By Harry Lipsiea
It was a return to the game field for the Devils Lake football team last week in Williston. After watching its team complete three weeks of hard practicing, the coaching staff had many of their answers questioned in the non-conference affair against the Coyotes.
By Harry Lipsiea Journal Sports It was a return to the game field for the Devils Lake football team last week in Williston. After watching its team complete three weeks of hard practicing, the coaching staff had many of their answers questioned in the non-conference affair against the Coyotes.
The game turned out to be a hard-fought battle between two hungry squads. It was Williston, however, that came out on top as a 13-yard rushing touchdown with less than seconds remaining helped the home team walk away with a 28-21 triumph at Qvale Field. Despite the loss, there were plenty of positives for the youthful Firebirds who competed all night long. One of the most important was the varsity time that many young players saw.
"We gained a lot of experience in our last game against Williston," Devils Lake head football coach Jay Schneider told the Journal.
Offensively, the Firebirds were able to find plenty of success through the air as quarterback Jacob Mertens was extremely efficient. The sophomore connected on 12-of-23 passes good for 187 yards including a touchdown. His favorite targets were senior Jordan Swanson and fellow sophomore Zach Dahlen.
Swanson hauled in three catches for 79 yards and a score. Dahlen caught five balls good for 76 yards. Zackery Shepherd also contributed with three catches for 33 yards. On the ground, Bradley Davidson racked up 50 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
Sean Olson had a highlight for the Firebirds returning a kick 74 yards for a touchdown. Defensively, Ryan Kraft led the squad tallying 10 solo stops. The Firebird's attention now shifts toward another non-conference opponent.
On Friday at 7 p.m., Bismarck Legacy comes to town. A first-year varsity squad, the Sabers are looking for a taste of victory after falling to West Fargo Sheyenne, another new AAA team, 44-20 a week ago. Bismarck Legacy, a squad made up of freshmen and sophomores, will be playing a junior varsity schedule during the WDA season.
Despite being young and inexperienced at the varsity level, the Sabers are not a team to overlook, Schneider points out.
"They will be well coached, physical, athletic, confident, and hungry for a win," the coach stated. According to the Firebird coach, Bismarck Legacy runs a 3-4 defense. Offensively, the squad uses its passing attack in a zone read type offense.
"They have a good quarterback who will throw the ball to a talented receiving corp," he said. "They will also have very good size on the offensive and defensive lines."
After putting together a strong effort in the first game, the Firebirds are looking for continued improvement in its second game of the season Friday at home.
"In our second game, we are looking for the improvement in tackling, discipline, in the run game and just overall physicality of the game, he said. "These are definitely areas that we can improve upon from game one.”