Devils Lake season-opener one of a handful of games to watch this weekend (Aug. 26-27)

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – The meat and potatoes of local football action continue this week, but with a hitch. 

Not to worry. It isn’t a bad thing. If anything, it’s quite the opposite. Not only do the 9B – Region 3 and Region 4 teams trek into their second week of action, but Devils Lake (11A – East) also begins their 2022 campaign. 

So, what three games stand out the most this weekend between Devils Lake, Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich and 9B teams? Let’s look into it. 

Nelson County vs. New Rockford-Sheyenne Football 8/19/22

1. Four Winds (1-0, 0-0) vs. Nelson County (1-0, 0-0) 

Venue: Four Winds High School 

Date: Aug. 26 (7:00 p.m. CDT) 

The Chargers and Indians are similar in one significant way. Two, actually. No. 1: Each retained enough depth on the scoring end heading into 2022. For the Chargers, returning talent included RB/WR Zachary Gibson and WR/DB Holden Lenz. The Indians, meanwhile, brought back their top two rushing and receiving options from last year (RB/LB Kelson Keja, RB/LB Adam Charboneau, WR/CB Dalen Leftbear and WR/CB Deng Deng). 

The second similarity between the two teams, you might ask? Well, each team was rolling with a new quarterback in 2022. After Cade Stein (Nelson County) and Jayden Yankton (Four Winds) graduated from the high school ranks, Jaxon Baumgarn for the Chargers and Kashton Keja Jr. for the Indians were now in charge of signal-calling duties. 

Growing pains could have been expected, but if last week’s production was any indicator, then perhaps not. In a 56-22 win over the Dunseith Dragons on Aug. 20, Kashton went 8-11 with 179 passing yards and two touchdowns and additionally amassed two rushing touchdowns and a team-high eight tackles. Baumgarn finished Nelson County’s contest against New Rockford-Sheyenne on Aug. 19 with four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) and 303 total yards (207 passing, 96 rushing). 

And so, the stage is now set. Each team can dictate the clock with the running game and move the chains with the passing attack. But something will have to give. Each team will have their work cut out on the defensive side of the ball in what could be a postseason teaser. Granted, it’s only the season’s second week, but the point still stands. Grab your popcorn. 

2. Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich (1-0, 0-0) @ Harvey/Wells County (1-0, 1-0) 

Venue: Harvey High School 

Time: Aug. 26 (7:00 p.m. CDT) 

Let me fill you in if anyone forgot about last year’s matchup between these two teams. After trekking into their 2021 home contest with a 43-game winning streak, the Cardinals were looking to keep it going against the Hornets on Sep. 24. However, a 20-8 halftime lead against the Hornets quickly disintegrated. So much that Harvey/Wells County came within a possession of tying everything up. Thanks to a Carter Tetrault interception late in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals squeaked by the Hornets with a 37-30 victory. 

Langdon/Edmore/Munich vs. Harvey/Wells County 9/24/21
Langdon/Edmore/Munich vs. Harvey/Wells County 9/24/21

“Football is a game of momentum,” Langdon/Edmore/Munich head coach Joshua Krivarchka said after the game. “We gave it to them. We had some plays we thought were there, but we did not hit them, and they were playing hard just like we were. Thank God we had a little bit of a lead and hung on by the skin of our teeth at the end.”

Fast forward 11 months later, and the game shifts to Harvey/Wells County’s backyard. The Cardinals, spearheaded by Tetrault and QB/DB Rayce Worley, will look for not as much of a nail-biter of a game as they participated in last year. The Cardinals scored 50 points in their season-opener on Aug. 19 against Bishop Ryan, so perhaps that quells some excitement. Or not.  

3. Devils Lake (0-0, 0-0) vs. Wahpeton (0-0, 0-0) 

Venue: Devils Lake High School 

Time: Aug. 26 (7:00 p.m. CDT) 

The Firebirds will open three of their first four games of the season at the friendly confines of Devils Lake, starting with Huskies Friday evening. Such a game will prove its importance in more ways than one. The Firebirds will have the opportunity to trot out a QB-RB tandem that will be neither Benjamin Heilman nor Hayden Hofstad. Secondly, the game will act as an indicator of sorts. After all, the Firebirds lost to Wahpeton, 28-21, at Roller Field during the 2021 campaign (Oct. 8). A potential dose of revenge could be in order if the chips go the Firebirds’ way. 

With the team looking for their first win since Sep. 24 last year (21-15 @ Grand Forks Central), the Firebirds will have the opportunity to end a five-game losing streak. What will the results show? 

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 (jcrane@gannett.com) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.