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Coronavirus puts freeze on NDSU football season

QB coach Hedberg discusses the impact of COVID-19 on Bison program

The COVID-19 pandemic has created worldwide scheduling issues at virtually every level of athletics. Like many others, a Minot State football icon has also been forced to deal with uncertainty brought forth by the coronavirus.

Randy Hedberg, the associate head coach and quarterback coach at North Dakota State University, has already seen the interruption of the Bison football schedule this fall. Following a 39-28 victory against Central Arkansas on Oct. 3, North Dakota State’s next ballgame will not take place until Feb. 21 against Youngstown State. Hedberg, who starred in multiple sports at Minot State in the 1970s, states that while he was not surprised with the decision to temporarily suspend play due to COVID-19, the former Beaver standout letterman expressed his frustration with the current set of circumstances.

According to Hedberg, who reveals that he has tested negative for the virus roughly a dozen times, a number of current Bison players have been infected by the coronavirus at various points since the outbreak began.

“It’s been a struggle for sure,” Hedberg tells the Minot Daily News. “Some of our players have had to go into quarantine because either they tested positive for COVID-19, or they were in contact with someone else who tested positive. Starting from the summer up until now, we’ve had four out of our five quarterbacks test positive at different times, and one of our players was tested over 20 times for the disease. Naturally, it is hard to set a practice schedule when these players are not available.”

With North Dakota State’s football season now in limbo, the Bison quarterback guru shares that NDSU will begin offseason weight training and other conditioning drills on Oct. 19, and continue those activities until December. In the meantime, the coaching staff will remain in contact with potential recruits, both through the use of phone and video conferencing methods.

“Since we won’t be going to any high school games, we can stay in touch with those players over the phone and with the use of Zoom. We can also take the time to examine our offense, as well as our defense, and add to our overall gameplans so we can be well prepared on both sides of the ball once our schedule resumes,” Hedberg adds.

Also due to the interruption, two of NDSU’s prominent players, quarterback Trey Lance and offensive lineman Dillon Radunz have decided to forego their remaining college eligibility to prepare for the NFL Draft. While Lance enjoyed a breakout freshman campaign a year ago, winning both the Jerry Rice and Walter Payton Awards, Radunz was an Associated Press First Team All-American selection in 2019.

On the bright side, Hedberg says the Bison football program took two coronavirus tests prior to their last game against Central Arkansas without any positive test results. The former pro quarterback is pleased with the diligent efforts of both players and staff members in limiting the team’s exposure to COVID-19. “It is not only a credit to our players for taking this outbreak seriously, but also our coaching staff, the equipment people, and everyone associated with our program. I feel like they all have played a role in keeping this virus under control as best they can,” the NDSU coach continues.

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