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On the must-need list: Erickson closes out high school career at North Dakota Shrine Bowl

Press Photo by Royal McGregor In this 2012 photo, Hettinger-Scranton quarterback Kye Erickson shift-arms a Center-Stanton at the Biesiot Activities Center.

When Beach’s Mike Zier was named 9-man West head coach for the North Dakota Shrine Bowl, he put together a short list of players from Region 4.

One player Zier didn’t waste any time putting on that list was Kye Erickson.

The Hettinger-Scranton graduate was a four-year starter on offense and defense.

Erickson also started multiple seasons for the Hettinger-Scranton varsity basketball and baseball teams.

“When the coaches got together to put the 9-man roster together, there are four or five kids that you need on team and he was on that list of guys from this area,” Zier said. “Hettinger-Scranton had the injury bug for the last few years, but wherever they moved him, he played hard, fast and smart.”

Erickson played a multitude of positions for Hettinger-Scranton. He started his high school career as a running back and then as a sophomore become the starting quarterback. Erickson stayed at the starting quarterback position through his senior season.

However, injuries prevent Erickson from playing every regular season game. He split time between a quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

“I’ve always tried to prepare myself for every game whether I’m banged up or whatever,” Erickson said. “The injury really kept me out and it kind of bumped me out, but it fueled my fire for the rest of the season.”

The final game Erickson played for the Night Hawks was a 25-12 home loss to Richardton-Taylor-Hebron on Oct. 19.

Erickson admits he broke down into tears when the game was over.

“I was a wreck,” Erickson said. “After that game, I took time to talk to every single player, coaches and people who have supported to thank them for everything they have given me and to reassure them that I’ve given them everything I could.”

However, he has one last hurrah at the Shrine Bowl with one of his former teammates — Ben Pearson.

Like Erickson, Pearson was a four-year starter with Hettinger-Scranton. Pearson said it was a little bit of a shock entering the varsity level.

“When I started (playing varsity), I was a guard and I only weighed 120 pounds going against 300-pound linemen,” Pearson said. “As years have gone by, we’ve both gotten bigger and stronger. Getting thrown in there as freshmen really helped us be the players we are now.”

Nonetheless, Pearson is happy to be play one final game with Erickson.

“That’s going to be great,” Pearson said. “We played for four years together and it will be great to play with him one last time.”

Though this will be Erickson’s final high school game, he doesn’t have to wait long to put the pads on again.

Erickson is part of Dickinson State first-year head coach Pete Stanton’s inaugural recruiting class. Erickson said it was a pretty easy decision when he received a call from Stanton.

“I’m unbelievably blessed to be given the opportunity to play at the next level,” Erickson said.

Though a majority of the week will be focused on the football game, which begins at 6 p.m. Sunday at the FargoDome, Erickson said he’s more eager to visit the Shriners Hospital.

“I’m excited to meet all the players, but the part I’m most excited for is actually touring the hospital, getting out and meeting some of those kids that don’t have the opportunities some us do,” Erickson said. “It’s going to be really good for me and everybody else.”

Pearson said it’s special to be named to any all-star team, especially to play with the best 9-man players in the state.

“It’s a huge honor to have been selected,” he said. “I’m really excited to play. That’s for sure.”

Erickson said his path as being a four-year starter wouldn’t have been possible without the support from his family, Hettinger-Scranton’s head coach Randy Burwick and his teammates.

“My family has been through everything — injuries and hospital visits,” Erickson said. “Coach Burwick has always been unbelievably supportive. He’s trusted me with every test he has given me. My classmates — the senior boys this year — we were close-knit bunch this year. They’ve been there to pick me up and help me out.”