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UND FOOTBALL: Ben Bolinske, Noah Wanzek building bond for UND future

DICKINSON, N.D.--The sooner that Ben Bolinske gets comfortable throwing to Noah Wanzek, the better. The Minot quarterback and the Jamestown wideout are hoping that the chemistry built during preparation for Saturday's Badlands Bowl carries over t...

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Minot quarterback Ben Bolinske throws a pass during Monday's Badlands Bowl practice at the Biesiot Activities Center in Dickinson. Parker Cotton / Forum News Service

DICKINSON, N.D.-The sooner that Ben Bolinske gets comfortable throwing to Noah Wanzek, the better.

The Minot quarterback and the Jamestown wideout are hoping that the chemistry built during preparation for Saturday's Badlands Bowl carries over through the next couple years, when both take their football talents to the University of North Dakota.

"It's really nice to get to know Ben because we're going to be teammates for the next four or five years," Wanzek said. "He's got a lot of confidence, and he's got a lot of speed. He's very smart, and you need to be to learn a new offense in one week. That's pretty impressive."
Team North Dakota will face its Montana counterpart at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Biesiot Activities Center in Dickinson for the 23rd annual Badlands Bowl.

A byproduct of building a roster containing some of the state's best football players is that some get to meet and train with future college teammates.

"Noah, I'll see a lot of him in the coming months," Bolinske said. "He's a super athletic dude. I've played him in basketball, and he's dropped about 30 on us, so he's a good athlete, and it's been fun working with him these couple days in Dickinson."

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Such a talented roster also makes for an enjoyable offense to run, Bolinske said.

"A lot of these guys, I've played against, so it'll be nice to have them on my own team," he said. "Especially (Bismarck Century's Adam) Geiger. He really put it to us in the state championship game with the one-handed catch and 'SportsCenter' but it's nice he's on our side this go around."

Through the first few days with practice, Bolinske has split reps with West Fargo's Creighton Pfau, who will also attend UND but not play football in order to focus on medical school.

"I've played against (Pfau) plenty of times, and we've gotten pretty close. He's athletic and he could play football wherever he wants if he wanted to," Bolinske said.

For this week, though, Pfau is enjoying his final moments as a high school football player.

"It's really fun to have a team as competitive and skilled as these guys," Pfau said. "It's fun to play with people you've played against throughout the season."

Bismarck Century's Ron Wingenbach, the head coach for Team North Dakota, has liked what he's seen in the early going of Bolinske and Pfau running his offense.

"They're kind of mirror images in terms of what they bring to the table," Wingenbach said. "They're excellent running quarterbacks, and they have the arm strength to succeed in the pass game. We have two guys where we don't have to change a thing when they're out there."

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Wingenbach, for having coached against Wanzek's Blue Jays for several years, was also high on praise for the wide receiver and what he brings to the field.

"I'll tell you what: UND might have gotten a diamond in the rough. I think his best days are ahead of him," Wingenbach said. "You look at his physical maturation, and he has great hands with that speed and that physicality. He's going to be a very good football player for them."

Before the trio heads to Grand Forks, though, the players are making sure to get the most out of the Badlands Bowl experience.

"It's an awesome feeling getting that letter, getting invited to this game," Bolinske said. "All of us are just making the most of it, becoming friends and having fun while we're doing it."

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