Future Blue Hawk football players eager to represent North Dakota in Badlands Bowl

Dual Keck was a North Dakota Class 3A all-state offensive lineman while playing for Dickinson High and is committed to playing for Dickinson State in the fall.But he wasn't prepared for the players he would go up against during Team North Dakota'...

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Dickinson High graduate and Dickinson State commit Jake Weidner, right, wraps up Mandan’s Nick Miller during Badlands Bowl practice Wednesday at the Biesiot Activities Center. (Press Photo by Parker Cotton)

Dual Keck was a North Dakota Class 3A all-state offensive lineman while playing for Dickinson High and is committed to playing for Dickinson State in the fall.
But he wasn’t prepared for the players he would go up against during Team North Dakota’s week of practices before the Badlands Bowl.
“It’s been a little rough,” Keck said. “I thought I was a little better conditioned than what I was and that kind of beat me a little bit. Then we got some beefy guys on the defense and they were tossing me around like a rag doll, but it’s been fun.”
Keck is one of seven future DSU players playing in the 23rd annual Badlands Bowl at 6 p.m. tonight at the Biesiot Activities Center.
And Keck feels excited to be a part of it.
“Obviously when you get into the Mon-Dak game, it’s not because you’re not very good,” Keck said. “They’re definitely a lot better than what you’d normally see at a high school game. This is mostly North Dakota’s best.”
Keck, Dickinson Trinity’s Jaret Lee, Dickinson High’s Jake Weidner and Drew Heiser, Killdeer’s Zeb Doe and Mandan’s Gabe Meschke are all playing for North Dakota at the BAC before they begin their careers there for the Blue Hawks.
However, offensive lineman Jaden Senger of Miles City will play against them for Team Montana before he will don the blue and gray at DSU in the fall.
“I’ve always had my eye on Dickinson for a really long time,” Senger said. “I just felt like it was the place to go. … (Playing against DSU players) is going to be really weird, but it’s going to be fun.”
Senger said he’s looking forward to playing a game in the BAC before he begins practicing there.
“I’m really grateful that I’m part of it,” Senger said. “I’m grateful to play in that stadium and to get a little better feel for it.”
Senger said competing with players he played against in high school has been a challenge, but he’ll have to do that again with those from Team North Dakota.
Once the competition is over, they’ll all be on the same team.
“One thing, they’re all competitors,” DSU head coach Pete Stanton said. “Jaden will probably be lined up against those linemen. And when the game is over, they’ll be teammates. They’ll be ready to come together.”
Lee, who was a late addition to Team North Dakota’s roster, is simply excited to be a part of the game.
“It’s obviously overwhelming,” Lee said. “It brings your confidence up a little bit knowing you’re getting to play with the best of North Dakota and Montana. I’m excited to show both of the states what North Dakota can do.”
Lee said he’s been humbled by the talent he’s worked with and faced in practice.

But instead of playing against these players, Lee’s excited to play together now.
“It’s a big step up from high school, even though we’re all still high school,” Lee said. “It’s just stacked teams instead of a few teams with a couple all-stars. This is an entire team of all-stars, so it’s like college when you get there.”
Keck said, even if he’s been shoved around in practice this week, that he’s been gunning for a spot on Team North Dakota’s roster for awhile.
So he was ecstatic when he found out he made it.
“I was really, really jacked,” Keck said. “My older brother Levi had played in the Mon-Dak game in 2011, and he said it was the best week he had ever had in his life, and I thought that sounds awesome.”
Though for Keck, he wants to outperform his older brother, who also played at DSU.
“It’s cool to do what my brother did,” Keck said, “but at the same time I want to be better than him.”
With college football right around the corner, Keck said the week of practice has been a learning experience.
“The coaches are really cool and they’ve taught me a bunch of stuff,” Keck said. “The players, they’ve really helped me out, and that’s really cool. The offensive line has helped me out with a bunch of stuff.”
Lee added that the Badlands Bowl serves as a good preparation for what college football will be like because of that better competition.
“It’s building chemistry before we even are teammates,” Lee said. “We get to see each other’s talents and make each other better.”

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