FARGO -- Five games into the season, hope looked like it was on the brink for the West Fargo football team.
The Packers were 2-3, needing a strong run in the back half of the schedule.
They responded, winning three of it's last four games to reach the postseason.
"We've been getting really hyped up in the locker room and in practice, we've been taking it really serious throughout the last couple games," said sophomore wide receiver Carson Hegerle.
It showed on Friday, when the Packers went to defending 3A state champion Bismarck and dispatched the Demons, 40-21.
Behind 318 passing yards and six touchdowns from Dustin Mertz, the Packers punched the champs in the mouth and never let off the gas.
"We just knew that if we got our offense better, that our defense would get it done," said senior wide out Marcus Gulley. "So we just stayed sharp."
After winning just two games a season ago, rebounding with a semifinal trip has helped the group regain confidence. Now, they'll get a chance to battle rival Sheyenne for a chance to get back to the Dakota Bowl, two years after winning the state title.
The Mustangs beat the Packers earlier in the year, 21-6. This time around, West Fargo believes the two are playing each other at the exact time they're peaking.
"We have a better idea on their game plan this time and they're playing their best football right now, and I believe we are too," said junior Carter Birrenkott. "So obviously, I think both sides are excited and it should be a good game."