FARGO -- The perfect season keeps going for the Verndale Pirate football team.
The Pirates finished the regular season 8-0 sweeping through the competition to capture the Pheasant Conference title. The next goal was the Section 4, Nine-Man title and they captured that with a 42-14 win over the Isle Huskies Thursday at the Fargodome.
"This has been really great," said senior tackle Cody Lovelace. "I think we've all stepped it up. Some of our younger players have stepped it up a lot. We have two sophomores starting on defense.
"When Casey (Finck) got hurt, (Tyler) Fisher started on offense this year for Casey and did a real good job. Everyone is stepping it up every game and sucks it up when we get down and we keep playing."
The Pirates advanced to their 11th state tournament appearance and will host the winner of Section 1 Friday.
This is the second perfect season in Verndale history. The last time Verndale went undefeated they won the state tournament in 1997.
Banged up but not out
Casey Finck returned to the field Thursday after missing the section semifinal game. Finck who injured his knee in the first quarter of the final regular-season game rushed for 43 yards on 10 carries and caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Cory Umland in the fourth quarter.
Verndale senior running back Casey Finck was all alone after catching a pass from quarterback Cory Umland en route to scoring on this 19-yard pass play.
"We were dinged up a little bit more than we have been all year," said Verndale coach Mike Mahlen. "Eric Bramer had bad ankle all week and Brent Mattson sprained his knee and of course Finck wasn't full speed.
"We had three or four kids that didn't have big injuries, but it was things they had to play through."
Career day for Umland
The junior quarterback had his best game as a football player rushing for 144 yards and three touchdowns and completing 5-of-6 passes for 80 yards and another score. The 6-foot-2, 175 Pirate also had seven tackles and an interception.
"It sort of started the last couple of games against Underwood," said Mahlen about Umland's emergence. "Finck didn't play last game so we had to run Cory a little bit more. He can throw the ball well. We probably don't use him enough to throw the ball. 5-out-6 isn't too bad."
Big D in little Verndale
Verndale's Cody Lovelace (50) and Casey Finck celebrated the Pirates' 42-14 victory.
The Pirates held Isle to 277 total yards and just 14 points. Both of those are season lows for Isle.
Isle's previous low was 20 points in the first game of the season against Cromwell.
The Huskies averaged 353.4 rushing yards a game. Huskies running back Adam Remer gained 1,609 yards on the season, but the Pirates held him to just 46 Thursday and held Isle to 63 total rushing yards.
Jason Kneisl led the team for the second-straight week with 10 tackles. He also had two sacks. Fuller and Kyle Ashman each added seven tackles.
Isaac Johnson added a sack for Verndale.
"I thought we played very well," said Mahlen. "We gave them a couple of big plays, but they didn't get anything on the ground against us. Rushing wise they did nothing basically."
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