For a long time, Jackson Faller had his sights set on becoming a college athlete.
Considering what he accomplished as a high school athlete at Watford City, one had to like his chances.
Faller, a recent WCHS graduate, received offers from colleges for football, wrestling, and track and field. Interest grew as the multi-sport standout closed out his high school career with a stellar senior year. Last fall, he earned first-team all-state honors as a defensive lineman after helping the Wolves advance to the Class AA football playoff semifinals. In wrestling, he placed fourth in the Class B state tournament at 285 pounds. Last month, he won the Class B boys discus competition with a throw of 162-9, and also placed second in the shot put.
However, football was always Faller’s first choice. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound lineman signed on to play at Minnesota State University-Moorhead.
“Since about junior high, my goal was to play college football,” he said. “I did well in wrestling and track, and I got legit (college) offers for those sports, but football has always been my favorite. I’m looking forward to playing at the next level.”
Faller will play some football this summer before heading to Moorhead, Minn., beginning with the Knights of Columbus Badlands Bowl Saturday at Biesiot Activities Center in Dickinson. The Badlands Bowl, the annual North Dakota vs. Montana senior all-star game, is in its 25th year.
Faller, who will also play in the Shrine Bowl in July, considers it an honor to be a part of the North Dakota roster.
“There are four classes of football in this state and only 30 some players from those four classes get picked to represent North Dakota. It’s an honor to be part of this,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to play with and against the best (graduating senior) players from the two states. It’s a big deal, and I want to make the most of it.”
Faller, who will probably see action on both sides of the ball on Saturday, was a four-year letterwinner in football at Watford City and a three-year two-way starter. His specialty was defense. Last fall, he recorded 37.5 tackles, including 11.5 for a loss. In his career, he had 24 tackles for a loss.
“Jackson was a three-year starter for us and finished in the top four in defensive points each of those seasons,” said Watford City coach Justin Johnsrud. “He’s a big, strong kid who moves really well.”
Montana has dominated the series. It holds an 18-6 advantage and has won the last three meetings.
Montana usually brings a high-powered offense to the field.
“We know that this Montana team has quarterbacks who throw the ball well … and they run well, too. They’re playmakers,” Faller said. “Our defense has to pressure them and make them uncomfortable. That’ll be the key for us.
“On the other side of the ball, we have people who can make plays, too,” he continued. “Overall, we’re talented enough to get the job done.”
Other players on North Dakota’s roster include Kade Lynch, Levi Rockey and Devyn Vance of Century; Bennett Beehler, Trajan Jangula and Mark Stumpf of Bismarck; Devin Beck, Jacob Hurt, Taylor Morrison and Austin Wolf of Legacy; Cole Gendreau and Jonah Krebs of St. Mary’s, and Trae Steckler of Mandan.
Jay Gibson of Class AAA state champion West Fargo is the head coach. His assistants include Mark Gibson of Bismarck High, and Dan Smrekar and Micah Arnold of St. Mary’s.