The Milbank Bulldogs dropped 34-20 to the Sisseton Redmen in Northeast Conference high school football action to open the season Friday Night, August 23, at AB Campbell Stadium. The Dawgs learned a lot from their opening game. “Hats off to Sisseton,” said head coach Adolph Shepardson. “They came out ready to play, and they made the big plays in the fourth quarter to get the win. They are a much-improved football team this year.” Milbank received the ball to start the game but was quickly held to a three and out.
Sisseton converted that defensive stop into points on the scoreboard on their opening possession. The Redmen ran in for a 32-yard score, but the two-point conversion was broken up by senior Sam Seffrood, and Sisseton led early on 6-0. Miscued passes for the Bulldogs again quickly forced the locals to punt the ball away. The Redmen took the opportunity to fake out the Bulldog defense and ran for a long 59-yard TD on their second offensive series of the game. The conversion was successful, giving Sisseton the 14-0 advantage.
Late in the opening quarter, Milbank took advantage of a Sisseton fumble. The Dawgs snatched it up at midfield and quickly converted. Senior Dillion Schneck found the house on a 51-yard scramble to cut into the deficit at 14-6 to end the first period. Midway through the second quarter, sophomore quarterback Kaden Krause found senior Max McCulloch wide open. McCullouch juked and jived and ran 65 yards for the score.
The two-point conversion attempt by the Dawgs was unsuccessful, and Milbank remained behind 14-12. Unfortunately, Sisseton would find the end zone yet again in the first half. With just ticks left on the clock, the Redmen completed a 23-yard TD pass. Another failed two-point conversion gave Sisseton the 20-12 lead at the midway mark. Milbank livened up a bit on their first offensive series of the second half. After stopping the Redmen, Milbank took over on downs at their own 38-yard line. Krause completed a pass to junior Will Cummins who then flipped the ball to an open Bennett Schwenn. Schwenn ran the ball all the way down to the Redmen 34 before being pushed out of bounds. Senior Brodie Holtquist then bulldozed his way to the half yard line. Krause eventually found McCullouch in the end zone for the TD. Krause quickly passed the ball to Schwenn on the successful two-point
conversion, to knot the score up at 20-20 with just 1:59 left in the third quarter. Milbank’s offense struggled to produce in the final quarter. Sisseton scored twice with a five-yard touchdown run and a 10-yard TD pass to snatch away the victory from the Dawgs at 34-20.
“You never know what you have in a football team until you play your first real game,” stated Shepardson. “We found out that we have many areas to work on. We have to play more physical on the line; we need to play with more energy and passion; we need to play with toughness, and we need guys to step up and make plays when the opportunity arises. We also need to learn how to win games in the fourth quarter. The last two years we have had many opportunities, and we have yet to cash in. I still believe we can be a very good football team, but it’s a long season, so we need to get better each day and week.”
Milbank ended the game with 110 yard rushing and 171 yards passing. Krause went 9- for-29 passing. D. Schneck led the team with 61 yards rushing on six carries, and McCullouch had 74 yards on three catches. Defensively, JD Luck led the Dawgs with 13 tackles, and Karson Weber had nine.
Fourteen seniors will provide the leadership for the Bulldogs this season. They are Sam Seffrood, Max McCulloch, Noah Steinlicht, Breyden Miller, Carlos Ramirez, Brodie Holtquist, JD Lusk, Dillion Schneck, Elijah Fraasch, Alex Schuelke, Angel Chen, Jorge Calderon, Bryan Wiese, and Evan Erickson.
Other players who will fill key roles are juniors Will Cummins, Jared Johnson, Nick Ruhr, Parker Schell, Toby Schneck, Micah Dietmeier, Matt Christensen, Brendan Engebretson and Tanner Mertens.
Following is the complete schedule for the Bulldogs:
August 30 – at Wahpeton, ND
September 6 – at Huron
September 13 – Home with Dakota Valley
September 20 – at Groton
September 27 – Homecoming with Webster Area
October 4 – Home with Madison
October 11 – at Dell Rapids
October 18 – at Tea Area
Photo – Max McCulloch