Four weeks ago, the Century Patriots were winless and a team feeling lost, but after ripping off three wins in their last four games, they are one of the hottest teams coming into the postseason. And in a year of parityat the 11AA level, players have been asking themselves, ‘why not us?’
The match-up is a familiar one for the Patriots, West Fargo Sheyenne, a team they’ve beaten twice at the Dakota Bowl in the last three years. But 2022 is a season that no Patriot could’ve imagined, starting 0-5, and making the playoffs as an eighth seed.
“I think we all just grew more, closer to each other through the lows,” says TE/LB Mason Riegel. “We got more resilient through all the challenges and we all knew we were so close, a couple of drives went our way, we’d win a couple of games. We never lost faith, this team and we just persevered on.”
Century needed a turnaround and some help, grabbing important wins over Williston and Bismarck, and a huge upset over the fourth-ranked Legacy Sabers to finish the season on a high note.
“I’m pretty proud of how the kids responded over the last four or five weeks,” says HC Ron Wingenbach. “I think as I told you earlier, we had been practicing a lot better, sometimes it just doesn’t show up on the scoreboard right away. But at least they can feel good about what they’ve accomplished here over the last four or five weeks.”
History might be on the side for the Patriots when it comes to facing the Mustangs, but the most recent meeting, a tough 41-14 loss at the bowl.
“It’s just been, when we were playing that game, it just felt like if we made a mistake it can kind of snowball,” says WR/DB Ryan Brynjolfson. “That’s the thing that we can’t do this game obviously. We just need to work as a team and just take it down by down. If the guys up front work hard enough and create a hole then our running game is going to work. If that works, then our passing game will open up and it just goes from there.”
The Patriots want to get the ball to their playmakers, and if a few things break their way, a major upset could be brewing out East on Friday.
“The ultimate goal is still there,” says Wingenbach. “And so, like you said, with 31 seniors on the roster and they’ve been through the wars a little bit. They’ve seen the upperclassmen and what they’ve had to go through to get through the final peg so to speak.”