Devils Lake holds Wahpeton to 144 yards of total offense as the Firebirds clinch at least the 4th spot in the East Region after the 28-14 win.
Devils Lake head coach Jake Wateland set a goal for his football team at the beginning of the season to win the reformed Class 2A East Region championship. To do so, the Firebirds had to first get into the four team playoffs. Coming off consecutive losses with fourth ranked Kindred in front of them, to say that the Firebirds needed their game against winless Wahpeton could be an understatement.
Zach Lange’s 37-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter finally put the Huskies away as the Firebirds defeated Wahpeton 28-14 Saturday, Oct. 19. The win ensured the Firebirds a playoff spot.
“We had a really good week of practice and I thought we executed some things better today but we had two tough losses on the road so it was real important that we bounced back today and send our senior out with a win on Roller Field,” Wateland said.
The Firebirds (4-3, 2-2 East) built a 15 point lead in the first half, but it wasn’t without some sluggishness. Sophomore Ben Heilman threw an interception on the Firebirds opening drive and then the Huskies defense used a goal line stand on the Firebirds next possession that ended the Firebirds drive 3 yards out. Two plays later, Wahpeton quarterback Treyton Link was sacked in the end zone for a safety and then senior Joey Frelich’s 19 yard run into the end zone with 47 seconds left in the first put the Firebirds ahead 9-0 after Anton Johansson extra point.
Heilman scored from the 1 with a quarterback sneak early in the second quarter put Devils Lake up 15.
“I was really disappointed in the first half,” said Wateland. “We didn’t come out with the enthusiasm I was hoping we were going to come out with. But I’m proud of the second half effort our guys gave.”
The Huskies (0-8, 0-4) cut their deficit to eight after Link connected with Thomas Withuski on a 76-yard crossing route that made the score 22-14 with 5:08 remaining in the third quarter but it was all Wahpeton could muster for the rest of the game as the Huskies were held to just 144 yards of total offense, eight yards rushing, with eight first downs over the 48 minutes.
Now, the Firebirds will make the nearly three hour drive east to Kindred on Friday, Oct. 25 with the three seed on the line. The Vikings lost to No. 1 Hillsboro/Central Valley Saturday giving both teams identical 2-2 records in the region.
“This next week is a big game because it’s positioning. For us, we want that little bit higher seed to help us out in the playoffs,” Wateland said.
The Firebirds had 413 total yards of offense, 282 on the ground led by Frelich who finished with a game high 106 yards. Austin Devier had six catches for 82 yards and Parker Vilanddre led the defense with seven tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack.
Chris Harris can be reached at email@example.com.
Wahpeton at Devils Lake box score
Wahpeton 0 8 6 0 — 14
Devils Lake 9 6 7 6 — 28
DL — Safety, 4:00.
DL — Frelich 19 run (Johansson kick), :47.
DL — Heilman 1 run (kick failed), 9:07.
W — Link 5 run (Munezero run), 7:39.
DL — Vilandre 10 run (Johansson kick), 6:06.
W— Withuski 76 pass from Link (run failed), 5:08.
DL — Lange 37 run (run failed), 9:58.
Other scores from Saturday, Oct. 19
No. 1 Cavalier 50, Nelson County 20
No. 2 NR-S 70, Dunseith 12
Benson County 38, North Star 28
No. 1 Langdon Area-Edmore-Munich 44, Grafton 16