DENEGA: Magi need not worry about first defeat

No. 1 Minot High suffered its first setback of the 2015 season on Friday night, a 27-7 loss to No. 2 Bismarck at the Community Bowl.

But the sky is not falling.

The Magicians have nothing to be ashamed of. They lost to the No. 2, which had its back up against a wall with one West Region loss in hand and daunting schedule ahead. Minot obliviously wanted to win the game on Friday night, but Bismarck needed it.

The Magicians will be just fine. They are still one of the favorites to win the Dakota Bowl.

Here are my observations:

Too many mistakes

It’s tough winning any game against a formidable opponent on the road. It’s even more difficult trying to do it when you commit turnovers. It’s nearly impossible when you commit five of them.

“We could have scored on a few of those times,” senior linebacker/running back Matt Marler said. “We just shot ourselves in the foot there with not taking care of the ball and just thinking about the scoreboard.”

The Magicians suffered two interceptions and three fumbles, and by game’s end, there were just too many holes in their foot to win. The two picks occurred on the plus-side of the 50-yard line, one of which came inside the 10. Give credit where credit is due, and Bismarck deserves much of that, pressuring senior quarterback Ben Bolinske into some bad throws.

“They are physical,” Minot coach Barry Holmen said. “Anytime we seem to pull lineman, backers were in our backfield quickly. It was tough sledding there for a while.”

The first interception, however, Bolinske could have tucked and taken a sack, setting up a relatively short field goal for the sure-footed Mason Hoffer.

The Magicians also coughed up the football three different times and each time they put their defense’s back up against a wall.

Defense comes up big

On the surface it may look like Minot’s defense didn’t play too well, surrendering 27 points, and yielding more than 150 yards to senior running back Jaxon Ford. But when you consider Ford was fresh off a 200-yard game and Minot’s defense was on the field a good bit in the second half – many times in the shadow of its own end zone – it played quite well.

Until a late touchdown put the Demons up three scores, the defense kept the Magicians in the game, forcing field goals.

West Region waters becoming murkier

With Minot’s loss, three teams in the West Region now have one region loss: Minot, Bismarck and Dickinson. Bismarck still has to play two playoff contenders in Century – who has steamrolled since getting senior quarterback Dalton Feeney back from injury – and Mandan, which gets the Demons at home.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” Bismarck coach Mark Gibson said.

Minot travels to rival Williston and then hosts the Midgets in a game that could very well decide the West Region crown. There is a lot of sorting out to do.

“We are going to Williston and we are going to do our darndest to win a football game, and we won’t worry about anything else,” Holmen said. “It isn’t going to get easier. Its going to get harder in a shorter amount of time.”

Teams play a condensed schedule as the season winds down, playing games on Thursday and the following Wednesday.

“We can’t look at all of the outcomes and just keep playing and keep playing your best and hopefully come out with wins,” Marler said.

This is the opinion on John Denega, a Minot Daily News staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @JohnDenega_MDN.