For some coaches, Tuesday's exhibition games at Herb Parker Stadium were filled with welcomed surprises.
Others were thankful that the regular season is still a week away.
Six teams - Minot High School, Stanley-Powers Lake, Lewis & Clark-Our Redeemer's, Velva, Beulah and Rugby - competed against one another Tuesday, showcasing a week's worth of practice. Many scrimmages matched teams that faced off last season, including Rugby and Beulah. The Miners got the upper hand on the Panthers last season, but Beulah lost the majority of its starters from that year and it showed.
Rugby senior defensive lineman Dylan Morin (72) tackles Beulah wide receiver Kamron Unruh during a scrimmage Tuesday at Herb Parker Stadium.
"I'm glad we don't have a game in a week," Beulah coach Jim Dooley said. "I'm glad we have 10 days. We have a long way to go, but I saw some good things. We'll probably see some bad things when we watch the film. It's early and we're young and the thing I like is we were playing hard at the end."
The Miners fumbled on their first two possessions before scoring on their last two drives. Starting quarterback Casey Walcker suffered a "deep bone bruise on his shin" against MHS later in the day, but Dooley doesn't believe it's serious.
Defensively, Beulah's line was overmatched by Rugby's front four. The Panthers - dropping down to Class A after a 5-5 season - scored three touchdowns on the ground with help from senior linemen Alex Senger (286 pounds), Hunter Tuchscherer (214) and Dylan Morin (192).
"I was really pleased with that," Rugby coach Scott Grochow said of the offensive line. "We were a little worried about that coming in and they did a pretty good job up there. They made some nice holes and our backs did a good job of running the ball."
Rugby junior quarterback Brad Heidlebaugh rushed for two touchdowns.
Stanley-Powers Lake replaces Rugby in the Class AA West Region. The two teams squared off later in the day, with S-PL first-year coach Kory Anderson getting a good sense of how the Blue Jays stand in the new region.
"We're not ready, I'll tell you that much right now," he said. "Not physical enough. Not mentally strong enough. A lot of mistakes in the secondary. We don't know our coverages or where we have to be. We have to fix that before next Tuesday."
Velva - S-PL's longtime rival - looked sharp in its scrimmages. Senior quarterback Drew Effertz tossed three touchdowns totaling 50 yards against the Blue Jays and the Aggies defense forced a fumble and an interception.
"I was happy our guys got out and competed," Velva coach Larry Sandy said. "I thought they were able to understand the game and get into good position. Overall, I was pleased."
L&C-ORCS felt what it's like to play at the Class AAA level against the Magicians and it went as scripted. Junior quarterback Austin Lee was picked off on the Bombers' first two possessions and MHS torched L&C-ORCS' defense, scoring on all six drives. But a 6-yard touchdown run by senior Mitchel White was enough to put a smile on Bombers coach George Duenas' face.
"Our offense looked good once they got comfortable," he said. "We scored once against a AAA school. It was tough, but they competed and it was great seeing that."
Mike Kraft covers hockey and Class B high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.