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High School Badlands Bowl


Well-known member
There is an All-Star game between North Dakota and Montana High School graduates this Saturday (June 21) in Dickinson. Montana leads the series 7-2. Are there any future Griz playing in the game?

Here is a link to a story about the game in the Grand Forks paper. The North Dakota quarterback(Andy Thoreson) will be attending NDSU this fall. Also, I believe there is a linebacker from Dickinson playing in this game who is also coming to NDSU.

There may be others, but I know of two off the top of my head who are playing: Hilliard (RB, but might play DE for Griz) and Lebsock (S, but might play WR for Griz).
Kyle Sampson

WR, 5-8, 165, Fr., from Helena Capital High School. HT: Helena, MT. Montana’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior for 12-0 Capital, the state “AA” champion 2002...as a senior quarterback he passed for 2,000 yards and rushed for 1,200 yards, and he passed for 17 TDs and rushed for 17...selected Class “AA” MVP on offense...two-year starter at QB...chosen to play in Montana’s annual East-West Shrine Game and the Knights of Columbus Badlands Bowl...

Kelly Kain

DE, 6-4, 260, Fr., from C.M Russell High School. HT: Great Falls, MT. A two-way starter for the Rustlers...first team all-state on the defensive line and second team pick on the offensive line...helped CMR advance to the “AA” championship game in 2002...a two-time Academic All-State selection with a 3.94 GPA...a Presidential Scholarship candidate at UM...had nine sacks as a senior...also letters in basketball and plays American Legion Baseball...selected to play in Montana’s East-West Shrine Game and the Knights of Columbus Badlands Bowl

The rest of our recruits all seem to be playing in the East-West Shrine Game. This info is from Montanagrizzlies.com and might not be totally accurate. There might be more Montana recruits in the game and it was just left out of their bio.
It sounds like the game was hard fought but Montana All-Stars won the game. Here is the Billings paper article:

Does anyone have any information on how the future GRIZ players performed? I only saw reference to Samson in the Billings Gazette article. Thanks, BisonKent, for the article!
Bison Kent, It seems every year the top 5 football players from Montana never play in any of the Bad Land Bowl or the Montana Shrine games. Were there any top North Dakota players who did'nt play this year? Who were they and where are they going next year? Montana top players are as follows: Brady Leaf QB 6'5" 205, 3,500+ yards passing his senior season University of Oregon. Zack Weidnaar QB 6'3" 215 Very strong arm ran 11.1 100 meter. University of Wyoming. Jason Goodman 6'4" 250 the 2002 Street and Smith #1 TE in the country was recruited heavily by Big 10, Pac 10 and Big 12 schools, but chose Montana State, because he will start all 4 years. Adam Decock 6'6" 295 OL The biggest and best OL in the state in 2002 Montana State. Nick Dissley 6'4" 225 WR was the best pure athlete and WR in Montana in 2002. May even be the best ever very fast and has HUGE hops. Chose D-1 Basketball for college. Now these are guys who would have been on the team but chose not to play. Are there any Players like that in North Dakota? Thanks in advance for your reply.
Turner Brown,

This year, only three recruits came from the state of North Dakota for NDSU. Two of them played in the game (QB Andy Thoreson (Fargo North) and OLB Jadyn Nelson (Dickinson Trinity)) were the two recruits that played in the Montana-North Dakota Badlands Bowl. There is another recruit; Matt Weidler (Velva-Sawyer), that will compete in the 2003 ND Shrine Football game. There are several recruits that U of North Dakota got from ND that might have played. I am not sure.

We have had several Minnesota recruits this year that are actually closer to Fargo then the western ND kids that we signed this year including Minnesota's player of the year in S John Majeski of Hastings, MN and the Twin Cities Metro Conference Player of the year in LB Tommy Ray.

I am not sure why it is but it seems ND recruits don't seem to I-AA caliber on the most part. There are exceptions but it has been this way for a while for NDSU. We get a lot of players out of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Usually, we have more then 3 from ND. It is usually 8-10 recruits but that was DII caliber talent not I-AA. UND will probably get more of ND recruits since we are not really competing on the same level any more.
Bison Kent, What I was asking is, what North Dakota High school players that were top D-1 recruits or top High School players in North Dakota did not play in the Bad Lands Bowl this year? The reason I ask is Montana has kicked butt on the North Dakota teams, without our top players year in and year out. If the players I listed had played I can only think the game would have been much more of a blow out than it was.
I don't think there were any DI-A caliber players on the ND side either. Most of players that I have read about are going to a Dakota-10 Conference school which is an NAIA conference made up of 10 North and South Dakota colleges. Those two players I mentioned are the only two that I know going to NDSU or to UND.

In year's past, there have been one or two a year that might go to Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Wyoming. It seems like more DI basketball and baseball players come out of ND. Examples in basketball are the LA Laker coach Phil Jackson, college coaches Lute Olson (Arizona) and Dale Brown (Louisana State-former), and player Jeff Bosche (U of Kansas). Examples in baseball are the former single season home run champion Roger Maris and current players Darin Erstad (Angles) and Rick Helling (Orioles).

I agree that Montana high school players for some reason are at a higher level then North Dakota players. I am not sure why but it just seems like a reality.
I don't want to sound picky, but I have heard Phil Jackson was born and raised in Mile City. He has a summer cabin on Fltahead Lake and I have heard of him speak of his roots to Eastern Montana.

Also, it would be hard to believe there aren't more high quality football players coming out of ND. I just wonder if some of these kids are being overlooked. I know the ND NAIA schools have done real well, so I would bet there are a few of those kids that could have played for ND or NDSU.
We are kind of both right. Phil Jackson was born in Montana but grew up in Williston, ND and went to the U of North Dakota and then was drafted by the NY Knicks in the late '60s. Here is a link on this:

Lets be a little more accurate on the Jason Goodman recruiting process. First off, he WAS NOT heavily recruited by the Big 10, Pac 10 and Big 12. Sure they showed some interest, but not one of them offered him a full ride. He was offered partials and they all wanted him as an OL because they didn't think he had great hands, and rumor has it his work ethic is questionable. MSU was the only one that offered him a full ride and told him he will be a TE. I would bet he ends up on their OL eventually. UM offered him a partial, at OL, but I guess he thinks he's better than that. Time will tell.
Hammer - I think you are right about Goodman. I heard he was being watched closely coming into his senior year, but he got no I-A full ride offers. His might motivate him at MSU, though - he does have the size and ability if he puts his mind to it.

In addition to Hilliard, Lebsock, Kain, and Sampson, Kyle Ryan (LB - Billings) and Tyson Johnson (DB - Stevensville) are Griz recruits. The Gazette article said Johnson had two INTs.

CrunchGriz - I can't see Hilliard playing DE in college. Not many 5-11 frames will carry enough weight without losing speed. He could end up at RB, FB/H-Back, LB, or Safety.
Griziron: You may be right about Hilliard. I had just heard some talk on one of these boards (and exactly where I couldn't tell you) about him perhaps playing DE.

It would seem that his more natural position would be RB, but with that nice combination of speed, size, and power, he would seem to be a natural defender, as well.

I'm more than happy to let the coaching staff figure that one out. I'm just glad he's a Griz!
I am originally from Williston so I am familiar with the Phil Jackson story. Jackson lived in Montana and then moved to Williston while in Jr. High. His father was a minister.

Phil played high school ball at Williston and set records that still stand today. After that he attended the University of North Dakota and the rest is history. He does have a cabin in MT that he frequents and he also returns to Williston at least yearly to visit.
I'm with ya there, CrunchGriz - I think Hilliard is a good recruit. He did play some DE in high school, and it sounds like he was going to play that position in the Badlands Bowl. But when Utterback needed to pull out, Hilliard was a natural replacement at RB. He does bring a lot to the table, so the coaches should have several options for him. Maybe they'll give him a look as a scout team RB this year. Depending on how that goes, they can decide what to do next.
Jackson was also recuited by Minnesota. Minnesota signed Paul Prestus which prompted Jackson to sign with UND. UND signed Prestus son this year as a WR out of Edina, MN. Brown, Olson, Roger Maris(American League Single Season HR Record), Steve Myhre(Tied 1958 NFL Championship game with a Field Goal) all played high school basketball at the same time. Olson was Luke Olson at the time, later changed to Lute. Glenn Hanson from Grand Forks also played in the NBA after a college career at LSU. Maris was all set to play football at Oklahoma, had he not played well for the Fargo-Moorhead Twins. Erstad was also a punter on a Nebraska National Championship team. He didn't come back for his senior year because he was the #1 pick in the baseball draft.

Montana has about 300,000 more people than North Dakota. In ND there is maybe couple Division I athletes each year. And probably not in the same sport each year. About how many Division I recruits does Montana get on a yearly basis. I assume it would be a few more.
I am originally from Williston so I am familiar with the Phil Jackson story. Jackson lived in Montana and then moved to Williston while in Jr. High. His father was a minister.

Phil played high school ball at Williston and set records that still stand today. After that he attended the University of North Dakota and the rest is history. He does have a cabin in MT that he frequents and he also returns to Williston at least yearly to visit.

I wouldn't call it so much of a cabin as I would a 7 digit lake house. Then again, just about everyone that has a lake house on the largest lake, west of the Mississippi, the Flathead, is pusing 500k, to 7 digits, and well over 7 digits.
Jackson refers to it as his cabin.....and it probably is compared to his permanent house....No doubt it probably has more square feet than I will own in a lifetime...LOL

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