Both No.3-ranked Fargo South (3-1) and No.1-ranked Bismarck (4-0) have had Friday’s game circled on their calendars for about two months now. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Fargo South High School and this showdown of 3A’s finest should live up to the hype. Here are a few story lines to follow leading up to the Fargo South-Bismarck game.
1. Bismarck’s impressive 21-game winning streak
OK, the Demons probably don’t focus on this a lot – the great teams usually don’t – but 21 wins in a row is something to respect. The Demons seem to find ways to win ball games and during this streak they have won two state championships. The Demons’ last loss was on Oct. 7, 2011 – a 20-19 road setback in Mandan.
2. Will Bismarck be able to contain James Johannesson?
Bismarck’s defense isn’t exactly the same unit that absolutely shutdown everything in 2012. There seems to be room to operate on offense against the Demons this year, but they always seek to contain the opposing team’s star and on Friday that will be South’s junior running back James Johannesson. Johannesson has rushed for 876 yards on 81 attempts through four games this season. He averages 10.8 yards per carry and has 11 rushing touchdowns. I’ll be bold and say that if Bismarck holds Johannesson to under 150 yards they should be in a good position to win the game. If Johannesson runs wild and eclipses 200 yards on the ground, South’s chances of winning increase dramatically.
3. Which team will win the special teams battle?
Bismarck allowed West Fargo’s Jacob Hoy to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown three weeks ago. They survived that game, but Fargo South has a very deep and athletic group of played that can make big returns on punts and kickoffs. Leading the way is junior Ty Brooks. Brooks makes plays on both sides of the ball and expect him to show up for this marquee game. The Demons will have their hands full trying to keep Brooks from making his mark on this game. Another aspect of special teams is the kicking game. South’s Josh Weiler has made three field goals including a 40-yarder last week against Fargo North. I wouldn’t be surprised if Friday’s game came down to a field goal margin.
4. Point of pride
The last seven Class 3A state titles have either been won by either Fargo South or Bismarck. Friday is just a regular season game, but count on both sides treating it with more significance.
That’s all I got. I’ll be at the game with live updates on Twitter. Follow me at @MixMaster_TGM and don’t forget to check out my story in The Forum on Saturday.