Minot looks to make statement against Bismarck High

Justin Martinez/MDN The Minot defense lines up for a play during Tuesday's practice as the Magi prepare for a battle against Bismarck High on Friday.

Kyler Stenberg wasn’t messing around at practice on Tuesday.

The senior wide receiver and defensive back maintained constant communication with his teammates, hustled during drills and blazed through his reps in the weight room afterwards.

That sense of urgency could be seen in the whole team as the Magicians prepared for what would be their biggest test yet.

Minot enters Friday’s road match against state powerhouse Bismarck High with something to prove after the Magi suffered a 42-22 loss to Fargo Davies at home on Aug. 31. Despite keeping pace in the first half, the Magi got pushed around in the second half by an Eagles offense that ran the ball at will.

It’s a humbling result for a team that entered the game on a high after defeating West Fargo, 6-0, on Aug. 24 in a rematch of last season’s state championship.

“We just didn’t play a full game (against Fargo Davies),” Stenberg said. “A lot of the guys were pretty upset with themselves afterwards, but we just have to move forward and get ready for Bismarck.”

Although Minot’s offense surpassed week one’s point total in the first quarter of the Fargo Davies game alone, the Magi struggled to consistently move the ball for a full four quarters.

It’s going to take a 48-minute fireworks display on offense come Friday if the Magi want to emerge victorious when they face off against the Demons. Bismarck crushed Fargo Davies (48-8) in its season opener on Aug. 24 and followed up with a blowout win against West Fargo (48-19) on Aug. 30.

The Demons offense totaled 419 yards against the Packers thanks in no small part to senior running back Isaiah Olsen, who led all rushers with 113 yards and two scores. Senior quarterback Will Madler also had a strong outing through the air, throwing for 120 yards in the win.

The dynamic duo is a nightmare for defenses, but Minot head coach Barry Holmen knows his team will have to weather the storm if the Magi want to leave Bismarck with a statement victory.

“I think it’s clear that there has been some growth so far, but I still don’t know if we’re ready yet for Bismarck,” Holmen said. “We’re going to go there with a plan to compete and hopefully have a chance in the fourth quarter to beat an excellent team.”

Slaying the Demons on the road will take a group effort for a Magi team that’s looked one dimensional so far this season. Junior quarterback Jaxon Gunville is the only player that’s scored for Minot High this season, totaling four rushing touchdowns in the first two games.

It’s this lack of balance between the running and passing game that the Magi hope to change against Bismarck.

“We’re definitely looking to make things a little easier (for Gunville),” Stenberg said. “The more us receivers get going, the less pressure Bismarck’s defense will be able to put on our quarterback.”

With tonight approaching, Minot finds itself with its back against the wall for the first time all season. How the young group responds could set the tone for the season moving forward.

It’s something the Magi aren’t taking lightly, and the team is confident it still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

“(The Demons) are one of the best teams in the state,” Stenberg said. “It’s going to be another challenge, but we’re just looking forward to going out there and showing them what we can do.”

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude.

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