week and now square off in a pivotal contest on Saturday. Jakob Olson has this Patriots offense playing well right now, but look out for that Minot defense that intercepted three Legacy passes in the first quarter, en route to holding the Sabers scoreless last Friday.
- St. Mary's (5-0)
- Shanley (5-0)
- Jamestown (3-2)
- Devils Lake (4-1)
- Wahpeton (3-2)
My Take: The wait is over. We finally get to see Shanley and St. Mary's square off this Friday to see who the best team in Class AA is. Keep in mind, St. Mary's has won 8 consecutive in the series. You have to go all the way back to 2002 to find the last victory for the Deacons over the Saints. Senior quarterback Cole Gendreau has been starting games for the Saints since he was a freshman. His leadership of the offense can't be denied. His counterpart will be Cade Busek, who just stepped into the starting QB role two weeks ago after Kaden Kueneman suffered a broken collarbone. The Deacons offense hasn't missed a beat with the switch under center. They've put up totals of 48 and 63 points each of the last two weeks. Both teams had 7-point wins over Jamestown and both have dominated every other opponent on their schedule. We'll preview the big showdown on Thursday at 6-7 pm on Midco Sports Tonight! Devils Lake at Wahpeton is another top five battle to keep an eye on.
- Beulah (5-0)
- Ellendale-Edgely-Kulm (5-0)
- Hillsboro-Central Valley (5-0)
- Langdon Area/E/M (5-0)
- Carrington (5-0)
My Take: Picking out a top team from this group has been difficult all year, but Beulah continues to hold that top spot for me. The Miners have outscored opponents by a combined 220-14 this season, which includes a 40-0 win over Killdeer-Halliday (4-1). I'm looking forward to the Miners test against Noah Sickler and that Dickinson Trinity team on Oct. 6th. 2nd ranked E-E-K passed its toughest test to date with a 28-10 victory over previously unbeaten Oak Grove on Friday. The Thunder was able to do something no other team has done this season and that's contain Grover 1,000-yard rusher Ben Hoggarth. Grant Skager is another elite running back in Class A and has Hillsboro-Central Valley undefeated. The biggest matchup in Class A this week is between #4 Langdon Area-Edmore-Munich and #5 Carrington in Langdon. It's a rematch of last year's first round playoff game between the two, which went the way of Langdon-E-M in a 54-39 victory. L-E-M's Jacob Delvo is the QB to watch in this showdown of Cardinals.
- Cavalier (6-0)
- Shiloh Christian (6-0)
- Wyndmere-Lidgerwood (6-0)
- Thompson (5-1)
- North Prairie (6-0)
My Take: Cavalier has received a boost with the return of All-state QB Austin Urlaub. That means the rich have gotten richer. The top team in the state put up 52 points last week in a win over Larimore. Shiloh Christian and Wyndmere-Lidgerwood have continued to take care of business, as well. Just like Class A, we're going to see a #4 vs #5 matchup on Friday. North Prairie added Thompson to its schedule for this week after Drake-Anamoose had to forfeit its season due to low numbers. So, that'll lead to a shakeup in next week's power rankings one way or the other.
Last Week's Top 10 Performers:
- Will Madler, Bismarck: 18-29, 297 pass yds, 2 TD, rush TD
- Jesse Forknell, Davies: 9-14, 360 yds, 5 TD
- Jaden Klabo, Davies: 5 rec, 224 yds, 4 TD
- Minot defense: 2nd straight shutout; 3 INT in 1st quarter
- Joey Hornstein, Devils Lake: 16 rush, 218 yds, 2 TD
- Cordell Yoder, Devils Lake: 100 rush yds, 3 TD, 31-yd TD catch
- Jacob Halvorson, Central Cass: 8 rec, 217 yds, 2 TD
- Grant Skager, Hillsboro-CV: 16 rush, 145 yds, 3 TD
- Jaden Mitzel, Shiloh Christian: 5-8, 128 yds, 3 TD, 2 rush TD
- Nick Reck, Thompson: 23 rush, 232 yds, 3 TD
ND Game Ball:
- Noah Sickler, Dickinson Trinity: 3 rec, 81 yds, 2 TD, 3 INT (2 returned for TD) in a 54-2 win over Southern McLean