It doesn’t matter how how few pro athletes we produce, North Dakota sports have always been great. From Class B basketball to 9-man football and American Legion baseball, we take pride in our schools and their teams because — for many of us — it’s an outstanding source of community pride.
When it comes to fall, the world feels so much better when the football you care about is good too. And life is good lately for southwest North Dakotans who pay attention the local guys on the gridiron.
Dickinson High is the No. 2-ranked team in North Dakota Class 3A football. Dickinson State and Dickinson Trinity both have winning records, and North Dakota State and the University of North Dakota once again played on the same fi eld.
I haven’t written much about sports since moving out of The Press’ sports editor role in 2013, but the quality of football around the area and in the state compels me to break that habit this weekend.
A week after what I believe was Dickinson High’s biggest regular-season win this century — a 22-21 upset of Bismarck High — I walked away from No. 2-ranked Midgets’ 41-14 statement victory over No. 5-ranked Mandan on Friday night not only impressed by how well the Midgets played, but almost more by how well the people of Dickinson seem to be recognizing how good this team may be.
While homecoming traditionally draws Dickinson’s biggest crowd of the season, I’ve been covering and watching sports in this city for nearly a decade and I had never seen such strong fan support for the Midgets’ football team as more than 2,000 fans — and that’s a conservative estimate — piled into the Biesiot Activities Center to watch the game. That is what attendance at a high school football game in a city our size is supposed to be like, and I hope we see more of it as the season moves forward.
While the Midgets showed their strengths, Dickinson Trinity suffered its fi rst defeat of the season Friday night at Valley City.
Still, the Titans have the tools to be a playoff team and have turned things around after a winless 2013 season. Trinity has some guys who will end up playing college football and with their strong passing game, they’re a threat to beat anyone. This Friday, they get their biggest test yet against rival Bismarck St. Mary’s. It’s Trinity’s homecoming and I suggest that everyone go out and watch them and support them, just as they did the Midgets.
When it comes to football on Saturdays, DSU could very well emerge as a threat to win the North Star Athletic Association title. They beat Presentation College on the road Saturday night, setting up a big home game against Valley City State next Saturday.
Pete Stanton, in his second year, is righting the Blue Hawks’ ship by recruiting strong in-state and upper Midwest players. Things are only looking up on Saturdays at the Biesiot Activities Center.
Lastly, seeing NDSU and UND back on the fi eld together made me smile Saturday afternoon.
Though the defending national champion Bison absolutely rocked the team yet to be nicknamed 34-9, it’s great to see them playing again. The schools must fi nd a way to keep this up and get on the fi eld again sooner than their next scheduled game on Sept. 7, 2019. Just look at the anticipation surrounding the game during the past week. People across the state, from Bowman to Pembina, were excited about this one. Regardless of how the game turned out, it’s something the state needs. It’s downright ridiculous that they hadn’t played for the past 12 years. Now is the time for NDSU and UND to give the state back it’s best sports rivalry.
My only complaint — and it’s a big one — is that the Nickel Trophy is not a part of this rivalry anymore. And it’s a shame that UND has that thing locked up like the Ark of the Covenant in “Indiana Jones.”