A second chance
Magicians get chance to avenge loss, reach Dakota Bowl
Too many Minot High mistakes were made the last time the Bismarck High School football team strolled into Duane Carlson Stadium on Oct. 7. A plethora of bad snaps, four turnovers and the Demons (8-2) upended Minot, 14-7.
The West Region champion Magi (8-2) will be the first to admit they didn’t play their best game. They’re just grateful they will get another opportunity tonight to make up for their only home loss on the season and, if they do, Minot will march to their third consecutive Dakota Bowl appearance.
“It’s a very big challenge against a team that just came to town and beat us just a few weeks ago,” MHS coach Barry Holmen said. “It’s not hard for the kids to understand that we have to play better and play our best game in order to have a chance to advance.”
Negating the negative plays from their first meeting is the first thing that jumped out to Holmen on film.
“You study film because it’s recent,” he said. “They’re not going to change much. Their defense turned us over four times and created pressure. So, we just have to study that and we have to be better up front. We have to be better at just taking care of the ball and execute better.”
Long yardage situations effectively hindered the use of the Magi rushing attack that they like to enforce. In a sense, it was a reality check.
“We aren’t as tough as we think we were,” junior quarterback Creighton Rudolph said about the aftermath of that defeat. “I don’t think we came in mentally prepared enough. They played hard. It’s not that they outplayed us, we just made a lot of mistakes. If we just stay within our game and just play well, we will be fine.”
Mistake free football is key, as is slowing down Bismarck’s offense. Holmen was impressed by the play of BHS sophomore quarterback Will Madler and senior running back Lucas Butts has the capability of taking over a game.
“(Butts) got away from us a couple of times and that is priority No. 1 to try and stop their running game,” Holmen said. “I thought their quarterback played pretty well against us too. He was able to pass with some success and we need to do a better job of getting after him.”
Butts ran for a 39-yard touchdown in the win over Minot earlier in the season and Madler threw for 105 yards. Minot’s leading rusher in the defeat was Manuel Bradford with 97 yards on 13 carries. That wasn’t good enough for the senior, who was rushed for 540 yards in his last three games.
“I need to play better than I did the first time,” Bradford said. “Play my hardest and try to have the best game I’ve had all season.”
Much of Bradford’s success, and the rest of the running backs Holmen rotates in, goes back to the physicality of the offensive line.
“They’re very aggressive and very mobile as they get their blocks and run with you,” Bradford said.
Bismarck, as they showed on Oct. 7, isn’t a team that is going to get pushed around.
“It should be a great game, we have a lot of fun playing them,” junior wide receiver Peyton Lamoureux said. “We can’t let them control us and we just have to work a lot harder this week.”
A spot to compete for a state championship is in reach. Can past mistakes be corrected or will history repeat itself? All will be revealed tonight at 7 p.m.
The Fargodome welcomes the winner, not like the Magi are thinking about that now.
“We have not thought about anything other than Bismarck High,” Holmen said. “If we don’t take care of business, then none of that other stuff matters. We are totally focused on Bismarck High and excited we have a second chance to try and do better.”
Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.