The Big Sandy Pioneers find themselves in a very familiar position this postseason, back in the state Six-Man quarterfinals. But while the position may be familiar, the Pioneers' opponent is not.
Saturday, the No. 4 Pioneers out of the North, will be on the road, playing in Grenora, N.D., The Westby/Grenora MonDak Thunder, the No. 1 team out of the East will host the Pioneers at 1 p.m.
To get to the quarterfinal
s, the Pioneers defeated Lone Peak 39-8 in the first round. The Thunder defeated Custer-Melstone 50-14 in the first round, but are also riding an eight-game winning streak (including a forfeit win) since losing the first game of the season 70-22 to Billings Christian.
But since the loss in their first football debut since 1984, the Thunder has dominated the completion. They utilize a very talented sophomore quarterback in Cooper Olson, as well as a slew of talented receivers. Over the last four games, since Olson took over as the varsity quarterback, he has thrown for nearly 1,400 yards, 20 touchdowns, and just one interception. The offense has also averaged nearly 60 points per game over the last seven games, as Olson has grown a strong bond with wide outs Adam Carlson, Thomas Fields, Brady Olson, and Thayne Ekness. Carlson, Field, and Brady Olson all have 25 catches this season, while Ekness follows with 24 on the season.
After their first loss of the season, the Thunder moved to a spread offense, and hasn’t looked back. They may be averaging nearly 60 points per game, but the Pioneers’ defense has allowed an average of just 25 points per game by the opposition this season.
“We need to just keep playing our game,” Big Sandy head coach Greg King said. “And keep putting up wins. Our opponents change from week to week, but we have to keep the intensity going. I watched video on them, and we know they like to spread it, and run a little tight stuff. They are a decent squad, and we have to stop that spread. If we can do that, and not let them get the yards they are capable of getting, and make them stay in some tight formations then we have a better chance.”
But the Pioneers' offense will face a very stiff defense as well.
This season the Pioneers have gotten the job done from all areas of the game. Quarter back Trevor Lackner has had success though the air, as well as with his legs on offense and special teams. Jesse Bailey leads the running attack, while receivers like Lane Martin and Zac Leader are also adding to the offensive attack. But the Thunder are allowing an average of 23 points per game by the opposition, so the Pioneers will have to play extremely well to get the win. The Pioneers have scored and average of 54 points per game in nine games this season.
“Yeah we think we can get a win,” King said. “That is the goal, get another win this weekend, and just move onto the next week.”
Saturday at 1 p.m. the Pioneers will face the hosting Thunder in Grenora, N.D.
Big Sandy at Westby-Grenora Saturday at 1 p.m. The Pioneers are 8-1 after beating Lone Peak last week. The Thunder are 9-1 after beating Custer last week. Fans can follow Big Sandy on Twitter at twitter/havredaily.