EISEN: Dissecting the Class A, Region 3 football standings
Wiping away the raindrops from my glasses, I wanted to make sure I could see the conclusion to this classic.
After trailing 7-0 for three quarters last Friday night against regional rivals Bishop Ryan, the Des Lacs-Burlington Lakers composed two touchdown drives in the unsavory elements to tame the Lions, 14-7.
A compelling finish that shakes up the Class A, Region 3 football standings once more. With four weeks left in the regular season, it’s become a four-way race at the top to win the region.
Undefeated Velva-Sawyer (4-0, 3-0 Region 3) is tied with former Class AA program Stanley (3-1, 3-0 Region 3) for first place with DLB (3-1, 2-1 Region 3) lurking a game back with the head-to-head tiebreaker over Ryan (3-1, 2-1 Region 3).
The back half of Region 3 is falling off the pace: New Town (1-3, 1-2 Region 3), Nedrose (1-3, 1-2 Region 3), Kenmare/Bowbells/Burke Central (0-4, 0-3 Region 3) and Lewis & Clark-Berthold/Our Redeemer’s (0-4, 0-3 Region 3).
Before focusing on the front-runners, a shout and head nod of acknowledgement to Nedrose on picking up its first varsity program win Friday night in a 6-0 overtime scuffle against LC-B/ORCS.
However, feel good story aside, it appears there is currently an uncrossable void between the top four teams and the bottom four. Velva-Sawyer, Stanley, DLB and Ryan have a combined 8-0 record against the four Region 3 teams on the outside looking in for a playoff berth.
If that’s not convincing enough, three of the eight victories were in shutout fashion.
Velva-Sawyer took that to the extreme when they wiped out New Town, 80-0, on Sept. 8. Dating back to 1975, that’s the most points the program has scored in a single game — topping the 78-12 win over Dunseith in 2005.
The Aggies also blanked Kenmare/Bowbells/Burke Central on Friday, 30-0, in pursuit of the program’s first regional title since 2010. That’s the same year Velva-Sawyer went undefeated to defend its Class A state title.
Velva-Sawyer goes for their third straight shutout this week against LC-B/ORCS. Oddly enough, the Aggies opened last season with three consecutive shutouts. But, that doesn’t quite compare to when they outscored their opponents 250-0 through the first six games to kick off that 2010 season.
After four seasons of losing football (5-31 overall) and no playoffs in Class AA, Stanley has returned to Class A, Region 3 with a vengeance. The Blue Jays turned around a 40-0 shutout loss to Beulah in Week 1 with three straight regional wins over Nedrose, Kenmare/Bowbells/Burke Central and New Town.
Now, the test to see if Stanley are contenders or pretenders awaits. The next three weeks have the Blue Jays on the road against Ryan, hosting DLB and traveling to Velva.
On the other side of the spectrum, the DLB Lakers have already faced two heavy hitters.
The Lakers’ had their comeback victory Friday night to hand Ryan its first loss of the season, but fell 18-7 to Velva-Sawyer in the regional opener. The touchdown scored by DLB’s Tyson Akers on a 45-yard punt return and the point after that followed are the only seven points that Velva-Sawyer has allowed this season.
DLB has carried the reigning regional champion target on their back with pride, but they are going to need some help to repeat because of the early season loss to Velva-Sawyer. Even some aid from the Lions won’t be enough for the Lakers.
Not wanting to look too far ahead, but the regular season finale between Ryan and Velva-Sawyer at Herb Parker Stadium on Oct. 13 looks more intriguing each week. If both teams win out going forward, much to the dismay of DLB and Stanley, that contest will decide the Region 3 champion.
So, while it was a rather depressed and damp Lions’ locker room Friday night following the heartbreaking loss on the road to DLB, Ryan is still in control of its own destiny.
Overall, for the sake of Region 3, I’m grateful each Class A region gets to send four teams to the playoffs.
This is the opinion of Alex Eisen. He covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.