Familiar territory: Loboes head back to 9-man semifinals
The LaMoure/LM 9-man football team is competing in the 9-man football semifinals this Saturday.
The LaMoure/Litchville-Marion football team has found itself exactly where it was one year ago.
Undefeated, headed into the 9-man semifinals.
"We've kept last year in the back of our minds for this reason," LLM head coach Andy DelaBarre said. "We're recalling that this is the semifinals and that we have to play even better football than we did this last week. We have to continue to improve."
The Loboes, 10-0, most recently topped Grant County-Flasher 42-22 on Oct. 30 to advance to the 9-man football semifinals. Last season, the Loboes' undefeated streak came to an end with a 46-38 loss to Linton in the state semifinals.
LLM is slated to face off against Bottineau on Nov. 6. The Braves are also undefeated at 10-0. Bottineau pitched three shutouts in early to mid-September.
"I think it kind of went as expected," DelaBarre said. "We knew that Grant County was going to come and bring a good game. They were well-coached and had hardworking kids.
The Storm hung tough for three quarters and became the first team to score three touchdowns against the Loboes this season.
"They were pretty efficient on some of their run game and I think that helped set them up for some better opportunities for first downs," DelaBarre said. "They moved the field well but I think one of the things we did well was taking away big plays.
The quarterfinal tilt was tied 14-14 with 90 seconds remaining in the first half when LLM went on an eight-play, 88-yard drive that was capped off with a 21-yard pass from senior signal-caller Corban Potts to junior tight end Colton Ness to put the Loboes up 20-14.
"First half was really exciting. I am just proud of our kids for being resilient, staying the course and adjusting what we needed to adjust and taking care of some of those things late in the game," DelaBarre said.
"Defensively, we had to adjust some of our coverages and reiterate how we needed to contain their quarterback because he was such a mobile quarterback. Nothing huge, just more of a hey, remember this is what we have to do."
The last-second, first-half momentum carried over to the second half when Potts found Garrett Hebl on the opening drive of the third quarter. The eight-play, 69-yard drive made it a two-score game. After a three-and-out forced the Storm to punt, LLM put together another 69-yard touchdown drive finished off with Potts on the keeper from two yards out that put the Loboes up 36-14.
LLM tacked on another score early in the fourth with Potts punching it in from one yard out to wrap up the 10-play drive that covered 51 yards.
Potts accounted for all six of the Loboes' touchdowns over the Storm. Grant County-Flasher ended the year at 6-5 and was led by running back Layton Woodbury. The junior had a pair of touchdown runs, his 10th and 11th of the season.
"Offensively our line was our anchor opening up holes for Brady Lettenmaier and Tate Mart and giving Corban time for the throws that he had to make," DelaBarre said. "I think Corban utilized his legs well to pick up first downs when we needed them. He's shown that he's more than just a pocket passer, he can get out and run as well."
"Those catches by our receivers just showed their athleticism and Corban's ability to put the ball in the spot."
Potts was 8-for-13 for 137 yards through the air. Ness and Charlie Bowman each hauled in a catch for 20-plus yards while Mart and Hebl each had a pair of catches for 45 yards. Lettenmaier went 193 yards on 27 rushes while Mart was averaging more than 10 yards for each of his eight carries.
The Loboes will need some more of those athletic catches and evenly distributed offense in the semis. The Braves are only the second undefeated team the Loboes have faced all year.
"We've seen that Bottineau is very good at scheming, they have an effective run game with a very talented running back and a very talented receiver as well who can line up in the back field or spread out," DelaBarre said.
Defensively, DelaBarre said the Loboes will have to keep in mind where the Braves' playmakers are on the field and eliminate their points of contact. The head coach said the Loboes will not be the only one looking to pitch a defensive shutout.
The head coach said Bottineau's defense is second only to the Loboes in total points allowed.
"We know that they are bringing a tough defense, they are fast and they are physical," DelaBarre said. "They are a team that we will need to give a lot of respect to."
DelaBarre said if the Loboes can continue to focus on executing the technical elements of the game, they will likely prove successful in their game plan against the Braves.
"The teams that have made it this far have definitely earned it and deserve to be where they are at," DelaBarre said. "It's a reminder that you can't take this for granted. You've got to earn it week in and week out.
"I am proud of our boys and this team and excited for what they can still achieve. We'll play with that emotion and that energy on Saturday. We've said all year that it's one week, one team, one rep, one play at a time. One game at a time, one day at a time."