Shanley exits Class 2A with state championship, headed for 3A
FARGO — Fargo Shanley's football team will leave Class 2A at the head of the class. The Deacons topped rival Bismarck St. Mary's 28-21 Friday at the Fargodome for the North Dakota Class 2A championship.
Gone was the cloud of three straight losses in state championship games. Two of those losses came to St. Mary's, including last season, which served as Shanley's only loss.
The Deacons walked out of the Fargodome and into Class 3A, but they brought a Class 2A title home with them.
"They wanted it," Shanley head coach Troy Mattern said. "Bottom line is there's a lot of athletes that wanted it. They didn't want that same feeling we had last year, they stepped up and got it done."
Despite having two fumbles in the game that turned into 14 points for St. Mary's, Mattern kept going to senior quarterback Cade Busek on the final drive to drain the final 3 minutes, 42 seconds off the clock to clinch the title.
"He's a gamer," Mattern said. "We're in this football game because of him. There's no person we'd rather have the ball. When the game is on the line we want it with him. The way he played today was state-championship level and I couldn't be more proud of him."
Busek wanted the ball.
"The fumbles are a horrible feeling because you know you let your team down," said Busek, who finished with 194 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries. "Getting the ball shows how much faith the coach has in you. I want the ball in my hands. I've worked for the ball."
The game began in a here-we-go-again fashion for the Deacons, as St. Mary's went up 14-0 in the blink of an eye.
The Saints had third-and-6 on their own 23 and were eyeing three-and-outs on their first two drives. Drew Dosch went deep to Connor Puetz, who shook off a tackle, and was gone for a 77-yard touchdown. Busek fumbled on the next play from scrimmage and Reece Barnhardt dove on it on the Shanley 30. Four plays later, Cullen Curl punched it in from 1 yard out and it was 14-0 St. Mary's.
"I knew our offense had it in us," Shanley senior running back Austin Manuel said.
Shanley got on the board late in the second quarter, going 60 yards on 10 plays to find the end zone. On third-and-goal from the 1, Busek pushed it in to cut the St. Mary's lead to 14-7 at halftime.
Carter Kochmann opened the second half with a 60-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, breaking three tackles at the line of scrimmage. Two plays later, Manuel ran in untouched from 5 yards out to tie the game for Shanley.
"These kids face adversity all season and we didn't panic," Mattern said. "That touchdown we got before the half was huge. To come out on that opening drive and have that big, long play by Kochmann to make it 14-14, the energy just changed and we carried it from there."
Shanley took more than six minutes, using 14 plays to march 85 yards, to take its first lead of the game. Busek found the end zone again on a 1-yard keeper with 1:54 left in third.
Joe Kava ended the third quarter with an exclamation point for Shanley, getting a sack on a third down deep in St. Mary's territory. Manuel added his own exclamation point on the first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter, sprinting 42 yards for a touchdown to put the Deacons (11-0) up 14 with 11:46 to go.
"Last year was fuel for us," said Manuel, who finished with 140 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. "It was like, 'Why? What have we done. We need to work harder. We got to get them back.' We came out this summer and were grinding every day. We got better and better and it finally paid off."
Deacons had their chances to put the game away, but they fumbled on back-to-back possessions, one of which St. Mary's made them pay. Dosch was seemingly down in the backfield, but he somehow spun away and went 71 yards for a touchdown on third-and-10 to cut the lead to 28-21 with seven minutes to go.
St. Mary's got to the Shanley 38 on its last possession, but would get no closer to the end zone, as Busek led a drive to drain the final minutes off the clock.
St. Mary's finished 9-2 this season with both losses coming to Shanley.
"Those feelings of defeat are feelings that never leave you, they're scars that never leave," Busek said. "This helps to close them a little bit."BSM 14 0 0 7--21FS 0 7 14 7--28
BSM--Puetz 77 pass from Dosch (Huber kick)BSM--Curl 1 run (Huber kick)FS--Busek 1 run (Motschenbacher kick)FS--Manuel 5 run (Motschenbacher kick)FS--Busek 1 run (Motschenbacher kick)FS--Manuel 42 run (Motschenbacher kick)BSM--Dosch 71 run (Huber kick)