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Reunion time for Tommies

Calen Schwabe

MAYVILLE, N.D.—A reunion of sorts didn't take long for members of the 2016 Thompson High School football team.

The Tommies capped an undefeated season last November by winning the program's first 9-man state championship. Three of the key players to the Tommies' explosive offense will be starting for the East 9-man team at the annual North Dakota Shrine Bowl.

The 11-man game will be played at 4 p.m. today at the Alerus Center, followed by the 9-man game.

Running the offense for the 9-man East team will be Thompson's Calen Schwabe, the 2016 9-man senior player of the year. Also in the starting lineup will be a pair of all-staters, guard Brett Sutter-Hegg and running back-turned-slotback Adam Diedrich. And the head coach is Thompson's Brady Schwab.

"As far as football, we've been playing together for as long as we can remember,'' Schwabe said. "It took a few practices to get into football mode.

"We're not running our (Thompson) offense. But it's been pretty easy to pick things up. We have pretty good chemistry.''

Said Diedrich: "We know how each other plays.''

Playing football again wasn't expected by any of the three. Diedrich and Sutter-Hegg will attend UND and have no plans to compete in sports. Schwabe will play baseball at a junior college in Des Moines, Iowa.

"When we won (the state title game), I figured I'd never play on the football field again,'' Sutter-Hegg said. "I'd already decided I wasn't going to try college football.''

Said Schwabe: "It's fun playing one more game together.''

Schwabe is scheduled to start at quarterback and share time there with Levi Hirschkorn (LaMoure-L-M). Explosive running back Jake Ihland (Richland) will be the primary running back, while Diedrich, Cooper Lingen (Richland) and tight end and NDSU recruit Cody Mauch (Hankinson) lead a deep receiving corps. Leading the defense are Landon Smith (LaMoure-L-M), Nick Pfaff (Shiloh Christian) and Alix Wisnewski (Wyndmere-Lidgerwood).

Here are other players the teams' coaches expect to be key playmakers in today's Shrine Bowl.

9-man West

Brody Cahill (North Prairie) is a run/pass threat at quarterback. His top receiver is expected to be speedster Brady Wegh (Mott-Regent). Power back Brady Sirjord (Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal) and shifty Talon Thompson (Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood) are the main backs. Tyrall Defender (St. John), Bailey Mormon (New Salem-Almont-Glen Ullin), Berkley Santos (Mohall-L-S) and Statler Olson (Kenmare-Bowbells-BC) have stood out on defense.

11-man East

The top playmakers may be on defense with Hayden Reynolds (West Fargo Sheyenne), Jackson Hankey (Park River/Fordville-Lankin) and Aaron Knutson (Grand Forks Central). Reynolds is a UND commit, Hankey is headed to NDSU to play football and Knutson has signed at Minnesota-Moorhead. Ethan Lingen (Kenmare) and Anders Johnson (Rugby) have shown good passing ability at quarterback, with Trevor Schimke (Harvey-Wells County), Nicky Zink (Kindred) and Luke Wertz (Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm) the top receivers.

11-man West

The team looks for a strong backfield led by power runner Lucas Butts (Bismarck High) and speedster Cole Dauphinais (Minot Bishop Ryan). Carson Yaggie (Breckenridge) and Dylan Schestler (Des Lacs-Burlington) are expected to share time at quarterback. Leading the defense are Jacob Rader (Bismarck Century), Reece Hoherz (Beulah) and Dillon Jepson (Killdeer).