The Bishop Ryan HIgh School football team has a score to settle with West Region foe Bottineau when the two teams meet at 7 tonight at Herb Parker Stadium.
The Braves (2-2 overall, 0-2 region) handed Ryan its worst loss of the regular season last year in a 30-8 game at Bottineau. The Lions surrendered 42 points to Fargo Shanley in the Class AA Quarterfinal.
"They beat us pretty good last year," Ryan junior receiver Brody Bosch said. "We'll be looking for some revenge and it should be a fun game."
The Lions (3-1, 2-0) are ranked fifth in this week's Class AA media poll. Ryan started 4-0 last season before a loss to the Braves began a late-season slide that saw the Lions lose four of their final six games.
"They stuck it to us pretty good last year," Ryan coach Brad Borkhuis said. "That has not been lost on our team. Our kids remember last year. They remember the circumstances, they remember the environment, they remember the feeling. It didn't take a whole lot to remind them what this game means."
Bottineau, the 2011 region co-champion, dropped its first two region games and is desperately seeking a victory to remain in the playoff discussion. The Braves fell 34-6 to Rugby last week. Despite the slow start, Ryan junior quarterback Austin Eggl said his team won't overlook Bottineau.
"You can't take any team lightly," he said. "They lost some good athletes last year, but they still have a lot of good athletes. We have to watch out for their speed."
The Braves have relied on senior running back Trevor Wettlaufer to jump-start an offense averaging nine points per game this season. Wettlaufer has 711 yards and six touchdowns on 90 carries through the first four games. He rushed for 232 and 241 yards in back-to-back games against Williams County and Bismarck St. Mary's, respectively.
"Offensively, they have some great athletes in which they can get vertically very well," Borkhuis said. "We're going to have to be very careful and very diligent about making sure that we don't fall asleep before they hit a big pass."
Bottineau has missed former all-state quarterback Justin McCloud's production this season as the Braves have struggled to find a passing rhythm. McCloud's top receiver all-state performer Mark LaCroix also graduated.
Junior quarterbacks Harrison Aide and Tanner Bickford have combined for 190 yards on 15 completions. But both quarterbacks have shown the ability to throw the deep ball. Aide connected on a 55-yard touchdown against St. Mary's and Bickford tossed a 22-yard touchdown in the season-opener against Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn. But Bottineau averages a measly 47.5 passing yards per game.
"We need to execute well," Bottineau coach Rob Bedlion said. "We're pretty disappointed with how we played last week. We need to finish our blocks, play our game and not worry about things we can't control."
Unlike the Braves, Ryan's offense has been putting points on the board all season. The Lions average 36 points per game, including a 50-point performance against Dickinson Trinity on Sept. 14. Eggl and senior running back Chase Fugere are the offensive leaders for the Lions, but Bedlion is more focused on Fugere than the rest of the offense.
"You have to try and stop the running game," Bedlion said. "We definitely have to be thinking run first and then support against the pass."