FARGO-Troy Mattern was at the North Dakota State Bison football game last season when Fargo Shanley was playing Kindred in the Class 2A high school football semifinals. He was checking updates on his phone through the first half before his phone died.
He saw Shanley was up 29-7 at half, after the Deacons had scored a 52-yard touchdown with two seconds left in the second quarter that seemingly posed as the backbreaker for Kindred. He figured it was over.
After the NDSU game, Mattern charged his phone. He saw Kindred had beaten Shanley 35-29 on a 33-yard touchdown pass at the end of regulation.
"It was crazy how it ended," Mattern said.
It's still a little crazy for Mattern to think of himself as the Shanley football coach. He took over in January, following Rod Oksendahl's retirement after 37 seasons as a high school head coach, six of which were with Shanley. Mattern had been the head coach at South since 2010, leading the Bruins to a 52-21 record and to two state championships.
"It's still kind of weird, but I think as we're progressing through fall camp, it's becoming more a part of me, and it's exciting," Mattern said. "It took awhile. When I put on that red and black it was different, but you got to get used to it."
Something Shanley fans will need to get used to is a new offensive scheme. Gone are the days of packing it in and running between the tackles.
"I think we are bringing a pretty exciting brand of football, and the change has been embraced," Mattern said. "We're going to a complete opposite offensive scheme. We're going to utilize our athletes and run a more spread-style offense. That's brought more excitement to the kids."
Mattern didn't ease the Deacons into change. From Day 1, he told them it was coming.
"When I first met the team I told them to embrace change because a lot of things we are going to do is different," Mattern said. "Since Day 1, the kids have done that. They've bought into everything we've done. Bringing most of my coaches over from South that transition has been pretty smooth in sending the message right away."
Junior Kaden Kueneman will get the nod at running the new Shanley offense from the quarterback position.
"I think he's got a great understanding of our offense, and he fits with what we're trying to do," Mattern said. "He understands the game very well and our scheme very well. He's only a junior, so to have him for two years will be good."
Kueneman's weapons will be seniors Jake Kava and Miles Wosick, along with junior Haley Bucholz. Wosick is a receiver who had to sit out last season because of transfer rules, and Mattern plans to use Kava at running back as well as tight end.
"He's one of those athletic kids you can use all over the field," Mattern said of Kava.
Bucholz will also play defensive back, alongside senior Tom Erie, who missed a big chunk of last season with a foot injury.
As for that Kindred game from last season, the Deacons haven't forgotten.
"Any time you have kids that play varsity during a game like that, it's remembered, and it builds fire in their bellies," Mattern said.
Aug. 25: vs. Jamestown, 7 p.m.
Sept. 1: at Grafton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8: at Watford City, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15: vs. Central Cass, 6 p.m.
Sept. 22: vs. Turtle Mountain, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29: at Bismarck St. Mary's, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6: vs. Valley City, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13: at Wahpeton, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21: vs. Devils Lake, 1:30 p.m.