High School playoff football is in full force in the state of North Dakota this week, and I’m excited to see how all the games play out.
One thing that I’ve learned in my decade of covering sports in this region is that you always see a handful of surprises come playoff time. I asked 740 The Fan’s Chase Miller, 103.9 The Truck’s Brad Anderson and our intern Zac (he had no choice) to join me in making picks for the games.
You can embrace them, you can use them as bulletin board material, or you can tell us how right or wrong we are. The beauty of it all is that the games happen on the field and not on a website. I also offered up a few extra things to look for below each of the predictions. Enjoy the games – and good luck to every team still alive!
Class AAA Quarterfinal Round Predictions
Game: W4 Legacy (3-6) at E1 Sheyenne (8-1)
- Brad: Sheyenne
- Chase: Sheyenne
- Zac: Sheyenne
- Jody: Sheyenne
The Mustangs ground game will set the tone, and it should open up opportunities for the passing game to hit a few big plays, too. Sheyenne senior QB Parker Sander completed all five of his pass attempts for 95 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season meeting, a 47-7 Sheyenne victory. The Mustang defense held Legacy to just four yards rushing in that contest.
Game: E3 Fargo South (5-4) at W2 Century (8-1)
- Brad: Century
- Chase: Century
- Zac: Century
- Jody: Century
Century is the heavy favorite in this matchup. The Patriots have a strong running game and an improving passing attack. Injuries have plagued Fargo South late in the season. The Bruins lost running back Danny Lahai – who was leading the EDC in rushing – when he suffered a season-ending knee injury on October 11 against Davies.
If South becomes one-dimensional and is forced to pass, the Patriots front four – featuring UND commit Tanner Thorsness – could take over the game.
E4 Fargo North (5-4) at W1 Bismarck (9-0)
- Brad: Bismarck
- Chase: Bismarck
- Zac: Bismarck
- Jody: Bismarck
The Demons are loaded with talented veterans on both sides of the ball. They’re defeating teams by an average of 35.9 PPG this season. I think Bismarck wins, but a team with nothing to lose can be a dangerous team to play. Playoff football is a huge confidence boost for the Fargo North program that should field a strong team again next season.
W3 Mandan (6-3) at E2 Fargo Davies (6-3)
- Brad: Davies
- Chase: Davies
- Zac: Mandan
- Jody: Davies
The Eagles have won four of their last five games and enter the postseason with a balanced and effective offense – guided by a three-year starter at quarterback in Jesse Forknell. Mandan has some solid playmakers, but I think Elijah Klein stands above the rest – literally. Klein is a 6’7”, 205-pound wide receiver that just became the first Mandan player to surpass 1,000 receiving yards.
Mandan has a big question mark under center. Starting quarterback Dane Carlson has been sidelined with an injury the previous two games, and his status remains up in the air for Friday. Whoever plays QB for the Braves will have to deal with a Davies defense that has done a nice job of forcing turnovers recently.
Class AA Quarterfinal Round Predictions
Game: #5 Devils Lake (4-5) at #4 Jamestown (6-3)
- Brad: Jamestown
- Chase: Jamestown
- Zac: Jamestown
- Jody: Jamestown
The Blue Jays just defeated Devils Lake convincingly back on October 12 by a score of 35-6. We’ll see if the Firebirds can slow down Jeremy Williams this time around. The sophomore receiver racked up 166 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns in that regular season showdown. Junior quarterback Tommy Falk was stellar in that game, too. He completed 13 of 17 passes for 225 yards and four combined TDs.
All-state running back Joey Hornstein gives Devils Lake a shot, but I think the Blue Jays will be able to wear the Firebirds down.
Game: #6 Turtle Mountain (4-5) at #3 Central Cass (7-2)
- Brad: Central Cass
- Chase: Central Cass
- Zac: Central Cass
- Jody: Central Cass
Central Cass should be fired up to host the first ever playoff game on their new turf field. QB Jonah Lietz and WR Jacob Halverson have rewritten the record books for the Squirrels, but now have a new challenge in trying to win the program’s first playoff game in three years.
I like the playmaking abilities of Turtle Mountain QB Keisin Peltier and senior RB Levi LaFountain, but I think Central Cass will be able to hold that offense in check like they did in the regular season meeting.
Class A Quarterfinal Round Predictions
Game: Kindred (7-2) at #1 Langdon-E-M (9-0)
- Brad: Langdon-E-M
- Chase: Langdon-E-M
- Zac: Langdon-E-M
- Jody: Kindred
This one is a coin flip for me. I think Kindred will play the Cardinals tough on the road and come away with a close victory. Langdon-Edmore-Munich ended the Vikings season a year ago with a decisive 31-0 decision, so I think a lot of the boys in blue will be out for revenge.
There’s no doubt about it, though, the Cardinals offense is dangerous. If they’re able to hit some big plays early and jump on Kindred, that could spell doom for the Vikings. But I think a combination of a strong defensive effort and senior QB Michael Hall will lead Kindred to a big upset.
GAme: Velva (8-1) at #4 Bowman County (9-0)
- Brad: Velva
- Chase: Bowman County
- Zac: Bowman County
- Jody: Bowman County
This is another intriguing matchup. Eight teams remain in the Class A playoffs, and the Bulldogs have defeated two of them (Dickinson Trinity & Beulah). Bowman County (49.6 ppg) and Velva (44.2 ppg) also boast the top two scoring offenses in Class A.
Junior QB Jacob Svihovec passed for two scores and ran for a pair of touchdowns last week in the win over Nedrose. Adam Powell and Caleb Duffield are also playmakers for the Bulldogs. Velva could pull the upset if they’re able to force turnovers like they did last week when they intercepted five passes in the win over Hazen.
Game: Milnor-North Sargent (7-2) at #2 Hillsboro-CV
- Brad: Hillsboro-CV
- Chase: Hillsboro-CV
- Zac: Hillsboro-CV
- Jody: Hillsboro-CV
I expect the Burros to improve their winning streak to 22 games on Saturday. I think these are two programs that respect each other, greatly, and both will be well prepared by their respective coaching staffs. I just feel that Oscar Benson is a gamechanger that can break off a touchdown run from anywhere on the field.
The Bulldogs can compete in the trenches with H-CV, but I think the Burros slowly pull away for the win like they did in the regular season meeting.
Game: Beulah (7-3) at Dickinson Trinity (7-1)
- Brad: Dickinson Trinity
- Chase: Dickinson Trinity
- Zac: Dickinson Trinity
- Jody: Dickinson Trinity
A lot of teams get overwhelmed by Beulah’s misdirection power rushing attack, but Trinity doesn’t seem to be one of them. The Titans have won the last two meetings with Beulah, outscoring the Miners by a combined 45-6.
John Odermann has had the recipe for success, and that includes two of his top athletes in quarterback Aric Knopik and dynamic slotback Kaden Kuntz, a NDSU verbal commit. Last week, Kuntz rushed for two touchdowns, caught a touchdown and returned a kick 79 yards for a score.
I expect Trinity to get the win, but if Kaleb McGraw and that rushing attack gets going for the Miners – all bets are off.
9-Man Quarterfinal Predictions
Game: Oakes (9-1) at Napoleon-G-S (8-0)
- Brad: Oakes
- Chase: Oakes
- Zac: Napoleon-G-S
- Jody: Napoleon-G-S
This one is tough to pick. Oakes is playing extremely well right now. Since losing to Napoleon-G-S 28-7 on September 14, the Tornadoes have won five straight games by a combined margin of 241-54. Last week, Oakes became the first and only team to hold Richland under 30 points this season. They held them to just six points.
So, how am I possibly picking the Imperials? For one, this team is well-rested. Their final game of the regular season against Richland was called in the first half due to an electrical issue, which caused the lights to go out. They also had a first round bye in the playoffs. So, last week’s win over Cavalier was their first game in the month of October. And QB Jamison Fettig and RB Nathan Weigel should be able to make enough plays to get the Imperials the win.
Game: New Rockford-Sheyenne (9-0) at Thompson (9-0)
- Brad: Thompson
- Chase: Thompson
- Zac: Thompson
- Jody: Thompson
This is another game where I don’t know who to pick. Both teams are extremely talented. I feel like Thompson had its wake-up-call moment last week against LaMoure-L-M. The Tommies turned a two-point halftime lead into a 34-point victory.
I think where the Tommies have a distinct advantage is that the roster is full of players that have played in big-time games in football and baseball. Cadyn Schwabe is one of the most dangerous weapons in the state and he has some great talent around him.
As for New Rockford-Sheyenne, get ready to hear the names Teddy Allmaras and Bo Belquist all day long. That one-two punch has helped the Rockets average 52.4 points per game. Elliot Belquists’s squad has also surrendered a measly 10.2 points per game – ranking #1 in 9-man.
Game: Shiloh Christian (9-1) at New Salem-GU (9-0)
- Brad: New Salem-GU
- Chase: New Salem-GU
- Zac: New Salem-GU
- Jody: New Salem-GU
No one has been able to hang with New Salem-Glen Ullin this season, but the team that has come closest would be Shiloh Christian. The Holsteins defeated the Skyhawks in the regular season finale, 50-22, to claim the region championship. Steve Kleinjan’s stable is full of talent – including third-year starting quarterback Evan Henke and touchdown scoring machine Braden Zuroff.
It appears the Skyhawks will try some new wrinkles with starting QB Jaden Mitzel spending some time at tight end and fullback the last few weeks. Shiloh Christian avenged a regular season loss with a playoff win over the Holsteins last year, but I’m not sure they’ll be able to do it two years in a row.
Game: St. John (7-1) at Ray/Powers Lake (9-0)
- Brad: St. John
- Chase: Ray/Powers Lake
- Zac: Ray/Powers Lake
- Jody: Ray/Powers Lake
I think Ray/Powers Lake has a huge advantage playing this game at home. St. John must make the three hour (and then some) trek over to the northwest corner of the state. I think if St. John was the home team, I’d be picking them.
The Outlaws are in their second year as a co-op and have exploded offensively behind junior RB Brock Viall. He’ll have to be at his best against a physical St. John team. The Woodchucks can run the ball, too. In fact, they earned a game ball earlier this season when they rushed for a school-record 725 rush yards and 10 touchdowns in a win over North Star.