Nelson County eliminated from postseason with 20-6 loss to Bottineau

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

BOTTINEAU – The Nelson County Chargers had a lot on their plate Saturday afternoon.

Not only did endless gusts of wind make it difficult to connect on a passing play, but the Chargers also had an 8-0 halftime deficit on their hands against the Bottineau Braves at Les Christian Field.

Nelson County running back/wide receiver/linebacker Garrett Haakenson (10, background) runs through a screen on a rushing play.

Although Nelson County made several attempts to claw back into the game, Bottineau’s defense and offense did what was necessary to pick up the 20-6 home win against the Chargers on Oct. 30. 

With the loss, the Chargers (9-1) have been officially eliminated from the 2021 NDHSAA 9B Football State Playoffs. The Braves (10-0) will take on the top-seeded LaMoure-Litchville/Marion Loboes in the semifinals on Nov. 6 at 2:00 p.m. CT.

An Isaak Anthony touchdown run for 60+ yards to close out the fourth quarter not only prevented the Braves from getting their fourth shutout of the season but exemplified Nelson County’s philosophy of never quitting. 

From the perspective of Nelson County head coach Beau Snyder, this character showed itself time and time again during the season.

“Hard work, attitude and effort,” Snyder said. “Practice how we are going to play. Kids were executing, and being able to coach these kids…I think our kids finally understand what it takes to win. I am super proud of our kids.”

A Nelson County fourth-down conversion during their first drive of the game looked to set the tone. However, Bottineau’s defensive front, led by senior linebacker/tight end Trasen Pollman, sapped away any fourth-down momentum the Chargers wished to possess.

A late-game interception by junior quarterback/defensive back Ryder Pollman off senior quarterback/defensive back Cade Stein stated the obvious more succinctly - Bottineau’s defense showed out. In addition to the turnover, Nelson County went 1/7 on fourth-down plays during the contest.

“Their linebacker core is tough,” Snyder said. “Up front, they are physical, and they do not make a lot of mistakes. They fill their gaps. They are a fast football team and are really similar to us. They made more plays than we did, and we did not take advantage of a couple of opportunities we had.”

While Bottineau’s defense showed out, junior running back/linebacker Jacob Shriver took the honors on the offensive side.

After he first found the end zone via a two-yard inside rush with 43 seconds to go in the first half, Shriver cranked it up a notch during the latter part of the game. A scoring run for 50+ yards, combined with another short scoring trot, netted the Braves enough of a buffer. Shriver finished the game with three rushing touchdowns.

Although Snyder and the Chargers knew the Braves would lean on Shriver, the running back made a couple of extra plays that inevitably made enough of a difference to hurt the Chargers on the defensive side.

Nelson County’s storybook season has come to an end, and while the Chargers did not write the ending they would have preferred, they still recognized the significance of momentum.

With this momentum, it all comes down to how the Chargers can build on it in the future.

Challenge accepted. 

“The seniors this year, I was so thankful for them,” Snyder said. “They taught us how to win. They taught us how to be successful. I told the younger kids that they needed to go up to their seniors and tell them we are going to continue this. We started something, and we are going to keep moving forward with it. We have a lot of good underclassmen and a lot of good young kids coming up. I see us having a lot of success in the future as well.”