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Rivals rematch: Jays, Saints to face off at Fargodome

The Jamestown High School football team will be playing in its first state championship title since 1994 on Friday.

Bill Nelson has gone deeper into the postseason than any other Jamestown High School football coach has in 27 years.

But the seventh-year head coach is not queueing the celebration music just yet.

"It will go back to what we've done," Nelson said matter-of-factly of the Blue Jays' final week of practice. "The kids will be really focused and bought in. They will be locked in and focused on the tasks at hand. When we do that we're a pretty dang good football team."

Nelson and the Blue Jays are set to face off against Bismarck St. Mary's in the Class A State Final on Friday at approximately 2:30 p.m. at the Fargodome. Jamestown rolled over Fargo North in the state semifinals on Nov. 5 at Charlotte and Gordon Hansen Stadium, topping the Spartans 41-24. Except for an explosive fourth quarter, it was all Blue Jays from the first snap.

After the Spartans' senior running back Mason Lockwood exited the game due to a sprained ankle, Jamestown shut down the Spartans' run game almost completely holding the visitors to 13 yards on the ground.

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Senior Preston Kroeber said forcing quarterback Daniel Boutain to air it out helped to keep the Spartans more one-dimensional than they had been in their previous matchups. The senior signal-caller threw for 372 yards and recorded one interception. Boutain and the offense ran 58 total plays.

Kroeber and Colton Mewes each made five solo tackles. Three of Mewes' tackles were for a loss. Boutain suffered sacks at the hands of Mewes and Jackson Walters.

Junior quarterback Payton Hochhalter and Aden Braun helped the Jays to 498 yards of total offense compared to the 372 put up by Fargo North. Hochhalter was 10 for 18 for 276 yards. On the receiving end, Brode Hillstrom hauled in one reception for 77 yards while Kroeber came down with two catches for 66 yards. Hochhalter completed three to Kallenbach for 60 yards.

Braun, a second-stringer to senior Jakob Schempp, rushed for 176 yards on 20 carries. Schempp has been held to lesser yardage the last couple of games due to injury. While he made a presence tallying 34 yards on six carries, it has been Braun who takes the brunt of the hits. The Blue Jays had 222 total rushing yards.

The Jays were 5-for-8 on third down and 50% on fourth down. Fargo North was 40% on third down and 1-for-2 on fourth down.

"If we keep doing what we're doing and everybody does their job and trusts the system, we can beat anyone," Braun said. "I think we will be more focused than ever in practice this week. If we're focusing on offense, everyone is focusing on the plays so everybody knows what they are doing and nobody's talking or anything we're just focusing on the team. If we see something wrong, we help each other out, lift each other up and go from there.

"I think if everybody is watching film, doing their job at practice and listening to coaches, we'll be able to beat them."

The halftime score read 33-0 Blue Jays and while they managed to put up another score in the third, the home team let up on the gas, opening up some chances for the Spartans.

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Boutain completed 22, 15 and 5 yard passes to the endzone to put 18 points on the board. The Spartans went 3-for-3 on two-point conversions.

"We had plenty of miscues in that second half and that's something we'll clean up for next week but we're dang happy to be playing in the Dakota Bowl Friday," Nelson said.

Blue Jays knocked off Bismarck St. Mary’s 20-7 on Sept. 10 at Hansen Stadium. Jamestown was the first team to defeat Bismarck St. Mary’s since Hillsboro did in the 2019 State semifinals.

An intense run by the Blue Jay defense forced four interceptions thrown by quarterback Nick Schumacher and had four turnovers. St. Mary's was 1-for-3 on fourth down while the Jays were 3-for-4.

Jamestown didn't out-pass the Saints but a split effort between the run and pass game produced 277 yards. St. Mary's 224 passing yards fueled its 259 total yard performance.

"St. Mary's is a great team and they are very disciplined in everything that they do but with this team, if we play as good as we did that first half and we're firing on all cylinders, it's amazing what we can do," Kroeber said.

Related Topics: FOOTBALLPREP SPORTSJAMESTOWN BLUE JAYSBLUE JAYS FOOTBALLFARGODOME
Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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