By Ray Maloney
Journal Sports Editor
CANDO, N.D. — One year ago the road to the Dakota Bowl made a home for itself in Cando as North Star won three games on its home field to advance to the state championship.
This time around the Bearcats will have to simply win on the road if they hope to get a second chance at winning that elusive state football championship.
North Star, which knocked off Beach in last week’s opening round of the state playoffs, will travel to Crosby on Saturday to take on Divide County.
The Bearcats defeated the Maroons last season on their way to the title game.
“They are big,” North Star coach Bryan Haugen of Saturday’s foe. “They like to pound and ground. They are big up front and the can run the ball the whole quarter and they have the athletes who can bust one at any time.”
North Star, which has proven it can run the ball as well, will continue to rely on the passing of Jacob Hagler as the Bearcats look to move forward.
Hagler, a senior, has completed 108 of 176 passes in his team’s nine games this season. He has accounted for 2,060 yards and 34 touchdowns.
His favorite target, as has been the cause in his three seasons as a starter, is fellow senior Daniel Grande, one of the most versatile athletes in North Dakota. Grande caught 48 passes for 931 yards and 12 scores this season.
Alex Weston has proven to be another of Hagler’s more reliable targets through the air. Weston has caught 23 passes for 402 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.
The North Star ground attack has been led all season by senior Colten Braun who has racked up 654 yards on 86 carries. Braun has six TDs to his credit this season. Teammate Jaron Dahle has added 206 yards on 36 carries and has scored a pair of touchdowns for the Bearcats.
Saturday’s game begins at 2 p.m. in Crosby.