Area prep notebook: North Border has midseason turnaround

Playoffs were the farthest thing from Jeff Carpenter's mind four games into the North Dakota 9-man football season. Carpenter's North Border team started the season 0-4, losing each of those games by 22 or more points. "At that point, we were jus...

Playoffs were the farthest thing from Jeff Carpenter's mind four games into the North Dakota 9-man football season.

Carpenter's North Border team started the season 0-4, losing each of those games by 22 or more points.

"At that point, we were just hoping to win a game somewhere along the way," Carpenter said. "We were playing very inconsistent football. We didn't have any confidence."

Now, three games later, the Eagles are pushing for a playoff berth. North Border has won three straight, including a 40-32 overtime win against Dakota Prairie and, last Friday, a 40-22 road win against a strong New Rockford-Sheyenne team. That vaulted the Eagles into second place in Region 3. Thompson leads the region at 5-0, with North Border 3-1.

Carpenter said the turnaround hasn't been due to any strategy changes. Instead, it's been a mental thing with a group that was 1-8 last season on a team that had just two seniors.


"The kids started taking ownership," Carpenter said. "Football is so much about leadership, and our seniors started putting out more. When that happened, the team became more consistent and we started making plays.

"These are the same kids as the ones we had last year, just a little bigger. They've had the ability. They've just started to figure out how to use it."

Running backs Brett Dalzell, Dylan Masloski and Beau Brown lead a run-oriented offense working behind a solid group of blockers.

North Border still needs to beat Lakota/Adams-Edmore and/or Drayton-St. Thomas-Valley-Edinburg to get into the playoffs. "We control our own destiny," Carpenter said. "It will depend on which team shows up for us."

And that slow start could be attributed at least in part to the opposition. Those first four games were against Cavalier, Stephen-Argyle, North Star and Thompson, four teams that currently have a combined 23-3 record.

"I'd love to blame our athletic director," Carpenter said of the difficult early-season schedule. "But I'm the one who set the schedule up."

Bears have depth in their backfield

In Clearbrook-Gonvick's football win against Win-E-Mac last Friday, Luke Spray and Brady Lene each rushed for 109 yards and Tyler Rogstad wasn't far behind with 96. That's been typical for the 4-1 Bears.


"That balance has really helped us," C-G coach Casey Kroulik said. "Teams can't key on any one guy. I don't think I've had this kind of balance here before, with three or even four guys who can pick up big yards."

Rogstad, the starting fullback, paces C-G with 548 rushing yards. Spray has gained 386 and Lene, who comes off the bench, has 343 yards. Chase Cornell also starts at a wing.

"They're similar runners," Kroulik said. "I wouldn't say they're super strong or super fast. They do have very good balance, so they're tough to take down. And I've never had a group of running backs who block like these guys do. They're all breaking big runs for each other."

Drayton-St. Thomas snaps winless streak

Drayton-St. Thomas ended more than two volleyball seasons without a victory Tuesday when it defeated Minto. Alyson McMartin (16 digs, 13 kills) and Nicole Christinson (17 digs, 10 kills) led the way in the Blue Knights' 22-25, 25-14, 25-12, 25-21 win.

The program's last win came in the 2007 District 4 tournament. Drayton-St. Thomas was 0-28 each of the past two seasons. The Blue Knights had 15 losses this season and were close to a win when they tied North Border 21-25, 25-21 in a tournament.

"The girls were pretty excited after the win,'' Drayton-St. Thomas coach Dustin Martin said. "They didn't know how many matches it's been, but they did know it's been 2½ years since we'd won one. They weren't getting down about it, but I think it was in the back of their minds all the time.

"We haven't been getting blown out this year. For the most part, we've played teams pretty tough. I think there are still teams on our schedule that we can be very competitive with. And I think the girls will play with more confidence now that we have a win.''


Roseau eyes three-peat

Roseau will try for a third straight Section 8A girls dual tennis championship next week.

The dual tournament, to be held in Grand Forks, begins Monday with quarterfinals. The semifinals and championship will be held Oct. 15, with singles and doubles play on Oct. 15-16. The winning team and the top two singles and doubles finishers qualify for state.

"I think we're probably the favorites, but it won't be easy," said Rams coach Jack Swanson, who has nine players back who saw regular playing time last season. "The distance between us and the next few teams is closer than it was last year.

"We were just better than everybody else in the section last year. The scores bore that out. But we graduated three girls who are now college (Division I) scholarship athletes. Those are tough losses. But we still have good athletes. These girls are at least as good as they were last year and, in some cases, they're better."

Roseau is 11-1 and has lost a dual to an 8A opponent only once in the past three seasons. But Swanson said Roseau has won close matches with 8A opponents Park Rapids and Crookston this season.

Individually, Abby Ness is Roseau's No. 1 player and three-time defending 8A singles champion. But she's 0-4 against East Grand Forks Senior High's Jessamy Jones, the 2009 runner-up, this fall. As for doubles, "its wide open,'' Swanson said. "I think most teams will put their best two players there.''

RLC running strong


Red Lake County averaged 10 yards per carry in its football win Friday against Pine River-Backus. With Garrett Schmitz picking up 276 yards on 21 carries and Skyler Bergeson 160 on 18 attempts, the Rebels gained 462 yards on 46 carries.

"I don't know if we can maintain those numbers,'' RLC coach Brian Remick said of the per-carry average. "The big thing for us is getting four yards a carry, grinding it out and getting first downs.

"We've done a better job with our running game the last few games. The guys up front are working together and our backs are hitting the holes better. It's all kind of gelling right now.''

Schmitz has 687 yards rushing to lead the way, followed by Robbie Glass (231) and Bergeson (210). The line is anchored by third-year starting tackles Kevin Longtin and Cole Larson.


Nevin Lubarski has been named head boys basketball coach at Stephen-Argyle. It will be the first head coaching position for Lubarski, a 2006 Stephen-Argyle graduate.

DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to .

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