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First fight; Jamestown hosts Knights at home in season opener

Ready or not, Friday night high school football has arrived.

Coming off its first playoff season in five years, Jamestown has plans for another. It starts with a home game vs. Grand Forks Central at 7 p.m., today at Ernie Gates Field.

Coach Tim Fletcher said taking a look at fresh faces in live situations is one of the biggest parts of the game he looks forward to.

“I’m excited to see some young talent get evaluated,” Fletcher said. “We’ve got some positions where we’ve got some young kids, some capable athletes who are very good.

“It’ll be fun to evaluate them to see how they react to some adversity on Friday night.”

Though Jamestown lost all-state running back Taylor Orr and all-state guard Rob Bollinger to graduation, the Blue Jays boast a number of returning starters.

Senior quarterback Ross Monson threw for 10 touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards last season. At running back, senior Scott Nelson and junior Ben Hanson showed they were capable backups last season, exploding in a win over Fargo North that saw both backs be utilized all over the field.

Fletcher wouldn’t say which would get the starting nod, but that doesn’t appear to mean much.

“You are gonna see both on Friday night, I can pretty much guarantee that,” Fletcher said. “We’re excited to see both of those young men. And they’ll both see significant time on defense. It’s a great benefit for us to have two backs that can pick up reps.”

Jamestown lost both starting wideouts, offensive guards and eight defensive starters. On special teams, the Blue Jays have to replace a punter and a kick returner, but return their kicker in Hanson. Nelson and Layne Carlson will handle return duties, and Noah Wanzek is set in stone as the team’s punter.

“Here’s a young man that took second nationally in punt, pass and kick,” Fletcher said. “Noah’s very capable. He’s got a great leg.”

Grand Forks Central runs a spread offense, so the Blue Jays are gearing up for a multi-faceted attack.

“They were about 50-50 run to pass, probably a little more geared to the pass side,” Fletcher said. “We saw trips and doubles with a one-back set. We’ll have to prepare for many teams that do that, like Dickinson and Mandan. You see that more and more.”

The Blue Jays haven’t had to worry about injuries to this point. And as far as nerves go, Fletcher expects to have to deal with them.

“When you have possibly four or five or more new faces — anyone walking into triple-A football — it’s gonna bring a little nerves,” Fletcher said. “Even if you’re a returning starter, you have that bug. We know they’re prepared. They just need to take a deep breath and know they’re ready to go and focused.”

Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or