Huskies capture first win in home-opener against resilient Raiders

Sep. 2—MOTT, N.D. — It was a beautiful night, especially for football fans in North Dakota's stunning southwestern edge, as 9-man Friday night lights were lit.

Hettinger County were the unquestioned victors in their 40-14 home-opener win, but the fact that Richardton-Taylor-Hebron were able to produce successful offensive drives on the backs of a 18-man roster, featuring only two seniors, was equally impressive.

Huskies head coach Nate Zachmann knew the importance of collecting a tally in the win column after suffering two consecutive non-region defeats to start the season. He gave tremendous recognition to his coaching staff for keeping the team motivated from the sidelines, but wanted his athletes to understand that Friday night lights is a fleeting opportunity that should be taken advantage of for as long as they can.

"In our pregame I said, 'There are 100s of 100s of 100s of dudes who would love to do what you guys are about to do and that is play Friday Night,'" Zachmann said. "I said, 'I am one of them. I would love to go play again. And to have that perspective and that mindset that every Friday night is an opportunity.' So we just came out and we were motivated."

Senior quarterback Matthew Huether was the first Huskie to cross into the end zone, coming off of the first play of the game. He dashed to the outside of the left, with his blocker Jarren Rafferty clearing him a path.

It was only the beginning to a strong start. They quickly re-established possession,Teddy Kirschemann jumping onto a loose ball. Huether scored another touchdown run, this time from 17 yards out. After the Raiders second drive ended with a punt, Huskies' sophomore Mark Fitterer ran the ball into the house, taking a 18-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the game. The Huskies ended the first quarter 24-0, with the only shortcoming in their game being unable to convert any of their 2-point conversions.

"I feel like we always knew we had it in us, but it is always great to get that spark," Huether said. "To ignite the flame and to hopefully keep it rolling into the next weeks."

Once in the second quarter, Hettinger County found success in their PATs and had established their passing game. Huether threw two passing touchdowns and brought in one of the 2-point conversions. Huether completed 4 passes on six attempts for 68 yards and two touchdowns. He would also lead in rushing yards for 148 yardage and two touchdowns.

Despite all the success that Hettinger County had in the first half, they would not score in the second. Raiders, on the other hand, would regroup after a halftime speech from assistant coach Mark Heinle, saying that the game was a metaphor for life and to never give up in life. Heinle is the head coach for the middle school football team and is a long serving coach for the Richardton-Taylor community. At the last Raiders game, he was awarded in recognition for his 30 years with the school district's athletic programs.

"We are struggling, we don't have a lot of experience, but they make an effort and we are going to be better," Heinle said. "At halftime I went over to talk to them and said, 'Don't quit fellas.Things aren't going so well but don't lay down.' And they didn't."

The Raiders came out with a noticeable willingness to get onto the scoreboard that kept the coaching staff and their fans cheering until the very end. Junior Brycen Glass made a deep touchdown run in the fourth quarter only to have a penalty reverse the play. However, their momentum would stay alive after senior Caisen Dohrmann earned them a first down into the red zone and Glass would run the last 20 yards. This time the referees signaling a completed touchdown. After forcing a turnover on an interception caught by senior Marcus Cuevas, Glass would make an 88 yard run on the first play of their final offensive drive. A 2-point conversion showed the final 40-14 result.

Also part of Richardton-Taylor-Hebron second half success was their freshman quarterback Chase Christensen that completed 7 passes of 14 attempts for 61 yards. The freshman threw one interception.

"The kids aren't quitters," Heinle said. "I have been here 25 years and I have seen this program's highs and lows and we are kind of at a low spot right now, but we have kids that want to play football."

Next week Huskies will face South Border Mustangs on their home field in New England. The Raiders will also be at home in Richardton, hosting the Hettinger-Scranton Night Hawks.

Score Summary:

0-0-0-14 — 14

24-16-0-0 — 40

First Quarter

HC- 75 yard touchdown run by Matthew Huether (2-point conversion no good) 6-0

HC- 17 yard touchdown run by Huether (2-point conversion no good) 12-0

HC- 54 punt return by Mark Fitterer (2-point conversion no good) 16-0

HC- 20 yard touchdown run by Jarren Rafferty (2-point conversion no good) 24-0

Second Quarter

HC- 30 yard touchdown pass Huether to No. 1 (2-point conversion good)

HC- 8 yard touchdown pass Huether to No. 3 (2-point conversion good)

Third Quarter

Fourth Quarter

RTH — 20 yard touchdown run by Brycen Glass (2 point conversion no good) 40-6

RTH — 88 yard touchdown run by Glass (2 point conversion good) 40-14