(Part one of our two-part Frisco Experience)
Thousands upon thousands of Bison fans made their way to Frisco this year for the year-end celebration of another historic Bison football season. Many of the people we spoke to while in Frisco claimed this year’s trip was their fourth time, while many others were excited to experience Frisco for the first time. But not every Bison fan could make it down to Texas this year. So to be sure those fans weren’t left out, we hit all the major stops this year while in Frisco. For those of you who couldn’t make it, welcome to our Frisco experience.
Articles By Joe Kerlin
Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography
Once A Bison Always A Bison
Over 150 former Bison football players continued the tradition for a fourth-straight season of meeting the current football players and watching them participate in one final walk-through before the FCS National Championship game.
The alumni in attendance expanded from last year’s seniors to former players that wore the Bison green and gold during the ’80s, ’60s and possibly the ’50s.
Some notable alumni included Marcus Williams, Joe Mays, Sean Fredricks, Phil Hansen and Jeff Bentrim.
Bentrim said he was hoping he’s the good luck charm as he stood on the sidelines with former teammates for his fourth consecutive year.
“We’ve been spoiled and we expect to win,” Bentrim said. “But it doesn’t always happen that way. I was a part of a team that lost a championship game. So I hope these guys don’t have to go through it, but that’s the reality once you get on the field. Everyone has a puncher’s chance to win for either team.”
The former three-time Division II champion quarterback and 1986 Harlon Hill Best Division II Player was optimistic going into Saturday’s game against Illinois State.
“Coming into this year, I thought there would be a little bit of a transition or hiccup, but I figured we’d be back at it soon enough, maybe next year,” Bentrim said. “So it’s been a pleasant surprise and I think it’s fantastic.”
Bentrim also noted the play of Bison quarterback Carson Wentz, and how impressive his poise has been throughout the 2014 season.
“He’s got the same clutch gene that Brock (Jensen) had,” Bentrim said. “I wish I had it. I didn’t need it because we were always ahead so I’m glad I didn’t need to show it, because I probably would’ve choked (laughs).”
The championship game in Frisco, Texas, was the second time this season Bentrim has been to a Bison game, the first one when the Bison played South Dakota State earlier in the season. He said he’s found a nice pub in Calgary, Alberta, to go watch the Bison play when he can’t make it back to Fargo.
It was Marcus Williams’ first trip to Frisco without the responsibility of shutting down the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver. This season he joined the plethora of alumni watching from the sidelines, hoping his former teammates were ready for their greatest challenge of the season.
“It was definitely different, but Coach Klieman changed it up a little bit this year,” Williams said. “It was great to hear from the players and their view on what Bison Pride is and thanking the older guys for all the tradition we have created.”
At the end of the walk-through, Coach Klieman gathered his current players and the alumni at the center of the practice field for a pep talk. A handful of current players used this opportunity to thank the alumni for coming out and supporting the 2014 team on its journey for a four-peat.
“Bison Pride will never change, but you just have a different view on it now,” said Williams who spent the end of the 2014 football season with the New York Jets.
Williams was originally signed by the Houston Texans before the season and was placed on the practice squad before getting released. The Jets picked up Williams at the end of September and he made his way into the starting lineup for Week 9. Williams made seven tackles in his first game against Kansas City and was named a starter for the rest of the season.
“With me at the Jets, I still practice how I would practice if I was here, I still prepare how I would prepare when I was here, because that’s all I know,” explained Williams. “It’s that Bison Pride.”
Williams intercepted his first pass in the NFL in Week 16 against Tom Brady from the New England Patriots.
Williams will be entering the second year of his three-year contract with the Jets and is working out near his home in Minneapolis, Minn.