Steffes, others relish in NDSU’s championshipKyle Steffes played three of his four spectacular seasons at North Dakota State without having the chance to win a national championship.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Kyle Steffes played three of his four spectacular seasons at North Dakota State without having the chance to win a national championship.
As he celebrated the Bison football team’s 17-6 win over Sam Houston State in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title game on Saturday afternoon from the FC Dallas Stadium stands in Frisco, Texas, Steffes couldn’t help but think he and his teammates played a small part in the story.
“It makes you feel like you contributed to what’s going on now, the national title,” Steffes said. “It feels really good just to see those guys win the national title today.”
Steffes, a Dickinson Trinity High School graduate, became NDSU’s second all-time leading rusher when he played from 2003-06.
His redshirt freshman season in 2003 was NDSU head coach Craig Bohl’s first season and the team’s last in NCAA Division II. Steffes’ next three seasons, NCAA rules made NDSU ineligible for the FCS playoffs because of its transition to Division I.
During his senior season in 2006, the Bison finished the year ranked No. 4 in the FCS with a 10-1 record, their only loss a 10-9 setback to the University of Minnesota. That team remains one that still makes many Bison fans wonder, ‘what if?’
Steffes, however, said the teams he played on know their place in school history and can now celebrate that it helped NDSU build toward what it accomplished Saturday.
“You feel kind of a part of it,” Steffes said.
Dave Moody knows a thing or two about national championships. He coached the Dickinson State volleyball team to a national title in 2000.
However, he said watching his son Nate Moody, a true freshman receiver for the Bison, walk off the field a national champion was a blessing.
“To be a part of that is something you’ll always remember,” Dave Moody said. “You take it with you and I honestly think that helps define you later in life. You’ll always be a champion. No matter what you do the rest of your life, you’ll always be a champion.”
Nate Moody, a Dickinson High School graduate, played several downs for the Bison but didn’t make a catch. Quarterback Brock Jensen threw to him once in the third quarter, but the Sam Houston State defense helped break up the play. Moody and Bearkats cornerback Robert Shaw fought for the ball before it fell to the turf.
The Moody family met Nate on the field after the game.
“I was going to jump into his arms because he did that to me when he was 10 years old and we won the national title,” Dave Moody said with a laugh. “But he didn’t let me do it.”
One former Bison player particularly touched by the win was Landon Smith, a Dickinson Trinity High School graduate who NDSU’s starting tight end as a senior last season.
Like Steffes, Smith was also a member of Bison teams that didn’t even have the opportunity to play for a national championship. NDSU became playoff-eligible in Smith’s sophomore season.
“It was good to see them win,” Smith said. “It’s good for the program. It’s a big reason why a lot of us guys came there in the first place was to get to this point where we’re at.”
Smith said he was especially proud of the support Bison fans showed the team, considering Frisco was roughly 1,000 miles away from Fargo, and the atmosphere they created for what was essentially a road game. Sam Houston State is located 200 miles away from Frisco in Huntsville, Texas.
“It was awesome,” Smith said. “Our fans always have been some of the best fans in the country if you ask me. There was just green and gold everywhere. People are having a good time. We took up the majority of that stadium. It was loud and it was fun to see. It means a lot to the program.
“It means a lot to the guys.”