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Heart River aim for wins and honoring Coach Wigert in 2022

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Heart River 2022 season will begin August 26 in a non-regional matchup against Ray.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press
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BELFIELD, N.D. — Hard times don’t last, but hard people do, and in Heart River that is just the mindset that is spurring the 2022 Heart River Cougars.

Following a disastrous 0-8 season record in 11B Region 6 last year, longtime assistant coach and teacher of South Heart ISD, Bryce Wigert, was diagnosed with leukemia. As he battles his disease, so too will the Cougars in dedication to him.

“We are dedicating our entire 2022 season for him,” Carter Maynard, Heart River head coach said. “Him and I talk over the phone every other day and we don't just talk about him, we talk about football. He is still involved and coaching even though he is out in Utah getting treated.”

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Heart River participate in a preseason scrimmage in Dickinson at the Henry Biesiot Activities Center.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Wins haven't come easy in recent years for Heart River, but it has only hardened a team of players who have the caliber of experience and talent to turn things around in 2022.

“The last two years we haven't had a lot of success, but I think this group here is going to have a good year,” Maynard said. “We are going to win some games and maybe win a game or two that we weren't supposed to. Right now, it's just getting everybody in the right direction, staying positive and learning and getting better everyday…I think they are going to see a different Cougar football go on that field for 2022.”

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The Cougars have four seniors this year, including running backs Jason Morel and Austin Buckman. Buckman is expected to also see time in the pocket as quarterback. Caleb Kasion and Lee Obrigewitch are strong returning seniors on the offensive and defensive lines.

“That is the good thing about this group of seniors, they are going to be able to play different positions,” Maynard said “In our class of football, 11B football, if you aren’t playing four or five positions there is something wrong there.”

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Heart River 2022 season will begin August 26 in a non-regional matchup against Ray.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Sophomore Kaden Zacher will likely be the starting quarterback for the team and will be backed up by Buckman. Maynard said that despite being an underclassmen, Zacher is showing great promise and shined during the DSU team camps over the summer.

With an expected roster of 36 players, including 11 juniors, things are looking good for Heart River.

“They are crisp and the kids are getting on board right away,” Maynard said. “This group here is really positive and really wants to be here. We spent the whole summer working out and we had an install camp. We were at the DSU’s team camp and I think that helped us a lot and you can see it out on the field.”

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Heart River 2022 season will begin August 26 in a non-regional matchup against Ray.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

Maynard is in his third year as head coach and has 28 years of experience under his belt. Helping the Trinity Titans win back-to-back state titles in 2000 and 2001, he’s bringing an old approach to a new team. With an arsenal of a large coaching staff that include long time friends and previous Dickinson State teammates, Maynard will be calling the plays alongside defensive coordinator Paul Clarys and D-line and O-line coordinator Colton Hill.

Dean Goodall, who formerly coached Dickinson High School football to a state championship in 1997 will be the Cougars defensive coordinator.

Also joining the team is DSU’s two time NAIA All-american wide receiver Tyger Frye, who helped the Blue Hawks take their seventh straight North Star Athletic Association conference title this past year.

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Tyger Frye during practice.
Josiah C. Cuellar / The Dickinson Press

“Goodall has been out of coaching for a few years, but he has come in and has really helped us getting better,” Maynard said. “Our whole coaching staff is going to make us better.”

Without Wigert the Cougars say they will carry his legacy with them under every opportunity to shine under Friday night lights.

“He deserves the dedication,” Maynard said. “He is excited and misses football and he is a very dedicated teacher and coach.”

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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