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Tom Mix, Published November 14 2013

Fargo South senior sidelined by appendectomy inspires teammates to 'win for Priz'

FARGO - It was early on a Sunday morning two weeks ago when Fargo South senior football player Chris Prisinzano woke up with pain.

Initially he thought it was a stomachache and went back to bed, but hours later he awoke again with what he described as the worst pain he had ever felt.

The pain Prisinzano was feeling was a ruptured appendix and that was just the tip of the iceberg. More pain – of the emotional variety – was to come.

“I have never felt anything that painful,” Prisinzano said. “I knew something was going on and had my parents take me to the emergency room.”

Doctors quickly diagnosed Prisinzano and scheduled an emergency appendectomy for later that afternoon, a day after the 5-foot-9 linebacker helped the Bruins to a 41-16 win over Jamestown in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class 3A playoffs.

The incisions made during the appendectomy to remove his appendix helped rid Prisinzano of pain, but also meant his prep career would be cut short.

Then it started to set in: Any game South would play the rest of the season would very likely be played without Prisinzano, who has started on the Bruins’ defense the past three seasons.

One of those games is today’s 3A championship game at the Dakota Bowl. South (8-3) plays Bismarck (11-0) at 6:40 p.m. at the Fargodome.

“It was a mixed bag because you feel bad for Chris from a football aspect and a personal aspect, too,” South head coach Troy Mattern said. “Being a Bruin, he has worked so hard to help our team get back to the state championship game. I feel so bad for him.”

“I have been playing football with Chris for many years,” South senior defensive back Cass Meyers added. “That is not a way a player should go out, especially in their senior year and not being able to play in the championship. I feel so bad for him.”

Five days after surgery, South defeated Minot in the semifinals at the Fargodome – the Bruins’ first game without Prisinzano, whom Mattern labels as the leader of South’s defense.

“It was difficult getting the news from the doctor,” Prisinzano said. “I knew we had a good group of guys that could step up and definitely win the game.”

News of Prisinzano traveled quickly. The hashtag “#WinforPriz” was attached to countless posts on Twitter. Fans chanted the “Win for Priz” during the game.

“It gave us the motivation to play our hearts out and compete like any play could be our last,” Meyers said. “We wanted to win for Priz. We knew he wanted to be out there with us.”

Before the game last Friday, senior captain Cole Staigle gave up his captain spot so Prisinzano, who was wearing his No. 45 jersey, could walk to midfield for the pregame coin flip.

The gesture from Staigle and the support from the fans wasn’t lost on Prisinzano.

“We have a good group of guys,” Prisinzano said. “Since I wasn’t able to play, he willingly gave up his spot. It was extremely thoughtful on Cole’s part. We have a great student body here at South. Everyone picks each other up. Having their support, I was able to get through it.”

Prisinzano watched and helped coach the Bruins from the sideline, a role he has accepted and will likely be assigne d again today. He has a doctor’s appointment scheduled in the morning to see if there is a remote chance he can play.

Chances are slim. Prisinzano and Mattern know it, but whatever the verdict, he’ll be at the Fargodome when the Bruins square off against the Demons.

“I know the worst,” Prisinzano said. “I have heard the bad news before. … The last game I helped the players and made sure everyone knows the defense. I’m going to help them even more this time around.”

If you go

What: Dakota Bowl XXI

When: Today: 9:10 a.m. 9-man championship; 12:05 p.m. Class A championship; 3 p.m. Class 2A championship; 6:40 p.m. Class 3A championship

Where: Fargodome

TV: WDAY

Radio: 740-AM

Tickets: Adults $12.50; students $6.50


Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562