No absence of size, strength: With 11 linemen to play in college, Team North Dakota isn’t lacking on offense or defense
Team North Dakota’s offensive and defensive linemen are big, strong and — the majority — collegiately bound to play football.
Barry Holmen — the head coach of Team North Dakota — wants to win the battle up front against Team Montana during the 21st annual Badlands Bowl at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Biesiot Activities Center.
“We are excited about our guys up front,” he said. “We are big and strong. We hope that we’ll be physical and certain any football team wants to win at the line of scrimmage. That’s a goal for the week.”
The collegiate destinations for the offensive and defensive linemen range from North Dakota State, University of North Dakota, University of Mary, Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, S.D., and Dickinson State.
Drew Fahram, who is a 6-foot-4, 255-pound lineman from Fargo South, is signed to play at Northern State. He doesn’t have to look very far to find another player who will be joining the Wolves next season. Northern State has a total of four players in the Badlands Bowl including lineman Tyler Trefethren (6-2, 270) of Fargo South.
“It’s kind of cool, because it’s an early start to build the team that hopefully I’ll be playing with for the next four to five years,” Fahrman said. “We have some of the best athletes in the state of North Dakota and most of us are going off to play somewhere else. It’s gets us better and more prepared for that next level.”
Luke Bacon, who signed to play with three-time defending FCS national champions NDSU in the fall, said it was a little eye opening on the first day of practice for Team North Dakota. The 6-5, 280-pound lineman played high school football for Towner-Granville-Upham, which has a total of 108 students between Towner and Granville from grades 9-12.
“The first day was just trying to get used to everybody and you see a lot of big guys,” Bacon said. “Coming from a small school, you maybe see one big guy on the opposing team — not three or four from one team.”
Yet, Bacon said practicing and playing with the best players from North Dakota has helped him prepare for what to expect at NDSU.
The Bison have five players on the Badlands Bowl roster and three of them are offensive or defensive linemen. The other two linemen joining Bacon are Bismarck High’s Stanley Jones (6-4, 220) and Tanner Volson of Drake Anamoose (6-5, 285).
“This whole week has been good,” he said. “There’s a lot of competition and everybody is just trying to get better, so we can beat Montana.
“This week going up against guys that are going to go to other colleges, they are going to make you better each snap and each rep. It’s a good experience.”
For Bismarck’s Zac Scalzo, the decision to go to the University of Mary was pretty simple. His father is an alumni and he doesn’t have to venture far away from home.
No matter what level of football each athlete will play in the fall, each said it’s an honor to play as part of Team North Dakota.
“It’s a great honor to be picked. It’s going to be nice playing with all the teammates I’ve played with and against,” said Scalzo, who is a 6-1, 290 lineman. “It’s a great honor to be picked. It’s going to be nice playing with all the teammates I’ve played with and against. It’s nice to have one last hurrah, before we all go off to college.”
However, Fahrman said this week has been more about preparation. He said the players have the tools to win, but it more learning schemes and building chemistry with one another.
“Most of it is getting back in the flow of things and most of us have been involved in other sports for the last six months,” he said. “It really is just brushing up on those skills that we already have and making them better than what they were.”
The trickiest part for Holmen is getting the offensive and defensive linemen familiar with his schemes — especially since there isn’t a single Minot High lineman on the team.
However, Holmen said Team North Dakota will probably be the most talented group of football players he will ever have.
“There’s 20 plus kids that are heading off to college and fully expect to encounter a couple busy weeks like this as they learn what the college scene is like,” Holmen said. “Right away, we knew we had some gifted kids. Some are big, some are strong, some are fast, some are smart and some are all of that. In the end, talent only takes you so far. You have to work together, you got to have some chemistry and I like what I’ve seen so far.”