North Dakota

Bagnell, Marauders try to dig out, like everyone else

After shoveling for nearly four hours over the past two days, University of Mary head football coach Craig Bagnell came to a conclusion.

“It might be time to invest in a snow blower,” Bagnell said.

It wasn’t the only dig he did, either.

Bagnell teamed up with Jim Haussler, Rod Kudrna and the staff at Bismarck Parks and Rec to clear the Community Bowl playing surface for tonight’s 2:00 p.m. game against 21st-rank Bemidji State.

“There was a lot of snow out there, four-foot drifts in places,” Bagnell said. “I cannot thank Jim and Rod and the staff at Bismarck Parks and Rec enough.

Todd Porter, owner and paramedic of Metro-Area Ambulance Service, Inc., also pitched in and brought his bobcat to help with the Herculean effort.

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“He’s out there doing it for free,” Bagnell said. “Just amazing what Todd did to help us down there.”

Bagnell and his friend and former boss, Bemidji State head coach Brent Bolte, were considering other options. The Alerus Center in Grand Forks, the Fargodome, and moving the game to Bemidji were all potential plan Bs.

“We were just trying to figure out what the best option is to put the game in play,” Bagnell said. “It’s been an interesting week in many ways.”

The Marauders barely got a chance to train this week. An NCAA-mandated rest day on Tuesday was followed by storm-related problems for the remainder of the week.

They were able to squeeze in some work on Friday, but had to get creative.

“Our players were great,” said Bagnell. “We talk a lot about the things you can control. There were a lot of things this week that were out of our control.”

Bemidji State has a lot at stake today. A win likely secures a home playoff game next Saturday. The Beavers have two losses, but they have a combined four-point lead.

“They should probably be undefeated,” Bagnell said. “They had some turnovers in the first two games.

“You’re really good. You don’t have many weaknesses at all.”

The Beavers are No. 1 in the Northern Sun with almost 40 points per game. Defensively they only allow 17.

Brandon Alt is having an All-American season as a quarterback with nearly 3,200 passing yards. He has thrown 29 touchdowns but has been picked up 12 times.

Wide receiver Brendon Beaulieu leads NSIC in most statistical categories. He works with Dhel Duncan-Busby to form the league’s best 1-2 pass-catching duo, similar to what the Marauders did last season with All-Americans Danny Kittner and Luke Little.

“We have to keep them in front of us,” Bagnell said. “They’re really explosive. They have a lot of 2 and 3 play scoring drives.”

Tonight’s game is the last for 24 Marauder seniors, including Kittner and quarterback Logan Nelson, both 2021 All-Americans.

Wide receiver Jaden Andresen, linebacker Devin Beck, linebacker Sonny Brown, linebacker Devyn Charles, offense lineman Ronald DiMatteo, linebacker Nate Eschleman, defensive back Marquell Evans, linebacker William Federson, wide receiver Jacob Fray, quarterback Avery Gould, offense lineman Sam Harris, linebacker Jamire Jackson, kicker Dylan Missoul, wide receiver Brandon Morris, defenseman Toure’ Oliver, wide receiver Riley Potthast, running back Dave Small Jr., defenseman Jacob Thomsen, offense lineman Nick Thune, defenseman Johnny Tillman, defensive end Xzavier Wilkens and long snapper Josh too Zakavec will compete one last time.

Andresen, Beck, DiMatteo, Evans, Federson, Fray, Kittner, Nelson, Thomsen and Tillman played their entire careers for the Marauders. Beck, Charles, Kittner and Nelson were captains. Kittner, Nelson and Small Jr. were All-NSIC selections last season.

“Obviously this isn’t the season they wanted, but these kids put a lot into the program and I can’t thank them enough,” Bagnell said. “There are a lot of really, really good kids in this class who will go on and do a lot of good things in life.”

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