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Confident Kuntz important to Midgets

Press Photo by Dustin Monke Dickinson High senior linebacker Jamie Kuntz, left, tackles Dawson County (Mont.) running back Taylor Schwartz, middle, as quarterback Josh Reed tries handing off the ball during a game on Aug. 27 at the Badlands Activities Center.

A little confidence has gone a long way for Dickinson High senior Jamie Kuntz.

On a team with few seniors and even fewer with big-game experience, the two-year starter at linebacker and fullback has emerged as a leader for a Midgets team full of underclassmen.

Adapting to a leadership role, Kuntz said, goes hand-in-hand with the type of player he has become.

"Last year, I kind of played scared," Kuntz said. "But this year, I really felt being like physical and being the most physical player on the field."

Though he's modestly sized at 6-foot and 200 pounds, Kuntz can pack a wallop.

In the Midgets' season opener against Dawson County (Mont.), he recorded seven tackles, including a sack and two tackles for a loss.

Last season, Kuntz had 53 total tackles. Through three games this season, he has 31.

"Jamie is such a hard-hitting kid," Dickinson head coach Dennis Morris said. "He's got a heart the size of a school bus."

He isn't bad offensively, either.

On limited carries, Kuntz has rushed for 60 yards and had a 13-yard touchdown run against Dawson County.

Morris said he brings a between-the-tackles option to the Midgets' run game, which is much more apt to use speedier backs outside the tackles.

"Anything inside the tackles, he's going to attack it," Morris said. "He's been a huge help for us on offense as a fullback. He's going to take the ball, lower his shoulders and get as many (yards) as he can, keep his feet moving until he absolutely hits the ground."

That's the kind of toughness Kuntz doesn't think he possessed last season.

He said playing at two Division I summer camps helped change that.

He attended camps at North Dakota State and the University of Colorado and said he learned techniques he has put to good use this season and is feeling better about how he is executing.

"I feel more confident in what I'm doing," Kuntz said.

That confidence is rubbing off on his teammates, too, especially on games like today -- game day.

"He always gets us all pumped up for the game and he's a great leader on the field," said senior Vance Volesky, Kuntz's linebacking partner. "He brings to the table his effort every night. He comes to play every night, no matter who we play or what everyone thinks."

Kuntz said he'd like to keep playing football after high school -- preferably at linebacker, though he added that "whatever gets me on the team," is fine with him -- and Morris said this season, Kuntz is proving has a chance to reach that goal.

"If we didn't have him, we'd be in tough shape," Morris said.

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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