In a game where either team didn't seem like they were going to give, Devils Lake (2-5, 1-2 AA East), off a touchdown from junior running back Hayden Hofstad and another strong performance on defense, eked past Valley City (1-4, 0-2 AA East) 6-0.
Over the past week, not much has gotten past the Devils Lake defense. While the Firebirds did drop their game to Hillsboro/Central Valley last week, they shutout the number two ranked team in the state in the second half.
It's a mentality of toughness that head coach Todd Lambrecht and his staff have been pushing onto the Firebirds and Friday night that tough mentality was on full display. In a game where either team didn't seem like they were going to give, Devils Lake (2-5, 1-2 AA East), off a touchdown from junior running back Hayden Hofstad and another strong performance on defense, eked past Valley City (1-4, 0-2 AA East) 6-0.
"We want people to know us by being a really physical team," Lambrecht said. "We came out, we're able to substitute some guys early, kept our legs fresh towards the end and it was very helpful. The guys played hard and it was amazing."
The ability of the Firebirds to make sure everyone was on the same page defensively and keep the line fresh was what helped Devils Lake go the distance. Deep into the game, you could still see Firebird defenders pushing Hi-Liner players further and further away from the end zone.
"We were keeping guys fresh tonight and making sure that everyone was ready to go," junior offensive/defensive lineman Bridger Wayman said. "We wanted to keep guys fresh by subbing in new guys. We know that we had guys that could do it and subs that can do it."
The strategy on defense came in early as the first quarter would end in a 0-0 tie. However, the Firebird offense began to let the ball fly and it would benefit them in the end. Dashing towards the right corner of the end zone, Hofstad would make a 25-yard touchdown grab from junior wide receiver Caleb Schneider, putting the Firebirds ahead 6-0.
However, that was going to be the peak of the offense for both teams in the game as neither team would convert from there on out. A touchdown from Valley City could put the Hi-Liners back in the game, but the Devils Lake offense didn't feel any pressure and weren't going to let Valley City back into it.
"There were some nerves, but we had more confidence and we knew that we could stop them," Wayman said. "We knew that we were going to do it."
Lambrecht said all 11 guys on defense were on the ball, mobile, and having fun on the field. It's apart of the culture change Lambrecht's defensive background has brought to the team in his first year as head coach.
"Some of our guys are stepping up their game and our front three guys did an amazing job tonight," Lambrecht said. "They're taking up two, three blockers, which allows our guys to run."
While Devils Lake did have a strong defensive night, so did Valley City. Where the Firebirds benefitted from that is sophomore punter Gage Meyer was able to get in more reps than usual. While young, Lambrecht said Meyer is a good punter, and Friday's game allowed Meyer to make some adjustments to his game.
Devils Lake is looking to roll off a strong defensive performance to spark the offense. In their last four games, the Firebirds have scored only six points, with all those points coming in Friday's win.
"We just need to clean up what we're doing," Lambrecht said. "We got some good things going and they're there. We'll watch film and fine-tune some of that stuff a little more. Out guys realize that they need to hold that block for a little bit longer or adjust their angles. Those little things make a big difference."
"We have the defense up, but we need to get the offense clicking," Wayman said. "We just need to bring in that same energy every week."
Devils Lake has two games left in the regular season, facing two very different squads. Next Friday the Firebirds travel south to take on Wahpeton, who is sitting at 1-4 and coming off a loss to Kindred. Devils Lake closes out the season with another Saturday game against Kindred on Oct. 24. The Vikings are currently sitting in the number three ranking in the state, sitting at 4-0 on the season.
"Wahpeton has a really good QB that can sling it and some wide receivers that can catch," Lambrecht said. "Kindred is a solid team that does things really well and they're going to bring it at us. We're going to try and bring it to them. The next two games will be exciting."
Jack Williams covers Lake Region sports and general news for The Devils Lake Journal. Contact him via email at JGWilliams1@gannett.com, on Twitter @jackgwilliams or phone at 701-662-2127.