Bismarck at McGehee playoff pregame picture

Bismarck sophomore quarterback Ian Smith runs with the ball during a recent Lions’ game. Smith had 86 yards and one touchdown in the Lions’ week 10 game against Centerpoint.

For the first time under head coach D.J. Keithley, the Bismarck Lions have made the 3A State Playoffs. It’s been a goal of the fourth year head coach and the Lions are gearing up for Friday’s game on the road at McGehee.

The last time the Lions made the playoffs was in 2014. The Lions were on the road against Smackover in the first round and lost 52-19. Since then the Lions have failed to make the playoffs going 1-9 in 2015, 0-10 in 2016, 2-8 in 2017, 2-8 in 2018, and 3-7 in 2019. The Lions came up just short of the playoffs in 2019 after falling to Genoa Central in the final game of the regular season.

But 2020 is different and the Lions finished the regular season with a 3-7 overall record that included conference wins over Horatio and Fouke. The Lions finished the 5-3A as a fifth seed and were exempt for the play-in first round of the playoffs.

The Lions will now face McGehee at Rex Benton Stadium Friday. McGehee is a one seed out of the 6-3A conference. McGehee went 8-0 overall in the regular season and went 5-0 in conference play to take the top seed. They currently rank fourth in the state for the Class 3A according to Hootens.com and pose a threat to the Lions defensively.

McGehee is touted to have the highest scoring defense in the Class 3A this season, averaging 4.6 points per game. They are led by playmakers Eli White, Jody Easter and Andreas Jordan and have had three shutouts this season.

The Lions are used to stiff competition though having faced three teams ranked in the top 15 for the Class 3A. Prescott, ranked as the number two team for 3A, Glen Rose, ranked at the number nine team for 3A, and Centerpoint as the number 12 team in 3A. All three conference opponents, the Lions succumbed to all three teams 63-6, 49-14, and 62-26, respectively.

Against Centerpoint though, the Lions held their own in the first half only trailing by three points, 22-19. It was in the second half that Centerpoint was able to shutdown the Lions to get the 36-point win. In the game, the Lions had 253 yards while quarterback Ian Smith passed for 86 yards with a touchdown while Braden Efird had four catches, 100 yards and two touchdowns. The Lions’ follies of the game were their five turnovers.

This week, the Lions look to overcome their week 10 loss and upset McGehee on their home field to make a deep run in the playoffs. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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