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Take of two backs: Bornemann, Leintz lead top-ranked Hazen

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Hazen seniors Briar Bornemann and Nate Leintz began playing football together on the playground as fifth-graders.

Seven years later, the two won a state championship in 2012 and returned for their senior season as two of the Bison’s leading rushers.

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Though Bornemann is a speedster and Leintz uses power, the two work off each other well, which has spelled a recipe for success for the top-ranked Hazen football team.

“They are a nice compliment to one another,” Hazen head coach Rick Philion said. “It was kind of the same case that we had last year, where you had to watch out for two backs. If you key too much on Briar, you are going to give a Nate an opportunity to have a big game.”

In nine games this season, Bornemann and Leintz have combined for 1,272 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. Leintz also has the most receiving yards with six catches for 238 yards, while Bornemann has the team-high three receiving TDs.

“I’ve playing with Briar ever since I started playing football — from playing on the playground all the way through high school,” said Leintz, who has rushed for a team-high 667 yards and 11 TDs. “We are very competitive and we push each other to be our best.”

Despite the individual success, Bornemann’s and Leintz’s senior season in Hazen has been memorable. The Bison are the top-ranked team in Class 1A, have a 9-0 record, won a Region 4 title after going 6-0 and have at least one more playoff game at home.

The quarterfinals playoff game is against Lewis and Clark-Our Redeemeer’s at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Philion said the Bombers are a tough physical team.

“They are an athletic team,” he said. “They have some big guys up front and (Mitchel) White is a great cut-back runner. Our defense, which has been our backbone all year, is going to have to step up.”

Though Bornemann and Leintz receive a many of the glory when scoring a TD, they said it wouldn’t be possible without their offensive line.

Hazen’s offensive line has three returning starters from the 2012 state championship team including 6-foot-3 senior Austin Cieslak.

“I feel really comfortable with the offensive line, but I also feel really comfortable down the field, because Nate is always communicating with me,” Bornemann said. “It’s comfortable running with those guys, because I’ve been playing with these guys for so long.”

Leintz added: “It starts with the offensive line. Pretty much all of them are returning and they do a great job for us. We have great coaching and that helps us a lot too.”

A year ago at the Alerus Center, Bornemann showed the entire state his capabilities at running back. He set a Dakota Bowl single-game record with 286 yards and four TDs.

Though he might not be always looking at it, Bornemann is always thinking about finding the endzone, whether he scores the TD or one his teammates, it doesn’t matter, he wants to put points on the board.

“Every time I get the ball, Connor (Doll) gets the ball, Nate gets the ball and every time our team gets the ball on offense, I’m always thinking about a TD,” Bornemann said.