Dickinson football roundup: Midgets hope to keep postseason chances alive against Minot
The Dickinson High football team couldn't afford to bask in the glory of its first victory of 2018 for too long.
Coming off an exhilarating 34-28 triumph over Williston, the Midgets had a short week of practice, as they will travel to Minot to face the Magicians on Thursday, Oct. 11.
"I think the guys enjoyed the win over the weekend, but starting on Monday, it's all about Minot," Dickinson head coach John Tuchscherer said. "It's a short week, so we had a lot of work to do in three days to get ourselves prepared to go up there on Thursday."
Preparation during a quick turnaround is made particularly crucial as Dickinson still has a slight chance at making the Class AAA state playoffs.
Entering Thursday night's tilt with one win in the West Region standings, the Midgets will earn the final WDA qualifying spot if they can win their last two games of the regular season and if Bismarck Legacy loses its last two.
Missing the playoffs for the first time since 1996, Minot was eliminated from postseason contention following a 42-28 defeat at Mandan last Friday. Junior running back Peyton Philion scored three times while junior quarterback Jaxon Gunville threw for over 200 yards in a losing effort.
Minot's offense, particularly Gunville, carries loads of athleticism and speed while defensively, the Magicians are prone to bring an extra player or two to provide pressure. To combat Minot's weapons, Tuchscherer hopes his team can play as hard as it did last week.
"I want to see the same group that I saw on Friday night, a team that believed that they could win and laid it all on the line," Tuchscherer said. "I think that if we do that and play as close to mistake-free football as we can, then we have a chance to go up there and get a win."
The Midgets also hope to get repeat performances from some of their youth.
Junior wide receiver Alex Praus caught a first-quarter touchdown pass against the Coyotes while junior punter Peyton Hanson delivered three booming punts, one of which pinned Williston inside of its own 5-yard line during the third quarter. On the ensuing play, freshman linebacker Troy Berg recovered a Williston fumble, setting up a Dickinson score.
"I was really just trying to kick the ball as far as I could to try and pin them back as far as we could," Hanson said. "I was pretty surprised when I kicked it to see where they marked the ball. I was pretty happy with that."
Tuchscherer says the progression of his underclassmen is important not only for the end of the season, but for the future of his program.
"We've been kind of waiting for some of those guys to step up. We know throughout the year that they have been improving and it came together last Friday," Tuchscherer said. "Hopefully moving forward, we can continue to play well with our underclassmen."
'This week, our opponent is ourselves'
Dickinson Trinity wide receiver Kaden Kuntz has had a solid senior campaign. Through the first five games of the season, he has racked up five rushing touchdowns, a pair of receiving touchdowns and another score on an interception return.
However, with the Titans facing a stiff test in longtime foe Beulah and postseason positioning on the line, Kuntz delivered one of his finest performances.
The shifty playmaker was responsible for all of Dickinson Trinity's points, reaching the end zone four times as the Titans defeated the Miners 24-6 on Friday, Oct. 5.
"That's probably been my best game so far that I've played as a Trinity Titan," Kuntz said. "It feels really good having that be against Beulah, our rivals. It was a big game, knowing that if we won, we'd have home-field advantage for the first game of the playoffs. It just feels really good."
The Titans raced out to a 12-0 advantage in the first half. Beulah closed to within 12-6 after senior running back Kaleb McGraw reached the end zone with three minutes remaining before halftime.
With the Beulah team faithful on its feet and the home team feeling like it was back in it, Kuntz immediately had a counter on the ensuing kickoff, ripping off an 85-yard touchdown return.
"I can tell after they scored that they had a lot of momentum," Kuntz said. "So just being able to take that kickoff return for a touchdown, the momentum was back in our hands, which was huge in a game like that."
Kuntz added a long touchdown run, 74-yards, in the fourth quarter for his fourth score of the game. He finished with 165 rushing yards on 12 carries while catching two passes for 34 yards, but regardless of the numbers he was able to put up, Kuntz was reluctant to take any of the credit.
"I really didn't do a whole lot," Kuntz said. "It was definitely just my line opening holes and the coaches made great calls. At the end of the day, I just had to run the ball."
The contest against Beulah served as Dickinson Trinity's last game before the postseason.
Originally scheduled to host Garrison in their regular season finale on Oct. 12, the Titans now have two weeks to prepare for their future playoff opponent after the Troopers forfeited.
Without a game-day to look forward to on Friday, Dickinson Trinity has instead focused on sharpening its own tools.
"I think the opponent whose weakness we are trying to attack is ourselves," Dickinson Trinity head coach John Odermann said. "We had a really good film session where we watched our own film (Monday night) longer than usual, because we don't have that game-film to look at this Friday. ... I think that's a great way to look at this week: our opponent is ourselves and we have to make sure that we're ready to defeat those weaknesses that have bit us in the butt throughout the entire season."