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Kevin Schnepf, Published November 15 2013

Schnepf: 'Same old stuff' looks anything but routine in 3A title game

Fargo - There are those of us who do not like change … like hanging onto our flip-top cell phones, or refusing to like something on Facebook, or navigating a trip with an Atlas rather than a GPS.

If you can relate, then the place to be Friday night was in the Fargodome – where the same old stuff was happening on Gate City Bank Field.

That’s where Bismarck and Fargo South played each other for a state football championship for the fifth time in the last seven years. That’s right. In the last eight years, either Bismarck or South have won the Class 3A championship.

Some things never change.

Yet it did Friday night.

South won, ending Bismarck’s 28-game win streak and two-year reign as state champions.

“It’s two elite programs,” said an elated South head coach Troy Mattern. “Bismarck … that’s who you know you have to go through to be a state champion.”

It’s really quite amazing that these same two teams keep meeting in this game. Especially when you consider South lost a bulk of its players when it split with Fargo Davies four years ago. Since then, South has won two state championships.

Bismarck will be hoping it can pull off the same trick when it splits with the new Legacy High School in 2015.

“Ever since we split with Davies, no one thought South could do what we are doing,” said Mattern. “Two state titles. Two-for-four. We will take it.”

And Mattern will certainly take what happened in the last 3 minutes and 15 seconds of this wildly, entertaining game.

After Bismarck missed an extra-point kick that kept the Demons lead at 34-28, there seemed to be a sense in the Fargodome’s west stands of the Bruins faithful that this was their team’s chance. A touchdown and an extra-point is all they needed to end the Bismarck run.

That all came a little sooner than they expected when quarterback Zach Kellen threw a strike to Ty Brooks for a 59-yard touchdown pass. With 3:15 remaining, the Bruins had their 35-34 lead.

“I knew if I juked my defender inside, I could beat him to the outside,” said Brooks, who ended up with four catches for 128 yards. “And Zach put the ball right on me.”

Was it a score that came too early considering Bismarck’s explosive offense had plenty of time to score?

“Oh no, not at all,” Mattern said. “We just had to take what we could get. We knew we had to go deep one more time.”

But little did Mattern know what would transpire less than two minutes later. That’s when Bismarck threw a pass behind the line of scrimmage. It fell incomplete, but even though many players stopped playing, it was still a live ball.

“I’m glad Ty Brooks knew it was a lateral, because it seemed like the rest of our team did not,” Mattern said.

Brooks scooped up the loose ball and scampered 43 yards for a touchdown that suddenly gave South its 42-34 lead with 1:33 remaining.

“I felt pretty good after that play,” Brooks said.

Yes, some say change is good – perhaps the same ones who were wishing someone other than a Demon or a Bruin was playing for a state championship. But the “same old thing” provided some pretty good entertainment Friday night.

Take, for example, the second quarter, when in a span of just over five minutes, both teams combined for 28 points. All indications were it was going to be a repeat of Bismarck’s 55-49 win at South back on Sept. 27.

The last two touchdowns during that spurt came from South’s James Johannesson and Bismarck’s Ricardo Galindo, who made breaking tackles seem as easy as texting on my flip-top phone.

Johannesson rumbled for 237 yards Friday. That put him over 4,000 career rushing yards. And he’s only a junior, folks.

Nonetheless, NDSU coaches are already looking at him. But they may have to convince him that football is better than hockey. Supposedly, the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder loves the ice as much as the gridiron.

Galindo ran for 252 yards. Like Johannesson, he may not even play college football. He’s a state-champion wrestler.

It must also be pointed out that Johannesson and Galindo had, at times, holes big enough for a non-GPS Mac Truck to drive through.

“That was just a great high school football game,” said Mattern, who now has two state titles as a head coach to go with the four he experienced as an assistant at South.

“It was just two great teams duking it out,” Brooks said. “And we were on top this time.”

That’s news worthy of sending a text on my flip-top.

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549 or kschnepf@forumcomm.com. Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com