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Big-play Bulldogs ready for Shrine Bowl

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Hazen's Dawson Bruner, center, will play in the Shrine Bowl Saturday in Bismarck.

Clay Heimer and Brody Headley posted some big numbers last fall for Bowman County.

The two senior wide receivers piled up plenty of catches and yards for the Bulldogs, who won 10 games on the way to a berth in the Class B 11-man semifinals.

They were each selected to play in the Shrine football all-star game this weekend in Mayville. Both are on the West 11-man squad, along with their coach, Nick Walker.

For Walker, it’s a chance to coach his former stars one more time.

“Any time you’re selected to be part of a great game like this, you’re pretty appreciative and then you get to coach a couple of your own kids that you’ve been through a lot of wars with over the years and it’s just a really cool deal,” said Walker. “The North Dakota Shrine does such a great job of treating the players and coaches great. It’s just a great week.”

Headley finished his senior year with 605 receiving yards, 120 kick return yards and seven touchdowns and will continue his career in the Northern Sun at Minnesota State-Moorhead in the fall. Heimer, also a big playmaker, will be suiting up for the final time in his career before focusing on academics in the fall at Bismarck State College.

“Both of them had a tremendous senior season,” Walker said. “Brody had 60-some catches, Clay had over 100 catches. They were instrumental in their leadership to our team in Bowman. They’ve done a good job of picking up where they left off and integrating themselves with all the kids here and I’m just proud of them.”

Walker, joined on the West coaching staff by Mark Gibson of Bismarck, John Tuchscherer of Dickinson, and Tommy Weidler of Nedrose, has plenty of familiar faces in camp this week in Mayville. Eleven Region 4 players were selected for the team.

Three Beulah Miners – Amari Gilmore, Tayton Vondra and Zayne Phelps – join the Bulldog duo along with other regional rivals Dawson Bruner and Adin Jungers of Hazen, Trenten Bertelsen and Carter Ehlis of Dickinson Trinity, Alex Moreno of Killdeer and Landyn Miller of Southern McLean. Bertelsen will join Headley with the Dragons this fall.

“That’s one of the great things about an all-star game,” Walker said. “You grow up and compete against guys from your region and then you become teammates here and make friends. I think that’s part of the experience, whether you’re Bismarck High and Century guys that have played against each other and competed in a rivalry game or you’re Bowman County and Trinity, you’re now all on one team, you become friends and hopefully gain some friendships for life.”

The all-star representation reflects the strength of Region 4 last fall.

“I think our region was very competitive last year,” Walker said. “Our region has great coaches. They do a phenomenal job with their programs. It was a fun year because you could win every week or you could get beat every week, and that made it really fun and competitive.”

The Shrine games are set for Saturday in Mayville, with the 11-man game kicking off at 4 p.m., followed by the nine-man game.

“I’m happy with the way our kids are practicing, the way they’re handling themselves,” Walker said. “We’ve had a good start in practice, finished the install so we’ll continue to rep the things we’re working on.

“We’ll have some challenges ahead of us with the East team. They have a ton of speed, they’ll be very good at the skill positions and up front. We’ll have our hands full but I think our kids will be ready for the challenge and compete hard.”

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