Oct. 26—DICKINSON — In what is slated to be a wintry weekend of weather, the frivolity of football will be on full display at the Biesiot Activities Center with a Class AA, first-round game between the homestanding Dickinson High School Midgets (6-3) versus the West Fargo Horace Hawks (5-4) at 6 p.m. Friday, followed by the DSU Blue Hawks' 1 p.m. game against Waldorf University on Saturday at 1 p.m. and the nightcap between the Trinity Titans (10-0) and Killdeer Cowboys (8-2) thereafter at 6:30 p.m. in the Class A state quarterfinals.
The Midgets come into the game off a 14-7 road loss to Grand Forks Red River on Oct. 20, but that regular-season-ending hiccup will not play a role in the first round of the playoffs for DHS, with the team having won against Horace's Hawks on the road earlier this year in a 28-6 thumping. Since then, the Hawks have turned in a seesaw-season with two consecutive wins — a 29-28 squeaker over Jamestown on the road on Oct. 13 and a 40-6 whaling of Watford City the next week — while the Midgets have seen their own travails with a 14-7 loss last week at Red River that was preceded by a lopsided, 58-0, win over Turtle Mountain/Belcourt on Oct. 13.
"We're definitely excited, it's been quite some time since we hosted a playoff game and it's the time of year where you want to be playing your best football and I think we're playing pretty good football right now," DHS head coach John Tuchscherer said. "You really have to be focused in the playoffs, and turnovers and penalties and things like that are a big part of winning and losing ... so it's the small things that we have to make sure that we're locked-in on."
He added, "We played them (Horace) in Week 1, and they've improved a lot."
Whichever team prevails likely will face a date on the road with #1-ranked and unbeaten Fargo North (9-0), which will host 4-5 Valley City on Friday night.
The talk of the weekend likely will be the rematch between Killdeer and Dickinson Trinity, with the Cowboys coming off a 21-20 thrilling victory over Des Lacs-Burlington on the road and the Titans having throttled Stanley, 42-0, last week inthe first round of the Class A playoffs. In the first meeting between the two teams on Sept. 15 in Week 5, THS posted a 24-0 halftime lead before the Cowboys could get on their horses. But Killdeer made up for lost-time, lassoing 14 unanswered points in the third quarter before the Titans pulled away with 9 in the fourth quarter to close the game out at 33-22.
Senior QB Jace Kovash was under center and led the way with an always-efficient evening, posting 174 yards and 2 TDs on 12-of-19 passing with no interceptions, while senior all-state RB Ty Dassinger clobbered the Cowboys for 126 total yards and a 12-yard rushing score to open the game. Other standouts included Jake and Luke Shobe, as the senior wideouts combined for 122 receiving yards and a pair of scores on the night.
For the Cowboys, senior FB Gus Bahmbach wasn't to be outdone versus Trinity with 17 carries for 75 yards and 394 total yards of offense in the game for the team, compared to 297 for the Titans. Killdeer also carried advantages in total plays (82-53), first-downs (22-17) and were 9-of-19 on third-downs with 4-of-7 on fourth-downs, proving they can move the ball.
"For this team, this is a game that is 'win-or-go-home and turn the pads in,'" Trinity head coach John Odermann said. "I think these seniors and this team have got goals beyond this week, but you've got to win this one to be able to achieve those goals."
He added, "This is a really big game, in terms of the potential ramifications — a win or a loss — and it's definitely the biggest game that this team has played so far this year."
The winner of that game will likely face a road-trip to face the defending Class A state champions in Velva-Drake, as the undefeated and #1 Aggies will host Shiloh Christian in another tough quarterfinal battle. Velva-Drake eliminated Trinity from last-year's playoffs in the quarterfinals, 22-20.
There are two regional matchups for 9-Man football fans in Southwest North Dakota, which include the impressive and sneaky Hettinger County Huskies (7-3), who are on a six-game winning streak and outlasted Alexander in the first round last week, 22-20. The Huskies will square off against undefeated and third-ranked South Border (10-0) on the road Saturday in what will be an uphill battle for HCHS, who lost to the Mustangs, 55-18, at home on Sept. 8 in Week 4 of the 2023 regular season.
The other area 9-Man team to look out for is Grant Co./Flasher "Storm" who swept-away Central McLean in the first-round, 40-22, at home. The "Storm" will roll into Westhope/Newburg on Saturday to face a #4-ranked Sioux squad that outlasted Linton-HMB in the first-round, 48-42 in a nailbiter. The "Storm" will look to provide a strong, high-pressure front on defense against a high-scoring 9-Man team that averages 53.6 points-per-game and defeated Alexander, 54-19, on the road on Sept. 29 as a common-opponent.
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