Aggies, Lakers battle for trip to Class A semifinals

The Des Lacs-Burlington Lakers and Velva-Sawyer Aggies probably wouldn’t want it any other way.

In a do-or-die situation, the two Region 3 football rivals square off at 2 p.m. today in the quarterfinals of the Class A state playoffs in Des Lacs. The winner will advance to next week’s state semifinals, while the loser will start thinking about next season.

“They are one of the most well-coached teams,” Velva-Sawyer coach Larry Sandy said of today’s opponent. “They’ve got good athletes. They are solid and don’t make a lot of mistakes.”

The Aggies, aside from last week’s 28-9 win at Killdeer, are in today’s game mainly due to a 16-8 win over the Lakers on Oct. 14. That win, along with a win by Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn over Lewis & Clark/Our Redeemer’s, helped Velva-Sawyer claim the region’s third seed in the playoffs.

“We had the ability to get them deep a couple of times,” Sandy said of the Oct. 14 win. “I don’t know if we caught them off guard, but we were able to mix things up.”

Part of the Aggies’ success late in the season has been the passing game. Nick Effertz threw for 174 yards in the win over DL-B two weeks ago, and had three touchdown passes in the win over Killdeer last week.

“He has gotten better,” Sandy said of his quarterback. “But he’s got (multiple) guys that he can throw the ball to, depending on what the defense is going to do.”

And the Lakers know that the Aggie passing game will need to be something they watch out for.

“They’ve got a good passing game,” DL-B senior defensive end Rylan Bachmeier said. “We got make sure we cover them deep.”

Bachmeier says the Oct. 14 loss taught the Lakers a valuable lesson.

“We went in with our heads too high,” he said. “We just didn’t (execute).”

And he says that will serve as a motivating factor for the Lakers entering today’s contest.

“Just knowing that it could be our last game,” he said.

The winner of today’s game will play the winner of the Hazen/Bishop Ryan contest in the Class A semifinals next week.

Mark Jones covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MarkJones27_MDN.