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Packer graduates shine as football all-stars

It may be July, but that doesn't mean some former Packer football players aren't making use of their helmets and shoulder pads.

The high school playing days of recent West Fargo graduates Jake Kaiser and Luke Solum are over, but they recently took part in the Badlands Bowl all-star game in Miles City, Mont. The pair will be joined by fellow player David Schmidt, also class of '09, at the Shriners' game July 18, in Grand Forks.

Although Montana continued the near regular trend of dominating team North Dakota with a 33-7 win, Kaiser and Solum did Packer football proud by playing well. Receiver Kaiser had five catches for 63 yards, while Solum, a safety, pulled in an interception in the first quarter.

The game was preceded by a week of practice in Dickinson before the game in Miles City. Players practiced three times a day in hot, western North Dakota weather.

"It was fast paced, and the practices were long," said Solum. "Everyone was flying around the ball. It was fast, but it was a good time. They worked us hard, but it was definitely worth it."

The West Fargo players didn't room with each other, so players could get to know other players from other schools.

"It was a lot of fun," said Kaiser, named all-state last fall. 'You make a lot of memories with a bunch of guys that you didn't know and that you played against. It was really a good experience."

Kaiser said he will either be going to MSUM or Moorhead Tech but has no plans to play football. Solum, also all-state last fall, has signed to play in the defensive back field this fall for Concordia, where he will major in Biology with plans to go into medicine.

The Badlands Bowl experience reminded Solum why he plays football in the first place.

"I love the game, that's the biggest thing. I just don't want it to be done," he said. "I just want to keep it going for four more years and make the best out of it."

50 days away

As of today, the Packer football team is still 50 days away from its season opener at Mandan. West Fargo hosts Bismarck Century a week later in its home opener.

The Packers should benefit this season from an experienced quarterback in senior Bryce Jorgenson who took half of the snaps at varsity last season.

West Fargo, which graduated 23 players from last season's 6-4 team, will look to its incoming senior class to lead the team to the playoffs again and perhaps even dethrone Fargo South