Final opportunity: Nunberg, Steffen join Zier for last game at Shrine Bowl
Beach head coach Mike Zier doesn’t need any fingers to count the number of games he’s missed during Marshall Nunberg’s and Tyler Steffen’s high school career.
With Zier being the head coach for the 9-man West Team for the North Dakota Shrine Bowl, the final count is none.
Zier has been at the helm for every game for Nunberg and Steffen since the two started as sophomores for the Buccaneers.
“(Zier) has been my coach since I was a little guy sitting on the sidelines,” Steffen said. “We go way back and it’s real special for him to coach me now.”
The trio of Buccaneers has one final game together with the 9-man West Team for the Shrine Bowl at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Fargodome.
“It’s been pretty special and I’ve seen them grow up since they were seventh-graders,” said Zier, who is the head coach for the 9-man West Team. “Neither one is going on to play football — but they are both going to college — so this is their last game. It has been an honor and a privilege that I’ve seen every football game that they have played.”
Nunberg and Steffen have played pivotal roles helping Beach to the playoffs. Nunberg — the starting quarterback — and Steffen, the starting running back, lead the Buccaneers to a 12-7 record over the last two seasons.
However, Beach was knocked out the playoffs in the first round in the past two seasons.
“In my junior year, nobody thought that we would be a playoff team,” Steffen said. “Some of the younger players stepped up and Marshall and I stepped up in bigger roles. In our senior year, we had to prove to everyone that we were a good team again. It was just a really good career for me and Marshall.”
Nunberg and Steffen won’t be playing those positions during the Shrine Bowl. They will both be linebackers, while Nunberg will also play cornerback.
The Shrine Bowl marks the final time Nunberg and Steffen will put pads on. Both will be attending the University of North Dakota in the fall.
“We are just going to come out this week, work as hard as we can and I’m going to have to leave it all out on the Sunday, because I’ll probably be hanging up the cleats after that,” Nunberg said.
Though Zier said it has been special to have a pair of Buccaneers at the Shrine Bowl, he’s also watched Grant County-Flasher father and son — Jamie and Taylor Krenz — play one final game together.
Jamie Krenz — an assistant coach for the 9-man West Team — is the offensive coordinator and Taylor Krenz is the starting quarterback.
“They got that week together as father and son and as coach and quarterback,” Zier said. “I just get to sit back and watch.”
Not only is Zier seeing familiar faces with the players and coaches, but the 9-man West Team is practicing at his alma mater Mayville State.
When Zier found out Dickinson State was joining the North Star Athletic Association, he was more than ecstatic, because he only has to travel an hour east on Interstate 94 to watch the Comets take on the Blue Hawks.
“That little school has done a lot for me,” Zier said. “Every time I go back it’s pretty special for me. The day the Blue Hawks committed to joining the North Star was one of the happiest days that I can think of. That’s because Comets football, basketball and baseball is only 60 miles away from me. It is a special place full of special people, who guided me and did a lot for me. I truly believe that I wouldn’t be here without their guidance.”
Though the first three days of practice, Zier said the team is coming together.
Playing the game is important, but Zier believes what is more important is helping raise money for the Shriners Hospital.
“The game is important because we raise money for the Shriners Hospital,” he said. “Who wins really isn’t that important, it’s so we can help the Shrine kids win every year.”