Fighting past Demons

Magi football seeking to snap three-game skid against Bismarck High

MDN file photo Minot wideout Peyton Lamoureux takes a handoff during last year’s playoff game against Bismarck.

Gathered around in the post-game huddle with head coach Barry Holmen delivering his closing remarks for the 2016 season, the Minot High football team could overhear the celebrations taking place on the other side of their field.

A berth in the state championship for a third consecutive year had been upended.

The Bismarck High Demons, after knocking off the Magicians 14-7 in Minot during the regular season, had stunned the Duane Carlson Stadium crowd once more with a 43-38 offensive outburst over the Magi in the state semifinals.

Those defeats dealt by the Demons haven’t been forgotten.

“That was kind of sickening,” senior quarterback Creighton Rudolph said about how last season ended. “But, it kind of gave us motivation because you really don’t want to repeat that, especially at a home game when you have your fans and family in the crowd.”

A 27-7 Bismarck High victory over Minot in 2015 has the Magi staring at three straight losses against the Demons heading into the conference opener at 8 p.m. tonight at Duane Carlson Stadium.

This is the earliest Minot and Bismarck High have faced each other in the regular season since 1998. That meeting was also in Week 3, albeit a few days later on Sept. 11.

Dating back to 1975, the Magi have a 16-30 record against the Demons.

“Our kids have a healthy respect for Bismarck High,” Holmen said. “They have been our Achilles’ heel over the years. This early in the year, we are still learning about ourselves. Both teams are continuing to grow. It’s really an important test as we start our conference play.”

The Magi (1-1) are coming off a 59-32 victory against Fargo Davies in Week 2. That’s the most points Minot has scored in a game since a 63-8 rout over now-Class AA Turtle Mountain Community High School in 1995.

“Part of that was we scored, they scored, we scored, they scored,” Holmen said. “We don’t put that many points on the board if it’s a lopsided game, and it wasn’t. It was a shootout and we are not interested in that to be honest. But, yeah, we were happy with some things. I think we had some explosive plays that we didn’t have in the first week, so that was encouraging.”

Leading the offensive fireworks was Rudolph, who went 18-for-24 with 342 yards passing and four touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown.

Senior wide receiver Peyton Lamoureux caught seven of those passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Senior tight end Lofton Klabunde also caught a pair of touchdown passes.

“When we are on the same page and playing fundamentally sound football, it can be fun and you can put up a lot of points,” Rudolph said. “You got to come ready to play, come prepared and hopefully we can be on that same page again.”

Senior running backs Dylan Danielson, Brett Davis and Adrian Davis-Aguilar all crossed the goal line for touchdowns as well against Fargo Davies. Davis-Aguilar ran his in from 65-yards out.

It was one of three touchdowns in the game that were scored from 65-plus yards out. The other two belonged to the Eagles on a 95-yard kickoff return and an 84-yard pitch, catch and out run the secondary.

“Defensively, we are still making assignment mistakes,” Holmen said. “We still have two guys that are going to the same place, so we just have to be better fundamentally. As we learn to trust each other – some guys are trying to do too much, that’s the truth – and play together as a unit, we will see significant growth.”

As for Bismarck High, the Demons (1-1) are licking their wounds after getting trounced by West Fargo 41-0 last week. The last time Bismarck High was shutout was a 6-0 loss to West Fargo in 2010.

Minot fell to West Fargo in Week 1 at home, 36-20, but only trailed 16-14 at halftime.

The No. 1-ranked Packers (2-0) outgained the Demons 456-138 in yards last week and held junior quarterback Will Madler – a second team All-State selection last year – to eight completions and 94 yards through the air.

Meanwhile, on the ground, Bismarck High senior running back Jalen Sprecher gained just 40 yards on 14 carries after rushing for 131 yards and four touchdowns on 11 carries in the season opener against Fargo Davies.

“They have a great quarterback, a very mobile quarterback,” Holmen said about Madler. “And they have a very talented tailback, so our defense needs to contain the guy with the ball and we can’t let a swing route turn into a touchdown. Or, have some little counter play where one guy over pursues and have that turn into a big play. We need to limit big plays from those two guys first, but they have other weapons too. We are not fooling ourselves here, they are talented and diverse. We need to be very good as a unit.”

The theme for Minot throughout the week has been getting better as a unit.

“I think the defense is looking good with a good week of practice,” senior linebacker Logan Braaten said. “We are both physical teams, should be a good game – smash-mouth football.”

Holmen refrained from predicting whether tonight’s contest will resemble more of a defensive stalemate, like the 14-7 regular season loss last season, or perhaps another offensive showcase, like the 43-38 state semifinal defeat.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “Really, we are just looking to improve and we would love to get that first conference win. But, it’s against a real quality opponent. It’s not do or die. We are far from that point yet and still learning a lot about our team.”

Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.