MANDAN, N.D. - The first full high school football Friday night of the season is tomorrow. Mandan is putting the finishing touches on its game plan.
The Braves didn't perform as well as they expected last year. Despite possibly being overlooked by their opponents this upcoming season, the teams expectations haven't wavered.
"We've had a lot of energy, which is a big part that makes practice go easy. And a lot of people expected us to have a big year last year and we lost a lot of key players in a lot of close games, but I think we'll be fine this year, we have a lot of good players to fill their shoes. We have a kind of more of a underdog mentality. Last year, we had all the hype with the team. We were supposed to have a great year but this year no one really expects us so I think that's a good thing for us," said Austin Frey.
Mandan wants to accomplish something they haven't been able to do in years, and that's to go undefeated against their cross river rivals.
We've always wanted to go 3-0 against Bismarck. Hasn't been done in who knows how long, but yeah, every day we remind each other, 'hey, we don't want to go 0-3 against Bismarck this year.' We're really focused on our goal. We talk about our goals last year. This year we're really determined to get better and were working towards that goal every single day," said Keaton Meschke.
The team is fortunate enough to have the same defensive line as last year. Head Coach Todd Sheldon hopes that'll relieve some of the pressure on his young secondary.
"Our front three defensive lineman are back and they're all very good athletes, high caliber kids that you know we think are exceptional. But then on the other side the defensive secondary is all relatively new to the game," Sheldon said.
If the Braves can wreak havoc in the opposing teams back field, that'll put them in prime position to win just about every game.
"Our philosophy the last several years has been that we want to put as much pressure on quarterbacks as possible and we want to stop the run. So we're going to get after quarterbacks, and you know if they only have three seconds to throw then we'll be in a good place," Sheldon said.
The Braves head to Grand Forks Friday to open against Central.