Both needed wins on the regular season's final day, and both Lewis & Clark-Our Redeemer's Christian School and Velva delivered to advance to the Class A playoffs.
The Bombers (4-4 overall, 4-3 Region 3) defeated Des Lacs-Burlington 20-13 in overtime to earn the No. 4 seed and set up a first-round playoff game at Hazen (6-2, 6-1) - Region 4's No. 1 seed.
The Aggies (4-4, 4-3 Region 3) routed Garrison-Max 32-6 and received help from Stanley-Power's Lake and L&C-ORCS to clinch the region's No. 3 seed. Velva will play against Killdeer (6-3, 6-1) - Region 4's No. 2 seed.
File Photo • Lewis & Clark-Our Redeemer’s junior running back Mitchel White gets a block from junior receiver Nick Stenvold (11) on Des Lacs-Burlington cornerback Justin Thomas (24) on Oct. 11 in Burlington. The Bombers play at Region 4 champion Hazen in the first round of the Class A playoffs on Saturday.
"I'm pretty familiar (with Killdeer)," Velva coach Larry Sandy said. "We see each other at the Dickinson University summer camp each year. So we're not total strangers."
L&C-ORCS has struggled in postseason play, winning just once in six games dating back to 2007. The Bombers have never faced Hazen. The Bison have won five of 10 playoff games since 2004. Hazen finished the regular season undefeated at home.
Hazen's defense has been suffocating. In six wins, the Bison allowed 5.2 points per game, including back-to-back shutouts against New Salem-Glen Ullin and Killdeer. The Bombers need strong performances out of sophomore quarterback Austin Lee, junior running back Mitchel White and senior tight end Dalton Njos for L&C-ORCS to have a chance.
Velva has a better opportunity to pull a first-round upset. Killdeer has blowout victories against Grant County and Heart River, but has also shown weaknesses in shutout losses to Trinity Christian and Hazen.
"In all playoff games you look for your line play and the kind of opportunities they give the guy in the backfield," Sandy said. "Turnovers are big, too. You have to stay away from making mistakes."
The Aggies have experience when it comes to playoff football, having won 11 of their 14 playoff games since 2006. Under Sandy, Velva has won nine region titles and nine state championships. The Aggies have 10 state championships overall.
"What teams did six years ago isn't going to help us this year," Sandy said. "But it never hurts to have that experience playing in the playoffs."
TGU faces high-powered Shiloh offense
When the 9-Man Region 3 preseason coaches' poll came out in August, there was a consensus that TGU and North Star would finish the season as the region's top two seeds. Nobody outside of TGU believed that the Titans would dethrone North Star - last season's 9-man runner up and be atop the region come playoff time.
But that's exactly what happened. The Titans (8-0 overall, 8-0 region) dominated the Bearcats 34-6 to clinch the region's top seed for the first time since 2003.
"That gave us a lot of confidence," TGU coach Scott Thorson said. "The key to winning that game was shutting down a high-powered offense."
The Titans drew Shiloh Christian - Region 4's No. 4 seed - in the first round at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Skyhawks (7-2, 7-2) started the season 6-0 before back-to-back losses to Divide County and Beach cost them a shot at hosting a first-round playoff game.
Despite dropping two of their final three games, the Skyhawks can put up big numbers. Shiloh scored over 35 points in each of its victories, including a 58-50 shootout against Mott-Regent.
Thorson said Shiloh's offense is unlike any TGU has seen this season.
"We're learning as we speak," he said. "We know they're very athletic. There not as big as us, but their athleticism is what scares me. They run a different style of offense."
TGU faced high-caliber offenses in region play and have shut down all of them. Besides holding North Star - which averages 42.5 points per game - to six points, the Titans' defense limited Surrey (39.5 points per game) to 18 points and St. John (33 points per game) to six points.
"Whoever is going to win the game is going to stand out defensively," Thorson said.
Thorson also said that the difference in the game could come down to which team makes a big play on special teams, whether it's a blocked punt or a kickoff return.
The winner faces the Central McLean-Surrey winner on Oct. 27.
New Town boys, Shiloh Christian girls shine at West Region meet
The New Town boys cross country team had seven runners finish in the top 11 and cruised to a first-place finish at the Class B West Region meet Saturday at Parshall Golf Course.
The Eagles finished with a team score of 30, 63 points in front of Beulah-Hazen, which finished second.
Sophomore Scott Hale led the Eagles in the 5K (3.1 miles) race, finishing third overall with a time of 17 minutes, 16 seconds. All nine of New Town's runners placed in the top 30. Sixty-six runners competed in the meet.
Shiloh Christian Donovan Lambert won the meet, finishing in 16:41. He was followed by sophomore teammate Elliot Stone eight seconds later.
Shiloh won the girls meet over Killdeer and Bowman County.
Eighth-grader Billie Jo Bearstail finished the 4K (2.49 miles) fourth among the field of 71 at 16:01. Senior Mikayla Furness ran fifth at 16:17 and sophomore Regan Watson finished eighth at 16:31.
The Skyhawks finished with a team score of 46, 47 points in front of second-place Killdeer. Bowman County finished third with 123.
Southern McLean freshman Abigail Waloch won the individual meet at 15:32, 13 seconds in front of Beulah-Hazen sophomore Kaylene Klein.