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One more game

Area athletes ready to take part in N.D. Shrine Bowl

July 2, 2010
Matt Mullally

Rugby's Mitch Grochow and Aaron Teigen don't like to think back to their last high school football game - a 26-6 loss in the first round of the 2009 Class A playoffs.

Fortunately, it won't be their last.

The two will put on the football pads one more time to compete in the annual Shrine Bowl on Saturday, July 10 at the Fargodome. The high school-sanctioned game features some of the top graduating seniors across the state. Grochow and Teigen will be part of the East 11-man squad facing the West team at 4 p.m.

"Getting one more chance to play is nice,' Grochow said. "Win or lose, it will be a lot of fun."

Grochow has attended several of the games growing up, and was also on the sidelines when his father, Scott, was head coach of the East Squad in 2001. He's excited about getting to compete in the game.

Teigen is also looking forward to the opportunity to meet players from other schools, especially from the Class AAA ranks.

Fact Box

What: N.D. Shrine Football Bowl

When: Saturday, July 10

Where: Fargodome

Game Time: 11-man game, 4 p.m.; 9-man game 7 p.m.

Of note: There are six area athletes taking part in the games.

"The game is just one part of the week, and I know it's going to be something I'll remember for a long time,' Teigen said.

Both admit it's going to take a period of adjustment to get back into a football frame of mind.

"The last two sports I've played in - track and baseball - are not contact sports, so getting back into a physical sport again will be a bit challenging,' said Teigen, who will play wide receiver or free safety.

Grochow said picking up a new offense in just a few days of practice is going to challenging as well. Mitch will be on the offensive line.

While it's an exhibition game, the skill and physical intensity will be at a high level. "There is going to be a lot of good athletes on the field,' Teigen said.

Rolette's Nic Pfeifer and Blake Nelson will also be part of the 11-man East squad.

For Pfeifer, this will be his second football game in less than a month. Pfeifer suited up for Team N.D. in the annual Badlands Bowl against Team Montana. North Dakota won the game which was held in Dickinson.

"From a conditioning aspect, it will be easier,' Pfeifer, said about preparing for the Shrine Bowl.

Nic played nose guard in the Badlands Bowl, a position he had never played before. He's not sure if he'll play there again next week in the Shrine Bowl. "I'll be somewhere on the line,' Pfeifer said.

It's rare for a player to get the chance to play in two all-star football games in one summer, but it will prove to be a good springboard for Nic who will attend and play football this fall at Valley City State.

For Blake, this will be his last competitive game, and while it's an exhibition, it would be nice to go out a winner.

"Especially since my last game (for North Prairie) was a loss,' he said.

Nelson will play linebacker and said the biggest adjustment will be competing alongside and against players from Class AA and AAA.

"There is going to be a lot of good athletes on the field,' Nelson said.

Towner-Granville-Upham's Tyler Vollmer and Ian Keller are part of the West 9-man squad which will face the East squad on July 10 at 7 p.m. in Fargo.

Vollmer is anxious to get back on the football field.

He's been involved in a sports acceleration/fitness program in Minot to remain in shape. "Getting back into the football groove will take a day, but I'm ready to put the pads on,' he said.

Vollmer will play defensive end and know he's going to have his work cut out competing against the top players in the state.

Keller said lining up against some of the best players in the state will be one of the highlights of the game. Keller, who will play football this fall at Valley City State, will likely play at running back.

Playing in the Fargodome for the first time will be both a thrill and a challenge for the players. They have to get used to playing on turf as well as in such a large stadium.

There is another T-G-U connection to the team. Titan coach Scott Thorson is the head coach for the West squad.

"That's going to be nice to have coach Thorson there,' Vollmer adds.

The players will report to their respective team camps on July 5. The West team will practice in Grand Forks while the East Team will be in Fargo.

The game is just one aspect of the Shrine experience for the players. They will take part in a number of activities, including a trip to the Shriner's Children's Hospital in the Twin Cities.

Nelson said that's one of the experiences he's looking forward to, meeting the children.



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