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Ness ballhawks for the reigning champion Loboes football team

Ness said he and his teammates are feeling confident but respecting the Mustangs heading into the quarterfinals.

Colton Ness
The Loboes Colton Ness (85) runs with the ball ahead of the chasing pack of Richland defenders during the Loboes win over the Colts on Sept. 16, at LaMoure High School.
Contributed / Leah Meisch
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LAMOURE — LaMoure/Litchville-Marion is heading into the quarterfinals of the 2022 NDHSAA Division 9B State Playoffs on a 21-game winning streak, and senior tight end and strong safety Colton Ness has helped the Loboes during its dominant run.

“Colton’s been a staple for our team here now,” Loboes head coach Andy DelaBarre said. “Even since he was a freshman, he’s been all-state tight end since his sophomore year. I think (he has) been a good athlete for us on both sides of the ball, he worked really hard at making himself better and improving year after year.”

This season, Ness has 17 receptions for 445 yards and 10 touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, he has 33 tackles, eight tipped balls and five interceptions.

In the Loboes' most recent game, a 44-0 win over Maple River, Ness was held to one reception for seven yards and two assisted tackles. Despite his impact not popping off the stat sheet, Ness said he wasn’t worried about it.

“It’s tough, but when you have so many other players around you that can make plays, it’s a lot easier,” Ness said. “We like to share the ball as a team, so it’s nice to have other targets so other people can get attention.”

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DelaBarre commended his senior’s attitude and effort despite not having as many catches as he is used to.

“He took it just like a good teammate would and I think he took extra effort in the way he blocked and just contributing in every way he still can even if he’s not catching the football,” DelaBarre said.

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The Tuesday, Jan. 31, game between Sioux Falls Lincoln and Watertown was forced to move after junior JT Rock broke the rim with a powerful two-handed dunk. Rock is committed to play at Iowa State.

The Loboes' opponent in the quarterfinals is Surrey at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at LaMoure High School. The Mustangs are averaging 35.5 points per game this season and come in with a 7-3 record.

“I think (Ness) just has to keep doing what he does,” DelaBarre said. “He has to continue to be a good route runner and make plays when they come up. Defensively too, I think he can continue to stay disciplined understanding his role and roles on defense. As long as he does that, I know his contribution will be great.”

Ness said he is expecting the Mustangs to not give him any space on offense and to try to trick him when he is on defense.

“They’re gonna try to jam me and keep someone over the top of me at all times,” Ness said. “On defense, maybe, try to look me off when I’m playing safety, try to look a different direction and throw back.”

DelaBarre said his team needs to keep possession of the football and run to the ball on defense in order to beat the Mustangs.

Ness, who has been a Loboe since his freshman year, said he has worked harder and harder to keep his starting spot each year. DelaBarre said he has improved on the technical sides of the game like his three-point stance from his freshman year to now.

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“Freshman year, I was a starter right away but then I broke my hand. I’ve just been getting better ever since,” Ness said. “I’ve been putting in the work in the offseason and now I’ve gotten a for-sure starting spot at tight end every year now and I’ve been getting better and better.”

The Loboes' last loss came in the state semifinals in 2020, Ness’ sophomore year.

“It fueled us a lot because we went in there thinking we were going to win and we obviously lost that game,” Ness said. “Everyone knew we needed to come back the next season and play better and get better during the offseason.”

Despite the possibility of the Loboes being the first repeat champions since Cavalier in 2012 and 2013, DelaBarre said Ness and his teammates cannot overlook Surrey and start dreaming of the Fargodome yet.

“I think we just have to take it one game at a time,” DelaBarre said. “We need to fix the things that we saw from Saturday that we need to improve upon.”

Hello,
My name is Max O'Neill. I am a Sports Reporter at The Jamestown Sun. I am a native New Yorker, who graduated from Ithaca College in 2020 with a degree in Television-Radio.
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