Three Region 3, 4 High School Football games to watch this weekend (Aug. 19-20)
DEVILS LAKE – The day (or, in this case, week) is finally here.
High school football is officially back for NDHSAA Region 3 and 4 teams. As the helmets begin to clash once more – beginning on Aug. 19 – each team will look to start their season on a solid note.
So, what games stand out the most in week one?
Among the two regions, here are three games to watch this week:
Nelson County (0-0) vs. New Rockford-Sheyenne (0-0)
Date: Aug. 19 (7:00 p.m. CDT)
Let’s rewind the clocks to last fall. More specifically, on Oct. 8. After all, the Chargers and Rockets fought for the rights to a first-round bye during the NDHSAA 9B Football State Playoffs. In the end, the Chargers capped off their regular season with a 16-6 victory and clinched the bye.
“It just shows our guys that sometimes we are not going to be able to score all of those points, and we just have to gut it out,” Nelson County head coach Beau Snyder said after the Oct. 8 game. “I tried to manage the clock as best I could in the second half. I knew if we had possession of the ball more than they did, we had a good chance at the end of the day. That was just what we were focusing on. We did not get too fancy. We did get fancy a little bit, but then we threw an interception and then went back to the run game and made sure we secured the ball and got those first downs.”
Propel the clocks to 2022, and this matchup has storylines galore written all over it. How does Nelson County’s new-look offense fare without Cade Stein, Garrett Haakenson, Garrett Syverson and Co.? The Rockets have questions of their own, too – without Nick Berglund, Koby Duda or Kaden Jensen at the helm, who will be that marquee player to grab the game by the horns?
Although it might only be the first game of the season, this matchup could be the first of many telltale signs of what direction (on both offense and defense) each team goes with throughout the 2022 season. There might not be immediate playoff implications on the line during this contest, but make no mistake – this is a game worth keeping an eye on.
Dunseith (0-0) vs. Four Winds (0-0)
Venue: Dunseith High School
Date: Aug. 20 (5:30 p.m. CDT)
After the game was initially scheduled for Aug. 19, the Indians and Dragons will battle on Aug. 20 due to a lack of officials for the Friday date.
But no matter to either team. And more specifically, for the Indians. Starting their season on a high note has to be one motivating factor. After all, the team started its 2021 campaign on a five-game losing streak. However, a three-game winning streak that followed helped net the Indians their second playoff berth in program history (2018).
And what team did Four Winds beat to begin the winning stretch? Why, no one other than the Dragons, who fell to the Indians, 56-12, on Sep. 23, 2021. With the matchup now shifting to Dunseith’s turf, the Indians will have to find their footing on the road and do so with their brand-new quarterback in sophomore Kashton Keja Jr.
The game can act as a spoiler (not to mention revenge) for Dunseith, especially considering their defeat against Four Winds last year. For Four Winds, the game can act as an early-season statement they lacked last year. Something will have to give, right?
Westhope/Newburg/Glenburn (0-0) vs. North Prairie (0-0)
Venue: Westhope High School
Date: Aug. 19 (7:00 p.m. CDT)
To some, the Cougars might be the team to beat within the Region 4 realm. And it’s difficult not to see why – senior quarterback/safety Nicholas Mears returns to the gridiron after compiling 750+ rushing and passing yards last season (886 and 793, respectively), not to mention 18 rushing and seven passing touchdowns. Returning wide receiver/cornerback Mitchell Leas and Blake Mattson, among others, gives North Prairie a vast arsenal to work with regarding rushing lanes for running backs and route trees for wide receivers.
Sometimes, it takes a perfect storm to take the next step. Nelson County rode such a wave last season. Given their depth in experience and talent, the Cougars could ride that same storm to success. Game No. 1 could be the start of something special should North Prairie push all of the right buttons.
John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell phone (701-230-4339), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.