North Star dominates Dunseith in rain-soaked 44-14 rout

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal
Garrett Westland (4) celebrates after scoring one of his four touchdowns against the Dunseith Dragons Aug. 20.

CANDO - For the North Star Bearcats, the goal was to capture a season-opening win on home ground.

Along with staying dry, of course.

Such was the dilemma on a rainy, cloudy and murky Friday night in Cando. After countless rain squalls and thunderstorm cells plagued the area, conditions were anything but dry when the team took to the field against the Dunseith Dragons. And while every North Star player, coach and fan alike was eventually drenched head to toe, the Bearcats sent them home happy with a 44-14 win over Dunseith Aug. 20.

The victory was North Star’s first season-opening win since Aug. 21, 2018 (50-30 over Nelson County). After going 0-3 at home last season, North Star additionally punched in their first win on home turf since Oct. 14, 2019 (36-26 vs. Dunseith). Dating back to the 2017-18 season, North Star is now a spotless 5-0 against the Dragons.

The lopsided victory for North Star, however, was anything but through the first four minutes of the game. After Dunseith swiftly went up 6-0, the jury was now out for North Star to shine.

And shine they did.

A 47-yard dime from North Star quarterback Dane Hagler quickly opened the floodgates as North Star went on to score 28 unanswered points to close out the half.

“I told the guys that whoever made the adjustment first was going to be successful,” North Star Head Coach Daniel Grande said after the win. “There is one for everybody, so whoever was going to figure out how to run, how to catch and how to do whatever first was going to be the one that was going to be successful. Thankfully, we exchanged blows right away, and then we figured it out. We were successful. We adjusted to a couple of things they were doing, got our tackling figured out and was pretty happy with the defensive effort.”

Defensively, North Star’s showing gave the offensive prowess a deep run for its money. After blanking the Dragons through the rest of the first half, the tackling defenders led by Brett Dilley Jr. and Garrett Westland helped shut down the opposing jet sweeps, inside runs and occasional downfield pass.

Midway through the first quarter, Grande knew the defense was there to stay.

“We had a tackle in the backfield, and I saw all nine guys run over there and celebrate,” Grande said. “That was when I knew we were locked in and ready to rock and roll."

Hagler finished the game going 3-7 with two passing touchdowns and 87 yards. Westland, meanwhile, demolished Dunseith’s defensive front with 176 yards and four touchdowns on 14 attempts.

While the team will need to tinker here and there as they begin their march into the rest of the regular season, Grande was satisfied with where the team was at moving into their next game.

“It is always important to get the first win, hopefully for momentum going for the rest of the year,” Grande said. “Get that winning taste of success right away. We have things we can work on…it is good to get the first one under our belt.”

North Star will have a chance to extend their home winning success next week when they take on North Prairie Aug. 27.