Battle of the unbeatens

TOM STROMME/Tribune

Jaden Friedt, left, of the Demons will be focusing on the fundamentals tonight against Minot.

Trying to sort out the variables for tonight’s AAA football showdown between Minot and Bismarck is an exercise in futility.

Bismarck, the leader in the statewide media poll, runs head-on into Minot, the second-ranked team.

The West Region’s top offense, Bismarck, gets to mix it up with Minot, the leading defensive unit, at 7 p.m. at the Community Bowl.

Six of the most explosive offensive players in the region — Bismarck’s Ricardo Galindo, Hayden Gibson and Jon Tharaldsen and Minot’s Brady Lampert, Ben Bolinske and Tre Kinchen — will battle for an edge.

Yet Jaden Friedt, Bismarck’s all-state guard, says all that stuff is just window dressing. From Friedt’s perspective the mundane stuff — execution, fundamentals, turnovers and team improvement — will carry the day. Especially the latter.

“What’s important is just us coming together as a team. If we play well as a team and kind of pick each other up we’ll do fine,” said Friedt, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound senior. “As a team we need to be as one.”

So if the Demons continue to improve as a team, Friedt is willing to take his chances tonight.

“I want us to take a step forward as a team. That’s what I’m focused on,” he said. “... The first few games we were a little bit shaky, but the last few weeks we’ve been making great leaps forward.”

Tonight’s winner earns the West’s top seed in the eight-team state playoff bracket and will play host to East No. 4. The loser will be seeded second and play host to East No. 3. Century and Jamestown have already qualified as No. 3 and No. 4 from the West, respectively.

Going into tonight’s final round of regular season action, the East Region picture remains completely muddled. Fargo Davies, Fargo South, Grand Forks Red River and West Fargo all stand 4-1 in the region. Davies plays at West Fargo tonight and Red River is at South.

Bismarck puts a 25-game winning streak at risk tonight and the West Region title is also on the line.

Friedt says that stuff is just background noise. It’s the playoff seeds that matter most in the long term.

“Being No. 1 (in the West) is most important so we can play our playoff games at home,” he said.

Friedt, a third-year starter, has been in the lineup for two state championships and all of the Demons’ winning streak. He’s developed an immunity to hype, but still loves the on-field confrontation.

He knows that the Magicians’ region-leading defense held Century to 70 yards last week in a 14-10 victory in Minot. The Magicians have surrendered, on average, 80 rushing yards per game. Bismarck has churned out an average of 263 yards per game to lead the region.

Obviously, something has to give.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge to us. ... It will be a fun game to play in,” Friedt said. “It’s pretty much the challenge I enjoy. Everyone has so many questions about who is better. It will be fun to settle them out.”

Minot tailback Brady Lampert leads the region in rushing with his BHS counterpart, Ricardo Galindo, second. Galindo leads the region is scoring with Lampert second.

Friedt has developed tons of confidence in Galindo, who erupted for 410 rushing yards against Fargo South and has other games of 185 and 173 yards.

“If we give him a hole for one second he’ll go one-on-one with a linebacker,” Friedt said. “If we do our job well I have a lot of confidence in him.”

Playing up front along with Friedt are 225-pound junior center Sam Neubauer, 210-pound senior guard Jordan Rau, 290-pound senior tackle Zach Scalzo and 220-pound junior tackle Luke Keller.

When the season started, Friedt was on the mend from a dislocated right kneecap and couldn’t play at 100 percent. Those days are behind him now, and he’s enthused about the way the interior five has developed.

“As a line we’ve really been meshing,” he said. “Fargo South was a really big game. We gained a lot of confidence in each other ... and we’ve been doing well since.”

Friedt said the knee injury, suffered at a summer football camp, was familiar territory. A labrum tear in his right shoulder during his sophomore season affected him through last season. He played in a shoulder brace his junior year and had shoulder surgery after the season ended.

“I feel like now I’m at 100 percent,” he said.

BHS head coach Mark Gibson said Friedt’s first two years of varsity football were not easy ones.

“It’s a credit to him how well he played with injuries,” Gibson said. “He played through pain — a lot of pain. When you watch him play you may not understand what he’s been through.”

Gibson said the two injuries also affected Friedt in the offseason.

“He hasn’t been able to lift weights in the offseason like other kids,” the coach said.

Gibson said any college that signs Friedt will get a player with a huge upside.

“He’s only scratched the surface. If he gets into a good program the sky’s the limit,” Gibson said.

WEST REGION STATISTICS

TEAM OFFENSE

Team Pts. Rush Pass Total

Bismarck 42.6 263.1 132.7 395.9

Minot 29.0 226.5 111.5 338.0

Century 27.3 182.7 124.6 307.3

Dickinson 22.9 118.2 124.6 242.9

Jamestown 20.2 160.9 90.0 250.9

Mandan 8.0 108.1 63.6 171.7

Williston 7.4 97.2 64.2 161.5

TEAM DEFENSE

Team Pts. Rush Pass Total

Minot 7.6 79.7 106.9 186.6

Bismarck 13.1 105.1 79.4 184.5

Century 14.0 100.3 121.6 221.9

Dickinson 14.5 184.4 47.7 232.1

Jamestown 15.4 133.0 90.4 223.4

Williston 33.1 201.3 125.4 326.7

Mandan 38.9 234.9 109.4 344.2

n NOTE: Scoring, rushing, passing and total yardage calculated for West Region teams on a per-game basis.

INDIVIDUAL OFFENSE

Rushing: 1. Brady Lampert, Min, 149-850. 2. Ricardo Galindo, B, 97-829. 3. Taylor Orr, J, 151-774. 4. Hunter Babeck, C, 152-733. 5. Noah DuBord, B, 70-513. 6. Michael Cherwinski, D, 95-411. 7. Dillon Brunelle, W, 128-333. 8. Dalton Sanders, B, 27-295. 9. Kimani Benjamin, Min, 30-258. 10. Scott Nelson, J, 39-245.

Passing yards: 1. Hayden Gibson, B, 62-105-4, 1,055 yards. 2. Dalton Feeney, C, 57-121-5, 872. 3. Ben Bolinske, Min, 62-93-3, 853. 4. Ross Monson, J, 42-102-4, 688. 5. Andrew Heckaman, D, 33-92-4, 578. 6. Charles Splichal, D, 27-51-4, 414. 7. Dillon Brunelle, W, 37-83-5, 341. 8. Trever Leingang, Man, 21-93-12, 337. 9. Brayden Miller, W, 3-4-0, 164. 10. Jake Carlson, Man, 12-28-2. 107.

Touchdown passes: 1. Hayden Gibson, B, 12. 2. Dalton Feeney, C, 11. 3. Ross Monson, J, 8. 4 (tie) Andrew Heckaman, D, and Ben Bolinske, Min, 6. 6. Charles Splichal, D, and Trever Leingang, Man, 3. 8. Brayden Miller, W, 2. 9. (tie) Dillon Brunelle, W, Jake Carlson, Man, and Jacob Holmen, Min, 1.

Receiving yards: 1. Jon Tharaldsen, B, 21-559. 2. Dylan Skabo, D, 27-487. 3. Tre Kinchen, Min, 24-382. 4. Hyrum Gentry, W, 19-368. 5. Tyler Rudolph, C, 19-330. 6. Landon Jochim, C, 17-297. 7. Levi Jordheim, D, 10-262. 8. Tyler Ukestad, J, 12-198. 9. Jacob Holmen, Min, 18-188. 10. Tanner Hegre, B, 11-180.

Total offense: 1. Hayden Gibson, B, 1,077 yards. 2. Dalton Feeney, C, 1,028. 3. Ben Bolinske, Min, 989. 4. Brady Lampert, Min, 850. 5. Ricardo Galindo, B, 829. 6. Ross Monson, J, 783. 7. Taylor Orr, J, 774. 8. Hunter Babeck, C, 733. 9. Andrew Heckaman, D, 721. 10. Dillon Brunelle, W, 674.

Scoring: 1. Ricardo Galindo, B, 90. 2. Brady Lampert, Min, 74. 3. Jon Tharaldsen, B, 60. 4. Dylan Skabo, D, 48. 5. Cole Olson, B, 43. 6. (tie) Ben Love, Min, Taylor Orr, J, and Hayden Gibson, B, 42. 9. Hunter Babeck, C, 36. 10. Dominic Neameyer, C, 35.

Field goals: 1. (tie) Ben Love, Min, and Dominic Neameyer, C, 6. 3. Tony Kostelecky, D, 4. 4. Ben Hanson, J, 3. 5. (tie) Cole Olson, B, and Payton Schafer, Man, 1.

EAST REGION STATISTICS

Offense: 1. Fargo South, 37.9 points per game. 2. Fargo Davies, 34.1. 3. G.F. Red River, 24.1. 4. West Fargo, 21.1. 5. Devils Lake, 16.0. 6. Fargo North, 13.2. 7. G.F. Central, 9.4.

Defense: 1. West Fargo, 16.9 points allowed per game. 2. Fargo Davies, 18.4. 3. G.F. Red River, 19.7. 4. Fargo South, 20.5. 5. Devils Lake, 30.9. 6. G.F. Central, 33.7. 7. Fargo North, 36.4.

—Compiled by Steve Thomas

Reach reporter Steve Thomas at  701-250-8244 or steve.thomas@bismarcktribune.com.

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