Former teammates Yaggie, Haviland line up as foesFARGO — The in-state high school with the third-most representation at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday night is probably better known for hockey. If anybody guessed Thief River Falls, then you had some inside information.
By: Jeff Kolpack, The Dickinson Press
FARGO — The in-state high school with the third-most representation at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday night is probably better known for hockey. If anybody guessed Thief River Falls, then you had some inside information.
Moreover, it’s not as if North Dakota State linebacker Alex Yaggie and University of Minnesota safety Chase Haviland had coaches from both schools on speed dial. They walked on — all in the name of chasing their dream.
To say their paths were similar would be a major understatement. Both have families with connections. Haviland had six brothers or sisters attend Minnesota, including one, Reid Haviland, who played football. Yaggie has seven relatives who attended NDSU, including his uncle, Bob Yaggie, and his cousin, Bruce Yaggie, who played football.
“I grew up with it,” Alex said. “NDSU was always my dream to come and play here.”
It took Haviland a little longer to realize how much football meant to him.
He contemplated NCAA Division II football opportunities at Minnesota-Duluth and Bemidji State as well as some contacts with Division III programs. He decided against it, instead content to be a student at Minnesota and leave athletics behind in high school.
“(The school) was like a second home for me,” he said.
But like a school project, he did some research on what it would take to walk on to the football team. The fact his brother played made it a more appealing proposition.
“He had friends on the team who served as my mentors,” Haviland said. “But I had to grow up really quick.”
Yaggie, who is a year older than Haviland, said he wasn’t surprised his former teammate got back into football. While at Thief River, they led the Prowlers to the first 10-win season in school history and the second-ever appearance in the state playoffs.
“As good as an athlete as he was, I asked him why he wasn’t playing,” Yaggie said. “Then he said he missed it, and so he tried out.”
Like their paths to their respective schools, both will have similar roles on Saturday. Yaggie is a backup at linebacker and special teams. Same thing for Haviland, only at safety.
Earlier this week, they talked briefly, mainly saying, “See you after the game.”
“Both of our goals was to play at the highest level of football we could,” Yaggie said. “It’s super exciting, being from Minnesota and second of all playing for the Bison and playing against a former teammate.”
Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.