Dave and Kay Moody aren’t exactly superstitious, but they aren’t taking any chances either.
The Moodys made their fifth annual trip to Frisco, Texas, this week the same way they did when they followed the North Dakota State University football team — and their son, senior Bison receiver Nate Moody — there in 2012.
The Moodys left Dickinson on Wednesday to drive to the Denver area and then flew to Dallas on Thursday morning and are staying at the same hotel they did during the first title season, Dave said, when Nate was a freshman who saw playing time in NDSU’s first title win.
“It’s kind of full circle,” Dave said. “That’s what we did the first year and we figured, let’s do it.”
The Moodys are among the throngs of southwest North Dakotans who made the trip to the north Dallas suburb this weekend to watch the Bison face Jacksonville State (Ala.) at 10 a.m. Saturday for a chance at their fifth consecutive FCS national championship.
“It’s hard to believe that this five years in a row,” Dave said. “You wouldn’t have predicted it, that’s for sure.”
Among the fans are Nate Moody’s old high school friends, Dickinson’s Connor McNeilly and Ryan Jones, who left on Wednesday afternoon in a car and drove straight through to Texas, reaching Frisco by Thursday evening.
The friends are making their fourth straight trip to Frisco, and they’ve driven the 1,200 miles each time.
“Once he (Nate) got on the team, we’ve been supporting him obviously,” said McNeilly, who attended NDSU for one year. “Every year, after the (championship) game, we always storm the field, and we immediately try to find him. It’s a good little reunion every year. I don’t get to see him too much.”
McNeilly and others from Dickinson who’ve previously made the trip said the whole weekend serves as one big reunion and party for Bison fans, and on national championship weekend, it’s fairly easy to find someone you know either walking the streets of Frisco and neighboring Plano, Texas, or even in downtown Dallas.
“You can’t go anywhere without seeing green and yellow,” McNeilly said.
A former Dickinson State football player who lives 10 minutes away from Toyota Stadium, where the game will be played, said he too thinks of the weekend as a reunion even though he intends to watch the game on TV.
J.R. Foreman, who was a standout offensive lineman for the Blue Hawks in the 2000s, is a financial advisor in the north Dallas suburb of McKinney, Texas. He said it’s typically easy to run into someone he knows when the Bison and their thousands of fans are in the area.
“I haven’t been to the game. But I partake in the aftermath, you could say, and meet up with some of the guys who come down,” Foreman said. “… All the business owners like it, especially the taverns and pubs.”
Jared Twogood, one of the owners of GT Architecture in Dickinson and an NDSU alumnus, said he and his wife, Sarah, are going back to Frisco for the fourth straight year.
He said they’ve flown, driven by themselves and, during their first trip for NDSU’s second title game in 2013, drove with a large group of friends.
Smartphone technology helped the couple get seats for Saturday’s game, he said. Twogood was online buying his championship game tickets before NDSU’s semifinal game against Richmond was even over.
“We’re at the last game and as soon as things are looking like we’re going our way, we’re online buying our tickets without even thinking about it,” he said.
Twogood said he’s confident NDSU can beat the speedy, No. 1-ranked Gamecocks, who are coming off a 62-10 semifinal win over Sam Houston State.
“I think they’re definitely a tough challenge,” he said. “I feel more comfortable we can beat them than playing Illinois State last year.”
Dickinson’s Shirley Larson will also be on her smartphone Saturday, giving her standard pregame and in-game Facebook status updates that she does regardless of whether she’s watching the Bison in person or on TV.
Larson, whose late husband Jerry worked for the NDSU Extension Service as the Stark County agent for three decades, said she’s one of the state’s biggest Bison fans. She’s in Frisco with her son, Jeff, for the fourth straight year because, as she said, they “bleed the green and gold.”
“We go and we just have a ball,” she said. “It’s what everybody does when they get down there. And they treat everybody well.”
Larson said the team and the fans have influenced her to return to Frisco.
“If you haven’t been down there, you can’t imagine,” she said.
One young fan, however, is getting that first taste of NDSU’s Frisco fun this weekend.
Nine-year-old Kaeden Krieg of Dickinson and his mother, Kelli, are each going to the game for the first time. His grandfather and NDSU alumnus, Jerry Krieg, is making his fifth trip.
“I barely can describe this. It’s almost like a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing,” Kaeden said. “I’m really excited to see Moody. … If he plays, I’m really going to be excited.”