North Star adjustment, Four Winds momentum push headline Week 4 football slate (Sep. 8-9)

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – Well, would you look at that. 

North Star vs. Nelson County Football 9/2/22

Close to a month of high school football action is already in the books. Whether it be comebacks, shutouts or injuries, nothing has been boring about Devils Lake (11A – East), Langdon Area/Edmore/Munich (11B – Region 2), 9B – Region 3 and 9B – Region 4 football. 

So, what can local high school fans look forward to this week? Here are three games to watch as this week’s dose of football action begins. 

1. North Border (1-2, 0-0) vs. North Star (2-1, 0-0)

Venue: North Border School-Pembina

Time: 7:00 p.m. CDT (Sep. 9) 

Addressing the elephant in the room is essential when speaking about this matchup. The Bearcats, after all, face the potential possibility of playing without quarterback Dane Hagler. The junior exited the game against Nelson County on Sep. 2 with what appeared to be an arm injury. Heading into North Star’s Sep. 2 contest against the Chargers, Hagler compiled four passing and two rushing touchdowns for 405 total yards (284 passing, 121 rushing). 

North Star's Hunter Hagler (#12, center) could act as the QB1 should Dane Hagler miss any significant portion of time with injury.

Should Dane miss time, it will be up to his younger brother, Hunter, to be the signal-caller of choice for the Bearcats. Hunter, a freshman, finished the Sep. 2 game with 96 passing yards and an interception (8-13). 

“Hunter [Hagler], I think, did a solid job,” North Star head coach Daniel Grande said after the game. “He’s a freshman, and sometimes, he did freshman things, and that’s to be expected, but I think he handled himself with composure. I think he took command of the huddle when he went in there. We’ll iron some things out, and we’ll see what we got going forward.” 

A home contest for a North Border team transitioning back to nine-man football normalcy might have the opportunity to give the Bearcats a run for their money, should Hunter start the game. What will the verdict be? 

2. Cavalier (2-0, 0-0) vs. Nelson County (3-0, 0-0)

Venue: Cavalier High School 

Time: 7:00 p.m. CDT (Sep. 9) 

The Tornadoes will host their second game of the season, while the Chargers will conclude their three-game road trip. Who would ask for anything other than a date between these two teams? Not only is this game the first region contest for each program, but strength will have a chance to go against strength, no matter how you look at it. 

Averaging 31 points per game (PPG), Nelson County’s power-rushing attack via Jaxon Baumgarn and Zachary Gibson will have the opportunity to break tackles against senior linebacker/running back Jacob Steele. Steele compiled 170 total tackles last season and has already amassed 24 tackles (14 assist, 10 solo), four tackles for loss (TFL) and three sacks this season. 

On the contrary, Cavalier’s senior-studded offensive core, led by Steele, quarterback Sterling Enerson and wide receiver Landon Carter, will have the opportunity to give Collin Zacha and Ross Thompson enough work on the defensive end. Together, the trio shows reminiscence to the Cade Stein-Garrett Haakenson-Garrett Syverson QB-RB-WR combination that helped jolt the Chargers toward an undefeated 2021 regular season. 

No matter the context, it will still be the same philosophy: one game at a time. Even if rankings are involved, each team will look to blank the outside noise and focus on the game at hand. 

“You know, I don’t pay too much attention to who’s ranked, who’s not ranked,” Nelson County head coach Beau Snyder said. “Our philosophy is always one game at a time. Obviously, we knew it was a tough matchup. They’re a good team. We’re just going to come out and do our job week in and week out. Whatever the polls are, that’s what they are. I am not too worried about that.”

3. Four Winds (2-1, 0-0) vs. New Rockford-Sheyenne (1-2, 0-0)

Venue: Four Winds High School 

Time: 7:00 p.m. CDT (Sep. 8) 

Kashton Keja Jr. (#12, left) collected collected five total touchdowns on Sep. 2 against Larimore.

A 50-6 throttling against Larimore in Fort Totten on Sep. 2 might have been precisely what the Indians needed to overcome their 30-26 home defeat against the Chargers on Aug. 26. 

During the Friday evening game, Kashton Keja Jr. rushed for two touchdowns and passed for three, giving the sophomore signal-caller a much-needed confidence booster as region play begins to get underway. 

Next up for the Indians will be a game against the Rockets, who possess only two seniors on the roster. Such a game might prove to be one the Rockets look to build positivity toward developing a new culture. Such a game might also give a team like the Indians another chance to work out any dents on the offensive end. Consider this game crucial for both parties. 

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), Instagram (johnbcranesports) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.