Time for the big boys

The Minot High School football team last beat Century in the 2008 regular season. The previous five meetings have gone to the Patriots.

No. 2 MHS is hoping tonight’s game breaks the streak, which continued last year thanks to a game-winning, 41-yard field goal with no time remaining in Bismarck. The Magicians entered that game 5-0.

Barry Holmen’s team enters the latest edition of the Class AAA West Region rivalry still unbeaten with two games remaining and the region title still up for grabs.

“I believe in our guys,” Holmen said. “They’re playing with confidence, but they recognize and they certainly respect the opponents. We’ve had close matches now for a couple years against these guys. We just need to find a way to get over the hump here with Century.”

The Magicians (7-0 overall, 4-0 region) will need to find several ways to overcome the Patriots (5-1, 3-1) in the 7 p.m. game at Duane Carlson Stadium.

No. 3 Century suffered its lone setback of the season a week ago in a 26-7 loss to two-time defending state champion Bismarck High (8-0, 5-0). The capital city schools fought through similar nasty weather that limited Minot’s explosive offense in an 8-0 win over Jamestown.

“No. 1, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a couple times in terms of inopportune penalties,” Century coach Ron Wingenbach said. “We got the ball deep in the red zone and didn’t score. Those are the things that if you’re gonna be a championship-caliber team you need to clean up and take care of.”

The Magicians lead the state with four shutouts, but will face the biggest offensive and defensive lines they will see all year. Holmen also noted that the Demons had the wind with them for two quarters, hampering a very capable Patriots’ offense.

“If they can simply line up and just run between the tackles all night long it’s gonna be a tough, tough go for us,” Holmen said. “We’re gonna have to stop their running game. That’s our primary job on defense.

“Of course, if you can do that they got quite the weapon in their quarterback here. He’s a young gun who can throw deep balls and outs and is a good runner himself, so plenty of challenges.”

Both teams have sophomore quarterbacks. Dalton Feeney is under center for Century, which likes to run behind it’s big line and wear down the opposing defense.

“We’ve faced a couple big lines and there’s a couple big guys on Jamestown and a pretty good player on the Dickinson line, but as far as all the way across the front (Century’s) pretty big both sides of the ball,” MHS senior linebacker Kolton Larson said, “and we’re prepared for that and we’re ready for what they’re gonna bring to us.”

MHS quarterback Ben Bolinske has improved each week and, weather-providing, will get to test the Century secondary after throwing just once in the rain and high winds against Jamestown.

Bolinske hasn’t seen a defensive front as big as Century’s, but said he’s grown comfortable with his line and knows it’s not on him to make all the plays.

“If we can get it to the outside, we have so much speed with our guys, we have so much weapons,” Bolinske said. “If we do that and mix it up run-pass, I think we’ll be OK.”

The coaches agreed that Century has the advantage in special teams. Senior place kicker Dominic Neameyer provided the game-winner in last year’s game and beat Minot High’s soccer team with a double-overtime goal last week in the state semifinals.

Minot’s own all-state kicker Ben Love is unavailable as he will serve the final round of a four-game suspension issued after receiving his second soccer ejection of the season in last week’s quarterfinal game. Junior nose tackle Braden Lach will fill in for the second week.

“That hurts us a lot,” Holmen said, “but we’ll do the best we can with the next man up there. Their kid is like Ben. He’s the quality soccer, place-kicker guy that’s a veteran guy.”

Love served the first two games of his athletic suspension last week as soccer and football both played Friday. The soccer team’s third-place match, canceled due to weather, counted as the third. He will not miss the Bismarck High game as previously reported.

Both teams are senior-laden, so neither receives much an of edge in experience. Larson, who missed last year’s Century game with an injury, still remembers losing to the Patriots in the 2011 state semifinals.

“I’d have to say the last biggest game I played was sophomore year against them in the playoffs, so I mean that’s always in the back of our mind too,” he said.

Tim Chapman covers Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @chapmatp.