Conference games were already important for the Packer football team due to its newly-shortened league schedule, but even more is at stake in tomorrow's home game against Grand Forks Red River.
Now that West Fargo lost its EDC opener to Fargo South, the Packers will be trying to avoid a 0-2 start to a conference season that only lasts five games.
"Red River is a good team, and as far as our conference season goes we're playing the best two teams in the first two games, so we don't want to fall to 0-2," said West Fargo coach Jay Gibson.
Tomorrow night's game will be the third consecutive home game for the Packers who lost to the Bruins last Friday, 19-17, in a hard-fought game that was ultimately decided by Fargo South's reliable and, at times, quick strike offense. The Packers gave up an 80-yard kick return for a TD in the first half and later weren't able to get the ball back at the end of the game when South ran out the clock.
"We were working our tail off to get points, and then we kick off and in 15 seconds they score. It kind of bugs you," said Gibson. "I'm disappointed that we lost. That means we're not going to get the conference championship, because no one else is going to beat (South), not in our conference."
The coach also said he felt the Packers played their best game of the season against South, even better than the week before when the Packers beat then No. 2-ranked Minot.
"We've improved every week. South is a solid team, very good defensively," said Gibson.
The Packers have been gearing up for 4-1 Grand Forks Red River, the second-fastest team in the state, only to Bismarck, Gibson said.
The Roughriders' secondary is made up of track team sprinters, while Red River senior running back/linebacker Tyler Gefroh has been steamrolling opponents.
Gefroh had 178 yards rushing against Grand Forks Central last week to bring his season total to 548, good for second in the EDC ahead of Packer senior Jacob Kiefer, third with 510, and Packer senior quarterback Bryce Jorgenson, fourth with 478. Gefroh is equally damaging on defense. "Anytime you have a linebacker that's faster than anybody we have on our team that's going to cause problems for your offensive line, there's no doubt about it," said Gibson.
Red River and the Packers have both played Mandan and Minot this season with mixed results. The Roughriders beat Mandan and lost to Minot, while West Fargo lost to the Braves but defeated the Magicians.
History is on the Packers' side, however. They are 7-0 since last losing to Red River in 2001.
Tennis season over
The Packer boys tennis team's season ended at last weekend's EDC meet when it was shut out in both its matchups against Grand Forks Red River and Fargo North.
The team didn't make the state tournament, nor did any West Fargo singles players or doubles combinations.
The West Fargo doubles team, the Ballweber brothers, junior Ben and seventh-grader Brady, won its first round match in the championship division but was later eliminated.
Freshman Tom Meyer won a first round consolation contest in singles action but was later eliminated for state tourney consideration.
Freshman Blake Nelson, 13-6, easily had the best record for the Packers this year, playing No. 4 singles. Nelson lost both of his EDC matchups and was eliminated at EDC.
West Fargo, 3-3 overall, tied for last place in the EDC this season with a 1-6 record. The Packers last made the state tournament as a team in 1978.
XC in Milaca
The Packer girls cross-country team turned in a solid performance at the Milaca Mega Meet in Milaca, Minn. even with its top runner having a rough couple of weeks.
Defending state champ Alissa Mears, a sophomore, finished in 10th place to lead the Packers. Senior Ellie Grooters finished two seconds behind her in 11th place. The Packer girls took third place out of 17 teams.
Mears, undefeated last season, fell out of the top 10 poll after taking 14th at a meet two weeks ago.
The boys' team took sixth in Milaca behind senior Jamison Gehrig's third place finish.
Golf results not in
Eighth-grader Ashley Bixby was the top performer in 14th place for the Packer girls golf team which finished in fifth place at the Fargo Shanley Invite last week.
Results from Monday's EDC tournament in Wahpeton were not available before press time. The Packers needed a top four finish to make the state tournament to be held Oct. 5-6, also in Wahpeton.
Swimmers win Quad
Revenge was sweet for the Packer girls swimming team which avenged an earlier dual loss to Fargo South by winning the Fargo Quad last week over the Bruins, Fargo North and Fargo Shanley.
West Fargo winners included sophomore Alyssa Olson in the 200 free, senior Chelsea Gentzkow in the 100 back and 200 IM and the 400 free relay team of eighth-grader Danica Dutt, senior Ashley Kranda, Olson and Gentzkow.