Enderlin-Maple Valley players believe they can make a run at Class 1A title
By: Heath Hotzler, INFORUM
The Enderlin-Maple Valley high school football team isn’t trying to sell a small town underdog story. The Falcons believe too much in their ability to go that route.
They don’t have the ranking, press clippings or television highlights. However, Maple Valley-Enderlin certainly has the talent and confidence to contend for a North Dakota Class 1A title.
“All year we didn’t think we were underdogs,” senior linebacker and running back Ethen Preston said. “But if you look at rankings we are – technically. That’s how we like to have it.”
Nobody was surprised in the Falcons locker room when Maple Valley-Enderlin (6-3) upended top-ranked and previously unbeaten Harvey-Wells County 15-14 with a late fourth-quarter scoring drive last weekend.
This was supposed to happen. The Falcons have worked together for years to make a postseason run. The seniors didn’t want the season to end.
They all believed.
“We had so many people tell us it could be done, and it was a game we could go out and get them,” senior quarterback Dylan Lerud said.
“Not a doubt in my mind. I knew with the group of guys we have we could go out and execute and get the job done.”
A combination of great defense and a perfectly timed final drive put Enderlin-Maple Valley in position to post the upset win.
The Falcons defense stopped Harvey-Wells County three times during the game as they drove inside the Maple Valley-Enderlin 10-yard line. Jordan Haseleu intercepted a pass to set up the Falcons’ 50-yard, final scoring drive.
The Maple Valley-Enderlin offensive line took over in the closing minutes, opening huge holes for Falcons runners.
Lerud scored on a 3-yard run, and plunged in for a two-point conversion, to put the team ahead 15-14 with about 2 minutes remaining.
“When they need to get serious, they are focused and ready to go,” Maple Valley-Enderlin coach Brett Kapaun said. “They are excited to play football.”
The win was emotional. Several players had tears streaming down their cheeks. Kapaun said he and his staff also got a little choked up.
The Falcons savored the win. But only for a moment.
Thoughts soon turned to Oakes, a fellow Region 1 competitor who knocked off Maple Valley-Enderlin 28-22 in the regular-season finale. The Falcons travel to Oakes at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday for a quarterfinal game.
Beating the No. 1-ranked team in the state was nice. It wasn’t everything. There is much more the Falcons hope to accomplish.
And they’re no underdogs.
“I think we can contend with anybody,” senior center and defensive tackle Josh Michaelson said.