Bornemann’s big day gives Hazen chance to repeat

DES LACS – After Hazen running back Briar Bornemann coughed up the football on his third carry Saturday against Des Lacs-Burlington, he moped back to the sideline, hanging his head to hide his frustration.

Assistant coach Bret Johnsrud walked over to the Bison bench, patted his senior standout’s back and offered a small piece of advice.

“He just told me to get it out of my head and relax,” Bornemann said.

The 5-foot-7, 165-pound workhorse did just that, rushing 29 times for 284 yards and three touchdowns in the Bison’s 34-8 Class A state semifinal victory over previously unbeaten DL-B.

“He’s a big-time football player,” Hazen coach Rick Philion said. “He comes to play when the games are good. Usually the best teams get his best effort.”

Hazen (11-0), the defending state champion, has won 19 consecutive games dating back to Sept. 14, 2012. The Bison will play Milnor-North Sargent (9-2) – which ousted Linton-HMB 12-6 in overtime – for the state championship on Friday at the Fargodome.

It’s the first time in school history Hazen has reached the Dakota Bowl in back-to-back years.

“We’re not looking to break any records,” Bornemann said. “We’re just looking to go in there and get a ‘W.'”

Bornemann rushed at a near-record pace in the first half against the Lakers (10-1) with 22 carries and 194 yards coming before halftime.

He zipped in untouched for a 10-yard score on the second play of the second quarter to put the Bison – who never trailed – on the board.

Less than 3 minutes later, junior Connor Doll scored on a quarterback sneak from about a fingernail away to cap a six-play, 57-yard drive. Bornemann opened that series with a 32-yard sweep down the left sideline that included a nifty spin move near midfield.

“They’re very physical up front and they have two backs (Bornemann and senior Nate Leintz) that run hard and are fast,” DL-B coach James Johnson said. “We just didn’t have an answer for that today. Their quarterback does a good job of running their offense, also.

“They’re a good football team that’s well-coached.”

Bornemann bookended an 11-play, 81-yard drive 2 minutes, 16 seconds before halftime on a 1-yard run and broke loose midway through the third quarter for his final score – a 58-yard dash along the same left sideline.

“The offensive line, that’s where it all starts,” Bornemann said of his success on the ground. “That’s the only reason we won this game and that’s the only reason we’ll ever win a game.”

Doll found the end zone on a 46-yard scamper for the Bison’s final touchdown, which came with 5:26 to play.

The 5-9, 162-pound signal-caller didn’t attempt a single pass in the windy conditions (30-mph gusts), but ran 13 times for 105 yards. Leintz added 60 yards and senior Dominick Opp amassed 14 yards.

The Bison outgained DL-B 464-67 on the ground and by 270 altogether. They allowed only three first downs in the first half – two of which came on the Lakers’ first drive.

“We closed the gaps, put size on size,” said Philion, in his 11th year leading Hazen. “We’ve got some good-sized guys. Linebackers flowed well to the ball.”

DL-B, in an attempt to make up the sizable deficit, passed on 19 of its 24 plays in the second half. The Lakers’ lone score was a 9-yard pass from senior Austin Schestler to classmate Justin Thomas with 18 seconds remaining.

Schestler completed 11 of 29 passes for 127 yards. Cole Edwards caught seven balls for 74 yards and Thomas had five catches for 53 yards.

DL-B exceeded expectations in 2013, winning its first region title and falling one win short of reaching the Dakota Bowl for the first time in 20 years.

“Some people probably wouldn’t have picked them very high, but I knew that they were gonna battle every week,” Johnson said. “I had no idea how they were gonna finish, but there’s no give-up in these kids. They’re just a hell of a good bunch of kids.”

Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.