It didn't take long for Sam Footh to grow acclimated to living in Stanley.
The then-sophomore latched onto the town's football tradition and joined the Stanley-Powers Lake program quickly upon his arrival from Everett, Wash., two years ago.
After helping the school win its first Class A state championship since 2002 last year, the senior quarterback is reaping the rewards of being a good player in a football town of just more than 1,500 people.
File Photo • Stanley-Powers Lake senior running back Abe Roehrich stiff-arms a Rugby opponent during an August scrimmage at Herb Parker Stadium.
"I love the small-town environment," Footh said. "I love being able to go to the local cafe here and get free pie. Being in a community like this makes playing football so special. Being in a small-town environment, I like this a lot better than in the city."
He hopes to begin another title run on Saturday when the Blue Jays (8-0) host Grant County-Flasher (4-4). And he'll have plenty of help.
Abe Roehrich is an all-state back from a year ago putting up big totals again this season. In the Blue Jays last regular-season game, Roehrich tallied three touchdowns and 145 rushing yards against Williams County. He's had 100-yard games with multiple scores against New Town, Watford City, Des Lacs-Burlington, Velva and Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn.
Roehrich didn't reach the century mark against Garrison-Max. That's because he scored on four of his six carries and returned a punt for a touchdown before being removed from the 71-7 massacre. In short, the 180-pound senior has been a monster.
"He's been keyed on every game and still comes out and rushes for 170 yards, 200 yards a game," Footh said. "When you can hand the ball to him every play, let's be honest, I don't complain very often."
While the Blue Jays like playing smash mouth, running football, Grant County-Flasher throws regularly. Storm junior quarterback Taylor Krenz completes 60 percent of his passes and has averaged nearly 20 attempts per game. Senior tight end Dustin Iverson and junior wide receivers J.W. Froelich and Zackary Schmidt have combined for 63 receptions and 894 yards this season.
"They like to spread it out and throw the ball a little bit," S-PL coach Lyne Enget said. "They've got some good receivers and good size on the edges. If there's nice weather they're going to try to chuck it around a little bit."
GC-F's defense is similar to the Blue Jays in that it's a 5-2 look consisting of five down linemen and two linebackers.
"They're a good-tackling team," Roehrich said. "I hope we can move the ball on them."
The Blue Jays haven't been beaten since Hazen eliminated them from the 2010 playoffs. But that 20-game win streak, and the seemingly dominant season S-PL has put together, doesn't mean much if the Blue Jays lose on Saturday.
S-PL has the home field advantage and an edge in playoff experience. Knowing that one bad stretch of 48 minutes can make all of that irrelevant, Footh said his team will be ready.
"We are not looking past Grant County in any way, shape or form," Footh said. "We've been watching film all week, game-planning hard all week. Practicing hard all week. We've been in the weight room hard all week."
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday.