Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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FARGO — There probably isn't a county road in North Dakota that North Dakota State assistant football coach Randy Hedberg hasn't driven. It's his job, after all, to search all corners of the state to find the next Bison players. But in the case of five offensive linemen from rural North Dakota, even Hedberg's GPS had to be challenged in getting from Point A to Point B. Some of those Point Bs are out there. It's turned into a gold mine of sorts for NDSU football, which is making an art of taking raw, strong kids and turning them into polished college football players.
FARGO—As Division I FCS top 25 polls go, there is no such thing as an instant splash. A 4-7 team from a year ago could beat Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Ohio State the first three weeks this season and maybe, maybe, creep into the top 10.
FARGO—The ground-level apartment just off of Interstate 29 is now home for Leo and Fel Dempsey and it doesn't take long to figure out why they made the move from Lakeland, Fla. to Fargo this summer. Pictures of their only child are scattered throughout the living room and kitchen, from old school and football photos to memorabilia that pay homage to No. 3. That would be the jersey number of North Dakota State senior safety and team co-captain Tre Dempsey.
FARGO—The letter dated Jan. 20, 2005, had six exclamation points, and for good reason: It was an announcement from Team Makers Executive Director Pat Simmers to fundraising chairman Shawn Dobberstein proclaiming the North Dakota State University athletic booster group reached $1 million in donations for the first time. For a group that began in 1950 but didn't become relevant until 1963, it seemed like all the money in the world. Up until 2005, annual fundraising increases were similar to cost-of-living increases.
FARGO — There's a lot of history in Robert Morris University, starting with the namesake of the school. He's one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, among other ventures. The football program is not shy about tapping into history, either. The head coach, John Banaszak, was part of the famed "Steel Curtain" defensive line that led the Pittsburgh Steelers to multiple Super Bowl titles in the 1970s. Banaszak has three rings. "The toughest part of my day is deciding which ring to wear," he quipped.
FARGO—A week off from preparing to play an opponent helped North Dakota State University heal the usual assortment of minor injuries. More important, the Bison got some clarity with a nagging medical mystery that kept their fan base on edge for two weeks: What is wrong with Nick DeLuca's knee?
FARGO—The North Dakota State men's team was walking through an airport during a flight connection recently when somebody asked about the players. The prevailing thought had to be why is a basketball team traveling this early in the season? Nope, think again.
CHENEY, Wash. — It looked to be one of those miracle quick-healing stories when North Dakota State linebacker Nick DeLuca warmed up with the rest of his teammates prior to Saturday's clash with Eastern Washington. Bison fans were sent into a panic, after all, when word of a knee injury suffered in practice surfaced on Friday morning.
FARGO — Walking out of the North Dakota State locker room onto Gate City Bank Field with the lights dimmed and the crowd roaring wasn't the first time true freshman Logan McCormick took a big stage. He's taken bigger. In high school, he did it four times at the University of Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium. That's where his Kimberly High School team played in four straight Wisconsin high school state championship games.
CHENEY, Wash. — It's red. Not just red, but really, really red. It is such a bright red that Roos Field at Eastern Washington University should have its own color. Roos Red. If the light hits it just right during game day — like it did on a late December afternoon in 2010 — it almost gives the few blocks of Cheney, Wash., around the football field a red glow hue.