OK Conference’s Games of The Week: Week Three

Posted On: 11/22/18 5:54 PM

(Cover Photo: Joe Brown/West Central Tribune)

Head CoachSteve SolemJohn Clark Jr.
Rankings (NFN, AP, QRF)2, 2, 13, 3, 3
State Championship Apparances50
State Titles2 ('90, '91)0
Points Per Game55.238.3
Opponents Points Per Game7.55.1
Opponents Win Pct79-56 (.585)73-51 (.589)

Riding off into the sunset at the top of a profession.

Not many people get that opportunity, but it’s exactly what BOLD coach Steve Solem will do if his Warriors win the Class A championship.

Solem is retiring at the end of the year after 33 seasons. He will coach his 369th and final high school football game with the Warriors against Mahnomen-Waubun. He’s amassed 291 victories, No. 8 all-time in Minnesota.

Earlier this season, he passed former Mahnomen coach Ken Baumann on the list. Solem will face the legend’s former program on Saturday – a rematch of the 1998 Prep Bowl. That game was won 27-26 by Mahnomen in what was Baumann’s sixth and final championship.

Both the Warriors and Thunderbirds have dominated opponents this season. They rank first and second in Class A in overall point differential – the only two teams to win by an average over more than 30 points per game.

Mahnomen-Waubun’s Parker Syverson combines with Jon Starkey for one of the top backfield duo’s in Minnesota. (Shari L. Gross/Minneapolis StarTribune)

Key Matchup
BOLD OL vs Mahnomen-Waubun DL

The Warriors superb athletes create mismatches on their own offensively, but its BOLD’s offensive line that’s the engine of the attack. Four seniors, led by guard Riley Weis and center Cade Morse, and one junior – Brady Ridler — have dominated opposing defenses in the trenches. The unit can run block with the best of them like most small-school lines, but the group is also versatile enough to protect quarterback Jordan Sagedahl when he goes to the air.

The Thunderbirds defensive line is also an overshadowed bunch, but one that’s equally important to the team’s success. Senior Chandler Toczek – all 165-pounds of him – is under-sized, but relentless at multiple positions across the front. Defensive ends Jeff Cukla and Treston Spalla are both adept at playing the run or pass – something that will be important to Mahnomen-Waubun’s defensive success at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Key Player
Jon Starkey, QB – Mahnomen-Waubun
2018 Stats: 487 pass yards, 7 TD, 2 INT; 1,166 rush, 15 TD

There’s no way BOLD’s defense allows Starkey and the Thunderbirds to run their veer option offense against anything less than an eight-man box. There will come a time in Saturday’s game, whether it’s an early-down, play-action pass or a third-and-long situation, where Starkey is going to have to connect with his receivers.

Does the senior have the ability to make plays through the air? It’s hard to say, because he’s only attempted 64 passes all season, connecting on just 23. He did, however, throw for 212 yards and two scores on only seven attempts in the semifinal win over Springfield. Starkey will likely need to repeat that performance to give the Thunderbirds a chance at the upset.