Members of the Minot High School football team agreed that there is much work needed on both sides of the ball before Friday's season opener against Fargo North.
Both the offense and defense looked sluggish at times, but each had its bright spots during a scrimmage against Beulah at Herb Parker Stadium on Friday. Six schools - Minot, Beulah, Rugby, Stanley, Hazen and Lewis & Clark-Our Redeemer's - took part in the fourth annual Minot State University event, with each squad playing two games.
Beulah challenged the Magicians' defensive line on its opening drive, using six running plays to march 40 yards and into the end zone. The drive consisted of two option plays, two direct snaps to the running back and two handoffs. Beulah showed an offensive set that Minot has yet to prepare for, using pre-snap motion to stack one side of the line.
Brady Lampert looks for someone to block as Tre Kinchen carries the ball behind him during Friday’s scrimmage against Beulah at Herb Parker Stadium.
"It's great learning for us," MHS coach Barry Holmen said. "We have to recognize which side has more guys on it and have to shift accordingly. We have a plan in place, but when you don't have time to prep for it, sometimes you learn on the fly."
The MHS defense responded on the second drive, stopping Beulah on fourth down at the 9-yard line. After allowing 30 yards on consecutive pass plays, the defenseheld firm, stuffing the run up the middle and limiting yards after the catch. On fourth-and-goal, the defensive line stood up the Beulah running back for a loss of one.
The fourth-down stop would be the only one for the Minot defense, as Beulah scored on its remaining three offensive drives. Beulah senior quarterback Trevor Zacher threw three touchdowns in the final three drives, capped off by a 40-yard strike to senior receiver Jesse Hettich. One play earlier, Zacher completed a 38-yard touchdown pass to finish off a two-play drive. Zacher finished the scrimmage 8-for-8 for 128 yards and three touchdowns.
"Offensively, I thought we played well," Zacher said. "Coach was happy with the way we played. It's a new offense for all of us. We had good matchups with receivers on the outside."
Halfway through the scrimmage, Minot's offense took the field and started out much like the defense - slow. The opening drive lasted four plays, stretching 10 yards with a false start penalty prior to a fourth-down play.
Junior quarterback Alex Yanosko saw three of his first four passes hit the artificial turf, the last of which went off the hands of a Beulah cornerback at the goal line. Yanosko completed his final three passes of the scrimmage, two of which went for touchdowns.
The first was a 40-yarder to junior wide receiver Kimani Benjamin. Benjamin caught the pass near the Beulah sideline at the 15-yard line and juked a defender before going in for the score.
"I realized that I should have been running my routes faster," he said. "At first, I wasn't going full speed, but once I started going full speed I started making plays and scoring touchdowns."
Yanosko and Benjamin hooked up again on the following drive on a perfectly placed pass in the end zone on fourth-and-6. Yanosko finished 4-for-7 with 84 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 61 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
"We had some good things and some bad things," Yanosko said. "We had things we need to improve on and things we did well. But nonetheless there's always room for improvement. We had some good passes. We had some good runs. Nothing was outstandingly eye-popping to me today."
Junior running back Kolton Larson rushed for 26 yards on seven carries, as the offensive line wasn't able to free space in the middle.
"We're not conditioned enough right now," Yanosko said. "We need to get stronger and get a bigger push off the line and that will lead to bigger things."
The Minot offense went without a huddle the majority of the scrimmage, something Holmen wants to do consistently.
"We want to be a no-huddle offense," he said. "We want to have that threat as a potential weapon, offensively. We don't always do that, but now is a great opportunity to try that particular scheme."
The scrimmage concluded with the first look at the field goal unit. Junior Ben Love had plenty of distance, but could only watch as the ball sailed wide left from 37 yards.