by Ryan Christiansen
FARGO, N.D. – The Fargo Invaders semi-professional football team, 1-1 in Northern Elite Football League play, will defend their home turf against a league opponent, the Twin Cities Sabercats, at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, May 22, at Jim Gotta Stadium at Moorhead High School in Moorhead, Minnesota.
The Sabercats are 1-1 on the season after losing 26-12 to the St. Paul Pioneers on Saturday, May 15, in a game played at Sea Foam Stadium at Concordia University, St. Paul. In that game, the twin cities kitties allowed 114 yards rushing to a combination of three different backs while allowing one receiver six receptions for 105 yards. In a prior game played Saturday, May 8, in Wilton, North Dakota, against the Bismarck Wolves, the felines devoured their canine foes 39-6.
The Invaders enjoyed a bye week this past week. It was a much-needed break for a team that needs to work on its rushing attack. So far, Invaders running back Brandon Jones (#23) has managed only 38 yards on 32 attempts, and he has yet to score a touchdown.
Fargo has a stronger passing game, and casual fans might believe there is a quarterback controversy brewing between Dev Alger (#4) and Jamus Neal III (#3), but both Invaders quarterbacks have similar stats. Neal III has completed 18 of 36 pass attempts for 328 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions, while suffering 5 sacks, while Alger has completed 15 of 32 pass attempts for 206 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions, while suffering 6 sacks. So far, Neal III has the edge with 9.1 yards per attempt to Alger’s 6.4, and Neal III has rushed 4 times for 32 yards, but having two quarterbacks who can reach receivers nearly 50% of the time is a positive.
On the receiving end, at 6’2” and 220 lbs., wide receiver Jon Baune (#85) is the catch leader for the Invaders, with 16 receptions on 21 targets for 219 yards and 3 touchdowns. “Baune is every coach’s dream player,” said Invaders head coach Zach Stich. “He is hardworking, he is football smart, and he doesn’t require the spotlight. I expect him to consistently put these type of numbers together going forward. Jon has always found a way to get open and it is more our quarterbacks trusting him and giving him the opportunity to make them look good.
Second in catches is wide receiver Nate Soto (#19) with 9 receptions on 15 targets for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns. Constant Jackson (#12) is third with 3 receptions on 8 targets for 82 yards and 1 touchdown.
On defense, the Invaders have shown both flash and grit, with defensive tackle Cornelius “Wings” Wahlo (#56) notching 3 sacks, while linebacker Jamus Neal, Jr. (#21) has tallied 2. Neal, Jr., is one of the most vocal members on the sidelines and he leads the team with 15 tackles, followed by defensive back Germaine Armstrong (#8) with 11 tackles.
In their last game against the Minneapolis Warriors, the Invaders showed weakness in the defensive secondary. “There were several breakdowns,” Stich said. “I expect that many of our defensive players will up their preparation for future games to make sure that they don’t end up on someone’s highlight reel.”