The Packer football team made up for its lackluster early season play with a big win last Friday over No. 2-ranked Minot.
The West Fargo homecoming victory gives the team a 2-2 record going into the EDC season beginning tomorrow at home against Fargo South.
"We were told that we'd better win and we went out and had some fun and came out on top. We needed some momentum going into the game with South," said senior quarterback Bryce Jorgenson. "Now we'll have more confidence and be able to come out there with that momentum."
The win was huge for the Packers, a team that struggled badly in their season-opening loss to Mandan before losing the following week to Bismarck Century. Now, the Packers are enjoying a two-game win streak with victories over Dickinson and Minot.
"We wanted to get into the conference season going in the right direction, and we have," said Packer coach Jay Gibson.
West Fargo can thank the usual trio of Jorgenson, senior running back Jake Kiefer and junior receiver Brady Schwartz, who led the Packers on offense against the Magicians.
Jorgenson had 153 passing yards without an interception as well as 107 yards on the ground to go with a touchdown run. Meanwhile, Kiefer ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns, and Schwartz caught seven passes for 88 yards. It was the third 100-yard rushing game for both Jorgenson and Kiefer this year.
Perhaps more importantly for the Packers, the team has gotten a handle on its turnover problem. The Packers had a total of 10 turnovers in its two losses to open the season.
"We had a lot of turnovers to start the year, and we're getting better at keeping the ball in our hands. We're all really excited, because we needed this," said Schwartz.
Gibson gives credit to the Packers' all-senior offensive line, consisting of center Mason Herman, tackles Jared Steinberger and Taylor Herk and guards Ross Montgomery and Scott Schiller. The coach said they controlled the line of scrimmage, as evident by West Fargo's 23-to-7 first down advantage over Minot.
Tomorrow's game against Fargo South may be coming at just the right time for the Packers who want to open the newly-shortened conference season strong. With a trio of smaller schools leaving 3A football (Devils Lake, Fargo Shanley and Wahpeton), the EDC is left with only six teams, resulting in two fewer conference games.
The Bruins matchup holds more importance than ever because of that shortened EDC schedule.
"Each time you lose to someone you're probably going to be below them in the standings," said Gibson.
Fargo South, also 2-2, may not dominate the EDC as it has in recent seasons. The Bruins lost to Edina (Minn.) and Bismarck this year and are coming off a 35-21 win over Dickinson, a team the Packers beat the week prior 28-3.
Bismarck is the clear state favorite this season, and Fargo South doesn't appear to have a featured game-breaking superstar for once. West Fargo is 0-6 against Fargo South since the Packers' undefeated 2003 state title season.
"The difference between this year and the last five is that South doesn't have the best player in the state," said Gibson, adding that this year Bismarck has many of the state's top players.
If the Packers can control the football against Fargo South like they did against Minot, they could be 3-2 after next week. West Fargo ran 78 plays to Minot's 39.
"They're South, and, yeah, they have our number right now," said Schwartz, "but we're trying to go out there and get that back on our side."