If there was ever a time to forget about the past, that time is now for the Minot High School football team.
The Magicians entered last Thursday's game against Bismarck High hoping to upset the state's best team and earn a home playoff game. Instead, they got massacred - dropping a 42-0 decision that was never in doubt.
A trip to the state playoffs, which once seemed like a sure thing, is anything but that heading into tonight's game at Jamestown. A Blue Jays upset combined with Dickinson winning big against Mandan could result in Minot (6-2 overall, 3-2 West Region) missing the postseason by way of a three-team tiebreaker.
Minot High School junior wide receiver Kimani Benjamin runs the ball during the Magicians 42-0 loss to Bismarck High on Thursday.
"We can't take them lightly," senior defensive end Tanner Gust said. "This is huge 'cause if we lose this game, we might not make it into the playoffs. We have to win."
Jamestown (2-6, 2-3) went winless last year and lost to the Magicians by five touchdowns at Duane Carlson Stadium in its season finale. Despite just ending a four-game losing skid last week at Williston, the Blue Jays can still make the postseason in one of two ways.
If the Blue Jays win, Dickinson can either lose or win large enough to knock Minot out by the point differential tiebreaker. Either scenario would allow Jamestown to sneak into the fourth and final region spot.
"They're much improved," MHS coach Barry Holmen said. "Part of it is just the excitement around winning some games and being in a playoff game, that's worth something with high school kids. That gets you motivated and they haven't been in this situation for a few years. So I wish it was a home game and not an away game."
There are plenty of obstacles against the Blue Jays. The two wins aside, Jamestown has had its share of lopsided losses, dropping four games by 26 points or more. The Magicians' seniors have never lost to Jamestown, beating the Blue Jays by nearly 27 points a game over the last three years.
And MHS comes in trying to forget being bludgeoned on both sides of the ball unlike any other game this season.
"As a quarterback I've been taught to have a short-term memory," junior signal-caller Alex Yanosko said. "That game's over. I don't remember what happened."
Jamestown is coached by Tim Fletcher, who has done away with much of the option offense the Blue Jays ran in the past. Jamestown runs a lot of I-formation plays but will sprinkle in an option every once in a while with senior quarterback Matt Grounds and senior running back Anthony Cook.
"We gotta do our job," Gust said. "Our d-linemen, d-ends, if we have contain, that guy has to go to the quarterback. We can't get fooled with it. We have to do our job and we'll be all right."
Freshman swimmers stepping up
Minot High School's top 200-yard freestyle relay team Monday at Mandan had a noticeable lack of varsity experience.
Joining super sophomore McKenna Brown were three freshmen with zero high school races entering the season. Josie Gillund, Emily Hamel and Cassandra Askvig helped win that race along with four others in the meet.
"We have been fortunate to get some standout swimmers this year," MHS coach Dan Hinton said. "It was something that we needed in losing some seniors last year. ... Four or five of them that we picked up that have been solid for us. Maybe they're not scoring points now, but they will be soon."
Askvig is certainly scoring points for the Majettes. She won all four of her events Monday, highlighted by her 100-yard backstroke victory. Askvig finished the race more than two seconds ahead of sophomore teammate Sydney Clark and eighth-grader Marena Kouba, another first-year swimmer.
Askvig started swim lessons at six years old and has been swimming competitively since age nine. The rest of the freshmen have similar stories.
"We've all been swimming together for a really long time," Askvig said. "We're all close and we all support each other."
Hamel won both the 200 and 400 freestyle relays and also took first in the 100 free. Elizabeth Tin-Maung took second in the 100 breaststroke for the Majettes.
"It's nice that I can trust their abilities when they're stepping up to the block for any race," Hinton said.
Younger Huether improving
It was in Milaca, Minn., where Stephanie Huether found her groove.
The Minot High School sophomore completed the Milaca Megameet in 16:25, taking 80th place in a field of 180 runners. More importantly, she finally established herself as perhaps the team's second-best runner, finishing about eight seconds ahead of senior Clare Super.
"Once I got my head into the game and thought a little bit more about it, that's when I knew I could get up there," Huether said. "I got my fastest time of the year and it just keeps (improving) every meet I go to."
At last week's West Region meet, Huether took 17th place. Once again, it was good for second on the team. And once again, she finished behind somebody she's known her whole life - older sister Samantha Huether. The senior Huether finished fourth and hasn't yet been caught by Stephanie yet.
"No she hasn't," Samantha said. "Not yet. I'm waiting for it, though."
Said Stephanie: "I've gotten closer. She just keeps going."
First-year coach Shannon Bushnell said Stephanie Huether's relation to her sister has helped make her a better runner. She expects Stephanie to continue to improve once Samantha graduates.
"She has someone to look up to," Bushnell said. "Her sister has the qualities it takes to be a winner. (Stephanie) has that for a role model and I think that helps. ... Hopefully she'll take Sam's place here."