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2020 ND High School Class A Football Season Preview

To be the champs, you have to beat the champs and lately, nobody has been able to take down Langdon-Edmore-Munich. The Cardinals are fresh off a second consecutive undefeated season and have a ton of talent returning. While the Cardinals are the favorites, I really like the strength of this division with a ton of gifted players returning.

In all, ten first-team all-state picks and six second-team all-state selections return. Let’s take a closer look at the teams that I feel are the strength of Class A this season.

1. Langdon-E-M

Not sure if this choice needs explaining, so instead I’ll hit you with some crazy numbers to show how dominant this run has been for Langdon-Edmore-Munich. They’ll take a 25-game win streak into this season. They’ve played in three consecutive state championship games, winning the last two. They haven’t suffered a regular-season loss since Barack Obama was President. Yes, that’s 26-straight regular-season wins since losing to Larimore back on October 7, 2016. In 2015, the Cardinals finished 1-7 overall. Since then, they’ve combined for a 45-3 record. So what? They probably graduated everybody, right? Welp, not exactly. While they did graduate nine seniors, the Romfo twins return and are two of the top players in the state. In all, Head Coach Josh Krivarchka says he’ll have six returning starters on both sides of the ball. The Cardinals defeated teams by an average of 39.9 ppg last season with their toughest challenges being a couple of 28-point victories.

Impact Players

Simon Romfo (5’10” 175 lbs) is back for his third year as a starting quarterback and defensive back. Romfo completed 70% of his passes for 2,820 yards, 39 TD, one INT and rushed for 1,083 yards and 15 TD. Those aren’t typos. His season was one for the record books. Simon is an elite decision-maker with a strong arm, and it’ll be interesting to see what he can do in his final season at the high school level. Grant Romfo is the bigger of the two brothers, standing at 6’1” 190 lbs. Grant finished with some impressive stats of his own racking up 876 rush yards, 694 receiving yards and a total of 30 TD. On defense, he added 86 tackles and three interceptions. Senior TE/DE Cooper Zimmer is another experienced player after making 15 catches for 330 yards and four scores in 2019. The team also returns a couple of all-region performers in sophomore OL/DL Jack Romfo and sophomore RB/LB Carter Tetrault.

2. Velva

This number two spot was tricky to pick. Bishop Ryan was last year’s state runner-up and knocked region rival Velva out of the playoffs in the semifinals. Both return some great offensive talent, but the fact that the Aggies graduated only two seniors off last year’s roster gives them the edge in my opinion. Larry Sandy’s program is consistently among the best in the division, and I think that with this senior class the expectation is to reach the Dakota Bowl.

Impact Players

Basically, I could just copy/paste my description of the top players from last year and update the stats because the top threats are back for the Aggies. Senior running back Gage Florence is a two-time all-state choice and combined for nearly 1,500 yards of offense last year to go with 24 touchdowns. He also added a team-high 27 solo tackles and three interceptions on defense. Quarterback Jersey Selzler returns at quarterback as a three-year starter. Selzler passed for nearly 1,000 yards as a junior and put up 17 TD compared to just one interception. The experience that those two guys have is such a huge benefit for the Aggies. Adam Schepp is another leader on the offense and defense. Schepp hauled in six TD passes last year and led the team in interceptions for a second consecutive season finishing with four. On the line of scrimmage, keep an eye out for 6’6” 275 lb junior Kaden Chadwick. He’s a rising prospect that is garnering plenty of recruiting interest much like the top seniors on this Aggies team.

3. Bishop Ryan

Bishop Ryan reached the state championship game for the first time in 20 years last fall and could be right back in the hunt in 2020. The Lions were the only team besides Langdon-E-M to average more than 40 points per game last season. Roger Coleman’s team really started hitting its stride late in the year, too. The Lions took down some strong programs on their drive to the Dakota Bowl beating New Salem-GU, Bowman County and Velva. The big task for this year’s team is to fill the spots vacated by last year’s seniors which starts on the offensive and defensive lines where they relied heavily on players like Corbin Okeson and Keegan Henjum. With the speed that they have, I see the Lions ripping off a ton of explosive plays this season.

Impact Players

The Lions will be led by a dynamite senior trio on offense of QB/FS Nick Sanders, RB/LB Jaxon Feller and WR/LB Logan Merck. Feller finished his junior season with 1,992 rush yards, 214 receiving yards and 23 combined TD. He also added 71 tackles and six-and-a-half sacks on defense. He’s incredibly elusive and a threat to score from anywhere on the field. The same can be said about Merck who finished his junior campaign with 46 catches for 731 yards and 16 TD to go with 460 rush yards and six more TD. Merck also shined on defense recording 80 tackles and a pair of picks. Meanwhile, Sanders made teams pay through the air by passing for 1,600 yards, 29 TD and 12 interceptions. Bishop Ryan might be a little undersized, but this team can flat out play and will be exciting to watch in 2020.

4. Lisbon

I didn’t have Lisbon in my top five last year. I didn’t have them as a bubble team either. After all, the Broncos were coming off a five-year string in which they had combined for five total wins. I was blindsided and so was everyone else in Class A as the Broncos took an undefeated record into the state semifinal round. This year, I’m not taking Lisbon lightly. I’m putting the Broncos at number four on my list and am excited to see what they can do for an encore in a region where it’ll likely come down to a matchup with Oakes. The Nuggets return 3,200 yards of rushing from last season between RB/DB Jordan Sours and QB/DB Hunter Schultz. Head Coach Joe Gerding knows that opposing defenses will be keying on Sours, so he’s hoping to expand the playbook to make the offense a little more diverse.

Impact Players

It starts with the two names I mentioned above. Sours was a first-team, all-state pick after shouldering much of the offensive load in 2019. He rushed for 1,844 yards and 28 TD, while also collecting 37 tackles and four interceptions on defense. The three-time state wrestling champ has the moves to get around you and the muscles to run through you. The rushing ability of Schultz at quarterback helps to keep defenses honest. He had several big games, too, behind that great offensive line. The key for the Broncos is going to be replacing the guys up front, but Gerding is excited about the young guys coming up at those positions. I think there’s a lot to be excited about with Lisbon football right now.

5. Oakes

The Oakes Tornadoes settled in just fine in their return to 11-man football last year and were considered one of the top teams in the division from start to finish. The Tornadoes’ only two losses came to region champ Lisbon in late September and eventual state champ Langdon-E-M in the Class A quarterfinal round. Head Coach Greg Dobitz is hoping his team took away learning lessons from those experiences. Dobitz will also be looking for some younger linemen to step up after sitting behind 2020 grads like Hunter Greenmeyer, Gabe Quandt and Dalton Nelson the last few seasons. Offensively, the Tornadoes have some of the top playmakers in the state. So, scoring points won’t be a problem. I think the defense needs to be sharper, though, if the Tornadoes want to take a swing for the state championship.

Impact Players

It’s hard to believe that Garret Meehl hasn’t graduated yet, but here we are. The standout senior QB/DB is ready to lead the Tornadoes on another quest for a region championship and postseason run. Meehl is a two-time all-state selection and excels at both his offensive and defensive positions. It might be a little strange for him not to have Logan Sell in the backfield with him anymore, but the Tornadoes have some other pieces that can bolster the rushing attack like junior Dave Schmitz and senior Marc Seyer. Seyer is also one of the top tacklers at the Class A level from his linebacker position. One of my favorite players to watch in Class A is Ashton Biesterfeld. The 6’3” 265-pound TE/DE is a monster with the ball in his hands and is a major disrupter on defense. He earned a MidcoSN Game Ball last year in mid-September after racking up 124 receiving yards and a pair of scores to go with seven tackles and three TFL on defense in a win over fifth ranked Thompson.

The Bubble Team

Harvey-WC, Grafton, New Salem-GU, Des Lacs-Burlington

Class A Preseason Player of the Year

Simon Romfo, Langdon-E-M

10 Players to Watch in Class A

  • Jaxon Feller, Bishop Ryan
  • Logan Merck, Bishop Ryan
  • Esgar Rios, Grafton
  • Grant Romfo, Langdon-E-M
  • Jordan Sours, Lisbon
  • Ashton Biesterfeld, Oakes
  • Garret Meehl, Oakes
  • Sam Hagen, Park River-F-L
  • Sam Roller, Thompson
  • Gage Florence, Velva
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