Realigned teams fare well in new classes
Eighteen teams switched classes during the offseason, fueling questions about which teams would succeed in their new placement and which would struggle.
The result after week No. 1 was a 13-11 record, with the new 9-man teams playing two games in five days. Teams that moved down to 9-man from Class A were 6-6 and no newcomer was more impressive than Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn – last year’s Class A runners-up. The Sioux trounced Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood and Kenmare-Bowbells-Burke Central by a combined score of 98-6.
“The field is still the same size,” W-N-G coach Tom Nesvold said. “They don’t shorten it up. The only difference is there’s more room to roam and defense is tougher to play. When it comes down to it, there’s athletes in Class A and there’s athletes in 9-man.”
W-N-G leads Region 3 in points allowed and score differential (92) and is second in points scored behind TGU (117).
“We’ve been pleasantly surprised as to what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Nesvold said. “I’m pleased with how we’ve been tackling and playing our responsibilities. They’ve really taken that to heart.”
Albeit a small sample size, teams that moved up to Class A fared the best at 4-2. Teams that moved down to Class A from Class AA were 1-2. Carrington recorded the lone win, defeating Harvey-Wells County 24-12. Bottineau and Rugby combined for seven points in their two losses.
The three teams that made the leap to Class AA – Maple Valley-Enderlin, Watford City and Stanley-Powers Lake – finished 1-2 in the opening week, with the Wolves making the biggest impression. Watford City routed Heart River 44-6.
Freshmen leading the way for North Star
Despite not having a senior on the roster this year, North Star is off to a 2-0 start, which includes a 42-24 victory at defending 9-man state champion New Rockford-Sheyenne.
The Bearcats followed that performance with a 40-12 win over Drayton-Valley-Edinburg five days later and sit tied atop the Region 2 standings with Finley-Sharon-Hope-Page, Cavalier and Thompson.
“I’m a little bit surprised by how well we’ve been playing, but I know that we have some good athletes,” North Star coach Bryan Haugen said. “Everything seemed to work pretty well (against NR-S) and with Drayton-Valley-Edinburg we got off to a good start, which just put them in a hole.”
Haugen entrusted freshman Jayden Komrosky with running the offense under center and the 5-foot-10 quarterback hasn’t disappointed. In two games, Komrosky completed 74 percent of his passes and hasn’t tossed an interception. He’s thrown for 395 yards and five touchdowns.
“(Jayden’s) impressed me by the way he’s protected the ball,” Haugen said. “He’s controlled the offense pretty well.”
Lining up in the backfield is another freshman. Running back Johnny Heisler rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries against NR-S. Heisler is averaging 11.9 yards per carry, complementing junior running back Riley Thomas, who leads the Bearcats with 25 rushing attempts.
The juniors lead the defense, most notably defensive end Christian Kvilvang. The 6-3, 160-pounder has a team-high five sacks – four against NR-S. Kvilvang also has a team-high 18 solo tackles and six tackles for loss.
As a tight end, Kvilvang has caught nine passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
North Star travels to play Finley-Sharon-Hope-Page at 7 p.m. Friday.
First Class A, 9-man polls have Hazen, Cavalier on top
Defending state champion Hazen begins the new season as the No. 1 team in the Class A state media poll released Wednesday. Hazen received eight first-place votes. The Bison shut out Class AA opponent Beulah 12-0 in their season opener.
“We have a good nucleus this season,” Hazen coach Rick Philion said. “Our offensive line looks good. Our defense looks good, but there’s definitely some weaknesses we need to work on.”
Larimore and Park River-Fordville-Lankin each received a first-place vote and are second and third in the poll, respectively. Killdeer garnered the final two first-place votes and sit in fourth. Williams County rounds out the top five.
A pair of state semifinalists from last year are first and second in the 9-man poll, with Cavalier holding a slight edge over TGU. The Tornadoes received five first-place votes and 42 total points. The Titans earned two first-place votes and garnered 31 total points.
Third-ranked Grant County-Flasher received four first-place votes. Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter and North Star round out the top five.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics, the Minot Minotauros and the Minot State University men’s club hockey team. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.