The official site of the Western Dakota Association
AAA Past State Champions
2017: W Fargo 56, Minot 28
2016: Century 27, Bismarck 12
2015: Century 28, Minot 21
2014: F Davies 41, Minot 10
2013: F South 42, Bismarck 34
2012: Bismarck 21, Century 0
2011: Bismarck 21, Century 3
2010: F South 26, Bismark 14
2009: Bismarck 28, F South 10
2008: Bismarck 28, F South 19
2007: F South 40, Bismarck 14
2006: F South 21, Minot 7
2005: GF Central 39, F. South 29
2004: F South 34, GF Central 27
2003: W Fargo 45, Bismarck 21
2002: W Fargo 51, Minot 14
2001: Bismarck 21, F South 9
2000: F North 42, Bismack 22
1999: W Fargo 24, Minot 14
1998: W Fargo 12, Wahpeton 7
1997: Dickinson 28, Bismarck 26
Bismarck High vs. Century - Round 4
The 2018 Dakota Bowl will be the fourth time since 2011, that Bismarck High and Century square off in the championship. BHS won titles in 2011 and 2012 while Century won in 2016. It was the Patriots' first-ever playoff win over its rival.
Photos courtesy of Jon Jablonski, Bismarck Tribune, WDA SID,
Friday, Nov. 9
2W Century vs. 1W Bismarck High, 6:40 p.m. FargoDome (TV: STATEWIDE ABC AFFILIATES -- WDAY, WDAZ, KBMY, KMCY)
Friday Nov. 2 - Semifinals
1W Bismarck High 34, 2E Fargo Davies 13
2W Century 31, 1E WF Sheyenne 20
Friday, Oct. 26 - Quarterfinals
1W Bismarck High 44, 4E Fargo North 0
2E Fargo Davies 42, 3W Mandan 6
1E WF Sheyenne 28, 4W Legacy 21
2W Century 45, 3E Fargo South 13
Friday, Nov. 9
No. 2 Bismarck St. Mary's vs. No. 1 Fargo Shanley, 3 p.m. FargoDome (TV: STATEWIDE ABC AFFILIATES - WDAY, WDAZ, KMBY, KMCY)
Saturday, Nov. 3 - Semifinals
No. 1 Fargo Shanley 21, No. 4 Jamestown 14
No. 2 Bismarck St. Mary's 41, No. 3 Central Cass 20
Saturday, Oct. 27 - Quarterfinals
No. 3 Central Cass 30, No. 6 TMCHS Belcourt 8
No. 4 Jamestown 20, No. 5 Devils Lake 0
For the second year in a row and third time since 2014, Bismarck St. Mary's and Fargo Shanley will meet in the AA championship. St. Mary's won the last two meetings. These teams have built quite a resume in AA. The Deacons are playing in its eighth Dakota Bowl game. St.. Mary's is playing in its fifth in the last six years, winning the previous four title games.
Photos courtesy of Jamestown Sun, WDA SID, Forum Communications
AA Past Champions
2017: St. Mary's 31, Shanley 12
2016: St. Mary's 47, Kindred 6
2015: Beulah 33, Shanley 18
2014: St. Mary's, 21, Shanley 7
2013: St. Mary's 24, Wahpeton 22
2012: Shanley 14, Grafton 14
2011: Grafton 33, Shanley 6
2010: Shanley 24, Devils Lake 21
2009: Shanley 31, Devils Lake 30 (OT)
2008: Watford City 40, Valley City 20
2007: Oak Grove 28, Devils Lake 0
2006: Watford City 20, Dick. Trinity 14
2005: Dick. Trinity 21, Beulah 7
2004: Cavalier 36, Lisbon 12
2003: Cavalier 28, Dick. Trinity 7
2002: Cavalier 18, Dick. Trinity 0
2001: Dick. Trinity 48, Hazen 6
2000: Dick.. Trinity 42, Rugby 28
1999: Bishop Ryan 43, Lisbon 13
1998: Watford City 42, Rugby 14
1997: Bishop Ryan 33 Watford City 14
For the first 36 years the NDHSAA established its football playoff system, Bismarck High and Century met just once in the postseason. That was in 2000; A BHS semifinal victory.
Things have been quite different in recent years. In the last seven seasons, the programs have now met five times in the postseason, and on Friday, Nov. 9, it will be the fourth championship game matchup. (BHS won in 2011 and 2012; Century won in 2016).
While Bismarck High has continued its status as one the premiere powers in North Dakota football, the Patriots have rapidly elevated their program into the conversation as one of the best annually. In the past seven years no two AAA programs have won more football games or reached the championship than these two.
Bismarck High will enter as the favorite, and rightfully so. The unbeaten Demons have been dominant throughout the season and handed Century its only loss.
Games of this magnitude often come down to turnovers, line of scrimmage play, special teams and big plays. The team which has the better play in those areas has a great chance to win.
Here's a closer look at both teams.
2W Century (10-1) vs. 1W Bismarck High (11-0), 6:40 p.m.
at Fargodome, Fargo, N.D.
Last meeting: Bismarck High won, 34-22, on Oct. 12, 2018
About Century: The Patriots once again proved it can win on the road in big games. Century defeated EDC champion West Fargo Sheyenne, 31-20, last Friday’s semifinal round. In fact, the program is unbeaten in its last three AAA semifinal road games.
You don’t win 10 games without having a dynamic offense. The Patriots offense has generated 3,483 total yards, a bulk of it (2,462) coming on the ground. Three players have over 400 yards of rushing led by RB Grant Anderson’s 846 and 11 TDS. QB Cade Feeney has 650 yards on the ground and 13 scores. Nathan Kraft has 439 yards and 8 TD. The team averages over 220 yards per game, but was held to just 177 vs. WF Sheyenne. No problem, the offense is quite capable moving down the field in the air. Feeney has 949 passing yards and 14 scores this season. Just as impressive is his ability to make good decisions. He has thrown just seven INTs and none in his last three games. No Century receiver has over 200 yards of passing, but don’t let that fool you. Seven players have seven or more receptions. Skyler Reidinger leads the team with 179 yards. Darin Nolz has 169; Mason Peterson has 154. Although the team doesn’t have that one go-to receiver, they have been able to rely on somebody new to pick up big plays at key times. And that is likely going to have to be the case in the championship.
The defense has been able to keep most opponents in check this season, allowing an average of just 224 yards. However, it did allow 470 yards against BHS in the Oct. 12 meeting. The Demons were able to move the ball consistently. BHS QB Will Madler had a strong game, showing his ability to elude pass rushers and extend plays. The Patriots will need to do a better job containing him. And need keep the vaunted BHS running game from taking over.
Century trailed just 20-14 at halftime vs. BHS in the first meeting, but it was the third quarter where the Demons took over the game, scoring 14 points and keeping the Pats offense out of the end zone. Turnovers were also a factor. Century committed four (2 fumbles-2 INT) to none by BHS.
As mentioned at the top, this is the fourth time these programs will meet in the championship. BHS won the first two (2011, 2012) but Century was able to win the (2016). It’s the only playoff win the Patriots have over their rivals, to date. Will a second come on Friday?
About Bismarck High: The Demons just keep rolling along, and that was the case in the 34-13 semifinal victory over Fargo Davies last Friday. The offense did its thing, showing its ability to run and pass, and the defense forced turnovers at key times.
Speaking of the BHS defense, they have allowed just 37 first half points. Six times they have shut out their opponent in the first half, including the last three games. The squad has been particularly stingy on stopping the run, allowed under 150 yards rushing per game. The Demons did allow a season-high 412 yards of offense to Fargo Davies, but it didn’t translate into a lot of points. Twice, the Eagles turned the ball over inside the 25-yard line in the opening half. BHS will be tested this week against a Century offense which can move the ball. Ironicially, the Pats are the last team to score in the first half vs. BHS.
It’s pick your poison, of late, if you are a defense facing Bismarck High. Yes, the Demons have the best running game in the state and want to establish a run game early. However, you can't discount their passing game. Fargo Davies found that out last week where it allowed Demon QB Will Madler to throw for 314 yards. The ground game is led by Isaiah Olsen, who has rushed for over 1,100 yards. He was held to a season-low 23 yards in the semifinal game, but made up for it as a receiver (142 yards). Matt Russell turned in a strong performance in the semifinal, rushing for 88 yards and a score.
Madler has thrown for 1,800 yards, and as mentioned, is coming off his best passing game of the season. His athleticism has enabled him to extend plays. Wide Receivers Joe Jahner and Matt Trolliey have been the squad’s top receivers. They have combined for over 1,000 yards receiving and 15 TDs.
BHS took advantage of turnovers and strong play in the third quarter to take command in its first meeting with Century. The Demons held Century’s offense well below its season average, and pressured QB Cade Feeney.
Offensively, the Demons’ leaders shined. QB Madler threw for 267 yards and a pair of scores. RB Olsen rushed for 137 yards and a TD. WR Jahner had 187 yards receiving and two scores.
BHS has come up on the losing end in its last two trips to the Dakota Bowl and its last victory came in 2012. The Demons hope they can put an end to the title drought on Friday.
Fries at the bottom of the bag: Since the Dakota Bowl began in 1993, there has been six times when two WDA teams met in the championship…This is the fifth time BHS enters the Dakota Bowl unbeaten since 1993 (Only time they lost was 2003 vs. West Fargo)...Both Century and BHS have strong kicking games and both made field goals in the semifinal (BHS, 2; Century 1)….Century is 2-3, all-time, in championship games…The game is being televised statewide on (ABC affiliates)...The last four Dakota Bowls have been hosted by Fargo.
2018 AAA and AA Football Playoffs
Before Fargo Shanley and Bismarck St. Mary football programs moved into Class AA, they already had made their mark on the gridiron.
The Deacons built one of the most impressive high school dynasties in North Dakota, winning multiple state championships in the 1970s and early 1980s. Between 1983 and 1995, St. Mary’s played in six championship games, winning three.
Since they both entered AA, no other programs have enjoyed their level of success.
Shanley has won three championships, 2009, 2010 and 2012 and finished runner-up in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2017. St. Mary’s has captured four titles in the last six seasons (2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017).
So both teams are used to the big stage. Shanley is unbeaten while St. Mary’s only setback came to the Deacons in late September, 14-7. Is there a favorite in this match up? That's hard to say. Both teams have some dynamic playmakers and have been good on defense. Big plays, turnovers, line of scrimmage play and field position are all key factors in playoff games.
Which team has the edge in a majority of those areas stands a good chance to win.
Here’s a closer look at both teams.
No. 2 Bismarck St. Mary’s (9-1) vs. No. 1 Fargo Shanley (10-0), 3 p.m. at Fargodome, Fargo, N.D.
Last meeting: Fargo Shanley won, 14-7, on Sept. 28, 2018
About St. Mary’s: The Saints are the two-time defending AA champions and is unbeaten in the AA Dakota Bowl (4-0). The program has built quite a dynasty in recent years and seems to reload with talent. St. Mary’s advanced with a 41-20 semifinal victory over Central Cass. The Saints took an early lead and withstood a push back from the Squirrels in the third quarter en route to the win. RB Joey Heinert rushed for four scores, including a 65-yard scamper on the second play from scrimmage. SM rushed for 282 total yards. QB Drew Dosch didn’t pass much, just 16 times, but had 96 yards and a score.
The Saints defense did allow a season-high 20 points and 413 yards of offense to CC. A good majority of that offense, though, came on two TD pass plays. SM did effectively shut down the Squirrels run game and forced four turnovers.
As mentioned, the SM’s offense was led by Heinert, who has rushed for over 2,000 yards and 31 TDs. He no doubt will get a lot of attention from the Deacon defense. Ben Schmidt provides another option for the Saints. Dosch hasn’t had to the throw the ball much, largely because of the success of the run game. He does have eight TD passes, however, and Holten Bradley is the go-to-receiver. SM also has a strong kicking game. Joel Huber has made over 80 percent of his PATs.
In the first meeting with Shanley, St. Mary’s turned over the ball over twice and never really got into an offensive rhythm. It was also forced to play catch up, something the team does not have to do very often.
Playing with the lead is something the Saints have enjoyed in its four previous Dakota Bowl appearances. It has scored first in three of the four games and has led by two scores or more at the half in all of them. The squad will try and continue that trend on Friday.
About Fargo Shanley: This will be the Deacons final game in AA for the foreseeable future as the program will return to Class AAA next season. Their 10-year stint has been impressive to say the least. Shanley has made the playoffs every season, reached the Dakota Bowl in eight of them and have won three titles. Nothing would be finer than one more championship before it moves up a classification.
Shanley reached the championship with a hard fought 21-14 semifinal win over visiting Jamestown. The Deacons trailed 7-0 after one quarter, but took advantage of some Blue Jays turnovers to grab a 14-7 lead at the break. FS extended its lead and then held off a Jamestown comeback attempt to preserve the win. QB Cade Busek rushed for all three FS touchdowns.
Offensively, the Deacons are averaging 341 yards per game and have been led by their talented QB. Busek has rushed for 857 yards in 10 games and scored 13 touchdowns. RB Cole Friedrichs has 425 yards on the ground. Busek has passed for 83 yards and nine TDs. The passing attack featured Haley Bucholz who has 31 receptions for 555 yards and seven scores. Austin Manuel had 311 yards receiving and Talon Hoffer adds 278.
It will be difficult for the Saints to cover all the offensive options, but priority one will be to contain Busek as much as they can. Defensively, Shanley has been steady. It only has allowed an average of 185 yards of total offense in 10 games and only allowed 101 points.
In the teams’ early meeting, the Deacons held St. Mary’s to just 200 yards of total offense and forced a pair of turnovers en route to the seven-point win. One of the goals for Shanley on Friday will be to get off to a good start. In its two previous Dakota Bowl matches vs. St. Mary’s, the Deacons have not scored in the first half, and have trailed 14-0.
Fries at the bottom of the bag: St. Mary’s has led by no less than 14 points at the half in its four previous Dakota Bowls… Since 2013, St. Mary’s and Fargo Shanley are a combined 120-15...Shanley's last postseason win over St. Mary's came in the 1983 Class A title game (31-17)...The game is being televised statewide on (ABC affiliates).