For three years, the New Rockford-Sheyenne Rockets have seen state-championship level football firsthand.
Each time, NR-S lost its first-round playoff game against the eventual 9-man champion. Today, the No. 1 seed out of Region 2 will try to stop the string of bad luck against Region 1 No. 4 LaMoure-Litchville-Marion (7-2).
"We've got 10 seniors on our team and they've all been a part of those three years," Rockets coach Elliot Belquist said. "They want it bad. They want to go as far as they can get."
To advance, NR-S (8-0) must rely on its three primary ball carriers. Junior running back/quarterback Ethan Haley and senior backs Alex Perleberg and Josh Edmondson have gotten the majority of the carries for the Rockets, who have scored at least 38 points in each game this season.
In the Rockets' last regular season game, each scored at least two touchdowns in a 62-14 rout of Thompson.
"The hardest part about it is you don't know who's getting the ball," Edmondson said. "I'm more of the power back, Ethan's quick and shifty and Alex brings us both together with balance. ... It's hard to stop it if you don't know what's coming and with the lot of talent we have."
To further confuse opponents, Haley lines up at quarterback only about half the time. Sophomore Seth Gilliss takes the rest of the reps with Haley shifting to running back and wide receiver in different sets.
Defensively, the Rockets will be tasked with stopping Lamoure-Litchville-Marion back Brady Thielges, who Belquist said "gets a lot touches and makes a lot of plays."
The Rockets practiced at 1 p.m. the last three days to prepare for the afternoon game and the elements it brings with it.
"We've been getting used to that," Haley said. "The cold shouldn't really bother us because we've been going in it."
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.