Mandan’s football team is coming off one of its best seasons in 70 years, and this season could be the Braves’ chance to break through and make history.
The Mandan Braves finished last season with a semifinals appearance and just six points shy of a state championship bid, but this year they’re hoping a little bit of Mandan pride can take them all the way to Fargo.
“Mandan is just kind of different with the pride and hard work, the grit between us,” senior running back Ben Kleinknecht.
“We’re different than everybody else,” senior lineman Cort Heinert. “Bismarck has all these different schools, but we’re just Mandan. We’re just one team, one city just looking for a dream.”
That dream, bring home the first state championship since 1948.
“Offensively we’re going to take whatever you give us, and we’re going to take as much as we can,” head coach Todd Sheldon said. “Any time you give us an inch we’re going to try to take a yard and a yard we’re going to take ten.”
The Braves offense returns almost the entire starting line, which they are depending on to keep new quarterback Jayce Lowman protected, along with the stable of running backs that will split carries.
“Everybody can play wherever you want them,” senior fullback James Barnhardt said. “You ask somebody to do something they’re going to do it no matter what. That’s our biggest strength this year.”
With multiple players hitting the field on both offense and defense that flexibility will be key in sustaining success.
“Having that many people around that can jump in the game whenever they want is a plus for sure,” Kleinknecht said.
No matter who is on the field the Braves say they will pride themselves on playing until the final horn sounds.
“We’re going to hang our hat on being a team that plays every down like the last one didn’t happen, so whether it was good or bad it doesn’t matter just go get better,” Sheldon said.