Regardless of Wednesday's outcome at Mandan, the Jamestown High School football team will be competing in the Class AAA state quarterfinals on Oct. 30.
According to Jamestown High School Athletic Director Jim Roaldson, the Western Dakota Association will not penalize Jamestown for not being able to play Williston on Sept. 25 due to Williston having to cancel because of COVID-19-related quarantines.
The canceled game between the Blue Jays (3-2 West Region) and the Coyotes (0-5) was the only conference contest lost to coronavirus measures this fall, and with just two conference losses heading into this week's regular-season finale at Mandan, the Blue Jays will not finish worse than fourth in the standings because the lost game has essentially been forgiven.
The remaining two teams battling for the third and fourth seeds -- Mandan (3-3) and Bismarck Legacy (3-3) -- already have three conference losses each with one game to play. Bismarck Century (6-0) and Bismarck High (6-0) play each other Wednesday in a game that will determine the conference's top two seeds.
"We knew at the beginning of the season that it may come to a situation where we might have teams that have irregular schedules and we agreed to take a look at any kind of potential tie, or the standings situation, as a whole," Roaldson said. "There was a good chance that not everybody's games would get played, and as it worked out that was the only game that did not get played."
Roaldson explained that a Jamestown win at Mandan would lock the Blue Jays in as the No. 3 seed and Legacy would earn the No. 4 seed because of Legacy's 21-20 victory over Mandan on Oct. 9. A Jamestown loss at Mandan would make Mandan the No. 3 seed and Jamestown the No. 4 seed because of Jamestown's 21-20 victory over Legacy on Sept. 18.
Legacy wraps up the season at Dickinson (1-5) on Wednesday, a game that essentially has no bearing on playoff seeding. The West Region's No. 3 seed will play at Fargo Davies in the Class AAA quarterfinals on Oct. 30, while the No. 4 seed will play at West Fargo Sheyenne.
"We beat Legacy by one and Legacy beat Mandan by one, so should Mandan beat us they would earn the No. 3 seed," Roaldson said. "Then it would come down to us and Legacy head-to-head, which we've beaten them already, and we'd be the No. 4 seed."
Jamestown football coach Bill Nelson knows where he'd like his Blue Jays to land on the 30th. West Fargo Sheyenne is currently unbeaten at 6-0 and ranked second in the state, while Fargo Davies is ranked fourth at 6-1 overall, suffering a 29-0 loss at Sheyenne on Oct. 9.
The Blue Jays last made the Class AAA playoffs in 2013, falling at Fargo South 41-16 to finish the year at 6-4 with coach Tim Fletcher at the helm.
"Plain and simple, we want to win," Nelson said. "We want to go to Davies."
To do that, Jamestown has to defeat a Mandan team that upended Williston 34-0 last Friday and defeated the Blue Jays 36-24 last October in a game Jamestown led 17-6 at the half.
Mandan has reportedly had to deal with various exposure to COVID-19 and the team's main running back, senior Garret Schaefbauer, hasn't played in the last two games. Schaefbauer had racked up 270 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 61 carries over Mandan's first four contests.
The Mandan lines are anchored by 6-foot-3, 255-pound North Dakota State recruit Jaxon Duttenhefer. Heading into last week's win against Williston, Mandan senior quarterback Jayce Lowman had thrown for 818 yards and six scores, while receivers Treys Tietz (13-303-2) and Tyler Thilmony (11-288-1) had combined for 24 catches, 591 yards and three touchdowns.
Lowman ran for a pair of touchdowns and found junior tight end Aaron Grubb for a 12-yard TD pass and catch against Williston. Sophomore Nolan Johnson returned an interception for a TD in the third quarter, one of two interceptions by the Mandan defense along with a pick hauled in by senior Jacob Pierce.
"The amount of formations that they've run this year in six games is pretty amazing," Nelson said. "But we've gotta take care of the ball and sustain drives."
The status of Jamestown senior quarterback Ty Monson is up in the air. Monson injured his hip on the final play of the third quarter in last Thursday's 62-35 loss hosting Bismarck.
Sophomore Payton Hochhalter completed seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter in place of Monson. Hochhalter and senior Jacoby Nold could both possibly be options at QB if Monson isn't able to play, as Nold was in the running for the starting quarterback spot in fall camp before a knee injury sidelined him prior to Jamestown's first game.
"If Ty ends up not playing, other guys gotta step up and rally around your teammates," Nelson said. "We've played really well in spurts, but what would happen if we put a whole game together? That's what we keep telling these guys and they're going to keep fighting."
The Demons were able to pile up 476 rushing yards against Jamestown at Ernie Gates Field last week, which was too much for Jamestown's offense to overcome.
"That's as good of an offensive football team as we've seen," Nelson said. "Mandan's also big and physical up front, and we gotta take care of things from that standpoint."
JHS junior running back Jakob Schempp ran for 54 yards on 14 carries against Bismarck, but his motor without the ball this season has been impressive. Schempp blocked two different Bismarck defenders on a bubble screen to Jacob Hilgemann, adding to his hustle highlight reel.
"What the stat line doesn't show about Jakob is all the little things," Nelson said. "That's the things that people don't see."
Hilgemann hauled in 10 catches for 185 yards and a score, upping the senior's totals to 23 catches for 433 yards and five scores.
But success against the Braves will more than likely come down to controlling the lines and turning in a few more defensive stops than what the Jays were able to produce against Bismarck, one of the state's top programs.
"We got caught in a couple bad spots against BHS and we talk about it all the time, you gotta have 11," Nelson said. "The opportunities are going to be there. We just have to keep fighting and keep battling."
CLASS AAA FOOTBALL
JHS SEASON TOTALS
TEAM STATISTICS JHS OPP
Total yards 1,990 2,035
Passing yards 1,380 740
Pass comp./att. 95/153 54/102
Passing TDs 13 4
Rushing yards 610 1,295
Rush yards/game 101.67 215.83
Rush plays/avg. 190/3.21 227/5.7
Rushing TDs 7 17
3rd down conv./avg. 24 (40.0) 25 (40.3)
4th down conv./avg. 8 (57.1) 7 (43.8)
First downs 111 99
Turnovers 8 8
Sacks 5 10
Passing: Ty Monson 86-138-4 1,243, 12 TDs; Payton Hochhalter 9-14-0 137, 1 TD.
Rushing: Monson 81-185, Jakob Schempp 37-147.
Receiving: Jacob Hilgemann 23-433, 5 TDs; Preston Kroeber 24-315, 3 TDs; Keith Levin 8-233, 2 TDs; Carson Lamp 16-161, 1 TD; Adam Kallenbach 6-88, 1 TD; Brode Hillstrom 6-72, 1 TD; Schempp 9-54.
Tackles (solo): Colton Mewes 36 (21), Aden Braun 34 (18), Matt Anderson 26 (13), Carter Burchill 23 (12), Evan Prescott 22 (8), Monson 20 (10), Paris Ndikum 20 (11), Joel Bowman 20 (15).
Sacks: Anderson 1, Monson 1, Ndikum 1.
Interceptions: Burchill 1, Ndikum 1, Bowman 1, Kroeber 1.
Fumble recoveries: Mewes 1.
Field goals: none.
PATs: Reece Kleinknecht 12/12, Levi Korum 4/4, Kallenbach 1/2.
Punts: Monson 19-521.
Kickoff returns: Schempp 7-117, Kroeber 6-107, Hilgemann 3-87.
Punt returns: Kroeber 3-8.
AT ERNIE GATES FIELD
Bismarck 62, Jamestown 35
BHS 13 28 7 14 -- 62
JHS 0 14 14 7 -- 35
B: Logan Schaubert 17 pass from Gunner Swanson (Carter Henke kick), 9:16.
B: Swanson 1 run (Henke kick failed), 1:22.
J: Jacob Hilgemann 30 pass from Ty Monson (Reece Kleinknecht kick), 11:51.
B: Jack Steckler 15 run (Henke kick), 7:13.
J: Keith Levin 51 pass from Monson (Kleinknecht kick), 6:57.
B: Brandt Kringlie 36 pass from Swanson (Henke kick), 5:04.
B: Isaiah Huus 71 run (Henke kick), 2:03.
B: Huus 4 run (Henke kick), 0:39.
J: Monson 1 run (Kleinknecht kick), 8:55.
J: Monson 1 run (Kleinknecht kick), 5:34.
B: Huus 2 run (Henke kick), 3:23.
B: Kringlie 61 run (Henke kick), 10:32.
J: Carson Lamp 8 pass from Payton Hochhalter (Kleinknecht kick), 7:52.
B: Lucas Miller 62 run (Henke kick), 6:59.
STATISTICS JHS BCHS
Total plays 76 60
Total yards 370 650
Passing yards 300 174
Rushing yards 70 476
First downs 23 26
Third down eff. 5-12 3-7
Fourth down eff. 1-3 0-0
Turnovers 2 1
Interceptions 0 0
Penalties (yards) 3 (15) 4 (35)
JHS INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Passing: Ty Monson 11-21-0 193, Payton Hochhalter 7-11-0 107.
Rushing: Jakob Schempp 14-54, Monson 16-32, Paris Ndikum 3-14, Aden Braun 2-(-3), Carson Lamp 1-(-6), Hochhalter 3-(-21).
Receiving: Jacob Hilgemann 10-185, Keith Levin 3-78, Preston Kroeber 2-20, Lamp 3-17.
Tackles leaders (solo): Carter Burchill 8 (4), Jackson Walters 7 (4), Ndikum 5 (3), Hilgemann 5 (3), Braun 4 (3), Thomas Allmer 4 (2), Evan Prescott 4 (1).
Kickoff returns: Hilgemann 2-33, Kroeber 2-15.
Punt returns: None.
Punts: Monson 3-32.
Records: Bismarck 6-0, 6-0 West Region. Jamestown 4-2, 3-2.