The Minot High School football team did all it could this week to prepare for a new opponent in a strange place.
A year of playing outdoors in varying temperatures and conditions has given way to the climate-controlled Fargodome, where the Magicians will play West Fargo tonight in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs. MHS practiced indoors at Magic City Campus on Tuesday and again on Thursday at the Minot State University Dome to adjust to the lack of elements.
"It's harder to breathe (indoors)," senior defensive end Tanner Gust said. "It seems like when you try to take that deep breath, it's harder to take that breath. We have to stay hydrated because you tend to sweat more."
File Photo • Minot High School junior running back Brady Lampert rushes the ball during the Magicians’ game against Mandan earlier this year.
The Magicians haven't faced the Packers since 2009, when the current seniors were freshmen and West Fargo walked away with a 31-27 regular-season home win. The stakes are higher now. A win likely sends MHS to Bismarck for a rematch with Bismarck High.
A loss and the Magicians' season is over.
"You're playing for your survival, to keep going," Gust said.
To keep going, Minot must put a stop to the West Fargo running game and senior tailback Preston Lehmann. Lehmann - a North Dakota State wrestling commit - has rushed for 420 yards and 11 touchdowns in the Packers' last three games, all wins.
It's the second top-notch back the Magicians will see in three games. Bismarck's Layne Johs scored two touchdowns and ran for 170 yards in the Demons' 42-0 win Oct. 11.
"I don't think he's quite as fast (as Johs)," MHS coach Barry Holmen said, "But he's big and fast and physical. ... We're going to have to tackle and get help from the next guy. We're going to have to work hard to get him down."
West Fargo's defense has shut out two opponents this season and has allowed just 12 points in the Packers' three-game winning streak. In that span, West Fargo has scored 120 points.
Those numbers don't faze Magicians junior running back Brady Lampert. Lampert said getting ahead early will be important. MHS scored two touchdowns in the first quarter of its regular-season finale at Jamestown.
"If we can start out with a touchdown on our first series, I think that would pretty much set the tone for rest of the game," Lampert said. "I think if we score early, we'll be able to score consistently."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.