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Team effort earns state title for Raiders

Robert Brewer/MDN Drake-Anamoose senior Jaylee Brandt, seen here carrying the ball in the open field, was a key contributor to the Raiders' state championship victory over Center-Stanton on Saturday.

On Saturday afternoon, Drake-Anamoose Raiders secured its second straight state championship in 6-man football by defeating the Center-Stanton Wildcats 68-40. This capped off an undefeated 7-0 season for the Raiders.

Having already defeated Center-Stanton earlier this season 52-48 on Sept. 4, third year Drake-Anamoose head coach Anthony Cook explains there were no major changes in strategy from the last time both teams took the field. Rather, there was a heavier emphasis on executing the fundamentals throughout the ballgame.

“Offensively, we looked to spread out their defense and take advantage of our team speed,” Cook tells The Minot Daily News via telephone. “On defense, we wanted to cover our gaps and take away their big play opportunities, and I think we did a good job of that.”

Heading into the championship game, starting senior quarterback Payton Martin was nursing an ankle injury. While Martin did end up playing in the game, coach Cook was pleased with how several other Raiders stepped up to make their presence felt on both sides of the ball as their quarterback was not at full strength.

“There wasn’t just one guy who led the way, it really was a total team effort to get the win. Hunter Fletschock, Jaylee Brandt, Chayce Borchardt-Sieg and others all contributed. I’m really proud of this group,” the Raiders coach says.

Despite the unblemished record, the 2020 campaign took a bumpy turn for the Raiders when the entire team was under quarantine for two weeks in between its games against Alexander on Sept. 18 and Midway/Minto on Oct. 10.

With the future of the season in question at that point, the Drake-Anamoose coach stressed the importance of urgency among his players once games resumed.

“It was a struggle knowing our year could come to an end at any point, so I thought we needed to play each game, and each play like it could be our last,” Cook adds. “I preached to our players not to worry about the future, and just play for the moment.”

Looking ahead to next season, the Raiders will be losing a total of seven seniors from this year’s club. Rather than rebuilding, the Drake-Anamoose football mentor believes the program has the ability to refresh itself for another successful run in 2021.

“I trust in our returning players, and I believe we can be competitive every single season. It’s all about winning every day in a game or in practice, and I think we can accomplish that,” Cook continues.

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