Dan Smrekar played football at North Dakota State. His alma mater has won six of the last seven FCS National Championships. His St. Mary’s Saints have a chance to win their fifth AA state football championship in six years.
To do it, the second ranked Saints have to beat top ranked Fargo Shanley. St. Mary’s advanced to the Dakota Bowl with a semi-final victory over Central Cass. It was a low scoring game in the regular season, but over the weekend the Saints beat the Squirrels 41-20.
Coach Smrekar said, "I think offensively we played better, obviously. We didn't turn the ball over. We had zero turnovers on Saturday against Central Cass, which is just huge, so we were able to control the clock and control the field position and slow the game down, so they had fewer possessions. The first time we played them we fumbled four times."
Saints Jaxon Wiseman added, "We played really good on defense and our offense just put up points. We were able to stop their deep ball which was a big part of our success."
The Deacons edged the Saints 14-7 during the regular season, it’s the only time St. Mary’s has been on the bottom side of the scoreboard. Smrekar thinks the rematch will, once again, be a very balanced contest.
"We got into scoring position to where we did score and got it called back on a penalty on us, so both teams scored twice and put drives together, so I thought it was very balanced and very even and I think both teams know each other very well, both teams play really good defense so I think it's going to be the same kind of game. I think it's going to be who can finish drives. Who cannot turn it over and I think it will be the same kind of game," said Smrekar.
Ben Schmidt with the Saints added, "I think both of us are very disciplined and are very well coached and our programs are run so well and we both just really want to win and we play with the same intensity so that's why I think we're seeing them again."
The Saints will be seeing the Deacons on Friday afternoon at the Fargodome.