Week 1: Forreston vs Dakota
Coming off a state championship last season, the Forreston Cardinals know the target is on their backs in 2019. The Cards entered Friday's contest with the #1 state ranking, while Dakota came in ranked #8. Since 2011, the Cards have pretty much owned the Indians, and in Dakota the Indians have not beat the Cardinals since their quarterfinal game in 2011, the last time Dakota won a state championship. This game wouldn't be much different, as Forreston walked out of Dakota with a 30-12 win to open the season.
After each team forced each out into punts to open the game, the potent Cardinal rushing attack didn't take long to get going. In fact, it was the first play of their second possession when Austin Mitchell broke off tackle to the left and down the sidelines untouched for a 36 yard TD run. The 2 point conversion was successful as Forreston jumped out to an 8-0 lead.
On Dakota's ensuing drive, they would fumble the ball, and Forreston's Zach Cederholm was on it for the Cards. Just over a minute later, Jordan Neuschwander would get on the scoreboard from 28 yards out. After a failed 2 point try, the Cards were up 14-0 with 5:53 left to play in the 1st quarter. It looked like a route would happen at this point, but both teams would be marred by turnovers, keeping the score at 14-0.
Opening up the 2nd half, Forreston would hold Dakota on a 4th and one close to midfield to force a turnover on downs, and quickly turned that into a score. The Cards would stay on the ground, driving into the red zone, however after a couple penalties set them back, they would face a 4th down situation from the yard line. Forreston QB Bailey Cullor faked the dive up the middle, dropped back, and hit Dom Christensen on a flag route to the left side of the field for a 12 yard TD. The 2 point try was good, and Forreston went up 22-0 with 4:52 left to play in the 3rd quarter.
The Indians would have an answer, as Josh Clark would score from 4 yards out to make the score 22-6 to enter the 4th quarter, but Braden Politsch would have the final score for the Cards to ensure the victory, as he rushed in from 4 yards out. With the 2 point conversion successful, the Cards were up 30-6 with just under 7 minutes remaining in the game. Dakota's Evan Riggle would score in the waning seconds to bring the final score to 30-12.
On the night, Forreston would pick up 290 total offensive yards, with 278 yards on the ground and 12 yards in the air. The Cards were led on the ground by Ethan Mulder, who finished the night with 74 yards rushing on 14 carries. They would pick up another 72 yards rushing from Dom Christensen, while he also had 12 yards receiving with a TD. Austin Mitchell would rush for 50 yards on 4 carries with a score, and Jordan Neuschwander would pick up 42 yards on 7 carries with a score.
For Dakota, the Indians would close the night with 251 total yards of offense, with 89 yards passing and 162 yards rushing. Josh Clark was 7-13 passing for 89 yards, and rushed for 39 yards on 23 carries with a TD. Evan Riggle would pick up 54 yards rushing on 16 carries with a TD, and Quinton Heilemeier would chip in 47 yards rushing on 8 carries.
Next week, Forreston will head home to take on the Galena Pirates, while Dakota will hit the road to Savanna to face the West Carroll Thunder.