NDSU’s Schoening latest ND lineman to make it big

FARGO — It was a way of life for teenager Karson Schoening, who would wake up just before 2 a.m. at his farmhouse south of Rolla to do his job. Winter was still hanging around and the temperature near the Canadian border had the tendency to dip below zero.
It would take about 20 minutes for Schoening to put on enough winter gear to walk out to the barnyard and make sure the cows were OK. It was calving season and with 50 head of cows at the time, it was all about the livelihood for the Schoenings.
“You have to know your role and the farm comes first,” Karson said. “It’s what pays the bills so you have to get that done.”
Calving season was done in shifts with Karson, his brother Weston and his father Ryan Schoening. If one of the boys had the midnight watch, the other would take the 2 a.m. slot. Ryan, who has worked for the North Dakota Highway Department for the last 19 years in addition to farming, usually began his day at 5 a.m.
If there was an issue in the middle of the night, one of the boys would wake up dad. Newborn calves don’t last long on the cold ground.
Cows are not small, either. Neither is Karson, the 6-foot-5, 303-pound starting center for the North Dakota State football team.
“You can’t be scared of them,” he said. “The younger ones you can bully around a little bit but you definitely have to be tough enough to go out there and do it.”
Schoening is the latest in a line of Bison offensive linemen from rural North Dakota, most from the north central region. Starting right tackle Cordell Volson carries a Balfour address.
Schoening took over at center for Tanner Volson, Cordell’s older brother. The starting right guard for NDSU’s 15-0 team last year was Luke Bacon, from Granville. If you’ve read one small-town story, you’ve read them all.
But each is a big part of the Bison success.
“The lifestyles they’ve all grown up in, it’s tough-nose, time-is-no-issue,” said offensive line coach AJ Blazek. “You look at our practice times; we’re earlier than some people. You don’t hear boo from the kids, it’s like sleeping in for some of them.”
It took four years, but the junior Schoening finally reached prime time in the NDSU lineup. That’s another trait that sometimes goes unnoticed: The Bison attract players who think nothing of grinding in virtual anonymity for years.
In the Rolla area, Schoening is a big deal. He was a man amongst boys leading North Prairie High School to a runner-up finish in the 2015 North Dakota 9-man championship game. It was the only year Schoening played 9-man ball after North Prairie moved down from 11-man after his junior season.
For Schoening, that year was a blast in that two fewer players on the field meant most teams couldn’t double team him when he played defense. In high school, football represented a privilege from school and work.
Players would routinely get up early and lift weights before class started. During harvest, the farm kids would go to practice and, in the case of Schoening, head straight to the field when they got home.
The family farm consisted of about 1,600 acres of crop land. Schoening would do his homework in the field until the sun went down.
“Then go home, finish homework and start it all over again the next day,” he said. “There were nights when it would last until midnight but mom tried really hard to get us out of the field so we could get some sleep and be ready for school the next day. But if it were up to my dad, I think we would have been out there until the job was done.”
These are tough days for Ryan Schoening. The weather has been brutal and he and Weston still have 800 acres of beans in the ground. On Wednesday, there was still about 30 inches of snow from last week’s blizzard, but at least it was melting.
Like many farmers in the state, he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to get back into the field. It makes Saturday afternoons at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome all the more important in terms of mental positivity.
“Unbelievable,” Ryan said. “It gives me a chance to forget about the rain and snow and on Saturday for a day, a day and a half, it keeps my mind off it.”
The farm has grown to 2,000 acres with 90 head of cattle. Ryan’s job with the highway department is busier in the winter, so it makes the two occupations doable. But on days he was plowing snow, the boys would do the chores.
“They knew at an early age that they had to help me if we were going to do this,” Ryan said. “They knew they had chores and they never complained.”
This week, heading into a home game Saturday against Missouri State, there are no complaints with his son. There was some question if Schoening would be capable of replacing the All-American Tanner Volson, who made it to the final cut this year with the Los Angeles Chargers. He saw limited time behind Volson last year and NDSU head coach Matt Entz said there’s a concern “with any new body.”
“As coaches, we are worry warts and we’re always crossing our fingers hoping guys step up,” Entz said. “With Karson’s background, the toughness factor was never in doubt. It was from a mental standpoint. Can he make the decisions, can he I.D. things quick enough so we can get the ball moving?”
Blazek said the desire was there. Schoening dropped eight pounds in order to gain some mobility.
“He cleaned up his body fat,” Blazek said. “He wasn’t a sloppy guy by any means but he was a 90 percent guy. He’s a 100 percent guy now with everything he’s doing in life and football.”
Schoening was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week after his performance in the 46-14 win over Northern Iowa. He played in all 69 snaps grading out at 94% with zero missed assignments.
UNI came into the game sixth in the FCS in quarterback sacks, but rarely got close to Bison quarterback Trey Lance. It was the second straight impressive performance by the NDSU offensive line against a noted defense on a top 10-ranked team.
One week earlier, NDSU manhandled Illinois State 37-3 on the road.
“A 6-6, 330-pound noseguard last week and he did a really good job,” Entz said. “This week, the (Jared) Brinkman kid, a 500-pound bencher.”
When news of the player of the week honor hit the folks in Rolla, Ryan’s cell phone blew up with messages. If he could use a regular diversion from the wet weather, so could many others in the area, also.
“There’s a lot of pride in this town,” Ryan said. “I’m living my dream through him.”

UND defense hopes to buck a trend

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — The University of North Dakota football team has looked different lately at home and on the road.
The Fighting Hawks’ defense has been the most troubling.
In the last five road games, dating back to the final two of the 2018 season, UND has given up at least 30 points in every game.
That’s a trend the Hawks will probably have to kick if UND is going to pick up a favorable result at 7:05 p.m. Saturday against Cal Poly at Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
UND gave up 609 yards of total offense last week in Pocatello against Idaho State.
“This has to change right now,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. “We have to see consistency. You have to tackle better. You just have to be really good on first and second down, so you get in situations where you have to throw the ball. We’ve given up too many choice downs.”
The troubling trend can be seen in UND’s pass rush statistics. In the first three weeks of the 2019 season, UND had four sacks against Drake, three against North Dakota State and five against Sam Houston State.
In the three games since that 12-sack showing, UND has one sack, picked up by linebacker Jade Lawrence at Eastern Washington. The Hawks didn’t have a sack against UC Davis or Idaho State.
Sitting with a 3-3 record, UND’s season sits at a bit of a crossroad. With a win against Poly, the Hawks would move to 4-3 and set up a showdown at home against Montana State the following week in a game that could be a major plus to a playoff resume.
A loss against Poly, however, gives the Hawks the scary possibility of a 3-6 record thanks to challenging games coming up against No. 12 Montana State and at No. 4 Weber State.
Earlier this week, Schweigert called the game against Poly very important for the program.
“We’re still in this together, and we can still do special things this year,” UND starting safety Hayden Galvin said.
As UND’s defense tries to right the ship, the Hawks will go up against one of the few run-oriented offenses on the schedule this season.
After facing spread, pass-heavy offenses like Sam Houston State, UC Davis, Eastern Washington and Idaho State, UND will now go up against the triple-option of the Mustangs.
Poly no longer has storied fullback Joe Protheroe, who was a senior in 2018, but the Mustangs still have ran the ball for 250.3 yards per game.
Poly likes to lull opponents to sleep, hitting on well-timed pass plays. Freshman quarterback Jalen Hamler has thrown for 860 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Mustangs’ receiving corps is top heavy. J.J. Koski has 563 receiving yards, while Quentin Harrison has 301 yards. Nobody else has more than 25 yards.
In a 48-24 loss to UC Davis last week in which the Mustangs fell behind 34-0 midway through the second quarter, Hamler threw for 243 yards and Koski had eight catches for 163 yards. Harrison caught two passes for 74, including a 69-yard touchdown catch.
“They’re really explosive,” Schweigert said. “They’ve hit big pass plays the last few weeks to get back into games. This team has no quit. It’s run, run and keep your eyes in the right spot and you’ll be okay, but you have to run with the receivers.”
Like UND, Poly has been a different team at home and on the road. The Mustangs have only played twice at home this year. The first was a decisive victory over the top team in the Pioneer League, San Diego, 52-34. The other was an overtime loss to No. 12 Montana State.

Kolpack: For some Bison players, it’s the dog days of football

FARGO — It’s all so cool, and so Gen Z, when a high school football recruit announces on Twitter where he plans on spending the next four-to-five years of his life. He says he’s blessed, thanks the appropriate people, and the coaching staff of said university is high-fiving each other while looking at their phones.
It’s all so public. So now here it is, probably around a year from the verbal commitment, and the recruit is heading to practice on a Monday for another week of slugging it out with the starters. This is what you don’t see on Twitter.
It’s work. It’s the digging ditches of college football. It’s like minor league baseball players bussing all night to the next town.
The Greatest Generation was all about that. Evidently, the Gen Zs who put on football pads at North Dakota State are all about that, too.
“Every day is kind of like a game day for me,” freshman cornerback Terrell Hall said. “In trying to figure everything out and trying to get on the level of understanding our defense like some of the starters.”
You hear about Trey Lance, Christian Watson, Jabril Cox, Ty Brooks or James Hendricks every day. They are starters on a 6-0 team that has won seven of the last eight FCS national titles who carry more public figure presence than city commissioners.
Who you don’t hear about are the true freshmen, redshirt freshmen or even sophomores in their third year in the program who slug it out without playing on Saturdays. It’s the stuff nobody wants to do, yet these guys seemingly want to do it.
“The more successful you are, the more you have guys buying into all these roles and understanding the importance of them,” said Bison assistant coach Dan Larson.
It’s easy to get pumped up for practice in August and September. It’s still fresh. The body feels good. School isn’t wearing anybody down.
But it’s starting to get into late October and November. For most high school players, it’s the time of the year when it’s either playoffs or look ahead to a winter sport. NDSU is only halfway through its regular season.
“Right now we’re getting into what I would consider for a scout team the dog days of fall,” said head coach Matt Entz. “They’re looking at the calendar and saying I have six more weeks of scout team? I have to go up against Cordell Volson, Dillon Radunz and Karson (Schoening) for another six weeks?”
Those are three starters in the Bison offensive line who average 6-foot-6 and 303 pounds. They’re the guys that scout team defensive line guys have to bang with every day at practice.
Yet, there is a bone that can be thrown at a scout team player. It’s called the NCAA’s four-game rule, where a true freshman can play in up to four games without losing a season of eligibility. The Bison coaches talk every Sunday about which players gave the starters the best look at practice that week and they often are the best candidates to get on the field as true freshmen.
Even for just one play. Two plays. It’s something.
Hall is a cornerback who may see the field in that capacity. He was your standard high school superstar at Winona Senior High School (Minn.) who has done nothing but practice this season.
“Having a long season, I like it,” Hall said. “The more football the better.”
It’s hard to say if that’s the case for the standard walkon. Larson said he hasn’t seen signs of fatigue, “which is impressive for how hard we practice on a daily basis,” he said.
On Saturday, NDSU hosts Missouri State at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. If NDSU plays well, look for some unfamiliar numbers wearing all green in the second half. It could be some freshman’s Super Bowl this season.
On Monday, it will be back to the dog days of football.

Bismarck downs Davies for boys state soccer title

BISMARCK — For the Bismarck Demons, the odd-year beat goes on. For Fargo Davies, another runner-up trophy.
Bismarck rang up its eighth shutout of the season, but its first in six games, to down Fargo Davies 3-0 Wednesday, Oct. 16, for its fifth boys soccer state championship. The game was played at the Starion Sports Complex in Mandan.
Davies, looking for its first state championship, was playing in its third straight state title game. The Demons, state champions in 2015 and 2017, won their fifth state championship after a fourth-place finish last fall.
Senior Ethan Ford, the second-year BHS goalkeeper, said the Demons saved their best soccer for the four-day delayed state tournament.
“It was just like a brotherhood. Things clicked and everyone worked together going for that same goal,” Ford said.
Ford said Bismarck’s seven seniors had their sights set on a state championship after last year’s disappointing fourth-place finish.
“We definitely wanted something better for ourselves. Fourth place is not good enough. We needed the championship. That’s what we were going for all year,” he said.
Bismarck rode a 15-mph tailwind to dominant field position and a 1-0 lead in the first half. Although BHS maintained a hefty territorial edge in the first 40 minutes, they eked out just one goal in three shots.
The Demons kept Davies locked up in its own end for almost the entire opening eight minutes, and sophomore midfielder Dominic Williams broke through at the 7 minutes, 28 seconds mark.
Senior forward Michael Matthews centered a pass from near the left goal line to Williams at the goal mouth. Williams put it away for what turned out to be the game-winner.
Davies coach Ian Costello, who was named state coach of the year, said going into the wind the first half made a tough task for the Eagles even harder.
“When you go into the wind possession and passing are important … but Bismarck attacked well,” he said.
With the wind at their back, the Eagles played on fairly even terms with BHS early in the second half. But 14:30 after intermission, junior forward Rodrigue Mugisha notched what was probably the biggest goal of the game.
Mugisha took a bad-angle shot from the low left wing about 25 yards out. He sneaked his attempt inside the far corner of the net to put BHS on top 2-0.
With just over a minute to play, Mugisha’s pass from the right wings set up Matthews a chip shot that became the game’s final goal,
Bismarck allowed just three goals in the state tournament, two in the first game and one in the semifinal. Ford said it wasn’t a matter of him getting better each game. He said the whole team got stronger each game.
“We were clicking on all cylinders. Things were just getting better and better for us,” he said.
BHS coach Andy Foss said he couldn’t have asked for a bit more from his team during the three-day state tournament grind.
“Our guys are completely gassed, completely exhausted,” he noted. “They left it all out on the field. I’m so proud of those guys.”
“Those seniors wanted to go out on top,” Foss added. “They played for each other and they dug in for each other.”
For senior Davies defender Jack Anderson, a second-year starter, said losing a second state championship game is never easy.
“We were confident we could do it. We knew we had to fight like the underdog if we were going to win,” he said.
Third place went to West Fargo Sheyenne, a 2-1 winner over Fargo South. Century downed Grand Forks Central 3-2 for fifth place.
South midfielder Nobin Guring was named the outstanding senior athlete.
Sheyenne 2, Fargo South 1
Sheyenne jumped ahead with goals by Jackson Kuznia and Hussein Mohamed in the first half of the third-place game and held on to defeat South for the second time this season.
South outshot the winning Mustangs 7-5.
Century 3, Grand Forks Central 2
Century made Central play catch-up the entire game and finished with the fifth-place trophy.
Schmidt Joseph, Ben Cleary and Nikko Helderop scored to keep the Patriots a step ahead of Central.
William Lawson-Body scored with 5:44 to play to tie the game for the second time, but Helderop responded with 4:33 on the clock for the game-winner.

No. 1-ranked Bison have been bullish up front heading into game against rival Northern Iowa

FARGO — North Dakota State redshirt freshman quarterback Trey Lance is off to an efficient start, completing nearly 74% of his passes through five games.
The five players lining up in front of the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Lance have played an important role in that success, keeping the heat off Lance. The Bison have allowed five sacks through five games with a total loss of 13 yards.
“That’s probably the biggest thing, being able to keep Trey relatively untouched in the backfield,” Bison head coach Matt Entz said at his Monday, Oct. 7 press conference. “He’s really been untouched when we drop back to pass or move the pocket.”
Entz singled out left tackle Dillon Radunz and center Karson Schoening as offensive linemen who particularly played well last Saturday against No. 10-ranked Illinois State, a 37-3 victory in Normal, Ill.
“I thought he did an unbelievable job up front, probably his best game potentially as a Bison. Unbelievably physical,” Entz said of the 6-foot-6, 298-pound Radunz.
The Bison offensive line is expected to face a tough challenge at 1 p.m. Saturday, facing Missouri Valley Football Conference rival Northern Iowa at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
The Panthers (3-2, 1-0 MVFC) have been salty against the run, limiting opponents to 95.2 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, the No. 1-ranked Bison (5-0, 1-0) are averaging 288 rushing yards per contest through five games. Which team controls the line of scrimmage is expected to play a critical role in Saturday’s outcome.
“Both teams rely heavily on the line of scrimmage,” Entz said. “We both put heavy emphasis on recruiting the best defensive linemen, offensive linemen that are out there.”
Radunz and senior right guard Zack Johnson are the two returning full-time starters on the offensive line from last season. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Johnson played right tackle last season, but moved inside with junior Cordell Volson taking over at right tackle. The 6-foot-6, 309-pound Volson was the team’s sixth offensive lineman last season.
“A lot of those kids played last year,” Entz said. “They had a lot of experience and valuable snaps.”
The 6-foot-5, 303-pound Schoening is in his first season as the starter at center. Sophomore Nash Jensen (6-4, 326) is starting at left guard for a team that is averaging 41.2 points per game.
Entz added the tight ends and fullbacks have meshed with the offensive line to help open running lanes in the ground game and protect the quarterback. Entz credited Bison offensive line coach AJ Blazek and offensive coordinator/tight ends and fullbacks coach Tyler Roehl for their work.
“Those two position groups have to be able to work together,” Entz said. “I’m impressed with how fast we’re playing. I love the fact that when you see explosive plays, you see 11 guys running downfield. … Offensively, we’re sprinting to hit people. You can see it in our run game, even see it in our receivers.”
Entz said the Bison had 10 explosive plays on offense against Illinois State last Saturday. The team defines pass plays that are at least 15 yards and run plays that are at least 12 yards as explosive. NDSU allowed only one sack (for a loss of one yard) against the Redbirds, who had 20 sacks this season heading into that game.

UND hoping to avoid a letdown

GRAND FORKS — When looking at the University of North Dakota football team’s grueling early-season schedule this year, the discussion always targets the stretch of North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Eastern Washington and UC Davis.
Now that those four games are in the rear-view mirror, a new concern emerges: a letdown.
That’s especially true considering the Fighting Hawks finished the gauntlet of FCS blue bloods with a thrilling 38-36 victory over No. 12 UC Davis — the highest-ranking opponent UND has beaten in the Alerus Center in the Division I era.
UND will try to turn the page Saturday against Idaho State at 2:05 p.m. at Holt Arena in Pocatello.
“We always have a concern about a letdown because we have to handle our emotions after a win,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. “There were lots of ups and downs and excitement.
“After a game that’s really exciting, it’s like everybody else, there’s a 24-hour rule. We better get over it and move on with our preparation. I saw good signs (Monday) at practice, but that needs to continue throughout the week. We need to respect this opponent. They’re a very good football team.”
If Schweigert needed any help keeping his team humble, the national Top 25 polls gave him some assistance when they were released Monday.
The Fighting Hawks are not in the Top 25 in the coaches or media poll. Strangely enough, UND has beat both the No. 24-ranked team (UC Davis) and the No. 25-ranked team (Sam Houston State) in the STATS FCS media poll.
The Hawks should also be dialed in on an opponent that seemingly always gives UND fits.
UND and Idaho State have played five times in the Division I era (2008, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018). UND has won all three games in Pocatello, and the Bengals have won the two in Grand Forks. None of the matchups have been decided by more than one score.
Idaho State put a damper on UND homecoming a year ago with a 25-21 win in the Alerus. UND led 14-3 in the first quarter and didn’t trail until the last eight minutes of the game when Mitch Gueller caught a 67-yard touchdown pass from brother Tanner Gueller for the final margin.
The Bengals appear to be a dangerous team again in 2019, despite a 2-3 record. Idaho State eventually lost to No. 6 Montana 59-20 last Saturday but the Bengals led 17-0 early.
Idaho State’s losses have been to FBS Utah, No. 10 Northern Iowa and the Grizzlies.
The Bengals have a new quarterback this season in Matt Struck, who has thrown for 773 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception in three games. Veterans return at the offensive skill spots with running back Ty Flanagan (304 yards) and wide receiver Michael Dean (300 yards).
“They gave us trouble last year on homecoming so it’s expected now … a dogfight,” UND quarterback Nate Ketteringham said. “We have to play the way we did in the first half against Davis.”

Motorists warned to watch for deer

October through early December is the peak period for deer-vehicle accidents. Motorists are reminded to watch for deer along roadways this time of year because juvenile animals are dispersing from their home ranges.
Motorists are advised to slow down and exercise caution after dark to reduce the likelihood of encounters with deer along roadways. Most deer-vehicle accidents occur primarily at dawn and dusk when deer are most often moving around.
Motorists should be aware of warning signs signaling deer are in the area. When you see one deer cross the road, look for a second or third deer to follow. Also, pay attention on roadways posted with Deer Crossing Area caution signs.
Deer-vehicle accidents are at times unavoidable. If an accident does happen, law enforcement authorities do not have to be notified if only the vehicle is damaged. If the accident involves personal injury or other property damage, then it must be reported.
A permit is required before taking possession of a road-killed deer. Permits are free and available from game wardens and local law enforcement offices.

Agronomist joins Ducks Unlimited

Emily Schwartz is a new field agronomist at the Ducks Unlimited Great Plains Regional Office in Bismarck. Schwartz hopes to use her passion for agriculture and conservation to help promote, deliver and adapt DU’s new soil health programs.
“After working in agricultural consulting, I worked in environmental counseling, where I gained a deeper appreciation for North Dakota’s wildlife,” she said. “I chose to work for DU because of its commitment to conservation and cooperation with agricultural producers to accomplish conservation goals.”
Schwartz earned her degree in natural resource management at North Dakota State University. She added a minor in crop and weed science after seeing the importance of having natural resource managers and agricultural producers work together. Her professional experience ranges from field agronomy to agricultural and environmental counseling.

WHOOPER CLUB

Here is the North Dakota Game and Fish Department Whopper Club entries, date & weight for September:

Lake Darling smallmouth bass:
Nick Gonzales, Minot, Sept. 15, 3 lbs., 8 oz.

Lake Audubon smallmouth bass:
Brent Helm, Mandan, Sept. 14, 3 lbs., 4 oz.

Lake Sakakawea walleye:
Steven Rohlfs, Wolsey, Sept. 3, 8 lbs., 8 oz.

Missouri River walleye:
Casey Holen, Hazen, Sept. 9, 12 lbs., 7 oz.
Larry Goethe, Mandan, Sept. 15, 9 lbs., 12 oz.

Alkaline Lake walleye:
Greg McIntyre, Bismarck, Sept. 17, 8 lbs., 0 oz.

Game and Fish announces concurrent deer licenses

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has amended the 2019 deer proclamation to allow hunters to purchase multiple licenses that are valid during any open deer season.
Beginning Oct. 7 at 8 a.m. Central Time, any remaining doe licenses will be issued as a concurrent season license, which can be used during the archery season with a bow; the deer gun season with a bow, rifle or muzzleloader; or during the muzzleloader season with a muzzleloader. However, youth who are under age 14 (at the end of the calendar year) will be issued a concurrent season license for archery only.
There is no limit on the number of concurrent season licenses a hunter can purchase. Hunters with concurrent season licenses are restricted to the type of antlerless deer printed on the license, and must stay in the unit to which the license is assigned. Residents and nonresidents are eligible to purchase remaining doe licenses by visiting the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov.