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St. Mary's upends Hillsboro-CV in state semifinals

BISMARCK--In high school football, big, physical, veteran offensive lines are seldom wasted on pass blocking. So, a week after its most anemic rushing effort, St. Mary's let the hogs block and the horses run for a 28-7 playoff victory over visiti...

Bismarck St. Mary's Kurt Dickhut (16), carries while teammate Jacob Scheetz (44) blocks Hillsboro-Central Valley's Tyler Sundbom (6) during the North Dakota Class 2A semifinal game Saturday, Nov. 5. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune
TOM STROMME/TribuneSt. Mary's Kurt Dickhut (16), carries while teammate Jacob Scheetz (44) blocks Hillsboro's Tyler Sundbom (6).

BISMARCK-In high school football, big, physical, veteran offensive lines are seldom wasted on pass blocking.

So, a week after its most anemic rushing effort, St. Mary's let the hogs block and the horses run for a 28-7 playoff victory over visiting Hillsboro-Central Valley on Saturday.

With the victory, St. Mary's advanced to the AA state championship game for the third time in four years. St. Mary's will play Kindred in the championship game at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Fargodome.

The offensive line cleared the way as the Saints ran 55 times for 278 yards. Senior tailback Kurt Dickhut carried the ball 32 times for a season-high 205 yards and three touchdowns.

After a 99-yard rushing effort in last week's 38-26 playoff victory over Central Cass, Dickhut said he was happy to see the Saints re-establish their reputation as a punishing running team.

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"We like to run. We're big on the run. We're excited about it. It's a tradition at St. Mary's and with the line we have, they make it easy to do that," Dickhut said.

St. Mary's coach Dan Smrekar said the running game has been the Saints' bread and butter for decades, so an interior line that averages 254 pounds is a perfect fit.

"That's what our offensive identity has been. We wanted to use our big and physical offensive linemen,'' Smrekar said.

St. Mary's drove 93 yards on 15 plays to score on its first possession. On the first pass of the drive, Cole Gendreau hit John Nordberg in the end zone from six yards out with 2:08 to play in the first period to put the Saints ahead to stay.

On their next series the Saints drove 89 yards in 12 plays. Dickhut scored on a 2-yard run and St. Mary's had a 14-0 lead with 6:12 to play in the half.

Dickhut scored again 3:14 into the second half on a 13-yard run, then the Saints went up 28-0 on a 5-yard Dickhut run with 4:54 left in the third.

Hillsboro-Central Valley finally broke through with 2:09 to play on a 20-yard run by Grant Skager.

Hillsboro-CV was without quarterback Austin Reed, the dual-threat key to their offense. The senior was hurt in last week's 38-26 quarterfinal win over Dickinson Trinity.

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"We predicate our offense on moving the ball on the ground, and we couldn't do as many things as we wanted to do (without Reed)," said Burro coach Scott Olsen.

"We thought it was just a sprain, but it ended up being a broken bone (in the throwing hand). He had surgery yesterday. ... It's a big difference. Ryan (Troftgruben) did a decent job for having four practices and going against the best team in the state."

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