After a 20-point loss to Central Cass in 2018, Devils Lake returned the favor with a 37-7 win over the Squirrels.

Devils Lake remembered.

The fifth-ranked Firebirds remembered last season when they went southeast to Casselton and was left helpless as Central Cass outscored them by 26 over the first 24 minutes, beat them by 20 in an offensive barrage that saw the Squirrels finish with 416 yards of total offense.

It wasn’t forgotten.

“Our guys were very fired up for this game. We had a tough loss down there last year and we didn’t take that very well so for us to be back home, first game in the conference, the guys were fired up tonight,” said Firebirds head coach Jake Wateland.

How much so? The Firebirds took a huge chunk out of the Squirrels early and quickly, outmatching the Squirrels first quarter output by three en route to a 37-7 win Friday, Sept. 27 from Roller Field.

“Based on our week of practice, and our focus, that’s the right kind of mindset if we do that, that’s going to be a good way for us to start games,” Wateland said.

It took three plays for the Firebirds (3-1, 1-0 East Region) to get on the board first — and they were on defense. Pressure from the defensive line, especially from ends Parker Vilandre and Zach Lange, forced Central Cass quarterback Brendan Maasjo into consecutive intentional grounding penalties, the final one occurring in the end zone that resulted in a safety.

On the Squirrels (2-3, 0-1) next possession, Lange scooped up a fumble and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown and with Robby Serumgard’s extra point, the Firebirds led 16-0 after just a little over five minutes into the game.

Ben Heilman’s 1 yard touchdown run, his second of the quarter, with five seconds remaining put the Firebirds up 23 and the route was on. Heilman’s 43 yard touchdown pass to Jacob Andrews, who skied over the defenders in the back of the end zone for the catch, was the other of the first quarter.

“Defensively, our two edge guys really set the tone. The defensively line was really stout in the run game, the secondary had one mistake and other than that, it was a really sound defensive,” Wateland said.

The Firebirds held Central Cass to just 129 total yards and also had a pick-six from Aaron Johnson in the third quarter.

Heilman finished 9-for-16 passing for 140 yards and three total touchdowns and an interception.

Next up for the Firebirds is a trip east to face top-ranked Hillsboro/Central Valley, which will be coming off a 54-point whipping of Wahpeton.

“After the game, the guys are excited for No. 1 next week,” Wateland said.

Maasjo found Jacob Deutsch across the middle for a 69 yard touchdown reception on the first play of the second quarter for the Squirrels’ lone score.

Chris Harris can be reached at charris@devilslakejournal.com.

Central Cass at Devils Lake box score

Central Cass    0 7 0 0  — 7

Devils Lake     23 7 7 0  — 37

First Quarter

DL — Safety, 10:54.

DL — Andrews 43 pass from Heilman (Serumgard kick), 7:31.

DL — Lange 38 fumble recovery (Serumgard kick), 7:13.

DL — Heilman 1 run (Serumgard kick), :5.

Second Quarter

CC — Deutsch 69 pass from Maasjo (Zamarron kick), 11:45.

DL — Devier 12 pass from Heilman (Serumgard kick), 2:56.

Third Quarter

DL — Johnson 18 interception return (Serumgard kick), 4:52.