Friday night was good but it wasn't perfect and nobody knows it more than the Jamestown High School head football coach Bill Nelson and his 100 rostered athletes.
"You are never going to complain about a win on the road to start the year," Nelson said. "I think we did a lot of things well but there was also a lot of room for improvement and the kids know that. We were pretty solid at times and we were sloppy at times."
The Blue Jays delivered their third-straight defeat of Dickinson on Friday night, besting the Midgets 19-7 in the two teams' season opener. Nelson and his squad's inaugural game at the newly remodeled Charlotte and Gordon Hansen Stadium is set for Friday at 7 p.m.
Jamestown will be facing Turtle Mountain for the first time in three years on Friday. The last two meetings between the two teams were both Blue Jay victories with Nelson's squad delivering a 46-14 win in 2018 and a 14-0 shutout in 2017.
If the Jays do more of what they did against the Midgets, they could be flying high at 2-0 in the Class A division standings.
"I thought we came out ready to play," Nelson said of his team. "Offensively we took care of the ball, special teams were decent, defensively we were pretty solid throughout. "
First-year starting quarterback Payton Hochhalter did his due diligence in the Jays' season opener, throwing up 19 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns. On the night, Hochhalter was 19-of-31. Senior Adam Kallenbach hauled in seven catches for 98 yards and one touchdown. Kallenbach also knocked one in between the uprights.
The Blue Jays put up 68 yards rushing. Senior Jakob Schempp was the Jays' leading ground gainer with 17 carries for 68 yards. Paris Ndikum pitched in four runs for 11 yards. The Midgets' defense stuffed Hochhalter and Preston Kroeber, pushing the two back for negative yardage.
While he had some trouble on the ground, Kroeber did pick up the Jays' other touchdown, getting hands on a 22-yard pass from Hochhalter in the opening quarter. Kroeber finished out his night with three catches for 42 yards.
"Offensively we've got to give Payton time to throw the ball and give time for the receivers to get open," Nelson said of what to do on Friday night. "Payton did a very nice job (against Dickinson). He took care of the ball and he distributed it well. He'll be the first to tell you that he missed a few things here and there but he did a nice job."
On defense, the Blue Jays recorded 24 tackles with Jackson Walters and Colton Mewes leading the way with five apiece. Three of Evan Prescott's four tackles came from behind the line of scrimmage while Mewes and Walters each had two tackles for a loss.
"They did just fine under the pressure," Nelson said. of his team. "They adjusted and competed hard as we knew they would. There were no deer in the headlights, they were ready to play football. (But) the kids know that it was far from a perfect game."
While Nelson knows his team likely won't produce a perfect game against the Braves, he said he expects his squad to make adjustments and be cleaner against the Braves -- a team that is eager to get back on the gridiron after losing out on a season last year due to COVID-19.
Four seniors, Blue Kellogg, Tanner Monette, Drayton Allery and Parker Wallette, were a part of the Braves' 4-6 team back in 2019. According to the North Dakota High School Activities Association website, the Braves have rostered seven more seniors in David Ledoux, Riley Vondal, Dayton Lafountain, Ethan Lunday, Wyatt Goulet, Tyrel Davis and Melvin Jeanotte.
TMCHS is coming off a 34-20 loss to Class AA division member, Williston.
"They've got some athletes, they've got some size and they are going to be physical," Nelson said. "They are usually big up front and they've got a couple of long receivers who are pretty talented so we've got to know where they are at all times and make sure that we are assignment sound defensively.
"It was good but we need to take two steps forward Friday night, there's no ifs, ands or buts about it."