By Tom Mix
NDHSAA Media Specialist
FARGO – North Prairie, unseeded as a non-region champion entering the NDHSAA 9-man football playoffs, needed to let their play do all the talking throughout the playoffs.
The Cougars’ didn’t let a tough Region loss to New Rockford-Sheyenne/Maddock early in the season derail their hopes of making a run in the postseason and ultimately a trip to the Dakota Bowl XXXI.
North Prairie rattled off nine-consecutive wins to close out the season and the ninth straight win was a 16-8 victory over South Border (9-man No. 3-seed for state playoffs) in the 2023 NDHSAA 9-man football state championship game played Friday, November 10 at the FARGODOME.
Leading the way for North Prairie was senior running back Blake Mattson, who scored both of the Cougars’ touchdowns on Friday. Mattson also ran in a successful two-point conversion following his second touchdown that came in the third quarter that put the Cougars up for good.
South Border (12-1) got on the scoreboard first when junior running back Cole Stock scored on a one-yard run in the first quarter.
North Prairie (12-1) answered in the second quarter and the score was 8-8 entering halftime.
The Mustangs got inside the five-yard line late in the fourth quarter, but were unable to get a play off for a possible tying score before regulation time expired.
Mattson finished with 90 yards rushing. Havlin Delong added 76 yards rushing for the Cougars.
Sophomore quarterback Berkley Frantz led the Mustangs with 139 yards passing and 80 yards rushing.
North Prairie is a co-op of Rolla and Rolette. The Cougars were making their second appearance at a Dakota Bowl in the co-op program’s history – the first appearance being a loss to Richland in the 2015 9-man final.
Prior to the co-op, Rolette won an NDHSAA 9-man state title in 1990. Rolette/Wolford (1997) and Rolla/Rock Lake (1994) made Dakota Bowl appearances, but each of those appearances resulted in a loss in the NDHSAA 9-man championship game.
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