New Salem-Almont is back in the state title game for the first time since 2018, and the opponent on the other side is a familiar one, a team that’s been in the Dakota Bowl four straight years. They also kept the Holsteins from their own state title appearance just last season.

“They beat us last year in overtime in a heartbreaker,” New Salem-Almont running back Brock Norton said. “It’s always in the back of our minds, and it’s always chomping at the bit, everybody remembered it, it carried over from last season and everybody wants to get their revenge.”

New Salem-Almont is hoping to repay Cavalier in the Dakota Bowl this week, a team that ended their season, on their home field, in the semifinals a year ago. Ever since that loss this team has prioritized one thing.

“We had a saying on the white board in the locker room that states not a goal, it’s a priority at this point,” Holsteins’ senior AJ Heins said.

It’s Holsteins vs Tornadoes in a matchup of storied programs. One is hoping to win its first championship since 1986. The other is trying to win for the first time since 2014 after losing three straight in the title game. They have very different histories, and they are very different teams.

“We’re kind of opposite you know,” Heins explained. “I think in the LaMoure game they passed the ball 30 times, and I don’t think we’ve ever passed 30 times in one game, so we’re kind of opposite in that aspect but we’ve got to use our opposites to our advantages. If we use our polar opposites to our best abilities it should be a fun game.”

While both teams try to get a monkey off their back this week this is a different game than the one that happened just over 365 days ago with much more at stake.

“You can’t try to get something back that you didn’t get last year,” Holsteins’ head coach Steve Kleinjan said. “You’ve got to focus on what you need to go get this year.”

The Holsteins and Tornadoes will be the second game to kick off Friday in Fargo at approximately 11:30 a.m.