Packers blow out in-city rival Mustangs for third win over a ranked team
Even if West Fargo plays cross-city rival West Fargo Sheyenne early in the regular season, Alex Sell believes this game is maybe the most important of the season. He ran for a career night to prove it.
West Fargo's offense ran like a well-oiled machine as the state's top-ranked Packers put up a whopping 49 points in the first half on their way to a 49-14 victory over the No. 4-ranked Mustangs in the two in-city rivals' Eastern Dakota Conference opener on Friday, Sept. 9, at Sheyenne High School.
The Packers have beaten Sheyenne every year in the school's four-year varsity history.
"This is basically fighting for West Fargo. This is us fighting for our city and showing we're still on top," Sell said. "I take pride in this and winning against Sheyenne. I truly do. It symbolizes that we were dominant and we stayed on top."
Sell ran for 151 yards on seven carries—averaging 21.6 yards per carry—for two touchdowns. Jared Franek added 35 yards on six carries with a touchdown as well as a 13-yard touchdown catch. As a team, West Fargo rushed for 299 yards on 20 carries.
Franek said there's usually some talk between players from both teams leading up to the game, but a key for him and the Packers was keeping focused.
"Everybody gets a little more excited for it, but you have to play hard and play to win." Franek said. "They kept backing off a little bit and we kept going forward, forward and forward. That's why we kept scoring and scoring."
Andy Gravdahl, after a career performance last week against Bismarck High, finished 8-for-10 passing for 94 yards and three touchdown passes going to Franek, Tanner Zepeda and Jacob Faircloth. Gravdahl also added 65 yards rushing on five carries and a touchdown on the ground for four total touchdowns.
The Packers didn't punt for the entire first half as all of their possessions ended in touchdowns and didn't face a third down until midway through the second quarter. The Packers offensive and defensive lines wouldn't budge up front which allowed linebackers to make plenty of tackles near the line of scrimmage and offensively left open running lanes for Sell who said he felt "unstoppable."
"Everybody was on the same page," Sell said. "I feel like our line was pushing them back. We were just pushing them forward and making plays."
The West Fargo linebackers kept Jason Gaulrapp contained as he averaged just over 2 yards per carry on 17 attempts in the first half. He finished with 49 yards on 19 carries.
As a middle linebacker, Franek said he looked forward to the challenge of taking on Gaulrapp and Sheyenne's experienced offensive line. Franek and the Packers kept the Mustangs on their heels even when the backups came in and played most of the second half.
Parker Sander ended the game going 16 of 28 for 226 yards and two touchdowns through the air with one interception going to Sell. After beating two-time Class 3A state champion Bismarck Century in their home opener, the Mustangs (1-2, 0-1 EDC) are on a two-game losing skid.
"They were just better than us. In every way, shape and form, they are better than us right now," Mustangs head coach Jeremy Newton said. "We have to get better. We're just going to have to keep working. That's all we can do."
West Fargo (3-0, 1-0) have now beaten three top-five ranked opponents handily after beating Minot 36-20 on the road and Bismarck 41-0 last week at home.
"Playing all those good teams lets you know where you're at," Franek said. "But we can't stop here. We've got to keep getting better because everyone else is going to keep getting better."
WF 28 21 0 0 -- 49
WFS 0 8 0 6 -- 14
WF — Sell 31 run (Holm kick)
WF — Gravdahl 38 run (Holm kick)
WF —Franek 13 pass from Gravdahl (Holm kick)
WF—Sell 31 run (Holm kick)
WF—Faircloth 12 pass from Gravdahl (Holm kick)
WF—Zepeda 15 pass from Gravdahl (Holm kick)
WF — Franek 7 run (Holm kick)
WFS — Jastram 3 pass from Sander (Hoffner run)
WFS—Ballestad 15 pass from Sander (pass failed)