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Team North Dakota boasts power up front for Badlands Bowl

Hazen’s Austin Cieslak, front left, practices lineman drills on Thursday against Towner-Granville-Upham’s Luke Bacon, front right, for Team North Dakota in preparation for the Badlands Bowl. Royal McGregor / Forum news service

DICKINSON, N.D. – Team North Dakota’s offensive and defensive linemen are big, strong and – for the majority – collegiately bound to play football.

Out of the 14 linemen listed on Team North Dakota’s roster, 11 are playing college football whether it’s at the NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II or NAIA level.

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 7 p.m. CST today at the Biesiot Activities Center.

“We are excited about our guys up front,” Holmen 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 Fahrman, 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 gets us better and more prepared for that next level.”

Luke Bacon, who signed to play with the 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.”