The Bishop Ryan football team is used to seeing a zero on the scoreboard at the end of a game. The Lions just aren't used to seeing a zero under their name.
That's what happened last season during a 19-0 loss at home to Class AA West Region co-champion Carrington. The Lions have not been shut out since.
When the Lions and Cardinals meet in Carrington at 7 tonight, it will be a battle between the region's best offense against the top defense.
Submitted Photo • Carrington senior Casey Murphy, an all-state tailback, gets chased down by Bismarck-St Mary’s defenders earlier this season. Photo courtesy of Chris Aarhus/Jamestown Sun.
Carrington (3-1 overall, 2-1 region) recorded consecutive shut outs against Bismarck-St. Mary's and Turtle Mountain after dropping its region opener to Trenton-Trinity Christian.
"They play very physical and they fly to the ball," Ryan coach Brad Borkhuis said. "They do a lot of the things we talk to our team about doing day-in and day-out and they're coached well. They're a good all-around team."
Ryan's offense, led by junior quarterback Austin Eggl and senior running back Chase Fugere, expects to give Carrington's defense its stiffest test of the season. The Cardinals' first three region opponents are a combined 4-11 this season. The Lions (4-1, 3-0) are tied atop the region standings with Beulah.
Borkhuis said that in order to beat Carrington on the road, the Lions need to come out strong from the beginning and limit turnovers.
"Last year we came out kind of soft," Borkhuis said. "We felt we didn't attack from the beginning and that's what we have to do this time. We have to come out real hot and execute right off the bat."
The Cardinals took advantage of Ryan turnovers on the Lions' side of the field, leaving a short field for the Carrington offense. Borkhuis said that with a team like Carrington, the Lions can't afford to pin their defense deep in their own territory.
Carrington senior linebacker Tysen Rosenau leads a defense, allowing 11.3 points per game, with 52 tackles and a sack. The play of Rosenau and senior linebacker Cordell Schroeder could dictate Ryan's offense.
"It's about trying to understand how they are going to try and stop our offense and taking what gaps show up for us," Borkhuis said. "Our discipline has to be to take what is given to us and not trying to force it. That's where our offense is very strong and very deadly is the fact that it's able to take advantage of so many areas."
Fugere was held in check last week, rushing for 37 yards on 14 carries in a 28-2 win over Bottineau. If the Lions can't get the running game going early, they may turn to Eggl and junior wide receiver Nick Berentson to carry the offense.
"The passing game will be pretty important because it should open up our run game for Chase," Berentson said. "Hopefully I can get some more catches and do the same thing I did last Friday."
Berentson caught five passes for 88 yards in the Bottineau game.