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Cardinals get another shot at Jays

Cole Monson's Dakota Bowl memories have faded over time. The Carrington senior recalls little of the 1999 North Dakota Class 1A state championship game, which he played in as a freshman. The Cardinals lost 30-12 to Stanley. "It's draw...

Cole Monson's Dakota Bowl memories have faded over time.

The Carrington senior recalls little of the 1999 North Dakota Class 1A state championship game, which

he played in as a freshman. The Cardinals lost 30-12 to Stanley.

"It's drawn far back in my memory bank," Monson said. "It's been a while. I just remember Stanley being big."

Monson may experience a flashback at 5 p.m. Saturday when the Cardinals face Stanley-Powers Lake again for a state title at Grand Forks' Alerus Center.

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"I thought it was ironic right away," Monson said of the rematch. "We'll just play it like another game."

That seems like a sound strategy as Carrington (12-0) has yet to lose this season, using a simple formula.

The Cardinals have been powered by a strong defense -- allowing just 4.5 points per game -- and a rugged ground attack, which has rushed for 249 yards per game.

"Offensively, we just run the ball and pound it. Three yards and a cloud of dust," Monson said. "Defensively, we take pride in holding people down. All of us just like playing defense. Just flying around and hitting people."

The success on both sides of the ball starts up front. Senior Danny Hollingsworth (6-foot, 225 pounds) and juniors

Zach Harrington (6-3, 260)

and Tyler Doeling (6-3, 260) anchor both the offensive

and defensive lines.

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"They set the tone for us," said Carrington coach Marty Hochhalter, in his 13th season."They're not just big, they're also athletic. The majority of them are two- or three-sport athletes. They've been a great group to work with because they've worked hard all year. It's the best offensive line I've had."

Seniors Mike McDermott

(5-9, 225) and Andy Swanson

(6-3, 230) round out an offensive front that has cleared holes for Monson.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder leads the team with 985 yards rushing, including nine touchdowns.

On defense, Monson has been aided with his front's ability to tie up blockers. He leads the team with 76 tackles from his middle linebacker position.

"It's just a great feeling," Monson said. "This is what we've been working for in the offseason and all season, to get to this point."

The Cardinals are seeking their first state championship since 1988. Monson is hoping he doesn't go 0-2 in title games.

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"It seems a little different," Monson said of the second time around. "There is more urgency as a senior."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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