A catfight to start the season
By Harrison Lipsiea
There's no better way to start the football season than with a rivalry game. It doesn't happen very often on the high school gridiron, but it is the case Friday, Aug. 21 in Cando at 7 p.m.
After being Region 2 foes for the best two years, the Benson County, who is now in Region 4, and North Star football teams are now non-conference opponents. That, however, doesn't take away from the squads' will to win Friday's 9-man football contest.
"There's going to be a lot of emotion on the field," North Star head coach Bryan Haugen told the Journal. "That is how it is every time the two teams meet. It's a rivalry game for both teams."
Usually having a non-conference game to open the season helps take the pressure off for teams. That's not necessarily the case for either North Star or Benson County.
"It's normally a really, really good thing to play a non-region game right off the bat. But we start the season with a rivalry game," Robert Bubach, head coach of Benson County, pointed out. "It's a big game for us. We want to go on the road and pick up a win to have a strong start to the season."
Both teams lose multiple components from last year's team due to graduation. The squads, however, both bring back a number of key returners to the field Friday evening.
The Bearcats return a nice nucleus from last year's 6-3 playoff team. Senior lineman Ryan Solseth is back to anchor the offensive lines for North Star.
He is joined back by junior returning starters Jayden Komrosky, Johnny Heisler, Devin Dugdale and Riley Lagasse. Komrosky earned All-State honors a season ago as the squad's signal caller throwing 25 touchdowns. Heisler, Dugdale and Lagasse were the team's top three tacklers in 2014.
"We have a real nice core back from last season," Haugen stated. "On both sides of the ball, there are a number of returners that return a lot of experience. For us, it's about continuing to develop depth at all of our positions."
Benson County is led to the field by an experience group of seniors.
Upperclassmen Joe Silliman, Lane Ritterman, Mathias Follman, Michael Heck and Ethan Karlsbraaten all saw plenty of playing time a season ago.
The leadership shown by the senior class has been a major strength for the team so far, Bubach added.
"Our seniors have done just a tremendous job. They have really set the pace so far during practice," he stated. "I have always believed if you have positive senior leadership, you have an excellent chance of being successful."
Both teams have been working hard in preparation of the first game of the season.
"There's still a lot of things to go over before the game," Bubach added. "So far, our kids have worked really hard."
Haugen expects an extremely competitive, tight game.
"That's how this rivalry works. It doesn't matter how either team is on a given year, it's going to be a close, hard-fought game," the coach said. "It's going to be fun. We hope that we can get a great turnout. I think everyone's looking forward to starting the season."