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Eric Peterson, Published October 12 2012

Seniors Hefta, Streich anchor Concordia’s ‘close’ D-line


Paul Streich grew up on a farm just east of Kalispell, Mont., and one of his jobs was to walk from plant to plant and disposing of the undesired seed potatoes.

“Some days it’s like a dump truck full of garbage bags,” said Streich, who is now a senior defensive end on the Concordia football team.

Reed Hefta helped run a grain elevator when he was growing up in rural Western North Dakota.

“I did the scrub work,” said Hefta, also a senior Cobbers defensive end.

Similar backgrounds aren’t the only thing the two have in common. Both are now stalwarts on the Concordia defensive line. They help anchor a defense that is allowing 18.0 points a game, which is second best in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

“Those two kids have grown up knowing what a day’s work is,” Cobbers head coach Terry Horan said. “There is something about that.”

Streich and Hefta have combined for four sacks through five games and each have four tackles for a loss to tie for the team lead in that category.

Concordia plays host to Hamline at 1 p.m. today for homecoming, a game the Cobbers need to win to stay near the top of the MIAC standings.

Concordia (4-1, 2-1 MIAC) is coming off a stunning

15-14 loss at No. 7-ranked Bethel last Saturday, a game that Concordia lost after the Royals scored a TD and 2-point conversion with no time left on the clock.

Trailing 14-7, Bethel got an extra untimed play after Concordia was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after players from the Concordia sideline entered the field of play on what would have been the final play of the game without the penalty.

“It was such a large emotional investment,” Hefta said. “To go from the highest of highs, essentially beating that team, to have it taken away from you is a little bit of a gut check.”

Horan thinks having leaders like Streich and Hefta is going to help his team bounce back from that disappointing loss.

“I have a tough time telling you, in (the last) four years, when I’ve seen those two look down or have a bad day and that includes Saturday,” Horan said. “They’re really mature. They’re just incredible leaders. You appreciate who they are and what they stand for.”

At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Streich is country strong, Hefta said. Helping set up the irrigation system on the farm probably was one factor in building that brute strength.

“He is probably one of the most naturally strong guys I have seen in my life,” said Hefta, who is 6-1, 255 pounds. “He’s got a tough farm mentality. He’s a hard-working guy and he’s a really bright kid, too.”

One the tough jobs Hefta often did when he worked at the elevator in Falkirk, N.D., which is about 50 miles north of Bismarck, was clean underneath the grain bins. That wasn’t the most pleasant of chores during the heat of summer.

“It’s just rotten old, wet and it’s warm, too,” said Hefta. “You get stuff that just sits underneath there and rots.”

Hefta likens the Cobbers defensive line to a “band of brothers.” Mark Wychor, a 6-3, 305-pound junior who went to Moorhead High School, is the starting nose tackle in Concordia’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Streich and Hefta flank Wychor. Senior end Tim Garry (6-5, 270) is also an important part of the D-line rotation.

“Paul and I are always pretty hard on each other, but it’s in a good way,” Hefta said. “Mark is like a little brother to us.”

Streich agreed.

“I definitely think it’s like a family and it shows on the field,” he said. “We’ve kind of been through it all together. We’ve gotten pretty close.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.