Smith, Heck face off on gridiron
Since elementary school, Charlie Heck and Mike Smith have been good friends. They were even better together on the football field for the Greenwave.
But for the first time in their football career, they’ll be playing opposite of each other for different teams.
Heck’s Jamestown Jimmies take on Smith’s Presentation Saints on Saturday in a battle for the first-ever North Star (NAIA) conference championship. The game also marks the regular-season finale for the Jimmies while the Saints end the regular season next week.
“I’m really excited to be able to play Mike this week. It should be a good game, and I’m looking forward to being able to see one of my longtime friends from back home play again,” Heck said.
Despite both teams struggling this season with wins, the Saints have the better record but a loss will give the Jimmies the title.
The Saints, in their third season of existence, enter this weekend’s game with a 4-3 record, after opening the year with two-straight wins. Presentation lost last week to Mayville State.
The Jimmies began the season with five-straight losses before beating Mayville State for their first win of the season. Jamestown, though, lost the next two before winning last week against Valley City State, which was ranked 28th in the Oct. 21 NAIA poll.
The chance that Heck, a running back who also lines up in the slot, will face Smith, a free safety, in Saturday’s contest in Jamestown, N.D., looks slim because Heck has played in only three games this season. But if Heck enters the game and breaks past the line of scrimmage into the secondary, his longtime friend will be waiting for him.
“I’m excited to see how he has grown as a football player and to see him again,” Heck said.
The matchup of Smith and Heck, though, will only be this one time. Smith said he will not play next season as will he focus on academics and athletic training with the football team.
Neverthless, Smith is excited to see his old friend, but admitted the two have not spoken in about two weeks. Smith, though, said he may line up to cover Heck, and will not let his hometown friend break free.
“I’m hoping not to have him break loose,” Smith said. “There’s a possibility of me covering him up, so that would be pretty neat.”
In his three games, Heck has carried the ball twice for three yards, and also has two tackles on special teams. The sophomore running back played only special teams in his first year, recording eight tackles in four games.
“Between seeing Mike and an opportunity to win the first-ever North Star conference championship, it will be an exciting day,” Heck said.
For Smith, he’s having one of his best seasons for the Saints.
Smith is tied second on the team with one interception and has tallied 27 total tackles in his third season with the Saints. He also has one tackle for a loss.
Smith has tallied 14 tackles in his previous two games, which he said have been the best two in his colleigate career.
“I’ve been having a pretty good season and I’m liking it,” Smith added. “It’s a pretty unique and different experience,” Smith said. “He’s lining up at slot a little more.”