It is football season – almost – for the nine-man programs in North Dakota.
According to the North Dakota High School Activities Association, the season started on paper July 29 with the rules clinics (online only) allowed.
For the 9-man teams like Mott-Regent/New England, the opening day for the season will be Aug. 12, with the first contest being Aug. 23 – when the Wildfire will be traveling to across state lines to play at Lemmon in South Dakota.
The Lemmon/McIntosh co-op team finished with a 4-5 record in 2018, which included a 44-24 loss to Hettinger/Scranton in the season opener. The Cowboys got off to an 0-2 record a week later with a 48-34 loss to Harding County (Buffalo, SD)
After coming back with big wins over Faith (52-20) and Dupree (48-0), they were blown out by Timber Lake by a 74-6 score.
Timber Lake scored all of its points in the first half, while the lone touchdown by the Cowboys came in the second quarter.
When the Wildfire opens its home season a week later against Hettinger/Scranton, the MRNE squad will be meeting a team which handed the cardinal and gold squad a narrow 24-20 loss a year ago.
The Hettinger/Scranton team has a mixed recent history with the MRNE co-op.
In 2016, Mott-Regent lost a track meet on the gridiron when the visitors outran the Wildfire for a 66-50 win.
A year later, it was Mott-Regent shutting out the visitors by a 34-0 margin.
Last season, the Wildfire won its first contest, then went on a seven game slide, finishing with a 1-7 record.
The 36-0 win in the season opener was the only one for the Wildfire in 2018.
But this season, neither New Salem nor Shiloh Christian will be on the schedule after moving up to the Class A division during the off season.
New Salem/Glen Ullin (62-12) and Shiloh Christian (50-12) handed the Wildfire two of the team’s biggest losses in 2018.
The Wildfire will have seven seniors coming back, including Jake Wolf, Michael Frank, Boedy Schenbeck, Rayce Kovar, Logan Wolf, Erick Klein and Jaxon Hewson.
Sophomores Nathan Kaufman and Levi Wegh are vying for the quarterback role.
The team will be young, with seven freshmen and five sophs on the roster.
2019 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Fri., Aug. 23, 7 pm Lemmon Venue: Lemmon SD
Fri., Aug. 30, 7 pm Hettinger/Scranton Venue: Mott-Regent HS
Fri., Sep. 6, 6 pm Grant Co/Flasher “Storm” Venue: Flasher High School
Fri., Sep. 13, 6 pm Strasburg/Zeeland Venue: Mott-Regent HS
Fri., Sep. 20, 6 pm South Border Mustangs Venue: Wishek High School
Fri., Sep. 27, 6 pm Kidder County High School Venue: Mott-Regent HS
Fri., Oct. 4, 6 pm Linton/HMB Lions Venue: Linton High School
Fri., Oct. 11, 6 pm Napoleon/G-S Imperials Venue: Mott-Regent HS
Sat., Oct. 19, 1 pm Beach High School Venue: Beach High School
Oct. 26 – Nov. 15 2019 NDHSAA 9-man Football State Tournament Final Venue: Fargodome