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FOOTBALL: Best players around gather for North Dakota Shrine Bowl

Luke Bacon (Towner-Granville-Upham) of the 9 man West team takes care of two East team players (Cody Ellis - Hatton-Northwood, and Luke Oster, Lidgerwood) during the North Dakota Shrine Bowl 9 man football game Sunday, April 13, 2014, at the Fargodome. Dave Wallis / The Forum

FARGO — It’s only July, but the Fargodome was kind of partying like it was a Saturday in September at the 41st annual North Dakota Shrine Bowl on Sunday.

Among the best high school senior football players from North Dakota and parts of Minnesota were six future North Dakota State Bison getting accustomed to their future home.

The last time future Bison defensive end Stanley Jones was on the Fargodome turf, his Bismarck squad was watching Fargo South celebrate a state title with a 42-34 win. Sunday, Jones was all over the field, racking up two sacks, two tackles for loss and a host of assisted tackles to lead the West by the East 21-2 in the 11-man game.

“My last game out here wasn’t the best,” Jones said of the state title game against South. “It was a lot of fun to come back and get a ‘W’ and end my high school football career with a win.”

Eric Bachmeier threw for 1,036 yards and rushed for 1,318 yards in his senior season at quarterback with Kindred. Sunday was most likely his last time lining up under center, as he’ll be at strong safety with possibly a little bit of wide receiver play with the Bison.

Sunday was bittersweet for Bachmeier. He was competing on a field he plans to call home for his college career, playing his last high school football game and his last game at quarterback – a position he had played since fourth grade.

“Getting the ball every single time and having the trust of teammates is a good feeling, but I’m satisfied,” Bachmeier said. “It’s a little sad, but I’m blessed to get the opportunity to play at the next level. I still get to play and that’s all that matters.”

Jones made Bachmeier not so sad to leave the quarterback position. Staring across the line at guys sized 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds like Jones made the goodbye much easier for Bachmeier.

“He’s a great player,” Bachmeier said. “Obviously, you have to keep an eye on him and key on him every single time. You got to double-team him because he’s a great player and that’s why he’s playing at the next level. Luckily he’s on my team next year.”

If just staring at Jones wasn’t scary enough, Jones throwing down of Bachmeier for a sack on the third play of the game and hitting him later on a kickoff was plenty.

“We were just kind of trash talking and having some fun,” Jones said. “It was fun and hopefully we can have some better memories as Bison teammates.”

Bachmeier wasn’t the only one that was happy that he and Jones would soon be teammates.

“The kid is a stud,” Jones said of Bachmeier. “He’s athletic and I feel like the Bison can build him into an absolute stud.”

In the 11-man game the East got a first-quarter safety, but Lake Park Audubon’s Mason Swegarden found Rugby’s Chris Hamilton for a 2-yard touchdown pass and Minot’s Josh Pizzo for a 6-yard pass in the second quarter. Swegarden shut the door with a 2-yard touchdown run in the third and the West defense did the rest.

In the 9-man game — with NDSU recruit Tanner Volson blocking in front of him — West quarterback Taylor Krenz completed his first 15 passes and the West scored touchdowns on its first four drives en route to a 48-14 win. Krenz, of Grant County-Flasher, finished with 307 yards and five touchdowns, 216 yards and four touchdowns going to GC-F teammate Zackary Schmidt.

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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