Tanner Gust lives for Fridays.
On these nights, the senior defensive end smears a stripe of eye black under each eye, throws on his pads, steps on the field and is ready to go.
Gust shines brightly as the lights flicker on at Duane Carlson Stadium, or whatever away venue Minot High School happens to be at in a given week.
Adam Lawson/MDN • Minot High School senior defensive end Tanner Gust and defensive line coach Lloyd MacDonald go over technique during Minot’s practice on Tuesday.
Last week, the Williston Coyotes learned this all too well. The 5-foot-11, 240-pound bruiser sacked quarterback Jayden Ferguson three times in a 42-0 Magicians win.
On Saturdays, Gust calmly sits down and watches the previous night's game - reviewing what went right and what went wrong. It's become ritual.
"I'm too banged up to do anything else so I just open up my laptop and just see film," Gust said.
Gust began playing football in grade school when he was first allowed to hit opponents in a YMCA league. His love affair with the game continued into middle school when Gust played primarily on offense.
When he got to high school, coaches put him in on defense.
"(In middle school) I preferred offense over defense," Gust said. "Once I got to high school, I completely switched. I love defense."
The reason: "Contact," he explained. "I love hitting people, and this is a sport where you can do it."
Gust started at defensive end his sophomore year but was told by coaches he would play linebacker as a junior.
Gust stuck it out at defensive end and was named first-team all-state.
"Tanner brings physical ability where every play he is in on the offensive linemen, working hard, making plays," fourth-year defensive line coach Lloyd MacDonald said. "He's just a kid that comes out, he knows the game and he works out."
Gust gets his knowledge of the game from meticulous film study. In addition to his Saturday sessions, Gust and fellow senior linemen Bryan Doerr, Demetreus Roby and Aaron Livingston meet each Thursday to study tape of the week's opponent.
As a result of the film studies, there are few surprises on Friday nights.
"When you're out there, you see something happening and you remember it on film," Gust said. "You know where to go or an idea of what's going to happen."
During a game, Gust's fellow linemen have no choice but to mimic his intensity.
"He brings so much energy to our defensive line," Livingston said. "He's kinda like our leader on the line. If he plays at a certain level, we all have to match it."
Gust's play has frightened opposing offenses to the point that they design plays to try to avoid him altogether.
"When you study film, they have to watch where is Tanner Gust," MacDonald said. "Now you see a lot of teams run to the Bryan Doerr side because they know Tanner's over there. 'We better try something else and go the other way. ' "
Despite these plans, Gust still finds a way to make tackles. He's recorded four sacks this season.
Gust said with all the big hits he's made in his career, none stand out as personal highlights.
"When I first started running people over, I kinda remembered them," Gust said. "But it's part of the game now."
Gust has said he would like to play football collegiately. He went to camps this summer at North Dakota State University and the University of Mary. At both camps, Gust saw significant time at linebacker due to his stature.
Gust said he has received no college offers yet, but has spoken with Mary coach Myron Schulz and received letters from NDSU, the University of North Dakota and several Division II and Division III schools in Minnesota.