The Mandan Braves opened their season with a tough schedule with back-to-back road games versus Bismarck and St. Mary’s. However, after two close losses, Mandan knows from experience that they aren’t done in 2021.
In Mandan, it’s not how you start, but how you finish. At 5-4 last season, the Braves made it to the state semifinals, knowing these early losses won’t mean much if they correct their mistakes.
“Over the last couple of years, every year, after each loss, we just say to the guys ‘alright, let’s get back to the weight room. Let’s get right back to it,” says senior Sam Burr. “The next Monday, we go most of our guys in the weight room, ready to go.”
Mandan has a small senior class, just eight on the roster. Head Coach Todd Sheldon will lean on them to lead the way, but knows more will be needed throughout the team.
“There’s also going to be some juniors and some sophomores who are going to step into leadership roles on the field,” says Sheldon. “Between the lines, those kids are going to be big impact players for us, but when we fall back on it those seniors are going to be the experienced leaders.”
Mandan boasts one of the more balanced attacks in the WDA, a mix of pass and run that can be dynamic behind junior quarterback Max Carlson.
“This offense is very explosive,” says senior Brenden Palmer. “Bust open big plays, and we’re also a ground and pound offense. Just busting teams play after play till we get what we want.”
Returning home will be big for the Braves, who are ready for a return to normal when they suit up in their all-black uniforms.
“When you play fast and you play physical, everybody wants to watch,” says Sheldon. “So you create an atmosphere where people want to be at your games and people want to cheer for you. We’re going to try and do things the right way and we’re going to try and do things in a way where we emphasize sportsmanship, emphasize great effort, and then emphasize play for your brothers.”
Mandan will make their home debut on Friday night when they host the Williston Coyotes.