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Shanley looking to overcome eight straight losses to St. Mary's

Friday, September 29, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Administration
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FARGO—The last time Fargo Shanley beat Bismarck St. Mary's in high school football, current Moorhead coach Kevin Feeney was the coach of the Deacons.

In 2002, the Deacons beat St. Mary's 24-14—their first win in a season opener in five years. Mark Gilbertson took back an interception for a touchdown, Butch Blahosky rushed for two touchdowns, Andrew Knoll added a touchdown and Logan Schmitz had 11 tackles for the Deacons.

They are 0-8 against St. Mary's since. The Deacons head to Bismarck for another matchup at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29.

"When you lose to a team so often it becomes mental," said first-year Shanley coach Troy Mattern. "It really comes down to just Shanley not getting any breaks. With a new identity and new coaching staff we tell the kids the last eight times has no reflection of this team and this year."

Of the eight losses, the largest margin of victory was 14 in the 2014 state title game with one loss by one, two losses by two, one by five and one by eight.

"I think it's a different team every year," St. Mary's coach Dan Smrekar said. "I think some of the games we were very fortunate to win. I think the big things we've been able to play very good defense against them and not make a lot of mistakes with the football and those have been key. I think both teams have played hard and we were fortunate the ball bounced our way against them sometimes."

Mattern was coaching football at Richfield (Minn.) High School the last time the Deacons beat St. Mary's.

"It's Shanley's biggest rivalry, so it's a big game," Mattern said. "It's more because of that monkey we got on our back. Whenever you lose to a team eight times in a row—and there's no doubt St. Mary's is the class of Class 2A—you want to get over that hurdle of beating them."

For St. Mary's it's just another game.

"We don't talk about what we've done against them at all," Smrekar said. "We just talk about getting ready for another good football team. That's what Shanley is. I don't know if our kids even know that we've been fortunate enough to have some success against them. Nothing special other than we look at it like a good rivalry, great football game with them."

The last eight Class 2A championship games have had Shanley, St. Mary's or both. St. Mary's or Shanley have won six of the last eight state titles.

"I think we look at as it's a great way to measure where we are and who we are," Smrekar said. "Obviously, Shanley I think we're very much alike. It helps you measure up to where you're at. With the new format it's a very good chance we'll be playing Shanley again. You see where you have to change and get better.

"We plan on going in the game with whatever we have in our playbook. We're going to be using everything and trying and fighting to win. Both teams come in and use what they got to use to get the win."

For the Deacons, it's more than just a regular-season matchup.

"This is obviously one we've had marked on our calendars," Mattern said. "It's the one our kids circle when the schedule comes out. We try to keep it as normal as possible, but with the buzz around the school and with your Shanley family it definitely makes for a special week.

"I think it'd be huge for our program (to win) and our kids to know what we're doing internally is working. It's just one game, but it puts us in the driver's seat for the No. 1 seed. We know if you want to win in Class 2A you go to go through St. Mary's."

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