Tom Mix, Published October 16 2013
The original 11 help Davies' football improvement after 0-9 first year
They don’t have a clever nickname, but form a close group that has come of age on the field since playing as freshmen in 2010 – Davies’ first year as a North Dakota Class 3A varsity program.
Davies’ original 11 is comprised of Dylan Hughes, Brady Drake, Jordan Hjelseth, Chris Ennen, Allex Schafer, Travis Rheault, Marcus Welk, Chase Nelson, Daylon Melby, Caleb Wagner and Alek Groth. All 11 are starters, and a handful start two-ways for the Eagles.
“In my mind, they are what has held us together,” Davies head coach Jason Thielges said of the seniors. “We have been able to build on their toughness and dedication. They are the foundation of our team.”
Davies started the year 0-2, but has won five straight games and is ranked No. 4 entering Saturday’s 1 p.m. game against rival Fargo South. That’s a far cry from its 0-9 record in 2010.
“It is really cool to say that we all stuck with it all four years,” said Hughes, who plays running back and linebacker for Davies. “It was difficult at times, especially at the beginning, but to see where we started and what we have going right now, it is really cool to be a part of that and be able to call it our own.”
“It feels like we accomplished something big,” left tackle and defensive end Ennen added. “We stuck it out. It makes us work a little harder.”
The 11 seniors are what is left from a group of about 30 freshmen who took the field in the inaugural season.
“It has been really rewarding for me to watch them mature and get better as football players,” Thielges said. “I’m really happy for them. They had some tough years leading up to this year. They deserve it.”
The Eagles are 4-0 and tied with West Fargo atop the Eastern Dakota Conference standings.
“The last couple of weeks there has been a lot more motivation to win,” said Hjelseth, who plays running back and free safety. “Those first two weeks we still didn’t really know what we were doing, but we have kicked it into gear. We are firing on all cylinders.”
Davies is averaging 45 points per game during its winning streak.
So what has led to the Eagles turning a corner as a program this fall?
“Everyone had to believe in each other,” Ennen said. “Our first few years it was a lot harder to win and people were not expecting much from us.”
The Eagles cracked the 3A poll on Sept. 24 for the first time in program history and have not fallen out. Davies also has clinched a trip to the state playoffs for the first time since 2011.
“We have been waiting all four years for this,” Hjelseth said. “Our freshman season we knew we didn’t have much of a chance to win, but we were building toward our senior year. We have to do something with it now.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562