Minot hopes to jumpstart offense against Fargo Davies

Justin Martinez/MDN Quarterback Jaxon Gunville reloads for a pass during a Minot High practice. The junior hopes to make a statement as the new man under center against Fargo Davies.

For Minot High, it’s time to find the magic.

The Minot offense struck fear in its opponents last season, exploiting defenses for an average of 35 points a night. It’s this potent attack that carried the Magicians all the way to the North Dakota Class AAA state championship game last season where they eventually fell to West Fargo.

But times have changed for a Minot team that only returned three starters from last season. That lack of experience showed in this year’s season opener on Aug. 24 as the team squeezed by West Fargo in a championship rematch, 6-0. Although the win against the Packers is as sweet as it gets, one thing is clear: there’s still a long way to go.

“I was really pleased with (our defense),” MHS head coach Barry Holmen said. “It’s a brand new bunch of kids, but they played really well as a unit. We still have a lot of room for growth, though.”

That improvement will have to come quick as the Magi are slated for a home opener against Fargo Davies on Friday. The Eagles enter the showdown intent on bouncing back from a 48-19 trouncing at the hands of Bismarck High on Aug. 24.

Despite the lopsided defeat, Davies still has plenty of offensive firepower to watch out for. The Eagles boast one of the better passing duos in the state as senior quarterback Jesse Forknell and senior tight end Jaden Klabo look to wreak havoc on the Magi defense.

Klabo, who is a North Dakota State commit, towers over defenders with his 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame. Forknell, a Minnesota State University-Mankato commit, is a high-IQ quarterback with an accurate arm to top it off.

The duo connected on 24 passes for 521 yards and six touchdowns last season, making them the primary focus for a Magi defense that held the Packers offense to just 103 total yards and forced four turnovers.

“(Davies’ offense) has lots of deception to it,” Holmen said. “But if we stay disciplined and make our reads, they’ll tell us where the ball is going most of the time. We have to do that or we’re going to have some troubles.”

With the defense already in midseason form, it’ll be up to junior quarterback Jaxon Gunville and the rest of the Magi offense to find their rhythm. Gunville figures to turn to senior wideout Kyler Stenberg, the only returning starter on offense from last season.

Regardless of which player reaches the end zone, getting back to lighting up the scoreboard is crucial for the Magi.

“We have to clean things up (on offense),” Holmen said. “We had some bad snaps and costly penalties early on, so we have to be more consistent if we want to sustain longer drives.”

Despite the massive roster shakeup, Minot still has its sights set on the state championship trophy that eluded them last season. Friday’s showdown against Davies is a chance to prove the magic is still there.

“We’re happy that we’re getting to play some very quality opponents this early,” Holmen said. “They’ll expose you if you let them, so we’re getting lots of guys really quality game experience. That will help us as we prepare for conference play.”

Justin Martinez covers Minot High School and

Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @JTheSportsDude