Badlands Bowl: Dickinson duo fending off injuriesThe two Dickinson High football players set to see a lot of playing time in Saturday’s Badlands Bowl all-star game have each battled injuries during the harsh week of three- and two-a-day practices.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
The two Dickinson High football players set to see a lot of playing time in Saturday’s Badlands Bowl all-star game have each battled injuries during the harsh week of three- and two-a-day practices.
Receiver and safety Nate Moody has an injured right rotator cuff, which he said was pre-existing, and may have to sit out of the game.
Lineman Levi Keck dislocated his right pinky finger in the second practice of the week Monday.
“No matter what, you’ve got to suck it up and play,” Keck said. “It’s Mon-Dak.”
The game, which pits the North Dakota all-star team against the best players from Montana, begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at Denton Field in Miles City, Mont. Next year, Dickinson hosts the game at the Badlands Activities Center.
Keck said having to practice three times a day for the first two days of the week and twice the past two days can be physically demanding — especially on the nose guard’s 315-pound frame.
“It wears you down,” Keck said. “It wears you down a lot.”
But, having him on the field will be important.
Troy Mattern, North Dakota’s head coach, said having both Dickinson players on the field makes a difference. He pointed to his experience playing the Midgets last fall as head coach of Fargo South.
“We came out to Dickinson this season and we commented on how physical they were,” Mattern said. “That was the most physical game we played all season.”
Moody will likely see time at safety and also fits nicely into the spread offense system North Dakota coaches have implemented for the game.
The North Dakota State-bound standout said he wants to play in the game regardless of his injury.
“It’ll be fun,” Moody said. “It’d suck not to play.”
Century QB Wentz ‘the real deal’
Badlands Bowl committee members who have watched nearly every practice this week have three words to describe Bismarck Century quarterback Carson Wentz:
“The real deal.”
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Wentz will likely get the start for North Dakota on Saturday.
He will split time with all-state first team quarterback Griffin Neal of Fargo South. The team plans to run South’s offense but, as usual, trend toward the quarterback with the hot hand.
“Griffin has got a good feel for offense. Carson picked it up right away and he’s ready to go too,” Mattern said. “For him to understand the game and take over the offense has been great, too.”
While Neal was the Class 3A all-state first team quarterback, Wentz earned a first team at-large bid despite missing all or part of three games because of two concussions.
Wentz had 1,383 total yards of offense and threw 12 touchdown passes.
Despite being only a one-year starter, Wentz drew interest from Central Michigan, the University of North Dakota, South Dakota State and Southern Illinois.
He chose NDSU.
This week, Wentz spent time getting to know some of his new teammates. The Bison have five recruits playing in the game.
“We’re forming bonds out here with not just those guys, but everybody,” Wentz said.
Okland never imagined playing in Badlands Bowl
Andrew Okland played six games in his high school football career.
It turns out, he was made to play the game.
In February, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound receiver from Fargo South signed a national letter of intent to play for NDSU and, on Saturday, he will start for North Dakota in the Badlands Bowl.
Okland said capping his senior, and only, season of football at the all-star game is something he never expected.
He finished the season with 31 catches for 728 yards — an average of 23.5 yards per catch — and caught the game-clinching touchdown pass to defeat Bismarck High 28-14 in the Class 3A state championship game.
“Right away, I was kind of skeptical about how well the year would go, but Mattern had pretty high hopes for me so that definitely kept my confidence high,” Okland said. “I thought I’d be maybe average, above-average wide receiver.”