High School Preview: It's D-B Blackjacks vs. Minneota Vikings in a stiff test of football powers
Both teams are 5-0 heading into the game Thursday at Minneota
DAWSON — Coming off a come-from-behind victory at home against Lac qui Parle Valley last Friday, the Dawson-Boyd football team is one of five teams in Class A with a 5-0 record.
However, one of teams from that unbeaten group is expected to give the Blackjacks their stiffest test of the season.
In a Southwest District West Division match-up with postseason implications, Dawson-Boyd puts its undefeated record on the line at 5 p.m. Thursday at Minneota.
Dating back to 2012, the Vikings have won their last 10 games against the Blackjacks.
The two teams are on top of the Section 5A standings. After the reveal of Minnesota-Scores.net’s Quality Ratings Formula rankings — a computer formula used to determine playoff seeding — on Monday, Dawson-Boyd ranked ninth in QRF. The Vikings are 12th.
“They’re very good and a very, very well-coached team. That’s why they are right there year after year,” Dawson-Boyd head coach Cory Larson said of Minneota. “They’re solid defensively, solid on special teams and solid offensively.”
Taking the snaps under center for the Vikings is Jacob Hennen. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior quarterback has completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 758 yards and eight touchdowns to just one interception.
A.J. Myhre has been Hennen’s favorite target. The senior tight end has 15 catches for 203 yards and three scores. Senior wide receiver Joseph Rybinski has 10 catches, three going for touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Cale Sorensen has 13 catches for 179 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Out of its hybrid wing-T formation, Minneota picks up most of its yardage on the ground. Junior running back Conner Sik leads the squad with 387 rushing yards on 60 carries and two touchdowns. In addition to his passing numbers, Hennen has 39 rushes for 257 yards and three scores. With a team-high four rushing touchdowns, A.J. Josephson put up 210 yards on 23 carries.
Even with all of their offensive options, the Vikings have turned in their best numbers on the defensive side of the ball. Allowing just six points in each of its five games, the team is third in Class A in points allowed. Relinquishing 77 total yards in a 37-6 win last Friday against Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Minneota’s defense gives up 142 yards of total offense per game.
Junior middle linebacker Tucker Thooft paces the unit with 39 tackles. Senior defensive end Jacob Citterman is second with 27.
“Defensively, they’re so disciplined,” Larson said. “They give you different looks, so you can never get real comfortable with what you’re going to see. I think it’s the discipline that Coach Johnston instills those kids; they’re just solid. They do their job, they do their assignments and tackle well.”
Room to improve
While the Vikings have won four of their five games by double figures, Dawson-Boyd has squeaked by its opponents the last three weeks.
Overall, Larson believes that his team has played good football and commends its fight, but he is still hoping his players can take it up a notch.
“I think at times we’ve played great this year, but I think we haven’t put together a super complete game,” Larson said. “We’ve played well for good chucks of a half or maybe you could say a whole half, but three-fourths of a game, we just haven’t strung together that consistent four quarters that I think we’re capable of playing.”
The Blackjacks trailed LQPV 13-0 in the second quarter before regrouping behind Micah Olson. The senior quarterback sliced the deficit with a 63-yard romp to the end zone. He added two more rushing touchdowns and another through the air in the second half.
“We executed better and made just enough plays I would say,” Larson said of his team’s comeback. “Micah got us going in the first half and scored on a long run. We kind of struggled, defensively. Give LQPV a lot of credit; they did some really nice things.”
With nearly 300 yards of total offense, the Eagles’ played well up front and moved the ball with their multidimensional offense. Although playing in a drastically different system with a dual-threat quarterback, Minneota also is multidimensional offensively.
Facing one of the best defenses in the state, Dawson-Boyd can’t afford to fall behind this time around.
“Coming up this week, we’ve got to string together four really solid quarters of football,” Larson said. “You don’t have to be perfect. Being great doesn’t mean you have to be perfect, but you have to be solid.”
Here is a look at three other games of note in the area:
Emerging with a 20-18 overtime win against Upsala/Swanville Area last week, Benson improved to 4-1 and clinched its first winning season since 2008. The Braves will look to match that ‘08 win total against a Howard Lake-Waverly Winsted team that has dropped its last 27 regular-season games. The Lakers visit Benson at 6 p.m. Wednesday in a Mid-State District game.
Last season, Benson snapped a 30-game losing streak with a win over Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg. The two teams were originally scheduled to meet on Wednesday, but the Fighting Saints were forced to shut their program down for the rest of season after head coach Jason Fernholz tested positive for COVID-19.
Speaking of long streaks, BOLD had its 39-game regular-season winning streak broken in a 18-0 shutout defeat to Eden Valley-Watkins last Friday.
The last time the Warriors prepared for a game after a loss was 2015 when they fell 12-6 at home against Montevideo. One week later, they responded with a 35-0 win against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City.
This time around, BOLD will look to get back into the win column when the team hosts Kimball at 5 p.m. Wednesday in a meeting of two 4-1 Mid State District teams. Last season, the Warriors captured a 64-13 victory over the Cubs. Tim Peppel and David Garcia combined for five rushing touchdowns. They’ll be in the backfield this year.
at New London-Spicer
Like BOLD, Litchfield fell from the undefeated ranks last Friday. Despite 394 passing yards from senior quarterback Ben Alsleben, the Dragons dropped a 58-35 track meet at Albany.
Litchfield will again be on the road at 5 p.m. Thursday at New London-Spicer in a East Central District South Division contest.
The Wildcats ended a three-game skid with a 28-6 home win against ACGC. Senior fullback Tim Thein rammed in two rushing scores and senior running back Jack Novak added another. At six yards per carry, NLS racked up 240 rushing yards against the Falcons.
The Dragons and Wildcats have faced off each of the last three seasons. And every meeting, one team has cracked the 50-point mark.
Last season, the two teams were tied at 14-14 at the end of the first quarter before Litchfield outscored NLS 32-0 in the second and third en route to a 53-35 victory. That night, the Dragons had 531 yards of total offense.
Prior to that, the Wildcats won the previous two meetings by a combined score of 106-33.
Mid State District
Kimball (4-1) at BOLD (4-1), 5 p.m.
Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (2-3) at Eden Valley-Watkins (4-1), 6 p.m.
Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (0-5) at Benson (4-1), 6 p.m.
Browerville/Eagle Valley (4-1) at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (0-5), 7 p.m.
North Central District
Willmar (4-1) at Becker (2-2), 7 p.m.
East Central District
Litchfield (4-1) at New London-Spicer (2-3), 5 p.m.
Mid State District
Melrose (1-4) at Minnewaska (2-3), 6 p.m.
Pierz (5-0) at Montevideo (1-1), 6:15 p.m.
Paynesville (4-1) vs. Osakis (2-1) at Alexandria, 7 p.m.
Dawson-Boyd (5-0) at Minneota (5-0), 5 p.m.
Lac qui Parle Valley (2-3) at Canby (2-3), 6 p.m.
Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (1-4) at Yellow Medicine East (1-4), 7 p.m.
MACCRAY (0-2) at Lakeview (3-2), 7 p.m.
District 9 South
Cedar Mountain (2-1) at RCW (5-0), 7 p.m.