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Forum News Service, Published June 13 2013

Future Bison players gear up for Badlands Bowl

DICKINSON, N.D. – The annual Badlands Bowl all-star game marks the end of many high school football careers.

For two North Dakota State football commits, it signals the beginning of a new era.

Dickinson Trinity’s Jesse Kubik and Wyndmere-Lidgerwood’s Jeff Illies will suit up together for Team North Dakota for the Badlands Bowl at 7 p.m. Saturday in Miles City, Mont. Kubik and Illies are both in NDSU’s 2013 recruiting class.

“I’ve gotten to know Jeff pretty well,” said the 6-foot-7 Kubik, who will play defensive line for the Bison. “We’re both pretty excited.”

The North Dakota prep standouts met a little more than a year ago during their first official visit to the main Fargo campus.

Now, Kubik and Illies are roommates this week for the Badlands Bowl in addition to being future roommates at NDSU.

“He’s kind of a quiet guy and doesn’t say much,” Illies said chuckling. “We get along good. He’s a big guy, and he’s going to be fun to play with.”

Illies will be a redshirt tight end for the Bison, but will lineup at wide receiver for Team North Dakota. Illies, who played 9-man football at Wyndmere-Lidgerwood, has adjusted well to the team speed of the state’s best.

Superior speed may be critical to a Team North Dakota win.

“We have a lot of athletes, so I think our speed’s going to be one of our main threats,” said Illies, who will major in university studies at NDSU. “We’ll beat them that way around the edge.”

Kubik will play offensive line against Team Montana, which has dominated the overall series.

“A good running game and the line is going to be important (for a win), and the defense is going to be important, too,” said Kubik, who was a 2012 Class 2A first team all-state selection. “Both sides of the ball are going to be important for us.”

Kubik would like nothing more than to cap his prep career with a Badlands Bowl victory.

“It would be nice to represent North Dakota,” he said. “This game has always been kind of a bloodbath for this team. Going out with a win would definitely feel good for representing North Dakota.”

After Saturday, Illies and Kubik will each turn their attention to NDSU.

“It’s definitely an honor to play with the two-time (NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision) national champions,” said Illies, who was named to the 2012 9-man all-state second team. “I didn’t expect it at all when they offered me a scholarship at camp last summer. It’s just going to be awesome.”

The excitement of wearing Bison green and yellow is mutual for Kubik.

“I’m excited to go down there,” he said. “They’ve won back-to-back national championships and to be a part of that, that feels really good. Whatever they got coming, I’m ready to play.”