MANDAN, N.D. - This time last year, Mandan Braves Head Coach Todd Sheldon considered his squad one of the least experienced teams in the West region. That is not the case heading into the 2019 season.
"This is by far the most experienced group of kids coming in you know we are still making some changes and melding things together were a little different on defense than we were last year but we are bringing in a lot of those same components so I think it might take us a game or two to really hit our stride," said Sheldon.
With a roster packed with seasoned varsity talent, the Braves have their sights set on the Dakota Bowl.
Mandan senior Elijah Klein said : "We are hoping to obviously win. State obviously otherwise it's a bust, so we are going for it all this season. We only lose one guy on offense, so hopefully everything goes good. We return most of our D-line and our linebackers but we lose a corner and safety so mostly everyone is coming back."
Dane Carlson earned second team all-state honors in his first full season as Mandan's starting quarterback. With that first full year behind him, Carlson has a better grasp on the varsity pace.
"Now that I know the speed of the game, it's just the nerves and stuff I go out there and play lose and have fun with my boys and leave it all on the field. I'm going in playing lose and having fun and just out here enjoying myself every day and playing the game I love," said Carlson, Mandan quarterback.
This Friday, the Braves will head to West Fargo to face the Packers. Two teams that rarely play one another.
"You know we don't have a lot of film on West Fargo we didn't play them last year or the year before it's been probably almost a decade since we've played West Fargo so we are going back and trying to find old film and see what their tendencies are so really it's a mental preparation part," said Sheldon.