Coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history, the Bowman County Bulldogs are poised to make another run at the region title. The Bulldogs enter this season ranked No. 5 in the preseason poll. Bowman County shares the No. 5 spot with Bishop Ryan/ORCS. Langdon/Edmore/Munich, Oakes, Thompson, Velva, who ran No. 1-4 respectively.
In just their second year since making the switch to the Class A division, the Bulldogs ran away with the region title, going undefeated in the regular season. The Bulldogs made it all the way to the playoff semifinals, losing to the eventual 11-man state champions, Langdon/Edmore/Munich.
Entering his third season as head coach, Todd Frie said depth could create a challenge for him and his coaching staff, which includes Chris Johnson, Nathan Kees, and Nick Walker. Bowman County currently has 28 kids out for the team this year. After graduating 14 seniors, the club only has five incoming freshmen joining the ranks.
“We need bodies to play varsity,” he said. “We lose a big senior class, and we have a small freshman class.”
Seven guys round out this year’s senior class.
Although depth might be an issue, Frie said much of the 2019 team has been playing together since youth rec league.
“These guys have been playing football longer than anyone in Bowman County,” Frie said. “This group of seniors was the first rec league team that Bowman ever had.”
That rec league featured the then sixth grade class, and in a delightful irony, were coached by Frie.
“These guys know each other really well,” he said. “They’ve won a lot of football games between sixth grade and now.”
Early practices have been up and down. Frie said sometimes they were real sharp, while admitting that some days were more challenging. But he said that can be attributed to the shallow depth the team has, adding that everyone on the team needs to know exactly what to do on both sides of the ball.
“They’re one play away from being in the game,” Frie said.
He sees the fight in his players though, and his team doesn’t want to disappoint the community.
Frie said the 2019 squad’s strength lies with his offensive, because most players from the 2018 team played on that side of the ball. Along with returning their quarterback, Jacob Svihovec, six more guys from the offense will be joining him. And of that group of seven, three out of five of their offensive line return to protect their quarterback.
“Two of (the returning offensive lineman) are first team all-region,” Frie said. “So that’s a big strength.”
Since many of his players will be playing on both sides of the ball, they’ve focused on condition early on in practices. He also said that they try to run their practices that mirrors game pace.
“Knowing our situation, we have to prepare for it,” he said.
Community support has been tremendous Frie said.
“(I want to) thank the community for all the support they’ve given us, especially through the run last year,” he said. “It really means a lot to me as the coach, our assistant coaches, the players, they live for the crowd atmosphere and the excitement that is brought every week in our stadium. It’s fun, it’s a fun atmosphere to be in.”
The Dawgs open up against Oakes (that game will have been played by the time this went to print), and finish the regular season on Oct. 19 against New Salem.
Prep football playoffs begin Oct. 26.
2019 Schedule: 8/24 Oakes (L24-20), 9/06 @Dickinson Trinity, 9/13 Killdeer, 9/20 @Southern McLean, 9/27 @Heart River, 10/4 Shiloh Christian, 10/11 Richardton-Taylor-Hebron, 10/19 @New Salem)