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Shanley running back Aidan DeVine wants to punish opposing tacklers

The Deacons running back exploded onto the scene in the first two games of his senior season, accounting for a combined 527 yards from scrimmage

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Fargo Shanley running back Aidan DeVine races to the end zone on a 48-yard touchdown scamper at Fargo Davies on Friday, August 27, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — Aidan DeVine resents the fact that opposing defenders are out there trying to stop him. The Fargo Shanley running back wants to punish every player on the other side of the ball for trying to tackle him.

“I go out there and try to hit them as hard as I can on every play,” DeVine said.

It took years for the Fargo Shanley running back to realize that it might be a better strategy to run away from defenders instead of barreling straight into them. He got his first varsity carries as a sophomore, but he kept trying to run people over on every attempt instead of trying to gain as many yards as possible.

“Now, he understands football and he understands that vision and he understands the cutback lanes,” Deacons coach Troy Mattern said. “He understands what being a running back is.”

So far this season, when DeVine decides to run away from people, nobody can catch him. The 5-foot-8, 185-pounder exploded onto the scene in the first two games of his senior season, accounting for a combined 527 yards from scrimmage. He’s been effective both as a rusher and a receiver, running the ball 45 times for 367 yards and four touchdowns and catching 19 passes for 160 yards.

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“We think Aidan is an elite back,” Mattern said.

“Not only is he a good running back, but he can catch the ball, too. We’re able to put him out as a receiver or catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s more than just a running back.”

After an injury shortened his junior campaign, DeVine flew under the radar coming into the season. His coach likes to tease him that he wasn’t on anybody’s list of top players in the state entering the season.

“I jab at him about that and tell him he probably should have been in that conversation,” Mattern said. “But every day I keep telling him, ‘You’re not in the top 10. You’re not in the top 10.’ I think he is definitely one of the best players in the state and people are definitely taking notice in the first two games.”

DeVine kicked off the season with 19 carries for 162 yards and two touchdowns rushing and 10 receptions for 93 yards in a 34-0 victory over rival Fargo Davies. He doubled down the next week with 26 carries for 205 yards and two scores, and nine receptions for 67 yards in a 21-20 comeback win over Bismarck.

He outperformed the Demons’ returning first-team all-state running back Isaiah Huus, who rushed 23 times for 149 yards. DeVine proved he belonged in those top 10 lists.

“I wanted to make a statement and show everybody that I can compete with the best of the best,” DeVine said. “Our line did an amazing job. We went out there and we won that game.”

DeVine was having a good season playing both ways for the Deacons last year when his campaign was cut short due to a stress fracture of the tibia. He said it was an overuse injury that turned into a severe shin splint and eventually the fracture.

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Losing the end of his junior season, he said, drove him to put in extra work in the offseason.

“I knew this was my last shot at doing something special,” DeVine said. “The offseason was a big part in my performance these first two games.”

In order to take some of the load off of him, DeVine is now focusing exclusively on the offensive side of the ball. It has allowed him to be fresh every time he enters the game and enabled him to handle the 30-or-so touches he’s seen in each game.

“It’s just a matter of finding what is the balance of the right number of carries he should get in every game,” Mattern said. “We want to make sure we keep him fresh enough going into the back half of the schedule and into the playoffs. It’s important that we keep him healthy.”

Football is DeVine’s blood. His dad, Ty DeVine, played running back and cornerback at Shanley and spent a year as a defensive back at North Dakota State. His grandpa, Terry DeVine, played at South Dakota State. Aidan said he is proud to carry on their legacy on the gridiron.

“My dad says that the highlight of his day is coming to watch me play football,” Aidan said. “He loves it and I love it.”

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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