THOMPSON, N.D.-Just another game?
That depended on which dugout the baseball players were in here Friday in a rematch of the past two North Dakota Class B high school state championship games.
"We definitely get more pumped when we get to play some higher competition,'' Park River/Fordville-Lankin senior Adam Zavalney said. "And we know their guys are really good.''
Park River/F-L outslugged Thompson 16-5 to win a regular-season game Friday. The two teams have a history.
In the state championship last season, the Aggies beat Thompson 7-3. In 2017, it was Park River/Fordville-Lankin 8, Thompson 4 in the state title game.
In the regular-season rematch, "for us, it's not as good of a memory as it is for them,'' Thompson senior Marcus Hughes said.
"For us, it was just another game, a chance to see where we stand with good teams like that. It showed what we have to work on.''
That's a mentality pushed by Thompson coach Brady Schwab.
"It's fun, two good teams playing each other,'' Thompson senior Cadyn Schwabe said. "You know it will be good competition. But you can't make it bigger than what it is, just another game.
"Our coach preaches approaching every game the same way, to play them the same way. It's always game to game. That's our thing.''
Still, Park River/F-L coach Brett Omdahl doesn't see how the background doesn't factor into the players' approach to a rematch game. Most of Friday's starters on both teams played key roles in the success of the 2018 teams.
"It's definitely something that enters the kids' minds, playing the team we've played in the state championship game two years in a row,'' Omdahl said. "I know it enters my mind, two powerhouses going at it.
"But it doesn't change your approach to the game.''
Friday was a game in which both teams held their top pitchers for upcoming region games. It was a slugfest in which six home runs-four by the Aggies, two by the Tommies-were hit.
But, Hughes said, it was a game that had no connection to the past two state title games.
"Those games don't mean anything right now,'' Hughes said. "It's all about this year, about what we can do this year. We have the same goal as the last two years, to win a state championship. Hopefully we can achieve it this time.''