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Thompson Tommies motivated by a loss

Korrie Wenzel/Grand Forks Herald Marcus Hughes runs for the end zone during the first half of Thompson's win over Oakes Saturday in the state nine-man football playoffs. In the background are Thompson's Hayden Overby (22) and Oakes' Coy Awender (15). 1 / 3
Korrie Wenzel/Grand Forks Herald Thompson quarterback Cadyn Schwabe (7) runs for a long gain as Oakes defenders Coy Awender (15) and Marc Seyer (35) close in during their game Saturday. 2 / 3
Korrie Wenzel/Grand Forks Herald Thompson quarterback Cadyn Schwabe breaks a tackle during the first half of the Tommies' win over Oakes Saturday. 3 / 3

THOMPSON, N.D.—After going 12-0 and winning the North Dakota 9-man state high school football championship in 2016, the Tommies' repeat bid came up short.

Cavalier eliminated Thompson 58-20 in the second round of the 2017 playoffs—a loss that still motivates the Tommies.

"It stung a lot,'' senior Marcus Hughes said. "It was tough to see the seniors go out like that. It definitely provided motivation. We want to be on top again.

"We know how much we hated that feeling when we lost. In pretty much every aspect of the game, we've worked harder because of it.''

The Tommies are one win away from being on top again. They're one win away from another perfect season.

Thompson plays New Salem-Glen Ullin at noon Friday in the 9-man state champion game at the Fargodome. Both teams are 11-0.

The last time they met was in the 2016 championship game, won 54-20 by the Tommies to give the program its first state title. Almost all of the current Thompson juniors and seniors were a part of that team.

Thompson coach Brady Schwab saw the impact of the playoff loss to Cavalier in 2017 throughout the offseason.

"I think it served as motivation,'' Schwab said. "Our numbers in the weight room were lights out. Almost all of the kids were in there at least 25, 30 times.

"We are undersized. But I think we've played bigger than the numbers show because the kids are stronger. We've held our own on the lines.''

Schwab said Hughes, Cadyn Schwabe, Adam Ackerman and Hayden Overby are the only holdovers who played a lot on that 2016 team. The makeup and the style of the teams are different.

"We're more about speed this year,'' Schwab said. "The 2016 team was more physical. Now we spread the offense out. We look for speed and size mismatches that are to our advantage.

"All of our guys have the ability to make a tackler miss and turn a small gain into a big play.''

The Tommies have found those mismatches in a lot of spots in their explosive offense.

Schwabe is a two-way threat at quarterback. The senior has rushed for 1,061 yards and 24 touchdowns while completing 106-of-162 passes for 1,807 yards and 26 TDs. He's the No. 2 rusher behind Nick Reck, who has 1,532 yards and 12 touchdowns. Both average more than 7.5 yards per carry.

Hughes is another 1,000-yard player with 56 catches for 1,023 yards. Hughes is a big-play threat with his speed. Schwab has big threats, literally, at the other receiver positions in the 6-foot-6 Overby (24 catches, 536 yards) and 6-5 Chance Danner (28-217).

Hughes leads the Tommies defense with an average of 12.4 tackles per game. The senior sees defending the Tommies offense as a dilemma.

"It would be kind of damage control,'' Hughes said. "Even beyond us three (Hughes, Schwabe and Reck), we have good players. Take one or two of us out and there are other talented guys to do the job.

"I think it would be very tough to defend.''

Thompson at a glance

Coach: Brady Schwab.

Record: 11-0, Region 1 champion.

Friday's championship game: The Tommies play New Salem-Glen Ullin (11-0) at noon Friday in the North Dakota 9-man state championship at the Fargodome.

How they got here: The Tommies were undefeated Region 1 champions in the regular season. In the postseason, Thompson advanced with wins of 48-14 over LaMoure-L-M, 32-28 over New Rockford-Sheyenne and, in the semifinals, 38-7 over Oakes.

Starting offense: Sr. QB Cadyn Schwabe, sr. HB Nick Reck, sr. WR Marcus Hughes, sr. WR Hayden Overby, jr. WR Jacob Dick, jr. TE Chance Danner, sr. OL Josh Sem, jr. OL Wade Strande, jr. OL Garrett Webber.

Starting defense: DL Sem, sr. DL Adam Ackerman, sr. DL Jake Woods, LB Hughes, LB Reck, DB Schwabe, DB Overby, soph. DB Sam Roller, jr. DB Clay Odenbach.

Offensive average: 44.5 ppg.

Defensive average: 13.5 ppg.

Leading rushers: Reck 202-1,532, 12 TDs; Schwabe 122-1,061, 24 TDs; Roller 53-308, 2 TDs.

Leading passer: Schwabe 106-162, 1,807 yards, 26 TDs.

Leading receivers: Hughes 56-1,023, 12 TDs; Overby 24-536, 8 TDs; Danner 28-217, 5 TDs.

About New Salem-Glen Ullin: The Holsteins' offense is run by Evan Henke (75-of-114 passing for 1,376 yards, 490 yards rushing). Braden Zuroff (1,318 yards, 11.9 per-carry average), Chauncey Dittus (677, 9.0) and Isaiah Huus (521, 13.0) all are big-play backfield threats. Garret Soupir (21 catches-410 yards) and Tayt Wolding (14-138) are Henke's favorite receiving targets. Henke is also a force on defense with 10.5 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles from his defensive end position.