The St. Mary’s Saints has been a team on a rollercoaster of a season with highs and lows, twists and turns, but a win over Mandan on the road could give this team its biggest thrill yet.
It was too little too late for the Saints on Friday, falling 38-28 to a tough Fargo North team, but there were some encouraging signs for head coach Dan Smrekar.
“We did a lot of really good things,” says Smrekar. “Scoring 28 points, that normally should be enough to win. We’re excited about that. I think our kids looked at the game, we made some critical mistakes at critical times that hurt us.”
Coach Smrekar points out the 4th down stops and the turnovers, especially in the 3rd quarter. But aside from that, players on the offense feel they’ve unlocked something on that side of the ball.
“Our receivers, I thought we were running a lot of good hard routes,” says QB Tommy Kraljic. “And running the ball, Paul did a good job of falling forward almost every time because he was always trying to get an extra yard or two.”
Quarterback Tommy Kraljic is feeling more confident as the season is coming along, saying it’s the pressure-packed moments like throwing a game-winner to beat Bismarck, is where he thrives.
“In the moments where I’m needed most or if the team needs it most, that just kind of pushes you and makes you want to do good and play for your team and just be even better than when you have been in that game,” says Kraljic.
Fighting to the end has been the Saints’ mantra, no quit is the saying, and if they want to avoid their first losing streak of the season, it’ll have to be against the 3rd best team in the state against Mandan.
“The things that I’ve been learning is that we can compete,” says RB Paul Vetter “There’s no doubt about that. Our team is very competitive, we’re very fast, we’re physical.”
St. Mary’s beat Mandan last year on a game-winning field goal, and with most of the players in that game returning, the intensity will be felt on Friday.
“Well I just think it’s a rivalry,” says Smrekar. “Our kids know their players. You hope they’re excited and I think they will be, playing a rivalry game at Mandan, and I think an important game for both of us.”
You can catch this game on the Dakota CW this Friday Night, as Phil Benotti and Luke Gamble will be the call, kick-off is set for 6:30 pm central time.