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West Fargo Sheyenne's Abe Hestdalen poised to be key contributor on Dragons defensive line

Minnesota State Moorhead redshirt freshman Abe Hestdalen is in the mix to earn considerable playing time on the defensive line for the Dragons football team next fall.

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Minnesota State University Moorhead defensive lineman Abe Hestdalen runs drills during morning football practice at Alex Nemzek on Thursday, March 31, 2022.
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MOORHEAD — In his first spring football for Minnesota State Moorhead, defensive tackle Abe Hestdalen has emerged and become a factor on the depth chart.

Dragons head coach Steve Laqua said Hestdalen has a different look than he did last fall, which was Hestdalen’s redshirt season in the program.

“In the fall, he looked like he would be a good high school player,” Laqua said. “I think now he looks like he’s on the verge of becoming a good college player.”

A West Fargo Sheyenne graduate, Hestdalen is in the mix for significant playing time next fall with the potential to earn a starting spot on the defensive line. The Dragons had their 8th of 15 scheduled spring practices Tuesday morning. Their spring game is set for April 23.

“I think I’m stacking good days on top of each other and keep making these steady improvements can really help impact next fall and determine how much time I will see on the field,” said Hestdalen, who was a two-year starter at Sheyenne.

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Minnesota State University Moorhead defensive lineman Abe Hestdalen readies for the snap during morning football practice at Alex Nemzek on Thursday, March 31, 2022.

Hestdalen said he’s added around 35 pounds to his 6-foot-2 frame since last fall and now weighs 270 pounds. He would like to add five to 10 pounds before next fall. He’s also added strength. Hestdalen said he could bench press 315 pounds once at the end of fall, but now he can do three reps at that weight. He also added around 50 pounds to his deadlift over the winter.

“I want to make sure that (my) weight is good weight and can move well and be athletic with it,” Hestdalen said. “I can definitely tell strength-wise, I can tell on the field. … I can tell I’ve gained some strength along those lines.”

Laqau said Hestdalen has already shown to be an improved player against stopping the run during the spring, and has the ability to play the two inside defensive line spots for the Dragons.

“He really plays with a high motor and that’s something we saw out of high school that really stood out on film.” Laqua said. “He’s a competitor and you like that toughness that’s in there.”

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Minnesota State University Moorhead defensive lineman Abe Hestdalen makes a stop in the backfield during morning football practice at Alex Nemzek on Thursday, March 31, 2022.

The Dragons lost multiple key players along the defensive line from the fall, including Jordan Magnuson, Darius Woods-Steichen, Hunter Sall and Derek Porozinski. All four players were super seniors who completed their careers after last season. The Dragons posted a 5-6 record last fall.

Hestdalen credited players like Woods-Steichen for helping him to adjust to the college game during Hestdalen’s first season in the program.

Denver Sheets and Hayden Carr are two returning players who had playing experience on the defensive last season. Sheets had 2.5 sacks.

Laqua expects Hestdalen to be a key contributor on the defensive line next fall.

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“I think for sure in the rotation. He’s battling to try and get those reps on the inside,” Laqua said. “We’re hoping he’s going to be stout and be able to hold up against the run. Once you can prove that you can do that, then it’s transitioning to the pass-rush phase of it.”

Building depth along the defensive front is a priority for Laqua.

“You’ve got to have enough tread on the tires in the D-line,” Laqua said.

Hestdalen was a multiple-sport athlete at Sheyenne, including baseball. He thought baseball was going to be his college sport until the end of his junior year of high school when interest from college football coaches increased.

“I think until the end of my junior year, my plan was always to play college baseball,” said Hestdalen, who pitched and played first base.

Hestdalen likes the vibe around the Dragons program this spring.

“I think it’s been good,” Hestdalen said. “I think there’s been a lot of learning that’s been going on. We’re a young team and we’re getting more experience and figuring out how to play with each other.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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