FARGO — The Minot Magicians lived up to their name Friday night, concocting some late-game wizardry to come back and defeat the Fargo Shanley Deacons 38-35 for the Class 3A state football championship at the Fargodome.
The state title is the first for Minot since 1980, their first in a Dakota Bowl.
Kellan Burke drilled a 20-yard field goal as time expired to seal the deal for Minot, which marched from their 26-yard line to the Shanley 3-yard line in the final three minutes of the game.
Burke was pivotal in tying the game for Minot, too. With 7:34 remaining, Burke picked off Shanley’s Landon Meier and ran it back 59 yards to the house. He then kicked the extra point to tie the game at 35-35.
“We went into halftime and we knew what we needed to do,” Burke said. “We had each others’ backs and we said we weren’t done yet. I couldn’t do it without this team. They’re the ones who put me in those positions.”
Burke added he didn’t feel much added pressure when lining up for the final field goal, even after Shanley iced him with a timeout.
“I had a feeling they were going to ice me because I saw they had a timeout left on the big board,” he said. “I just told myself that I practice this three or four times a week. I can’t thank my team enough to get me in that position.”
The Deacons took the lead just under four minutes into the game with a 10-yard pass from Landon Meier to Sam Ovsak. Shanley held the lead until Burke and the Magicians tied it up, only losing it when time expired.
Shanley coach Troy Mattern said that there were a few missed opportunities throughout the game for the Deacons.
“We play reckless and we had some chances,” Mattern said. “We had chances all game and we just didn’t convert. But credit to Minot. Obviously, they’re a good football team. They came in 10-1 for a reason. They made plays late.”
While they were unable to convert late, Mattern is proud of the effort the Deacons put forth.
“We thought we had a few plays late, too,” he said. “We had Ovsak open a couple of times to move the chains and we missed on it. All in all, these kids battled and I’ll never fault the way they play.”
While the quest for two state titles in a row came up short for Shanley, there is much to take away from this season, added Mattern.
“We found out that winning back-to-back is very hard but we’re going to take a lot from this team and year,” he said. “It’s not the end result we want but, I tell you what, if you like high school football, you got a pretty good game tonight. What a great all-around high school football game.”
Shanley’s Landon Meier went 28-of-44 passing — a new Dakota Bowl record for passing attempts — for 268 yards and three touchdowns. The attempts record of 42 was set by Des Lacs-Burlington’s Dylan Schestler in 2016.
Meier also had 58 yards rushing while Isaac Perkerewicz had 33 and Adam Leininger 20. Perkerewicz and Leininger both had a rushing touchdown.
Ovsak hauled in two Meier passes for touchdowns, collecting 98 yards receiving. Fisher Hannesson also had a receiving touchdown.
For Minot coach Chauncy Hendershot, there is no better group to bring a state title back to Minot for the first time in over 40 years.
“I’m a lifelong Minot resident. Someone who’s lived there and loves it there,” Hendershot said. “I can’t think of a better group or better way to signify what Minot is and the best of what Minot is than what happened here tonight.”
Hendershot also lauded the seniors for the expectation they have established in Minot.
“We have a special group here,” he said. “This senior group has worked their butts off for four years. They changed the standard around here. Now that standard is champion.”
Minot’s Tyson Ruzicka hit 100 yards rushing on 28 attempts with one touchdown. Griffin Brooks added another rushing touchdown for Minot.
Through the air, Minot’s Lucas Beeter was 18-of-26 for 269 yards and two touchdowns, both to Logan Conklin.
Conklin, who had several big catches including a one-armed snag to score, had 135 yards on eight catches.
Both Burke and Hendershot thanked the Minot community for their support this season and for making the trip to Fargo.
“Look at this turnout,” Hendershot motioned to the Minot fan section. “The community of Minot got behind this team.”
Burke pointed to the same section of bleachers in the Fargodome.
“Look at this community,” he said. “We have all these fans who drove over four hours just to support us. This is awesome.”
Both teams finish the year with an overall record of 11-1.
Minot’s Tyson Ruzicka and Shanley’s Jordan Leininger shared the North Dakota High School Coaches Association Class AAA Senior Athletes of the Year award.
Hendershot was named NDHSCA Class AAA Coach of the Year.
MIN 0 7 14 17—38
SHA 14 7 14 0—35
SHA — Ovsak 10 pass from L. Meier (Berg kick)
SHA — Hannesson 36 pass from L. Meier (Berg kick)
MIN — Broderick 2 run (Burke kick)
SHA — A. Leininger 3 run (Berg kick)
SHA — Ovsak 17 pass from L. Meier (Berg kick)
MIN — Conklin 32 pass from Beeter (Burke kick)
MIN — Ruzicka 1 run (Burke kick)
SHA — Perekerewicz 5 rush (Berg kick)
MIN — Conklin 17 pass from Beeter (Burke kick)
MIN — Burke 59 interception return (Burke kick)
MIN — Burke 20 field goal
Source : Grand Forks Herald