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Tom Mix, Published November 07 2013

Berg, Burd form prolific tackling tandem for the Deacons

Fargo - Fargo Shanley junior inside linebackers Alex Berg and Zach Burd like to see the number zero underneath the word “opponents” on the scoreboard at Sid Cichy Stadium.

Zero means the Deacons’ defensive unit has done its job.

Berg and Burd have played large roles in their first full season as starters on Shanley’s defense this fall and rank first and second, respectively, in tackles.

“We have had quite a few games as a starting defense where we have put a zero on the scoreboard, and we are very proud of that,” Burd said.

“Zach and Alex have been really solid,” Shanley head coach Rod Oksendahl added. “We expected them to be (solid) when the year began, because they played quite a bit toward the end of last year. We felt that they were going to be a good pair, and I think every game they have gotten a little better.”

Shanley’s next game is a meeting with No. 2-ranked Bismarck St. Mary’s in the North Dakota Class 2A state football semifinals. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. today at Sid Cichy Stadium.

St. Mary’s (9-1) is the only team to defeat No. 3-ranked Shanley (9-1) this season, earning a 14-9 win over the Deacons in Week 1.

“St. Mary’s is a great team,” said Burd, who has 85 tackles this fall. “We have improved quite a bit since we played them the first week of the season. I’m sure they have too, and our defense is looking to hold them to zero.”

Shanley’s defense has one shutout this season and has held opponents to 10.6 points per game.

“Defense wins games, and Shanley has always lived by its defense,” said Berg, who leads the Deacons in tackles with 123. “We try to keep a zero on the scoreboard. That is always one of our main goals.”

Adding to the intimidation factor are the mohawk haircuts Berg and Burd sport on game days.

Burd said the hairstyle is a team tradition that dates back several years ago and is done more for team building than intimidation.

Berg and Burd’s play on the field is intimidating enough. Berg has three interceptions and three forced fumbles. Burd also has an interception.

“Zach is a different linebacker than Alex,” Oksendahl said. “Alex will get out on the corner and run a little bit. Zach is more of a plug linebacker, but also has the ability to slip back into coverage. They complement each other very well.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562