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Tom Mix, Published August 28 2013

West Fargo football preview

West Fargo’s football team did something in 2012 no other team in the state was able to do.

The Packers were the only team ever to get a lead on the eventual North Dakota Class 3A champions Bismarck Demons.

West Fargo put Bismarck’s undefeated season in jeopardy during a 3A semifinals game at the Community Bowl, but the lead didn’t stick and West Fargo’s season came to an end with a 22-8 loss.

“We were up 8-7 with six minutes left in the game,” West Fargo head coach Jay Gibson said. “I’m pretty proud of that. It fell a part real quick because they were a really good team.”

West Fargo’s season began with a 29-0 loss to the Demons followed by a loss to Bismarck Century.

With an 0-2 start to the season, Gibson and his staff decided to shake things up on offense. A decision to feature linebacker Preston Lehmann at running back and incorporate fullback Miles Scholl into the offense proved to be what West Fargo needed.

“We recovered because of Preston Lehmann,” Gibson said. “We started giving him the ball. “Preston was decent at first, but by the end of the year he was really something. He got better as he got more carries.”

Lehmann, who earned all-state first team honors, finished the year with 1,001 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.

Seniors Shelby Schulz and Brody Mertz were named to the all-state first team. Caleb Mattila and Drew Johnson earned all-state second team honors.

Outlook

West Fargo is coming off a season in which 20 seniors filled starting spots and, as a result, the Packers will be an inexperienced squad to start the 2013 season.

“We are starting over,” Gibson said.

The areas in which the Packers return starters are at quarterback (Scott Cameron and Jacob Hoy) and at defensive back (Matthew Pyle).

“Scott and Jacob both rotated plays at quarterback last year,” Gibson said. “It’s nice to have that experience returning at the quarterback position, and both guys have been doing well in practice. I’m pleased with that, but when you have 10 guys around you that are new, that is a challenge. There will be some growing pains.”

West Fargo isn’t getting any favors schedule-wise. The Packers open the year with a 7 p.m. road game against Minot, a team that is returning plenty of talent from a year ago. Minot’s season ended last year with a loss to West Fargo in the quarterfinals.

“Without a doubt we have one of the toughest schedules in the state,” Gibson said. “We really don’t have a week off this year.”

West Fargo’s other two nonconference games are against Bismarck and Bismarck Century, the two teams that played in the state championship game.

“In football, there isn’t always a lot of time to prepare, so you end up learning the hard way during the season,” Gibson said. “By the fifth game, everyone is usually going in the right direction. We have a long way to go, but I like our group this year.”

Players to watch

Scott Cameron, Sr., QB/LB

Jacob Hoy, Jr., QB/DB

Matthew Pyle, Sr., WR/DB

Jacob Blotsky, Jr., WR/DB

Garrett Styf, Sr., TE/LB