Velva gears up for second round showdown with Dickinson Trinity
On Saturday, the Velva Aggies (9-0) defeated Bowman County 28-20 in their opening round 11-man Class A playoff game. It was a hotly contested affair, especially considering in their previous eight wins this year, Velva has enjoyed an average margin of victory of 33.5 points.
Looking back on their last game, Velva head football coach Larry Sandy says the matchup went as expected as Bowman County came into play boasting a strong 5-2 record. “I thought both teams were very evenly matched, and the southwest region that Bowman County comes from is very competitive, so we knew we were going to get their best effort,” Sandy tells the Minot Daily News via telephone.
One of the biggest plays of the game happened in the fourth quarter as Velva was leading 20-14, and on the move offensively. At that point, an Aggies fumble led to an 82-yard touchdown return from Bowman County to tie the score at 20. Meanwhile, coach Sandy states it was his club’s composure that allowed Velva to remain confident with the game’s outcome hanging in the balance. “We’ve had a few tough, physical games earlier in the year against Bishop Ryan and Dickinson Trinity, and we came out on top in those matchups. I think it was those experiences that helped us stay mentally composed, so we just picked up right where we left off on the previous drive.”
In their next playoff game this Saturday, Velva will be taking on the aforementioned Dickinson Trinity Titans, who boast a season record of 7-2 and defeated Nedrose in their opening round playoff game 35-6 last weekend. In the last ballgame between these two teams, Velva earned a 26-21 road win over Dickinson Trinity on Oct. 2.
According to Sandy, he does not expect a drastic change in strategy from either club this time around. Instead, the Aggies coach believes the game will be decided with superior execution and attention to detail. “At this point in the season, both teams know the strengths and weaknesses of one another, so it will all come down to avoiding turnovers, winning on first down, and keeping the opposing offense in third-and-long situations. That is pretty much the key for every football team at this time of year,” Sandy adds.
In order to come away with another postseason win this weekend, Velva will rely heavily on a pair of playmaking seniors, quarterback Jersey Selzler and running back Gage Florence. Last week, Selzler accounted for two touchdown passes, and Florence reached the endzone on a three-yard run in the the final quarter to salt away an Aggies victory.
Sandy believes Selzler’s decision making ability sets him apart from most high school signal callers. Meanwhile, the Velva coach of 30 years thinks Florence’s greatest asset is his versatility. In addition to the individual skills both players possess, Sandy states advancing to the next round will ultimately take a total team effort. “Jersey understands that throwing the ball away isn’t a bad thing, and he seems to always get us in the right play, and Florence helps us in a number of ways, whether it’s running the ball, catching the ball, or even being a decoy,” Sandy continues. “Both teams have great skill, so it’s going to be fun to see two very evenly matched teams going out there to compete.”