One last game on the gridiron for Firebird football seniors

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal
The Devils Lake football team will have its final game of the season Friday. Seniors, pictured from left to right, Axel Johannesson, Zack Shepherd, Blair Roemmich, Jordan Swanson, Frank Knowski and Casey Bieber. Not pictured are Sean Olson and J.J. Duty.

By Harry Lipsiea

Journal Sports

For Jordan Swanson, J.J. Duty, Frank Knowski, Zack Shepherd, Blair Roemmich, Sean Olson, Axel Johannesson and Casey Bieber, Friday evening will be the last time they put on a Firebird football jersey.

With just one game left in their high school football careers, the seniors on the Devils Lake football team, however, don't plan to change a thing. Each athlete is looking to do what they have done every time they have hit the field during their time as a Firebird: work hard until the final whistle.

"That's what we try to be all about. Just keep playing all the way until the end and have that never give-up attitude," Sean Olson, a senior running back and defensive back, told the Journal.

Despite low numbers and continuously having to battle injuries, the Firebirds have worked to battle each of its opponents this season. Even in games against the top teams in the state, the young squad has pushed itself.

"That's the one thing I think I would want our younger players to take away," Shepherd, a wide receiver and defensive back, stated. "No matter who you are playing, just give it your best. Don't back down to anyone."

The 2014 Firebird football squad is made up of by a majority of underclassmen. There are 40 freshmen, sophomores and juniors on the roster this season. So, that has made it particularly important for the senior class to step into a leadership role. It's been an adjustment, but it's been a rewarding challenge, the players pointed out.

"I would say that it's different than I expected it to be," Swanson, a receiver and defensive back. "But I have found that I really enjoyed it. It's important for the younger players have upperclassmen that they can lean on and help them if they have a questions."

Devils Lake head coach Jay Schnieder noted that the group of seniors has done an excellent job of leading by example. The eight players note that it is important to give it their all every day in practice.

"Knowing that there are guys watching you, it makes you work that much harder," lineman Frank Knowski commented. "I think we all try to lead by working our hardest every day."

It's been an enjoyable season to be a part of, newcomers to the program have pointed out. Johannesson, a foreign exchange student kicking specialist, has had a blast being part of the squad.

"I have just had a very good time," he said. "It's been a great to meet new people and really be part of something."

Casey Bieber, who has been away from the game for the past few seasons, is glad to be back on the gridiron.

"It's been a lot of fun to play with my teammates," Bieber stated.

For the rest of the Firebird seniors, it's been quite the ride rising in the ranks of the Devils Lake football program. There have been a lot of memories made through the year, Olson said.

"It's been a blast playing with these guys week-in-and-week out," he added. "We have formed a special bond and have been through some great times together."

Not only has the senior class of 2015 left an impact on the football program with their play, but with their character as well, Schneider points out.

"They are a great group of young men who are mainly and most importantly good people! They are very good in the classroom," the coach commented. "Polite, courteous, and respectful to others and never giving up or quitting on themselves or their teammates."

With one more game left, the seniors want to go out with a high note Friday evening at West Fargo Sheyenne.

"We want to finish this thing out right," Roemmich said. "Because, I know for a fact we're all going to miss playing together next season."