'First' game at BAC a treat for N.D. team

Aaron Grinsteinner has played at the Badlands Activities Center before. But not like this. Tonight during the 17th annual Badlands Bowl high school all-star game, the Dickinson Trinity graduate will compete in the first football game at the compl...

Aaron Grinsteinner has played at the Badlands Activities Center before.

But not like this.

Tonight during the 17th annual Badlands Bowl high school all-star game, the Dickinson Trinity graduate will compete in the first football game at the completed stadium.

"It's going to be a whole different experience," said Grinsteinner, a defensive back for Team North Dakota. "Last fall we were playing, but they were still working on the stadium and everything. It's going to feel like we're in a big-game stadium, especially if the stands are filled. It's going to be quite the atmosphere."

The Badlands Bowl all-star football game typically filled up Whitney Stadium, which last hosted the game in 2007.


The game was moved to Denton Field in Miles City, Mont., for two consecutive years as Whitney Stadium was demolished and rebuilt as the BAC.

"This facility is the top facility in the state. It's incredible," Team North Dakota head coach Mark Gibson said.

The BAC holds an estimated 3,500 fans, including those in box suites. Whitney Stadium sat 2,100.

"It's a pretty big increase," said Aaron Johansen, the BAC events and conference coordinator.

Johansen, a former Dickinson State football player, added that he hopes the stadium is packed for the game, if only so fans can see the type of atmosphere the new stadium is capable of providing.

Grinsteinner agreed.

"I'm hoping it's pretty packed," Grinsteinner said. "The more people that are going to be there, the louder it's going to be."

Gibson graduated from Dickinson State in 1990 and took his first tour of the facility on Monday night.


The head coach of the Bismarck High football team, which plays its home games in the Bismarck Community Bowl, Gibson said Dickinson outdid their rivals to the east.

"Dickinson can be proud of what they've put their money into. They've put out one tremendous product," Gibson said. "They've kind of been one up on a lot of people, including the Bismarck area."

Montana looks to speed, balance, Miller

Tony Arnston knows the key to winning the Badlands Bowl

Team Montana's head coach said a lot of it has to do with offensive speed and defensive power.

"Offensively, I think we're going to be real multiple and use a lot of formations, move the ball around and get the ball to guys when we need to," Arnston said. "Hopefully we can get a good enough balance. That's pretty much our style of play. We don't like to get one-dimensional if we can help it. But we'll see."

In Arnston's only other appearance as Montana's head coach in 2002, the boys from the Treasure State beat the Peace Garden State kids 16-7 -- the lowest-scoring game in Badlands Bowl history.

This year, however, he has a player many of his coaches feel could be one of the best to ever come out of the state.


Arnston said Matt Miller, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver from Helena Capital High School, was a nuisance for his Helena High School team the past four years.

Now he's happy to be on the same sideline as the Boise State-bound star.

"He brings it all," Arnston said. "We've been trying to tackle him for four years and we haven't been very successful at it.

"He's a good all-around kid. I really believe he can play any one of the 22 positions on the field. He's got great speed and he understands the game well. He's all he's made up to be."

Game will be on live TV for the first time

This is the 17th edition of the Badlands Bowl, but for the first time, it is being shown live on TV.

The BEK Sports Network, based out of Steele, is broadcasting the game and partnering with 14 cable providers across the state that will show the game, including Consolidated Telcom in Dickinson. The game will be shown on Consolidated Channel 18.

BEK broadcasted the North Dakota state high school volleyball tournaments live for the first time last fall using similar partnerships.


BEK expects the game to broadcast in approximately 112,000 households statewide.

BEK sports director Jordan Hassler will cover the play-by-play for the game while DSU linebackers coach and head track and field coach Pete Stanton -- a Baker, Mont., native who has two brothers coaching high school football in Montana -- will do color commentary.

Facts and figures

Montana leads the series 12-4. ... Miller and Huntley Project linebacker Taylor Dees, a Montana State recruit, are Montana's captains. Bismarck High quarterback Esley Thorton and West Fargo linebacker Scott Schiller are North Dakota's captains. ... Montana has more than a dozen players who have signed NCAA Division I scholarships, including two who are attending Football Bowl Subdivision schools. ... The record for most passing touchdowns is three and is held by six different quarterbacks. ... In 2007, the last time the game was in Dickinson, Montana set a Badlands Bowl team record with 348 yards passing. ... North Dakota holds four team statistical records, Montana holds three and the teams are tied in two categories. ... Kyle Steffes, a Dickinson Trinity graduate, still holds the record for rushing attempts (28), a mark set in the 2002 game.

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