DAKOTA BOWL: Velva outlasts Milnor-North Sargent in Class A
Good things seem to come in two's lately for the Velva football team. For the second game in a row, Velva's Jon Mack made a key defensive play to spark an early score. For the second game in a row, Mack's team followed his lead. And for the secon...
Good things seem to come in two's lately for the Velva football team.
For the second game in a row, Velva's Jon Mack made a key defensive play to spark an early score.
For the second game in a row, Mack's team followed his lead.
And for the second straight year, the Aggies are state champions.
Mack returned an interception for a touchdown early in the first quarter and Velva hung on to defeat Milnor-North Sargent for the school's ninth North Dakota Class A state championship since 1997 on Friday at the Alerus Center.
"That is always important," said Mack, whose interception set up the Aggies' first score against Watford City in a 30-21 semifinal win. "We got off to a great start against Watford City. It just gives us a big boost of confidence and a big boost of energy. Who doesn't like getting a defensive touchdown?"
Velva (12-0) relied heavily on its running game to build a 13-0 first-half lead.
Despite being in severe pain due to a separated shoulder, bruising senior running back Collin Kittelson plowed through defenders en route to 102 yards on 22 carries.
Kittleson, who had surgery to repair his shoulder as a freshman, said he's been dealing with the issue since the end of last season.
The shoulder feels like it pops in and out of place, Kittelson said.
He can barely lift his left arm above his head, and his shoulder is wrapped so tightly that it further limits the mobility of his arm.
However, the injury didn't appear to slow Kittelson in the championship game.
He still lowered the boom on would-be tacklers, and he never shied away from contact.
Kittelson scored on a 19 yard pass from Mack at the end of the second quarter that gave the Aggies a 19-7 lead.
"It is tough," Kittelson said of winning back-to-back titles. "They key on you, you have to mix it up a little bit. But you just keep going and keep going."
Milnor-North Sargent (9-3) didn't appear to be intimidated by the Velva mystique.
The Bulldogs rallied behind the shifty running of quarterback Josh Hansana to cut the Aggies lead to 19-14 late in the third quarter.
Hansana caught Velva off guard with his speed several times as he bolted for 132 yards on 12 carries.
"We will be good next year," Hansana said. "I have a feeling we will be back."
Kittelson's 2-yard touchdown run put the Aggies ahead 25-14 with 9:01 remaining.
Milnor-North Sargent used a 9-play, 70-yard drive to cut the lead to 25-20 with 41 seconds on the clock. A 28-yard run by Hansana helped spark the scoring drive. He then scored on a 9-yard run.
But it was too late to complete the comeback.
"Once you get a taste of state, being in this dome and the atmosphere, you want to go back the next year," Mack said. "That's what you set your goals on at the beginning of the season."